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Alternatives to India's dependence on energy supply

Energy is the key to development of a nation. It is seen that Countries that have achieved self sufficiency in energy production have always remained high in human development index. Thus, it is widely realized that the key to development of a nation is self sufficiency in energy production. It has become such a crucial indicator that the progress of a country is now estimated based on per capita consumption of energy by the people.

The demand for energy dates long back. It has increased in the last two centuries after the industrialization has begun in Europe. As a result there was heavy pressure on fossil fuels which resulted in environmental degradation.

India is facing energy crisis since its independence in 1947. With a view to make the country self sufficiency in energy production successive Government's at the centre and states accorded high priority to the promotion and utilization of renewable sources of energy to supplement conventional sources.

The demand for conventional energy has been rising at rapid rates ever since the process of economic liberalization was initiated in 1991. Infrastructure development together with rapid development in transport has put pressure on the conventional sources of energy like coal and petroleum.

India has limited reserves of non-renewable sources of energy. Yet the demand is raising .The demand for coal is estimated to be 730 million tones. Also the crude oil reserves are estimated at 736 million tones. If current rate of utilization continues it is expected that these reserves may be depleted in about 30 years. Hence successive Governments at the centre have initiated plans for full utilization of non –renewable resources since 1980's.

The first step in this direction was initiated with the establishment of Department of Non-Conventional Energy Sources in 1982. Besides Government setup Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources as a nodal agency to supplement renewable energy sources in the country. The activities included providing improved chullas, biogas plants, short rotation fuel wood trees, wind mills, solar photo voltaic systems.

The thrust of the government was to harness the untapped potential of renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, hydel power etc. It is estimated that the potential of renewable source of energy in the country is 1,83,000 MW. Of this only 8085 MW could be tapped. So there is large scope for utilization of this energy.

Another major initiative of the Government is the setting up of The Centre for Wind Energy Technology. The main aim is to harness wind power which is estimated to be over 20,000 MW.

India has a long coastline of over 6000 Km and there is immense potential of generating over 40,000MW of tidal energy. In recent years a milestone was achieved with the installation of pilot plant at Trivandrum.

The potential of Biomass in the country is estimated to be about 19,500MW. Also urban areas in the country are estimated to generate about 50 million tonnes of solid waste and about 5000MW of power by 2017. With a view to harness this energy a National Program on Energy Recovery from Urban, Municipal and Industrial wastes was launched from 1995-96.

In recent years as part of Government initiative to build strong alternative to energy security two major steps were taken. As part of utilizing the full potential of solar energy Government in 2009 started the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission to generate additional power of 20,000MW by 2022.

Nuclear energy in recent years has emerged as best alternate to fossil fuel based energy. It offers high quality of energy as such there is high demand for this fuel. Unfortunately the deposits of uranium are limited in India. As a measure to tighten its energy security India made a significant accord with United States in 2010 called the INDO-US civil nuclear agreement. As part of the agreement United States would help India in accessing nuclear energy for peaceful purpose for civilian purpose including the setting up of four nuclear power plants in India. Besides being environment friendly these plants are in the long run expected to meet the energy needs of the country.

Thus, India has alternate sources for its energy needs. As part of signatory of various International conventions India adheres to the norms for promoting environmental protection at the same time meeting the current needs as well as the demand of the future generations

Srinivas Vadada

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