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Renewable Energy in India - Status and Future

Renewable Energy in India - Status and Future



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Published by: gauravjoshi.d9403 on May 28, 2009
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V Subramanian, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy,Government of India
 India's need to increase energy provision for its population and fast-growingeconomy coincides with increased concerns regarding climate change globally. This poses a formidable challenge but is perceived to be a great opportunity forthe country to increase the share of renewables in the overall energy mix. India'sapproach to the global problem is to meet its energy needs in a responsible,sustainable and eco-friendly manner. A brief outline of government policies andissues related to renewable energy financing, large scale dissemination, researchand development are given here, along with the role of renewable energy incontributing to national energy security.
India is a developing and fast-growing large economyand faces a great challenge to meet its energy needs ina responsible and sustainable manner. India's task is toprovide energy to over 600,000 human settlements,spread over 300,000 square km of territory, with apopulation of over one billion which is still growing, butexpected to stabilise at around 1.6 billion during thenext 40 years. The total primary energy supply in Indiahas grown at a compound rate of around 3.4 per centsince independence to reach 537.7Mtoe (million tonnesof oil equivalent) in the year 2005 (IEA 2007). Whilecommercial primary energy grew at 5.3 per cent overthe period, non-commercial energy grew at only 1.6 percent, which is a reflection of industrialisation. As a result, the share of commercialenergy grew from 28 per cent in 1950 to around 70 per cent in 2004 with anassociated decline of non-commercial energy.In 2005, India accounted for 4.7 per cent of the world's primary energy supply. Percapita energy consumption was just 27 per cent of the world average at slightlyover 500kg oil equivalent.
Electric power
India accounted for 3.1 per cent of the world's electricity consumption in 2005with an installed capacity of 135,780 MW as of September 2007. Of this, 87,200MW is accounted for by thermal power plants, 34,200 MW by large hydro plants,
4,100 MW by nuclear, and the balance from renewable sources. The consumptionof electricity in India rose from 4,157 GWh in 1950 to 38,6134 GWh in 2004/05. The per capita consumption was 612 kWh in 2004/05 as against 329 kWh in 1990(CEA). Despite the significant growth in electricity generation, shortage of powercontinues to exist primarily due to the growth in power demand outstripping thegrowth in generation and generating capacity addition. In May 2007, the countryexperienced an estimated eight per cent energy shortage and 12.3 per centshortage of peaking power. Even so, the 2001 census recorded12 .5 per cent of urban households and 56.5 per cent of rural households as stillunelectrified.
Modern energy provision
One of India's major challenges is to provide a large proportion of the country'spopulation with access to modern energy sources. Around 86 per cent of ruralhouseholds and more than 20 per cent of urban households still rely primarily ontraditional fuels, such as firewood, wood chips or dung cakes, to meet theircooking needs. The use of traditional fuels can cause health problems arising fromindoor air pollution. Only five per cent and 2.7 per cent of rural households useLPG and kerosene respectively as a primary cooking fuel whereas 44 per cent and22 per cent of urban households uses LPG and kerosene respectively. With lowstandards of living, ie below the per-person-a-day International Poverty Line of US$2, at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates of about 75 per cent population, thetask of providing modern energy services becomes severely compounded. Thishas resulted in low levels of per capita energy and electricity consumption onaccount of low levels of purchasing power.Projections made by the Integrated Energy Policy Committee of the PlanningCommission have estimated that in order to meet the projected GDP growth of eight per cent per annum by 2031-2032, the demand for primary energy willincrease to 1,836Mtoe representing almost a four fold increase since 2003-04.Commercial energy requirements would also be around 1,651Mtoe, which is anapproximate five fold increase since the year 2003-04.
Renewable energy
India intends to provide a reliable energy supply through a diverse andsustainable fuel mix that addresses major national drivers. These include securityconcerns, commercial exploitation of renewable power potential, eradication of energy poverty, ensuring availability and affordability of energy supply andpreparing the nation for imminent energy transition.
 The country has an estimated renewableenergy potential of around 85,000 MW fromcommercially exploitable sources: Wind,45,000 MW; small hydro, 15,000 MW andbiomass/bioenergy, 25,000 MW. In addition,India has the potential to generate 35 MWper square km using solar photovoltaic andsolar thermal energy.
Grid-interactive renewable power
By March 2007, renewable electricity, excluding hydro above 25 MW installedcapacity, has contributed 10,243 MW representing 7.7 per cent of total electricityinstalled capacity. There has been phenomenal progress in wind power and, withan installed capacity of over 7,100 MW, India occupies the fourth position globally.
Decentralised and stand alone renewable electricity systems
Over 3,000 remote and inaccessible villages and hamlets have been provided withbasic electricity services through distributed renewable power systems. Inaddition, over 75 MW biomass based gasification systems in the capacity range of 10-100 kW are in use for small scale industrial applications and electrificationpurposes. Finally, over 1.3 million solar home lighting systems, including lanternsand street lights have been set up in different parts of the country.
Heat energy for cooking purposes
Since the 1970s, around 3.9 million family-type biogas plants have been set up toprovide clean cooking energy options in rural areas. Biogas based cooking in ruralareas has made cooking a pleasure with associated social and environmentalbenefits including zero indoor pollution.
Process heat for domestic, industrial and commerical purposes
Use of solar thermal systems has started gaining momentum, with a solarcollector area of 1.9 million sq metres already installed to meet these needs.
Liquid biofuels for transport applications
 The large scale development of biofuels, including straight vegetable oil (SVO),biodiesel and bioethanol is still in its infancy. In 2004 around 0.1Mtoe ethanol wasused for blending with petrol. Biodiesel use is still negligible. However, a policyframework for blending five per cent ethanol with petrol and the development of abiodiesel programme, based on non-edible oil, has been developed.

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