Energy crisis and finding a viable solution for it constitutes an important contemporary debate in India today. Energy crisis has a great bearing on all socioeconomic development of a country and its sovereignty. Indo-US nuclear deal trans-country pipelines and aggressive policy of securing petroleum fields in different parts of the worlds can be seen in light of the energy crisis.
India is not the stand alone case facing energy crisis. The world on the whole is facing energy crisis. Energy intense economies of the developed world copied with increasing demand from rapidly developing countries such as India, china, Brazil is responsible for huge increase in demand.
Plateauing of petroleum productions in traditional oil producing counties such as Saudi Arabia along with political instabilities in countries like Iraq, Iran and Nigeria has led to scenario where demand outstrips the supply.
In India there are number of factors which led to the situation of energy crisis. There has been sharp rise in the consumption of energy in India since the last decade of 20th century. The year 1991 unlashed the forces of liberalization, privatization sector and accompanying rise in energy, tidal energy etc. These resources have failed to fill the gap of demand and supply of energy due to variety of reasons. Hydroelectricity is a cheap source of energy but is inflexible in terms of location.
There are many social and environmental concerns such as displacement of tribals, submergence of forests are associated with hydroelectricity. Other renewable energy resources such as solar power, geo-thermal, tidal power are in nascent stage of development and are commercially unviable.
Non-renewable energy forms major chunk of total energy resources of the country. Coal oil or gas fired power stations produce electricity. Petroleum derivatives are used in transportation sector. Problem with not renewable energy is that India has to import a major portion of petroleum products as it is not naturally endowed with them in sufficient quantum. Soaring international prices of crude oil entails heavy outflow of foreign exchange and there is omnipresence of energy insecurity in the event of disruption in supply.
Traditional energy resources like firewood, dried cow dung cake and charcoal are being used in rural India. Such usage of traditional energy resources in inefficient and cause make life miserable for women. To achieve cent percent rural electrification as envisaged by national programmed for rural electrification, availability of ample energy is must.
Nuclear energy is being offered as panacea for energy crisis being faced by India. Nuclear energy is location independent sources of energy i.e. a unclear reactor can be set in any locality to supply electricity. Further nuclear fuel is cheaper than the petroleum. India has gained a considerable expertise in the development and harnessing of nuclear energy.
India’s nuclear program is three stage programmes which encompasses the use of vast thorium reserves in the county. Nuclear energy is seen to be capable of bridging the gap between the demand and supply of energy in India.
Of late, the nuclear energy program faced problem of non availability of natural uranium for rapid expansion of nuclear energy in country. Natural uranium occur in small quantities in India and India can not import natural uranium from outside as it is not a signatory to NPT and as a consequence NSF refuse to export any nuclear energy related material and technologies to India.
Indo–US unclear deal should be seen in light of the projected benefits of nuclear energy. July 18 deal envisages that US will co operate with India for the development of civilian nuclear technology and use its good offices to ensure NSG rules are modified in a way so that India would be able to receive natural uranium as well as advanced nuclear technologies for civilian use. The deal in turn obliges India to demarcate its civilian as well as military establishment under IAEA regime.
There are many strategic and defensive aspect undercurrents of the nuclear deal. Questions have been raised in parliament regarding India compromising its sovereignty independent foreign policy and about the reliability of USA as a long term strategic partner. Scientists have alleged that US have shifted the goal posts and is demanding more obligations from India than that were required by July 18 deal.
Former honorable president Kalama has released a road map for achieving the energy security for the nation. He visualizes important contribution by hydroelectric power and nuclear power for the attainment of energy security. He also gives emphasis on conventional source as well as renewable sources of energy such as wind power for energy security of the country.
The government of India has been pursuing other avenues also in order to achieve energy security. Government has entered into the agreements with countries like Qatar for the supply of petronet has been established for the purpose of import, storage and then marketing of LNG in India. Government is also actually looking into the feasibility or transnational gas pipelines such pipelines being proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline and Myanmar –Bangladesh India pipeline. It proposes to farm a grid of pipelines and also to rope in china so as to make such venture more secure and financially viable.
ONGC videsh limited is actively investing in overseas petroleum fields by acquiring stakes, farming partnerships with different multinational consortiums to secure hydrocarbons for the country.
India has been given a membership to group of countries involved research in international thermonuclear experimental reactor. This research is aimed at finding means to harness thermo-nuclear energy for peaceful purposes i.e. for the production of electricity. ITER is projected as means that can provide unlimited energy using the principle of nuclear fusion.
Whole India is actively trying to achieve energy security at various international levels. It is imperative that already energy infrastructure should be upgraded and made efficient. National grid system should be able to provide electricity generated out of hydel potential in Himalayas to plains of India. And wind powered electricity from costal areas to interiors. In other words, country should be capable of transporting energy access regions to energy deficit regions of the country.
There should be grater emphasis on renewable sources of energy. Government should provide funds for research and development of commercially viable methods of harnessing renewable sources of energy. India being a tropical country offers a great potential of solar energy and total energy. Government should subsides solar equipments as it has do for solar crooker.
Decentralized HEP and wind power are the commercially viable resources of renewable energy in India today. Small hydroelectric power project made built to satisfy the energy needs of surrounding villages’ offers a solution for the electrification of rural areas in mountainous regions. Wind power is already a major source of energy.
State of Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat have taken lead in this sector. Government should encourage this private sector imitative by providing the required infrastructure at war footing. So that estimate potential can be harnessed private sector participation should be encourage this private sector imitative by providing the required infrastructure at war footing. So that estimate potential can be harnessed private sector participation should be encouraged.
National policy on electricity now provides that private units can have their own captive power plants and can even sell the surplus electricity to interested buyers. Government needs to provide tax incentives such as rebate in various taxes in order to achieve active private sector participation in energy generation.
Ethanol and Biodiesel are the latest buzzwords in debates on energy crisis in India. Ethanol is produced from sugarcane and is mixed with petrol. Countries such as Brazil and USA are already using ethanol on large scale. Uses of ethanol in large scale will invariably boost sugarcane farming in country. Biodiesel is obtained by processing oil obtained from various plant seeds.
Jatropha is being promoted in vast wastelands of the country. Experts feel that the problem of huge oil import bill and the price uncertainty can be mitigated by cultivating bio-furl crop on the over 60 million hectare of wasteland available in the country. A northern railway is conducting experiment of running locomotive on bodies. Even if small percentage of ethanol and Biodiesel is blended, immense savings on import bill can be affected.
Energy crisis in India can treacle by the effective involvement of civil society. In India civil society is inactive in the field of energy conservation unlike the western countries. Energy conservation is the key civil society can lead the front by educating masses about the need to conserve energy. Energy conserved is energy earned.