What are the conventional sources of energy?


What are the conventional sources of energy?

1. Coal:

Coal is the major source of energy. It provides employment to over 7 lakh workers. Its reserves are substantial. Coal has a favour over other fuels as it can be converted into other forms of energy.

Presently, it is the principal source of electricity in India. According to an estimate, coal and lignite account for about 60 per cent of the country’s commercial energy consumption.


In future, they are also expected to play more important role in power generation. Besides this, coal is also an essential input in the steel and carbo-chemical industries.

Coal’s reserves are mainly clustered around a belt extending over the western part of West-Bengal, South Bihar, Orissa, North-Eastern and Central Madhya Pradesh, Eastern figure of Maharashtra and the northern extremity of Andhra Pradesh.

In Assam, there are also some scattered deposits. According to the latest estimates made by Geological Survey of India, the reserves of coal up to January 1990 are to the tune of 18604 crore tonnes seams of 0.5 meter and above thickness down to a depth of 1200 meter. Among these, 27 per cent of reserves are of cooking variety and the remaining 73 per cent are of non-cooking variety.

The current estimate of lignite reserves in India is about 629 crore tonnes, 80 per cent occurring in Tamil Nadu. Smaller deposits exist in Gujarat. Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. Naively area of Tamil Nadu contains about 330 crore tonnes of which 200 crore tonnes fall in the proven category.


Naively lignite has much less ash content than the average Indian Coal and is consistent in quality. The growth of coal production after nationalisation of industries in 1972 was to the tune of 1.7 crore tonnes which in 1988-89 rose to the extent of 19.5 crore tonnes. This has placed India into fifth position on the global map.

The total requirement of coal is likely to increase to 400 million tonnes. The strategies for higher production have been as under:

(i) To increase production from existing mines through marginal improvement.

(ii) To open new mines, both underground and open cast, adopting latest technology.


(iii) Reconstruction of existing mines having up gradation of production through mechanisation

The consumption of coal at the end of Sixth Plan was 139.23 million tonnes as against the target of 155.70 million tonnes. During the Seventh Plan, overall demand for coal would shoot up to 220 million tonnes. The coal production was 327.79 million tonnes in 2001-02 against the production of 211 million tonnes in 1990-91.

2. Petroleum:

The second half of the present century may be called the oil age. That is why; it is called the “Oil King” or the “Liquid Gold”. It is a very important source of energy and the basis of many chemical industries.

In Indian context, the resources in mineral oil and natural gas are small and these are confined on Nahar-Katia-Moran area in Upper Assam, Bombay High Off and the Bassein structure, Ankleshwar region of Gujarat.


The actual output of crude oil before the recent discoveries of oil fields used to be negligible, only 0.5 million tonnes, till 1961 but with the striking of new oil wells since then, the output has significantly increased to 12.5 million tonnes in 1980-81 and 34.1 million in 1989-90.

It further increased to 36.8 million tonnes in 2000-01. India’s total proved reserves of crude oil are estimated to be 131.3 million tonnes.

Further, the production of crude oils shot up to 24.3 crore tonnes in 2000-01 against 16.83 lakh tonnes in 1990-91. The domestic production of crude oil fell short of requirements.

Similarly, in 1990-91, about 1.8 crore tonnes of crude oil and 62.6 lakh tonnes of petroleum products were imported to meet the country’s requirements. Net imports of crude oil and petroleum products during 1990-91 estimated to be 1.96 crore tonnes and 53.5 lakh tonnes, respectively.


Oil Exploration. The world energy crisis which took place in October, 1973 following dizzy heights in oil prices by OPEC countries has given a severe jolt to all countries.

It; has left the world bettered. In this way, the present energy crisis has risen out of a very sudden soaring of the prices of oil products.

Oil Refining. In 1951, India had only one oil refinery in Assam Oil Coy. It used to refine only 5 lakh tonnes of oil in one year. After Independence, 13 refineries were set up in different parts of the country. In January 1997, their refining capacity was 604 lakh tonnes.

Oil refineries are mainly found in Mumbai, Cochin, Barauni, Guwahati, Mathura, Chennai, Haldia, Kayali, etc. In 1996-97, 12 private refineries have been permitted to establish their own units.

3. Lignite:

Lignite or brown coal has lower energy content than black coal. Thermal Power Stations located very close to their mines are the main users. Its production was 13.28 million tonnes in 2001-02. Its reserves are found mainly at Neyveli in Tamil Nadu.

4. Nuclear Energy:

This source of energy has tremendous possibilities. According to an estimate, nuclear power station using uranium as fuel will be cheaper than a conventional station at places located away from deposits of coal by more than 800 km.

Fortunately, India is the first country in the world which is developing atomic energy. India possesses sufficient raw material for the production of atomic energy.

Its resources of Thorium are the largest in the world, i.e., 5000 tonnes. Uranium reserves have also been located in Bihar and Rajasthan.

It has been estimated that uranium reserves available in the country are about 5000 to 10000 MW of nuclear power plants. Recent Pokhran Nuclear Blast has established India’s capability to go nuclear.

The first atomic plant was set up at Tarapore. Its capacity is 424 MW. The second atomic power house has been set up at Ranapartap Sagar in Rajasthan whose capacity is also placed at 420 MW The third plant is being constructed at Kalapakam in Tamil Nadu with a capacity of 420 MW.

Another station is being built at Naroura in Uttar Pradesh with a capacity of 440 MW. There are also plans to build more nuclear power stations. Successful nuclear explosion in 1974 has given a pled of place to our country among the progressive countries of the world.

By the end of March 1975, India had built up an installed capacity of 620 MW from its atomic power station. Efforts are being made to develop solar photo altars, rural renewable energy and urban waste energy in the country.

Therefore, the prospects for the generation of atomic energy are quite bright in our country and the nuclear power seems to be the most economic situation on a long term basis for the country’s power programme.

5. Natural Gas:

Natural gas has emerged to be the most important source of energy since the last two decades. It can be produced in two ways:

(i) Associated gas together with petroleum products from oil fields.

(ii) Free gas obtained exclusively from gas fields in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Gas is used in fertilizer and petro-chemical plants and gas based thermal power plants.

Gas Authority of India Limited was set up in 1989 for the construction of pipeline for the movement of gas, oil and petroleum products.


It is a cooking gas used as fuel. During 1989-90 we produced 2000 tons of gas. Its supply falls short of the demand, so we have to depend on imports.

(b) LNG:

It is produced by compressing the gas into liquid. ONGC is its main; producer. Oil India Limited also produces it in small quantity. Its target production for 1990-91 was 824 thousand tonnes.

6. Electricity.

In India, the development of agriculture, industry, urbanization, electrification of villages and trains would not have been possible without electricity. Demand for electricity also comes from households. The following table shows the pattern of utilization of electric power produced and supplied by public sector units.

There are three main sources of power generation in our country:

(i) Thermal Power

(ii) Hydro-electric Power

(iii) Nuclear Power.

(i) Thermal Power

Is generated in India at various power stations with the help of coal and oil. It has been our major source of electric power. Its share in the total installed capacity was 67 per cent in 1950-51 which increased to 70 per cent in 1992-93. Bulk of the thermal power is derived from coal and only a small fraction comes from oil.

(ii)Hydro-electric Power

Is produced on a large scale through multipurpose river valley projects by constructing big dams over fast flowing rivers. For example, Bhakra Nangal Project, Damodar Valley Project, Hira Kund Project etc. In 1950-51, installed capacity of hydro-electric was 560 MW which increased to 19,600 MW in 1995-96.

(iii) Nuclear Power

India has also developed nuclear power. She has set up nuclear power stations of Tarapur, Kota (Rajasthan), Kalapakam (Madras), Naroura (UP). Its supply accounts for only 3 per cent of the total installed capacity. India is in favour of using nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Production of Electricity

Production of electricity was started in 1890 with the establishment of Shivamudram Hydro Electric Power Station in Karnataka. Till 1947 it& production did not make any headway. In the post independence period installed plant capacity generation and consumption of electricity have increased considerably.

It is clear from the above table that in 2001-02 installed plant capacity of electricity was 104.9 thousand KW and the generation of energy was 515.2 billion KWH. In India, 78 percent generation of electricity is from thermal power, i.e., coal.

Rural Electrification:

The scope of rural electrification in India has been expanding constantly. Under rural electrification, electricity is supplied for two purposes: (i) Production- oriented purpose, viz. minor irrigation, village industries, etc. and (ii) Supply of electricity to rural households. The job of rural electrification has been entrusted to State Electricity Boards.

By 1996 hundred per cent villages of about 12 states of the country namely A.P., Gujarat, Haryana, H.P., Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Assam, J & K and M.P., were electrified.

Rural electrification in rest of the states is in full swing. By 2001, five lakh four thousand villages were electrified and 1 crore 22 lakh pump-sets were energized. Under New Economic Policy, private sector has also been allowed to generate electricity.

There is urgent need to increase the generation of electricity in India. In the Ninth Plan, 14.5 per cent of the total outlay has been allotted for the development of electricity. Rural Electrification Corporation has been set to finance the rural electrification.

Losses of Electricity Boards:

Production and distribution of electricity in India is almost in the hands of Govt. Electricity is distributed by State Electricity Boards. At present, about all Electricity Boards are running into huge losses. They do not have funds to make payment for the electricity purchased by them.

In 1999-00, these Boards suffered loss of Rs. 18,081 crore. There are many reasons for the losses suffered by the Boards: (i) Theft of electricity (ii) Loss of electricity during the course of transmission (iii) Supply of electricity at confessional rates to agriculture, irrigation and small industries.

Government gives subsidies to Electricity Boards for supplying electricity to these priority sectors at confessional rates. In 1999-00, net subsidies worth Rs. 22,494 crore were given. In order to reduce losses of Electricity Boards, the Government is inviting private sector and foreign entrepreneurs for the generation and distribution of electricity.

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