Key Objective: The main objective of this project is to develop an energy model as a visualisation and planning tool (Decision Support System) that will enable policymakers to create and test their strategies virtually. The purpose of the energy model is to estimate the materials, energy, and emissions implications for India to achieve a ‘desired quality of life’ for all to ultimately understand the synergies and trade-offs involved in balancing developmental goals and climate targets.

Research Questions:

1.  What is a ‘desired quality of life’ in India in terms of developmental benchmarks or indicators?

2.  What are the materials, energy and emission implications for India to achieve the abovementioned/defined benchmarks? Would competition for common resources like water, land, and materials result in trade-offs between the goals, and if yes, what are some interventions to tackle the trade-offs?

3.  What are the additional investments required and the macroeconomic implications of achieving our developmental goals?

4.  To what extent can India’s future energy requirements be met from non-fossil sources in a way that is compatible with the global aspirations of restricting warming to below 1.5 degree Celsius?

The project comprises several phases. Phase 1 involved defining the Desired Quality of Life (DQoL) in terms of basic developmental goals inspired by India’s national priorities as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations. The goals considered include food, housing, healthcare, education, transport, water, and power for all.

The goals translate into two kinds of demands: annual operational energy demand and an infrastructure build-out demand. In Phase 2 of the project, the team estimated the materials, energy, water, and land demands arising from the goals described in phase 1 via the Sustainable Alternative Futures for India (SAFARI) model. It is a system-dynamics model that the team developed (and is continuously fine-tuning) to achieve the project goals.

SAFARI can help policymakers visualise various long-term low-carbon development trajectories for India, based on technology and policy intervention scenarios of their interest. One of the key imperatives has been to capture as many inter-sectoral interlinkages as possible, in a bottom-up manner. In this model, demands from SDG goals drive growth in the agriculture, residential, commercial, industry, and transport sectors. Sectoral growth is suitably adjusted by constraints in the availability of water, land, and materials. System dynamics allows us to capture the physical impact of these resource constraints and interdependencies among the demand sectors.

In Phase 3, using the demand estimates from Phase 2, we arrived at an ideal energy supply mix using a least-cost algorithm. This helped explore the extent to which the demands can be met through fossil-free sources. Also in Phase 3, the team soft-linked a macroeconomic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model with SAFARI to explore the macroeconomic implications of achieving developmental goals. 


The fourth and final phase of the project involved developing a user-interface for SAFARI to serve as a decision-support system.


SAFARI is the team’s first attempt at understanding the interlinkages and interdependencies in select sectors of the economy. Insights from and the approach followed in SAFARI Version 1 can be read in the documents listed under the “Downloads”.

To seek feedback from stakeholders and experts across India, the team organised a demonstration workshop on SAFARI in February 2020. Details of the event can be found here.

A contract was signed with Agence Française de Développement in September 2020 to develop SAFARI into a decision-support system for policymakers. To know more about this event, please click here.


On World Environment Day 2021, PM Narendra Modi released a report of the Expert Committee titled "Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India 2020–25". The contribution of CSTEP's SAFARI tool in modelling the ethanol demand scenarios was duly acknowledged by Dr Rakesh Sarwal, Additional Secretary, NITI Aayog, in his foreword to the report.