Renewable Energy Options In India Environmental Sciences Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Sustainable development is often defined as the process of living, producing and consuming in a manner which meets the needs of present generation without compromising the ability of future generations for meeting their needs. This principle must be applied at local, national and international level (John Twidell and Tony Weir, 1986). The concept of sustainable development became widely accepted after the report by world commission on Environment Development (1987). This commission was setup by United Nations due to the population growth and unevenness of economic development placing a big pressure on planets land, water and other natural resources. These pressures are severe enough to cause chaos for survival of populations and also cause global catastrophes (John Twidell and Tony Weir, 1986). Energy supply is essential in all country economies for lighting, communications, heating, computers, transport and industrial equipment etc. In developed economies purchase of energy accounts for nearly 5-10% of Gross Domestic Product. In the present situation energy use has increased from more than tenfold, mostly from fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and gas). In long run a further increase in energy by the world population can be expected due to rise in industrialisation and demand in developing countries. There is an overriding need for efficient generation and use of energy whatever source it is. Fossil fuels cannot be formed newly and the present stocks are being consumed at an increased rate by the developed, developing and less developed countries.

The reservable lifetime of a energy source can be defined by known amount divided by rate of consumption (John Twidell and Tony Weir, 1986). Everyone knows that as the energy sources like crude oil, gas and coal are finite and if they are used continuously they will be shorten, finally increasing the parties of energy sources. Almost all national energy plans include four vital factors for improving or maintaining social benefit from energy:

Increased harnessing of renewable supplies

Reduction in pollution

Increased efficiency of supply and end-use

Consideration of lifestyle.

An energy which is being passed through environment as a flow, irrespective of a device to intercept such flow of power is often defined as Green Energy or Sustainable Energy or Renewable Energy. Renewable Energy supply systems can be divided into three broad divisions Mechanical Supplies (like hydro, wind, tidal, and wave power), Heat Supplies (like biomass combustion and solar collectors), Photon Processes (like photosynthesis, photochemistry and photovoltaic conversion). Consequence of renewable energy application is development and increase amount of cash flow into rural economy. Thus usage of renewable energy favours rural development and not urbanisation. Renewable energy supplies are linked to natural environment (John Twidell and Tony Weir, 1986). Maximum amount of Environmental energy must be utilised so that to reduce usage of Non-Renewable energy sources. The Socio-political factors influencing energy policy on renewable energy supply includes security of supply, diversity of supply, economic supply, sustainability and climate change, health and safety, legislation, planning, structure of energy markets and economic conditions. Most developing countries do not have a established energy infrastructure, such as national electricity grid nor the economic or technical support to maintain such infrastructure (John Twidell and Tony Weir, 1987). For example, In India most rural communities do not meet basic energy needs like cooking with fuel wood and lighting with kerosene.

During the period 1990's there was a kick-start for Indian renewable energy economy by tax incentives (Akhilesh Magal et al, 2011). This kick-start has started a significant amount of investments to wind parks by tax payers. Companies such as Enercon, Suzlon and Vestas started to develop the entire projects. Since the owners were not from industry and due to the focus on installed capacity the production of wind power remained low compared to international (Akhilesh Magal et al, 2011). Indian government at the same time also started to support renewable energy generation by subsidy based programs. Since they failed to attract attention in the market, there was a limited success for renewable energy generation. From the start of 2007 onwards, Indian government started generation based-incentives (for solar and wind power) and also feed-in-tariffs. During the period 2010 National Solar Mission was started which was the first scheme supporting renewable energy across India (before this all the programs started were done by individual states). Realising the need for renewable energy sources Indian government had formed a commission for additional sources of energy (CASE) under the department of Science and Technology in the year 1981 (MNES, 2004). The aim of CASE was to research and start development activities in renewable energy options. CASE was officially induced into Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources and finally in 1992 became Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES) (MNES, 2004).

Policies by Indian Government for Development of Renewable Energy in India:

Prime Minister of India Dr. Man Mohan Singh had announced that India will have a goal of 10% share from renewable energy by the end of 2012 (MNES, 2004). The objectives that were set by Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources for renewable energy policy are:

The minimum energy requirements must be through renewable energy

Must provide decentralized energy in commercial, industry, agriculture and household sectors in both urban and rural areas

A grid quality power must be provided.

This policy ensures that additional 10% of grid power comes through renewable energy by 2012. The government of India is yet to approve this policy.


A Biogas has an approximately 60:40% of methane and carbon dioxide produced by anaerobic fermentation of biomass materials like bovine wastes. Biogas is one of the useful decentralized source of renewable energy, which has a calorific value of 23 MJ/m3 and can be used as fuel for generators to produce electricity. In many developing countries cellulosic biomass materials can be found in rural areas (P. Rajabapaiah et al, 1991). In India 57% of national energy is met by Biomass only (Tata, 1998) yet is considered as low status of fuel. The primary source of biomass is fuel wood which is derived from forests, trees around homes and plantation (Agarwal, 1998). Due to the increased population of India lots of forests are being cut down to make towns and villages leading to deforestation. The Indian government views biogas technology as a way to reduce rural poverty and also as a part of rural development in India (Jo Lawbuary, ). Alternative renewable energy options are introduced and promoted by the Indian Renewable Energy development Agency (IREDA), which works under Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES). According to the period 1997 2.5 million household and community biogas plants have been installed around India (Dutta et al, 1997). The amount of biogas that can be obtained is at 17,000 MW (Tata, 1998) collected from dung of about 300 million cattle's and agricultural residues. It is a useful system in Indian rural economy and can meet several uses. This can be used as a substitute fuel for agricultural residues, dung, petrol, diesel, firewood and electricity, local supply conditions and constraints (Litchman, 1983), this can be used in pumped irrigation systems and power engines. Alternate use of biogas is that it can replace biomass fuels like wood. If used on a good scale it can reduce usage of wood from forests. The supply of biogas to rural houses will also help in reducing chronic diseases such as combustion of biomass fuels creating respiration infections, bronchitis, lung cancer and ailments of the lungs (Banerjee, 1996).

The two most popular digesters for bovine and animal dung, agro-wastes in developing countries (including India and China) are Indian floating drum biogas plant (an Indian design known as KVIC design) and fixed dome type biogas plant by China (Amulya K.N. Reddy et al, 1993). Workers have found that acceleration of biogas production is possible by pressure of metal ions in biomass (Geeta et al, 1990). The KVIC design was designed by Jashbhai Patel during 1950's and it came to be known as KVIC design, since the Khadi and Village industry commission promoted it (Jo Lawbuary,). Patel's design was expensive compared to other models and also had longer life requiring minimum maintenance (KVIC, 1993). During the 1980's it was said that KVIC had built about 80,000 systems in India (Jo Lawbuary,). The china fixed dome biogas plant is cheaper and is skill-intensive. However, gas leaks will occur if construction is not done properly (Rajabapaiah et al, 1991). In china, human excrement is also used on fields directly as a source of fertilizer, even though this possesses a risk of spreading intestinal parasites and pathogens (Rajabapaiah et al, 1991). Gas production usually depends on amount of cattle dung and indoor temperature. This indoor temperature maintenance can also be said as the reason why biogas plants produce less amount of gas during winter. The time period required to build a biogas usually depends on the construction time of biogas reactor (it takes 6 months to build reactor). Benefits of biogas in India are energy production, organic wastes can be transformed into high quality fertilizer, hygienic conditions can be improved through reduction of pathogens, workload for women in rural economies of India can be reduced in form of collecting firewood, it will help in protecting environment like no trees will be cut down for firewood collection, biogas technology has global environment benefits. A better example for biogas energy is usage in India can be the Pura Village in south India where it has a community biogas plant for electricity-generation (Rajabapaiah et al, 1991).

Factors that Affect Usage of Biogas:

Problem will arise from a biogas plant if its capacity is large due to accidents or design. Nag et al (1986) had discovered that it was a common practice for householders to build a large plant even though they use it only for cooking and not for other demands. If a large plant is constructed it will lead to under feeding and finally failure will occur for production of gas. Sometimes it also depends on climatic temperature, since the biogas plant cannot work due to low temperatures and also during drought time where availability of dung will be low. A common complaint which has arisen in functioning of plants is availability of technical support. When we compare India with china, it can be said that Chinese do a better job since they have trained and educated through widespread of Biogas institutions, social organizations and spread of community technologies (Ruchen, 1981).


It is a well-known fact that sunlight is the largest available energy resource in the world. In today's generation, there are technologies that concentrate sunlight and use it for their energy applications (Pascal De Laquil et al, 1991). There are mainly three types of solar energy technologies; they are 1) Parabolic-dish system 2) Central-receiver system 3) Parabolic-dish system. During the next 30 years, the renewable energy resources can provide 25-50% of a country's energy needs, although this depends on the government and support at market. In 2020, solar thermal electic systems are expected to produce 2-3 exajoules per year (De Laquil et al, 1991). 1 exajoules per year means a capacity of 30,000 megawatts, but to utilize the solar energy cooperation from the government and from private industry is required. In India government supports for technology development, research and demonstrating projects is not sufficient. Also market incentives are needed in order to overcome differences between user and financial communities. All solar power technology has four basic systems. They are collecting, receiving, storage and finally power conversion (CERC, 2011). The solar radiation is collected and concentrated which is then sent to receiver. The concentrated sunlight is the absorbed receiver and transfers it from heat energy to a working fluid. The fluid is then finally passed down from receiver to the power-conversion system. Finally, the thermal energy is converted into electrical energy in power-conversion system with help of heat engine and relating equipment (CERC, 2011). Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission has been introduced by Indian government which has a target of achieving 2000 MV by the end of 2022. Its primary goal is to make India a leader in usage of solar energy. Due to the technology developments and right government policies, the cost of solar energy is coming down which was expensive in the past (Dr. BD Sharma, 2011). In JNNSM it has three phases to increase solar energy usage to 20,000 MW by 2020, adding 1000 MW of solar power by the end of 2013 also increasing it by 3000 MW in 2017. This mission also has a goal of supplying 20 million solar lighting systems by 2022 for rural areas.

Role of Indian Government for Developing Usage of Solar Energy:

India is the only country in the world which has a ministry for New and Renewable Energy. In each state there are agencies which work on improving the use of renewable energy. There were some incentives announced by GBI (Generation Based Incentives) in 2008 for developing solar power plants (CERC, 2011). Types of technologies available for solar power plants are of classified into two categories. They are solar photovoltaic technologies and solar thermal power plants.

Solar Photovoltaic Technologies:

Solar radiation is converted into electrical energy by photovoltaic converters which are semiconductor devices. Most PV cells are made by single crystal silicon but many vary in cell material, manufacturing method and design. PV cells are available as dye sensitised solar cells DSSC, crystalline silicon, copper indium diselenide, silicon nano particle ink, amorphous silicon cells such as cadmium telluride (cd-Te), quantum dots and carbon nanotube CNT. In the global market in the present day, crystalling silicon (c-si) is about 85-90%. These c-si are divided into two main categories:

Single crystalline (sc-si)

Multi-crystalline (mc-si)

In present day global photovoltaic module thin films accounts for 10 to 15%. They are of three types amorphous (a-si) and micromorph silicon (a-si/uc-si), cadmium-telluride (Cd-Te) , copper-indium-Diselenide (CIS) and copper-induim-gallium-diselenide (CIGS). New technologies have organic cells and advanced thin films. These have to enter the market through niche applications. CPV technologies have optical concentrator system which focuses on solar radiation into a small high-efficiency cell. In the present scenario it is tested on pilot applications. The above mentioned technologies are used mainly on commercial and residential buildings and on grid connected power plants (Dr. B.D Sharma, 2011) for a good output, tracking devices are used which change orientation of panels with trajectory of the sun to focus on panels.

Solar Thermal Power Plants:

By using mirrors and reflectors they convert solar radiation into high temperature heat to produce electricity. These CSP plants are based on four systems. They are collector, receiver, and transport/storage and power conversion. The four main technologies that are available in today's commercial market are parabolic trough, linear Fresnel reflectors, solar towers and parabolic dishes. There are factors that influence the performance of solar power plants. They are

Radiation at the site

Temperature and climatic conditons

Losses in PV systems

Inverter efficiency

Design parameter of the plant

Module degradation due to aging.

There will be a serious impact on energy generation if degradation of photovoltaic occurs (Ewan D. Dunlop and David Halton, 2006). Manufacturers usually claim that their panels can produce 90% of power even after a period of 10 years and 80% 25 years. So, the lifetime of these plants is designed for 25 years. Since in the Indian market scenario most of these PV power plants are new, so we don't have any data available after their lifetime of 25 years (Dr. B.D Sharma, 2011)

Various Causes for Degradation:

The degradation occurs due to slow breakdown of an capsulate (ethylene vinyl acetate) and polyvinyl fluoride films. Slight degradation of silicon cells occurs even though they have infinite life due to thermal effects. The cells and electrical connections are protected by encapsulate against moisture ingress. Even after this protection a small amount of moisture enters but is forced out on a daily basis due to temperature increase. The second degradation occurs between the silicon cells and module's front glass due to UV light breaking down the EVA layer. This breakdown isn't visible to the naked eye but in due course it will limit the amount of sunlight reaching the cell (Peter Klemchuk et al, 1997). The cause of reduction in output is due to disclosure of EVA layer because of interactions between peroxides and stabilizing additives and also because of oxidation in EVA layer.


Energy is extracted from the wind stream by transforming KE into rotational motion, so that it turns the electrical generator. So that it turns the electrical generator. This can be done by a rotor, which may have 3-1 blades thereby causing the rotor to turn (Alfred J. Cavallo, Susan M.Hock and Don R. Smith, 1991). The wind flowing through these blades causes two forces lift and drag. To obtain maximum efficiency these blades can be twisted. In the world India is considered to be the 3rd largest wind energy market has provided business opportunities for both foreign and domestic investors (Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 2012). The growth of Indian wind market increased in 2011 with an addition of 3 GW installations. In India wind energy is widely accepted as a alternate energy source for a sustainable and clean energy. By the end of march 2012, it was accounted that 12.2% of renewable energy was produced which is a increase from 2% in 1995. As of august 2012, renewable energy by wind power has reached 17.9 GW (MNRE, 2012). Wind power generation began in the year 1986. Annual energy production by wind power is over 9.5 GW of wind turbines (Dr. Farooq Abdullah,2012). The renewable purchase specification and renewable energy certificates (REC) are the one's which are providing support for wind energy sector.

Causes for Reduction in Achieving higher wind power:

Grid transfer is the key issue which needs to be addressed. Most of the states do not have sufficient grid spare capacity to evacuate increasing amounts of wind power. Because of this most state distribution utilities prefer thermal power generation instead of wind power generation (Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 2012). Hence, there is a demanding need to change grid capacity. Across the country, finding land for wind farm is also a big issue. Even if lands are available it is a time taking process to convert agricultural land into non-agricultural. If the land is near to a sanctuary or forest area it will be difficult to obtain clearance from forest authorities. The other barrier for growth of wind sector is its borrowing cost. A majority of wind energy projects are done with 70:30 debt equity ratio (Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 2012). If the domestic industry grows for wind power it will also increase new jobs in India. There will be a high demand for trained manpower and also technical training needs to be modified across the states.

Indian Policies For Supporting Renewable energy's:

According to EA 2003 (Electricity Act) policy the state and federal governments must promote renewable energy sources within their jurisdiction. The tariff for renewable energy across the states and state-owned power distribution companies is decided by SERCS, which ensures grid connectivity to renewable energy projects. As of June 2012, under electricity act there were fixed quotas to get power from renewable energy. The renewable energy purchase specifications varies from state to state in terms of 0.5% to 10%. In October 2006, the planning commission made a report on renewable energy policy, in which it governed policies for production, distribution and usage of renewable energy sources. The drawback in India is it didn't develop and adopted a lon-term vision, a time specified plan and implementing it for acquiring clean, secure and renewable energy access to its people (Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 2012). Under the Prime Minister's Office the energy coordination committee has supported for a renewable energy law. MNRE has constituted a renewable energy law for National Level technical working committee (Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 2012).

The current policies and regulatory incentives for wind power by Indian government are

Policy Incentives:

- Foreign direct investments in renewable energy sector

- For power section projects 35% of depreciation in first year (from 1st April 2012): 15% for normal and 20% for another additional is allowed.

- If the power plants start before 31st march 2013 under section 80 IA of IT act, they are allowed tax-free for sale of power up to 10 years.

- In some states value added tax has been reduced from 12.5% to 5.5%.

- For wind power projects forest land will be allocated and given for lease.

- A 5% of reduced customs duty on wind power machinery.

- It is exempted from excise duty.

- State governments have also exempted electricity duty.

Regulatory Incentives:

- For wind power Feed-In-Tariff can be preferred in 13 states.

- Provisions can be favoured for third party sale, wheeling and banking by wind energy producers.

- It is mandated under National Action Plan on climate change that renewable purchase specifications increased 1% by every year up to 15% by 2020.

- In 26 states purchase specifications have been announced by Electricity Act, 2003.

- Trading of renewable energy between inter-state has been enabled by REC (Renewable Energy Certificate)

- Subsidy charges in third party sales by wind energy producers (Dr. Farooq Abdullah,2012).


Water stored in dams is released to run turbines that are connected to hydroelectric plant to generate electricity (Jose Roberto Moreira and Alen Douglas Poole, 1991). The two main purposes of dams are to raise their water level to increase its potential energy and to reserve water so that it can meet future demands of power fluctuations in water flow. These dams are also used for other purposes like supplying water for human consumption, agricultural purposes. The hydraulic turbines in a dam convert elevated water supplied into mechanical energy with help of rotating shaft. The rotating shaft has a electric generator, were it can transform mechanical into electrical power. The exploitable hydropower capacity of India is over 84,000 MW with 60% load factor which is contributed by Ganges, Brahamaputrra and Indus basins (Hydro power Development in India, 2006). The availability of power in India is not meeting the required demand and in the period 2005-2006 the shortage was 8.4% in peak power. In India, 84% of the most villages have been supplied electricity but only rural households of about 43.5% have access to electricity (K. Ramanathan and P. Abeygunawardena, 2007). India is ranked as fifth in terms of usable hydro power and has a rich potential for hydropower. as of now only 32,325 MW had been installed.

Problems for Development Of Hydro Power in India:

The main concern in starting large projects is that contractors of good competence and resourceful are not available, which results in delays and cost increase of hydro power projects. A number of these projects have been built on shared river systems between states and this often results in inter-state aspects. Central electricity authority had given clearance for these type of projects but investments weren't available due to inter-state issues. The factors that are to be considered in terms of environmental aspects are

- Providing support for people who are affected by these projects

- Forests being cut down

- Protection of forests and wildlife

- disaster occurring in case of earthquake etc.

Some of the projects were stopped due to legal issues like Dhansiri, Dulhasti, Doyang and upper sindh projects. Problems arising when acquiring lands for projects (K. Ramanathan and P. Abeygunawardena, 2007)

Policy of Indian Government on Hydropower:

in 1998 a policy was brought by Indian government stating full budget support for ongoing projects and had established a fund for development of projects, a committee to resolve issues between states, reducing tariff etc. In may 2003 the then Prime Minister of India had announced an initiative project of 50,000 MW. Under this project 47,930 MW was to be produced from 162 new projects which were distributed around 16 states.


From the above detailed discussions about the four types of renewable energy options, we can see that Indian Government had launched various incentives and policies for development of wind, solar, biogas and hydropower source. In the future solar power will play an important role in energy supply. It would be a good thing if the government can monitor installation of solar power plant and start database for future purposes. In future India's power sector is expected to grow at a fast pace. The participation of private sector is being low in hydro power projects because the private investors looked hydro power projects as a rick compared to thermal projects. The objective of government is to make a balanced growth between private, public and also joint venture by both. There is still a long way to go because India needs to gather finances for implementing these power projects. The wind turbine technology in India had led to investments in this sector. India had emerged as a turbine manufacturer in wind power technology. About $8 billion is being planned for improvement of grid integration by end of 2017. In this amount, half of the money will be spent on developing intra-state grid. From all the above discussions, we can see that India is now looking for alternate energy sources in the form of renewable energy sources instead of going with non-renewable sources. Indian government started various committees, groups and started giving incentives to improve usage of renewable energy in India.