Monday, March 28, 2011

Energy Security:An Indian dream

India is the fifth largest producer of electricity with an installed capacity of 1,65,000 mw. When it comes to per capita consumption of electricity we are ranked amongst the poorest nations of this globe with an annual consumption of about 600 kwh which is a meagre 10% of the per capita consumption of the developed world. If  we really want to raise the living standard of our poor millions we have to increase our power generation ten folds in a reasonable time span of 20-25 years. This can only be achieved if we put this in a national mission mode with an unbiased earnest approach both by our planners and technocrats.
An earnest national approach is all the more important in the light of recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan. The nature, intensity, fury and location of natural disasters cannot be predicted or fathomed by present day science and technology. However, as well meaning citizens it is our duty to ensure that natural disasters do not lead to man made secondary disasters.If some nuclear expert compares the probability of a nuclear accident or calamity with the probability of an accident while walking or driving on a road or travelling by a train, he is being untrue to not only the nation but his profession also, for an isolated accident and a catastrophe are entirely different things. while all efforts should be made to reduce the accidents on road a catastrophe should be avoided at all costs.
In the light of all this the energy security should be thought of in the face of following facts. We should primarily concentrate on all Renewable Sources of Energy.
  • The Hydro Electric potential of India is estimated to be 1,48,000 mw out of which only about 32000 mw has been harnessed so far. This is a clean and renewable source.
  • The Wind Power potential of our country is about 1,00,000 mw and so far only about 10000 mw has been utilised.
  • The Solar Power potential of about 35000 sq km of Thar desert alone is estimated  to be a huge 7,00,000 mw. Country's total potential of this source is absolutely mind boggling even if we exploit only those areas which have already been utilised for road and rail corridors, canal network etc which run into lakhs of kilometres can offer thousands of sq kms for use. Additionally a 10 km radius ring road around even medium size cities can offer about 4-5 sq kms of area sufficient to generate about 80 mw.
  • We are producing about 1,10,000 mw of Thermal Power wherein we are moving tonnes and tonnes of coal by rail incurring huge cost on logistics and straining our limited transport means simply because we do not have a national power grid in place.
    Additionally the following thought process should also get the topmost priority from the government to give a meaningful direction to our policies on energy security.
    • National power grid as a first priority.
    • We are losing about 30% of our generated power through theft and transmission losses which can be brought down to about 10% through better engineering and good governance.
    • All major buildings should incorporate energy efficient architecture and design.
    • Save our fossil fuel and carbon resources for metallurgical purposes and futuristic requirements of synthesis of organic compounds which have become such a major requirement of our daily lives.
    • The use of Nuclear Energy should almost be the last resort and kept at a level warranted by our military requirements.
    • The exorbitant cost of producing electricity, presently Rs10-11 per unit for wind power and Rs 18-20 per unit for solar power could well be reduced significantly if scales of production matching to our requirements are kept in mind