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Alternatives to India's dependence on energy supply

Self-sufficiency in power or energy plays pivotal role in contributing to the growth and development of a nation. We have always noticed that developed countries have achieved greater self-sufficiency of energy compared to developing countries that are still dependent on developed countries to meet their energy requirements.

India shifted from agrarian economy to industrialization which led to increased dependence on energy. Even though India has huge sources of non-conventional energy, it had always been dependent on conventional energy sources. This was because India lacked technology to harness these resources. But this scenario changed after the change of economic policies in 1991.

Since then the concept of Alternative energy gain momentum in India due to two important reasons:

  • Considering, fossil fuels are exhaustible India felt the need to reserve them for future use and to avoid the wastage of such resources.
  • The concept of sustainable development demanded a healthy ecological balance and as such the green house gases that are emitted by burning of fossil fuel (the worst environment pollutant) needs to be prevented.

    Thus India realized the need for exploring non-conventional energy sources and set-up a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

    India has huge potential for harnessing solar energy in the western part of India i.e. Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Government launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in 2009 to generate up to 20,000 MW solar power. The government has commissioned a 50MW Solar Project at Phalodhi, Rajasthan in March 2013.

    Wind energy is the most efficient alternative source of energy and is absolutely pollution free. India has potential for wind power in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra because of the topography. India has the fifth largest installed wind power capacity in the world. The wind power plant at lamba in Gujarat is the largest in Asia.

    Being a country consisting of various types of water bodies, India has huge potential for hydro power. However this kind of energy has hazardous issues on the environment as seen in Uttarakhand recently.

    With increase in population and industrialization in India, there will be increase in the amount of waste that our country will generate. The biological products from agriculture, industrial residues, and municipal waste can be used for biomass production or bio-energy. Biomass will help India in reducing pressure on fuel food. The government has launched National Program on Energy Recovery from Urban, Municipal and Industrial wastes for promoting biomass energy.

    Recently India is giving significance to bio-fuel development for reducing its dependence on coal and petroleum. This is possible by cultivation and processing of Jatropha plant seeds. The Jatropha plant can grow in wastelands across India requires very less water and the oil from these seeds are considered to be an excellent source of bio-diesel.

    The long coastline of approximately 7500 km makes India potential for tidal and wave energy especially in the Gulf of Kutch in the state of Gujarat, Gulf of Munnar in Ramil Nadu and Gangetic Delta in the Sunderbans region of West Bengal.

    Nuclear energy is an important alternative to fossil fuels and will help in reducing global warming. With the establishment of Baba Atomic Research Centre in 1967, Nuclear energy has gained importance. Some important nuclear power project is at Tarapur, Maharashtra and Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. However, one of the main drawbacks of nuclear energy is the generation of nuclear waste and the difficulty to manage them as they take many years to lose its radioactivity and is dangerous to human health.

    Green Energy Revolution in India is thus taking place. India's slow transition from being a country dependent on conventional energy sources is gravitating towards using non-conventional energy sources.

    Reema D`souza

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