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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Edition 10 Energy Crisis in India

India is making a lot of progress with more new billionaires being minted every month. The focus on software industry sometimes takes away from what are more pertinent problems- Water and Power.

It is no wonder that VCs have identified water and energy as the mega opportunities for the next few decades.
The crunch of energy has led Indian strategists to believe that the only solution to India's power problems is Nuclear Power as a result we signed the Nuclear Deal to import fuel and technology. Power problems are faced by all developing nations and United States of America too went through such a crisis in the 70's. As a result of it, presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter promoted the use of renewable sources of energy like solar power and also increased the mileage standards for the automobiles from 13.5 miles per gallon to 27.5 miles per gallon. This helped to create a global oil glut during mid 1980's. But as things eased off, the focus was shifted. When Ronald Regan became the president, he let the tax incentives lapse for the Solar Energy Research Institute and stripped of the solar panels in the white house installed there at the time of Jimmy Carter. He also reduced the mileage standards to 26 miles per gallon.
Looking at India's energy model, we are adopting a model, quite similar to US model. Taking a stock of successful energy models, Denmark's model is the most inspiring. Denmark also faced an energy crunch in the 80's and as its power demands grew, it had to look for alternative sources of energy. At that time, 99% of Denmark's energy requirements were met by the middle east oil. To change that scenario, the government decided to go against nuclear, and went ahead with the scheme of levying high taxes. Japan too adopted such an approach. In Japan there is higher tax on bigger vehicles and the taxes on oil per gallon are also very high. In Denmark, to reduce electricity consumption, a CO2 tax was introduced. When the consumers saw a CO2 tax in their bills, they automatically resorted to an energy conservation approach. You might think that Denmark's economy would have slowed down. No, it has risen by about 70% since 1981 and there is only about 2% of unemployment there.
The model of nuclear powered energy model has also been successful and countries like France get 78% of their electricity requirements from nuclear energy. But the atomic path has had its fare share of negative effects. The two major accidents that have happened in the nuclear era has been that of Chernobyl in Russia in 1986 and the partial meltdown of core at three mile island in 1979. So it is a very risky proposition. But since we have decided now to power our economy forward to follow a high energy print, we could be in for tough times ahead, in terms of our oil consumption. Being an agricultural nation we could have come up with a more ingenious solution, similar to that followed by
Brazil, when it started a national program to produce ethanol from sugarcane. Today, between the domestic oil production and the ethanol industry it does not need to import oil. India today is highly depended on oil. Now that global oil prices have gone down, the government is thinking to reduce the price of petrol and diesel, rather than helping out the oil companies to recover their losses incurred during the last few years. Right now there seems to be a gloomy prognosis for our economic recovery, which is heavily dependent on energy and power.
India had to curb its high-polluting coal consumption in the near future or risk burning through its reserves.
India was projected to import 750 million tonnes of oil and 1.4 billion tonnes of coal a year by 2031 and 2032.
According to the International Energy Agency, more than half of the world's energy demands by 2030 will come from India and its fellow emerging economic powerhouse China.
Already among the world's top 10 oil importers, India is expected to become the world's fourth-largest by 2025, according to US government data.
The Ministry of Coal projected India's coal imports for 2008-2009 to be around 58 million tonnes.
Coal currently provides just under 55 percent of the country's massive electricity needs, resulting in a huge carbon footprint on account of the country's 1.2 billion population.
India should improve energy efficiency and make a very rapid move to use more renewable sources of energy.
While the state is facing power shortage and with no sustainable solution visible
In the near future, experts feel that renewable energy resources could be highly effective in solving problem
Though solar energy, if made grid specific, can do wonders in solving the energy crisis of the state, lack of political will-power is the biggest hurdle in effective propagation and subsequent use to generate electricity.
According to an expert on renewable energy resources, "Solar energy is the ultimate solution. The wind sector is progressing fast and as of today, India is generating 7,400 MW of electricity through wind. Solar photovoltaic is lagging behind due to some hurdles."
Solar thermal is already well accepted in the country. Solar dryers, water heaters have directly contributed in conservation of electricity. But due to some technological limitations solar photovoltaic has failed to gain necessary popularity.
Though at present, it is very costly option, the much desired breakthrough will soon be achieved to make it cost effective.
Another problem is that of storing the electricity. Conventional batteries are very costly and have a life span of around two-and-half years. These batteries are suitable for small scale power generation. Unless the technology allows us to develop efficient storage devices which are cost effective too, solar photovoltaic is going to remain confined in limited domain.
Grid interactive solar energy is getting popular in other European countries as it does not require a battery to store generated energy which is actually the biggest trouble.
Solar plates tap the solar power and provide it to grid where it gets stored. People who install solar panels get money for maintaining it in addition to the earnings through the sale of power.
Renewable energy resources like small hydro, micro hydro, wind, solar thermal, biomass-based stand-alone power generation units have really succeeded in India, whereas there is no serious study for tapping the potential of geothermal energy. Potential of wave and tidal energy remains untapped just without any satisfactory reason.


 Total consumption of electricity in state in 2007-08 was 69,883
MKWH (Million Kilo Watt Hours). It was 12.5% more than the previous year.
 At the end of 2007-08, the installed capacity of electricity generation in the
state 16,614 MW. The total installed capacity availabe to the state was
21,654 MW because of 5,040 MW of central allocation.
 This increase was because of addition of 500 MW of thermal power, 428
MW by renewable sources and 233 MW by nuclear source.
 In the power generation, thermal generation had a share of 51%, Hydro-
power 17%, Renewable sources 13%, Natural Gas 11%, Nuclear power 2%
and captive power had a share of 6%.
 The total generation of electricity, renewable sources included, during 2007-
08 was 79,721 MKWH. In it, government company Mahagenco had a share
of 66%. Tata Power followed with 15% and Reliance Energy with 6%.
 The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company purchased 78,836
MKWH during 2007-08. It costed Rs 15,262 Crores while the previous year,
Rs 11,706 were spent for the purchase.

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