How India Can Switch To Clean Energy And Fight Climate Change

Posted by deepika sharma in Environment
March 22, 2017

We are living in the era of information technology where everyone is surrounded by appliances and equipment running on electrical energy.

With each passing day, owing to the innovations and increasing population, the need for energy is also growing rapidly, and several communities across India still don’t have access to electricity. They are not getting proper clean cooking facilities and are compelled to use kerosene and firewood which affects the living conditions of women and children, degrading their quality of life.

The per capita energy consumption in India in the global index is still very low as compared to other developing countries.

Local villagers carry coal from illegal pits near Jharia, India. As the world’s power needs have increased, so has the total global production of coal, nearly doubling over the last 20 years according to the World Coal Association. Photo by Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images

When we talk about carbon footprints, we always think about coal burning for electricity generation whereas 33% carbon footprint contribution comes from transportation and vehicular emissions. The condition of air is deteriorating on a regular basis because of carbon and other harmful emissions adding to the effects of climate change and environment degradation.

Entire ecological balance is getting affected as many plants species have vanished and are also becoming endangered with each passing day. The temperature has risen to the extent that the summer of 2016 recorded the highest temperature at 51.2 degrees near Alwar, Rajasthan. The temperature graph has been increasing, and we are facing drastic weather changes. Last year, during the Conference on Climate Change at Paris 2016, every country committed to limit temperature increase to less than two degrees. To achieve this, serious and concrete steps should be taken by the government and corporate policy makers. We, as global citizens, should follow the path of sustainability for the sake of the future generation.

The energy transitions in India in the last 15 years show that because of government intervention and support from the United Nations, we have somehow improved integration of green energy sources from 2% to 12%. But when we look at the global scenario, some countries have reached around 100%, and this has been achieved not only by direct government intervention but also because of new innovative local level social enterprises that work towards both services and awareness of green energy.

The citizens of these countries have taken individual ownership of these issues. About 72% of our electricity production comes from the coal-based plants which are inefficient, and they have no proper mechanism for waste management and treatment.

Firefighters douse fire that broke out at Rajghat power plant near ITO in 2011. Photo by Sipra Das/India Today Group/Getty Images

We haven’t recognised the potential of electric vehicles that are non-polluting. These vehicles are hardly promoted or subsidised in India. The government and corporate sectors have to boost up their interventions and set up megawatt grids. But vision 2022 and 2030 do not have a clear plan of action on these lines, and at this point, it looks like a mirage.

Almost 80% of our energy requirement is met through conventional energy source from the coal-based plants. These plants are not just source of air pollution but also lead to water and land contamination. We should reduce dependency on conventional energy sources and make existing coal plants cleaner with waste management systems like fly ash treatment etc. Our 2030 vision for solving energy crisis and sustainability must focus on both improving waste management of conventional energy sources and switch to green energy sources.

We have to see, invent and innovate new fuel conversion mechanisms from coal to liquid, coal to other bio-carbons and coal to carbon gasification. We should look out for innovations to increase the efficiency of solar Photo Voltaic (PV) as 4th generation solar PVs and have an infrastructure for their manufacture. We should also look into agriculture interventions since the sector is the third largest consumer of energy. The farmers use diesel pumps are used for irrigating their fields. Efficient pumps that run on solar energy must be made available to every farmer to bring down the input cost and save energy. We should also scale up local level social enterprises and infrastructure support from government and local bodies.

Teach For Green, a non-profit, keeps these concerns at its core. It is an initiative which not only aims to create awareness in the semi-urban and rural communities by conducting do-it-yourself (DIY) green energy workshop but also develop skills towards improving their lives as well as the environment.

This workshop is designed in the form of simplified practical examples from our surrounding. The participants get to design customised things (solar lamps, toys, mobile charger, solar house kits, etc.) from recyclable materials, which sparks in them a sense of innovation and entrepreneurship. Overall, the workshop aims to provide a foundation for the inclusive growth of individuals with a sense of purpose towards improvement of energy, environment and society.

One can watch the introductory video here.