India Needs To Take A Crucial Decision About The Energy It Consumes

Posted by abhilash borah in Environment
August 1, 2017

India’s growing energy demands and dependence on countries in the resource rich Middle East may become a matter of prime concern. With the instability of the Middle East, along with the changes in the global order, the rise of populism and protectionism in many developed countries and the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the stability of supply looks endangered. This is the prime concern as venturing out into new fields could hamper India’s growing energy demands and risk accelerating the Indian economy.

A large quantity of the energy demand in India is met by the import of fossil fuels. India has had the distinction of being the 4th largest energy consumer and is facing many challenges against its developmental ambitions vis-a-vis the environmental protection effort. At the same time, with a country of over 1.2 billion population, of which many lack access to basic and minimum needs for survival, India is determined to lift many from poverty by accelerating efforts in its national policies without harming the environment. It is imperative at this critical time to find a balanced way out to meet the requirements of its populace and at the same time tend to develop, improve and improvise its existing infrastructure of civil society.

At a time when the impact of climate change is primarily observed with changing weather conditions, rising sea level and the increase in annual mean temperature, creating a brighter, secure and green future and focussing on the energy security of the country should be of prime concern for the policy makers. With increasing use of fossil fuels, air, water, and soil pollution have reached an unprecedented level making policy adoption and adaptation towards clean energy a must. With the creation of the International Solar Alliance during the UN Climate Change Conference – COP 21 in Paris in 2015, India has aimed to boost usage of solar energy, leading the fight against climate change. The joint movement with developing countries is the ultimate quest of bringing a revolution with the potential to change the existing energy scenario in India, for the benefits of the countrymen and showcasing its example to the world.

India’s aim of aligning its development policies with respect to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals 2030 finely tunes with reality which is evident as time progresses.

Recently, National Geographic commented on the surprising developments which have been taking place in the country’s venture into clean energy renovation stating, “India has brightened dramatically, is not a surprise. The country is home to more than its fair share of people living without electricity, and its Government has been working to change that by establishing a rural electrification program and investing heavily in renewable energy.

A recent report published by the Ministries of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines and another by the All India Statistics of Indian Power Sector by the Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, of Government of India has highlighted the following significant achievements and initiatives which have been taken:

  1. 13,511 villages electrified out of 18,452 villages as on April 2015.
  2. Record low tariffs solar and wind energy.
  3. In 2016-17, for the first time, the net capacity addition of renewable power exceeded that of conventional power.
  4. The renewable energy sources installed capacity as on 31.03.2014 was 31,692.14 MW and as on 31.03.2017, the power sector has achieved an installed capacity of 57,260.2 MW of renewable energy sources which is a dramatic increase of 80% during the period of 2014-2017.
  5. Adequate power is available to meet the demand of consumers with access to electricity. In 2013 and 2014, the demand-supply gap of Energy and Peak stood at 4.2% and 4.5% respectively. Currently, this has now decreased to 0.7% and 1.6% respectively in 2016 and 2017.

Over the next 20 years, the demand for energy is projected to increase to twice its present quantity and to counter this requirement, the natural resources which the geography of India has in its possession have the potential to change the energy security status of the country. The power produced from conventional sources during the period 2012-17 is 99,209.47 MW against a target of 88,537 MW, an increase of 112%. Though the growth of power generation is a good sign, it isn’t a good sign for the clean energy revolution.

It is heartening to note that simultaneously the production potential of renewables has been increased. Renewables have the ability to meet supply when the peak demand necessitates it. This reform is vital for India’s energy security and both the government and the citizens must play an active role in paving the way for renewables. The important aspects of optimum resource utilisation are its accessibility and affordable prices to the low-income groups. This would play a crucial role in bringing the clean energy revolution with a higher degree of reliability with efficiency, sophisticated hi-tech technologies and low operation and maintenance costs.

To bring on a robust clean energy revolution, the authorities concerned with this important assignment can look upon the less tapped avenues of tidal power, hydropower, biomass and biogas energy and geothermal energy. The channels for clean energy are still in a nascent phase, but it’s growing. If plans and policies are properly executed, then India could certainly lead in bringing a clean energy revolution.

In creating a well-established renewable energy infrastructure, there are many challenges which subject experts must take into notice before strategizing the next step for storing the maximum amount of produced energy. A range of problems has existed, like that of the location of production grids, the transmission of power to household consumption, and a significantly higher degree of costs associated with it. The grids already have a capacity problem and operations make it weak and unstable to carry the optimum capacity of energy. There aren’t sufficient incentives for the production plants to optimally handle the renewable energy. The potential of generating renewables are hindered by social and environmental challenges in most parts of the country where a significant quantity of generation of renewable does exist.

For example, in the state of Assam, one of the major hydroelectric power projects remain stalled due to socio-economic and environmental challenges. Problems exist, but it is our absolute responsibility to adopt efficient energy sources for creating a brighter and greener future.

The inspirational takeaway message is that India currently has the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme until 2022 and we should expect this to usher in a new era in India. The 21st century is at a critical juncture where the powers of science and technology, has shaped the world to a great extent but at a significant cost. If due care and steps to slow down the pace is not taken, an inevitable crash of human civilisation cannot be avoided. The government, public and private sectors, the civil society, the young generation need to step up and work together. A great responsibility lies on the public avenue to learn the importance of clean energy, be sensitive to environmental issues and switch their living styles.