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Alternatives to India's dependence on energy supply

India is an energy hungry nation, with its energy consumption growth rate of 5.96% over last thirty years exceeding GDP growth of 5.7% over the same period compounded annually.

It has also become the fourth largest consumer of crude oil and natural gas in the world after USA, china and Russia in 2012-13.

Although the romanticism of calling India as world's fastest growing economy has shaken due to the present economic scenario, there is no denying that ours is still a strong economy, likely to pick up by the end of 12th five year plan.

So to support such growth rates, we are bound to consume more energy in order to produce more industrial output, increase the breadth of services sector and other energy incentive sectors.

With poverty alleviation, more people will fall in to middle class, consuming more energy than before in form of cooking gas, petrol, diesel and electricity.

India has importing crude oil of 105.96 Million Tons(MT) which is 70% of total crude oil requirements costing exchequer $ 144.3 billion and coal imports stood at 135 MT in the 2012-13 period adding to current account deficit(CAD) vows.

More than this statistics, depending on other countries for energy needs may prove to be dangerous in the long run. So to attain independence over energy resource, searching for alternatives is very essential.

The total installed capacity of power generation in India is 236.38 Giga watts which always failed to meet the peak hour demand. To meet the rising demands of the future, this capacity has to be increased by completing the presently under construction plants and by building new ones which can be carried out effectively by public-private partnership ventures which are both profit incentive and socialistic.

The policy bottle necks have to be cleared urgently to increase domestic production of energy. The recent coal scam which resulted in cancellation of coal block allocations and prohibition on coal mining at Goa and other parts of the country over environmental issues, stalled production of oil and natural gas at KG-D6 block in Andhra Pradesh due to alleged conflict of interests between Reliance industries and government of India over pricing and tremendous agitation against Kudankulam nuclear power plant etc are hurting India's chances en route to achieving energy security. Government has to take decisive action to resume the production and also invest in exploration and development of reserves of other energy sources.

Government should also develop state-of-art public transportation system, discouraging personal vehicles which will prevent India from depending on foreign countries for crude oil and petroleum and save a huge imports bill.

With raising environmental concerns over climatic changes and also due to the mortal nature of coal, crude oil and natural gas reserves, India has to look towards other less-harvested and clean sources of energy like solar, wind, shale gas and bio fuel.

Presently solar, wind, bio fuel along with hydro electricity contributes 2% to India's electricity basket. As per the data of central statistical office the potential of these clean sources is 89774MW as of March 2012.

India's diverse landscape with high altitude and hot tropical regions provides the physical potential for harnessing wind and solar energies, so governments should invest in developing the technology and infrastructure to harness it.

India is found to have good shale gas reservoirs of around 38 trillion cubic feet (tcf) as per US energy information administration across Gangetic plane, Assam, Rajasthan and other coastal parts.

The US has already mastered the technology of shale gas production and replaced its depleting conventional natural gas resources (LPG) with shale gas. India having a good bilateral agreement with US in shale gas production should look forward to attain energy security needs in the next few years.

The share of nuclear energy is 1% in our energy basket with 7 operating plants. With Indo-US nuclear pact in its last stages of 'acceptable clause settlement,' nuclear energy option can be pushed further between in cooperation with the two countries. However, before doing that administrators should answer the safety concerns of local people while pushing for more nuclear plants.

India should devolve more authority to AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) and make it a statutory body to ensure no conflict of interest between AERB and department of Atomic Energy (DAE) arises and it ensure the increase in nuclear power production and enforcing safety measures.

Biomass potential in the country is around 17538 MW whereas installed capacity is only 3135.33 MW, by developing better infrastructure for collecting and processing organic waste would surely ensure green energy notion.

Government's pro-activeness in investing and encouraging the alternative energy industries and allaying fears of people on environment and safety issues, mixed with the responsibility of citizens to minimize the wastage of energy will definitely lead to the energy independence of India.

Monic Abhishek.K

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