Alternative Energy Sources In India Environmental Sciences Essay

2490 words (10 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Environmental Sciences Reference this


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India is undergoing an energy crisis, while 53% of our current power needs coming from coal being a highly polluting source of energy and bound to run out someday. Compared to the West, India’s energy consumption is growing at break-neck speed. The consumption of power is outstripping national power production and the negative gap between consumption and production has been increasing exponentially in the past two decades. With our energy consumption doubling in the next 20 years finding alternatives to fossil fuel-based energy sources is vital to India’s future for continued sustained growth.


Renewable Energy Resources

2. In contrary to fossil fuels, renewable energies are reversible in nature and can constantly be replenished without the fear of being drained out of our environment. Wind, Solar, Hydro & such like forms of renewable energy will keep on providing electricity without any thought of they being blown off from our planet. Such energies which can go on to keep producing electricity without reducing source energy itself are renewable energy. The various renewable resources are as following:-

Wind Power

3. India has a solid domestic manufacturing base, with current production capacity of 4,500-5,000 MW/year. Wind turbine manufacturers operating in India include Indian company Suzlon, which is now a global leader. By 1 September 2010, 416 Indian wind projects were in the CDM pipeline, accounting for 6,839 MW, second only to China.

4. The development of wind power in India began in the 1990s, and has the fifth largest installed capacity in the world which by 31st Mar 2010 was 11806.69 MW, mainly spread across Tamil Nadu (4906.74 MW), Maharashtra (2077.70 MW), Gujarat (1863.64 MW), Karnataka (1472.75 MW), Rajasthan (1088.37 MW), Madhya Pradesh (229.39 MW), Andhra Pradesh (136.05 MW), Kerala (27.75 MW), Orissa (2MW), West Bengal (1.10 MW) and other states (3.20 MW). Wind power accounts for 6% of India’s total installed power capacity comprising of nearly 70% of the total renewable energy generation capacity installed in India, generating 1.6% of the country’s power while the potential estimated by MNRE is around 48500 MW. Once again the potential estimates are based on only figures from nine states and that too taken at low hub heights and old technology, however a more recent wind atlas published by the Center for Wind Technology (CWET) in April 2010 estimates the potential at 49,130 MW. This was based on an assumed land availability of 2% and 9 MW of installable wind power capacity per square kilometre. 

5. Under the IEA’s Reference scenario (akin to the BAU scenario), India’s wind power market would shrink considerably from the current annual additions of around 1,300 MW to only 600 MW per year by 2030. The result would be a total installed capacity of 24 GW by 2020 and 30.5 GW by 2030. Wind power would then produce close to 60 T Wh every year by 2020 and 75 T Wh by 2030, and save 35 million tons of CO2 in 2020 and 45 million tons in 2030.

Source : MNRE (Erstwhile MNES)


5. One of the biggest advantages of a hydroelectric complex is that the project produces no direct waste, and has a considerably lower output level of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than fossil fuel powered energy plants. Worldwide, an installed capacity of 777 GWe supplied 2998 TWh of hydroelectricity in 2006 which was approximately 20% of the world’s electricity, and accounted for about 88% of electricity from renewable sources.

6. India has an assessed hydropower potential to the tune of 84,000 MW of which only about 20% has been developed so far. Endowed with rich hydropower potential, it ranks fifth in the world in terms of usable potential. This is distributed across six major river systems (49 basins), namely, the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganga, the central Indian river systems, and the east and west flowing river systems of south India. Hydropower constituted about 32,325 MW of the installed generating capacity in India which was nearly 125,000 megawatts (MW) including thermal (coal, gas and liquid fuel), hydro, nuclear, and renewable based generation.


























Solar Energy

7. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available renewable energy on earth.

8. Compared to wind, India lags behind in solar power production although ranked first alongwith US in terms of installed Solar Power generation capacity. The amount of solar energy produced in India is merely 0.4% compared to other energy resources despite the availability of plenty of solar radiation in most of the country, due to its geo-physical location receiving solar energy equivalent to nearly 5,000 trillion kWh/year, which is far more than the total energy consumption of the country today. Insulation levels are high all over the country, allowing for de-centralized, off-grid approaches to power production. Not only does this lead to a more stable system, but it is extremely efficient in terms of land area used, as well as in terms of energy conservation.


IN INDIA (in KWh/sq.m/day)


9. Biomass materials are used since millennia for meeting myriad human needs including energy with its main sources being trees, crops and animal waste. Until the middle of 19th century, biomass dominated the global energy supply with a 70%. Presently, the biomass sources contribute 14% of global energy and 38% of energy in developing countries. Globally, the energy content of biomass residues in agriculture based industries annually is estimated at 56 exajoules, nearly a quarter of global primary energy use of 230 exajoules.


10. Biomass contributes over a third of primary energy in India. Predominantly used in rural households for cooking and water heating, as well as by traditional and artisan industries, it delivers most energy for the domestic use in India. Wood fuels contribute 56 percent of total biomass energy growing annually at 2 percent rate over past two decades. A recent study estimates demand in India for fuelwood at 201 million tons while supply is primarily from fuels that are home grown or collected by households for own needs.

11. The biomass electricity programme took shape after MNES appointed the task force in 1993 and recommended the thrust on bagasse based co-generation, focus being on the cogeneration, especially in sugar industry. A cogeneration potential of 17,000 MW power is identified, with 6000 MW in sugar industry alone. The modern technologies offer possibilities to convert biomass into synthetic gaseous or liquid fuels (like ethanol and methanol) and electricity however lack of biomass energy market has been the primary barrier to the penetration of such technologies. India is very rich in biomass with a potential of 19500 MW with 537 MW commissioned and 536 MW under construction. The most potential states with biomass production capabilities include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.


12. Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass and covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. They are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes, the need for increased energy security, and concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. Biofuels provided 1.8% of the world’s transport fuel in 2008 while investment into its production capacity exceeded $4 billion worldwide in 2007 and is growing.

13. Biofuel development in India centers mainly around the cultivation and processing of Jatropha plant seeds which are very rich in oil and have been used in India for several decades as biodiesel. It can be used directly after extraction (i.e. without refining) in diesel generators and engines and has the potential to provide economic benefits at the local level due to its potential to grow in dry marginal non-agricultural lands, thereby allowing villagers and farmers to leverage non-farm land for income generation. Being carbon-neutral, it will improve the country’s carbon emissions profile besides no requirement for food producing farmland for its production. Other biofuels which displace food crops from viable agricultural land such as corn ethanol or palm biodiesel have caused serious price increases for basic food grains and edible oils in other countries. India’s total biodiesel requirement is projected to grow to 3.6 Million Metric Tons in 2011-12, with the positive performance of the domestic automobile industry. Analysis reveals that the market is an emerging one and has a long way to go before it catches up with global competitors.


Geothermal Energy

14. Geothermal energy is a clean and sustainable energy that comes from resources ranging from shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma. Geothermal heat pumps can tap into this resource to heat and cool buildings.

15. Indian geothermal provinces have the capacity to produce 10,600 MW of power, a figure which is five times greater than the combined power being produced from non-conventional energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass. But yet geothermal power projects have not seen the light of the day due to our huge coal reserves. Nearly 400 low to medium enthalpy thermal springs exists in India distributed in seven geothermal provinces. The surface temperatures of these thermal springs vary from 47 to 98o C with a total power generating capacity estimated to be of the order of 10,000 MW. Dehydration of agricultural produce and green house cultivation are two such industries to name, which can utilize this energy with maximum profits.

Action Plan

16. Solar Energy – This source is seen to have the highest potential for the future amongst various renewable energy sources. With the recent JNNSM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission) a target of 20,000 MW grid solar power by the year 2022 seems an acheivable figure. Some measure for exploiting this rich resource are :-

(a) Make solar heaters mandatory, through building byelaws and incorporation in the National Building Code.

(b) Ensure the introduction of effective mechanisms for certification and rating of manufacturers of solar thermal applications

(c) Facilitate measurement and promotion of these individual devices through local agencies and power utilities.

(d) Support the upgrading of technologies and manufacturing capacities through soft loans, to achieve higher efficiencies and further cost reduction.

(e) Make installation of solar panels on the roofs of new buildings compulsory to obtain part of the power requirements through it.

(f) Set up indigenous manufacturing capacity.

(g) Promote off-grid applications so that power generation is at the consumption point itself and thus does away with the land and environment related concerns.

17. Wind – Although all sectors of renewable energy are being developed, wind power programme has been the fastest growing with a contribution of nearly 75% of the grid connected renewable energy power installed capacity. A recent study has noted that with the right and sustained incentives to the wind energy sector, it can generate as much as 24 percent of India’s total power demand by 2030. The following initiatives will hold India in good stead :-

(a) With India having ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002, the possibility to register projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) provide a further incentive to wind energy development.

(b) Have a coherent national renewable energy policy to fully realize the wind energy potential.

(c) Though RPS and FiT (Feed in Tariffs) can co-exist in theory, they need to be well managed to avoid inefficiencies.

(d) Set up wind farms at off shore locations and along the coast line.

18. Hydroelectric – India has achieved a fairly high degree of self-reliance in hydropower technology, however there is a continuing thrust towards adoption of new technologies and in order to harness the entire remaining assessed hydropower potential of the country by 2025-2026, about Rs5,000 billion would be required for project implementation based on present day costs and another Rs50 billion would be required for survey and investigations, which would need to be completed by 2016-2017.

(a) Undertake small micro hydel projects for rural electrification tapping into minor water resources at remote places.

(b) Close cooperation with neighbouring countries to exploit the potential in their countries while meeting needs of both the nations.

(c) Streamlining of clearance procedures to include to minimising the time cycle for sanctions of projects by reengineering processes. Special emphasis be given to expediting environmental clearances as also rehabilitation and resettlement issues.

(d) The public sector has played a major and almost exclusive role in developing hydropower, however the world over including the developed countries hydro in the privately owned independent power producer (IPP) mode has still to catch on. The main purpose should be to generate confidence in the prospective entrepreneurs/developers and offer terms and conditions, which will be attractive and cover undue risks without jeopardizing consumer interests.

19. However, for India to reach its potential and to boost the necessary investment in renewable energy, it will be essential to introduce clear, stable and long-term support policies, carefully designed to ensure that they operate in harmony with existing state level mechanisms and do not reduce their effectiveness.

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