Energy is the soul of modern civilization and we cannot afford to go without it. It is primary to our habitation, essential to our domestic and social life and a must for our economic activity. Industrial and agricultural production cannot be raised without availability of power in bulk quantity and a sustained regular supply.
Someone has very aptly described it as critical for growth of economy, social development and human welfare. One-third of the energy is used by more than three-fourth of the world population living in the developing countries comprising 4 billion people, while electricity is yet to reach 2 billion people. According to authentic reports there is vast difference in the per capita consumption level between the industrialized countries and the developing countries. The level of latter is one-sixth of the per capita consumption of the former.
Currently, India has an installed capacity of 89,000 MW of electricity and with an annual growth rate in the national demand of 9 per cent will require an addition of 10,000MW every year up to 15 years at least. According to expert calculations, by the year 2012 AD this demand is likely to be triple; beside this there are 80,000 villages in the country that are located in remote areas and are yet to be electrified.
As such, it is a big challenge, which can only be met in a determined way by streamlining the entire existing system of management, which in itself is an uphill task and core to the problem. Because, as a matter of fact, it is the mismanagement that has worsened the situation in respect thereof afflicting severe setback to the development of the country.
The main challenge, therefore, is to reform and resurrect state electricity boards as the first step to streamline the management and make it efficient. The tariff reforms, privatization of the distribution, and establishment of independent regulatory mechanism are the very next to be followed thereafter. This process has already been initiated in few states, which are required to be expanded very rapidly.
Meanwhile the Orissa government on November 27,1997, approved privatization of power distribution in the State, now managed by Grid Corporation of Orissa Ltd. (Gridco). Accordingly it has proposed to divide the state into four zones, incorporating each as a company to run the business Gridco, which presently holds 100 per cent stake, will dispose off 51 per cent of it in favour of private investors.
There are certain things to be remembered in this context that are very important here to be mentioned. The first thing is that the coal has been the main source of energy in this country. But there are limited reserves of the same. Secondly use of different non-conventional sources of energy, as an alternative is unavoidable. Thirdly, there is no scope for import of technology from the industrialized countries in this sector on various accounts.
It may further be noted that judging overall the situation of energy in the country, the fossil fuel (the coal) will continue to be the major source for the same being side by side with the development of a programme and policies to reduce dependence upon it in order to achieve sustainable economic growth and environmental stability.
Over the last century, both economic growth and the growth in consumption of natural resources have been unprecedented. The use of wood more than doubled, that of paper increase nearly six-fold, water use tripled, grain consumption nearly tripled, steel use increased fourfold, fossil fuel burning increased nearly five-fold, the economy continues to expand, but the ecosystem on which it depends does not, leading to an increasingly stressed relationship between the two.
There are signs of shrinking forests, falling water tables, eroding soils, disappearing wetlands, collapsing fisheries, deteriorating rangelands, rising carbon dioxide levels and temperatures, disappearing plant and animal species and rivers running dry. These environment indicators make it clear that the western fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered economy is not a viable model for the world.
This led us to device new policies, dominated by generous tax breaks and guaranteed purchase prices, which resulted in explosive growth in India’s domestic and industry, according to “State of the World, 1998” and 15th annual report from the World watch institute, a globally known environmental research institute.
The report notes “wind generating capacity leapt from 39 megawatts in 1992 to 820 megawatts in 1996. making India the fourth leading user of wind power.” Wind power generation in India, Germany and Denmark marks one of the few positive aspects of restructuring economies to be in tune with natural support systems.
With an eve on it, Non-conventional Energy Sources Department was set-up as far-back as in 1982, which is now under full-fledged ministry of Non-conventional Energy since 1992. Meanwhile, several technologies for grid connected power generation have been developed in renewable energy including wind power, small hydro-power and biomass based power. This technology is most economical as it offers possibility of distributed generation at or actual load centers, thereby saving cost of distribution and transmission network.
It has a greater scope in urban area industries for air and water heating, solar building designs as well as energy recovery from municipal and industrial wastes. While in rural areas energy for cooking, lighting, water pumping, agro and rural industries and for other productive activities can be effectively provided through locally available sources, in remote areas, solar energy is a better and cheaper source.
Considerable progress however, has been made through wide range of programmes in a decade and appreciable progress has been made in production of electricity from renewable sources of energy. Notable among these has been the installation of a wind power capacity of about 820 MW. It is regarded world’s largest wind resource assessment effort undertaken from 1985.
According to a report, wind power generation in India, Germany and Denmark marks one of the few positive aspects of restructuring economics to be in tune with natural support systems. Another priority area is small hydro power developments canal drops, and dams toe sites in hilly areas where 135 MW capacities has been installed and 250 MW is under implementation.
There is an ambitious plan being implemented for 3500 MW potential available in sugar mills throughout the country by way of advanced bagasse congregation. Surplus, power generation capacity of 42 MW has already been established. Projects of 49 MW capacities are under construction presently while projects aggregating to 250 MW are at different stages of planning and implementation.
Beside this, a Solar Energy Enterprise Zone has been proposed for the desert region in west Rajasthan for rapid commercialization of various solar technologies through facilities and incentives for manufacture of equipments and installation of solar power generating capacity.
An Integrated Solar Combined Cycle process project is planned near Jodhpur. The government has also issued letters’ of undent for these project based on solar photovoltaic and solar chimney technology. The solar Photovoltaic is best suited for decentralized application in rural areas. Our country is the second largest manufacturer of this system and its panels are based on crystalline silicon solar cell.
Presently, twelve countries are producing solar cells/modules and seventy companies designing and supplying solar photovoltaic system. More than 3 lacs such systems aggregating 22 MW have already been installed and major market oriented programmes have been initiated.
In view of perspectives in renewable energy, government has announced package of incentives for the projects inclusive of tax concession, 100 per cent accelerated depreciation, soft loans, custom and excise duty relief, liberalized foreign investment procedure etc. Guidelines for providing banking, third party sale/purchase have also been framed. Incentive holds the key to renewable energy.
Government plans to introduce special legislation to promote renewable energy as the existing electricity laws are considered ‘inadequate for the effective and rapid development of the renewable energy sector. Under a perspective scheme to accelerate commercialisation of renewable energy, government targeted generation of an additional 3000 MW of grid power from it by the end of Ninth Plan.
By 2012, if electricity from renewable electricity were set for 15,000 MW, it would amount to a share of 6 per cent of the total projected capacity at that time at 240,000 MW. It will be an addition over the average of about 10,000MW or 10 per cent of the anticipated total capacity of the conventional power.
But it is quite clear that an appropriate policy is a must with institutional, financial and technological framework. And government is promoting the renewable energy programme with such perspective undoubtedly.