India’s fast economic growth faces the most challenging task of filling the gap between energy supply and demand with clean, reliable and inexpensive energy. With around 19% of India’s total population living without access to electricity, it continues to remain energy poor, although India is the 4th largest primary energy consumer in the world, after China, USA and Russia. In the total primary energy consumption approximately 70% of India’s electricity generation capacity comes from fossil fuels. India has one of the world’s fastest growing energy markets and it is expected to be the second largest contributor to the increase in global energy demand by 2035 accounting for 18% rise in global energy consumption.
Electricity production in India stood at 1048.7 BU in the year 2015, 8.4% over the previous year’s. As of December 2015, India’s total installed capacity based on renewable energy was 37,415 MW which is about 13% of the total installed capacity. By June 2016, this was 48,850 MW and surpassed that of hydel power for the first time. India plans to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022 with nearly 58% to be generated from solar energy. It aims to achieve its target of 100 GW Solar power by end of 2017 and in this direction the government has recently approved installation of 15 GW new solar power plants mainly in the form of solar parks. Out of 100 GW of solar energy, 40 GW is expected to come from rooftop installations, 30 GW form solar parks and 30 GW from other private or State Government schemes. Currently about 300 MW of solar power generated comes in from roof top installations.
With the Government’s initiatives, 7,779 remote villages have been electrified and more than 9 crore LED bulbs have been distributed through UJALA scheme in 2015-16. There was unparalleled transparency in e-auction of coal blocks and Mobile Apps of GARV, UJALA and VIDYUT have been launched to empower citizens.
With India ratifying Paris Agreement on Climate Change, more emphasis is being laid on solar energy with a lot of focus on green energy, although, there has also been growth in wind energy sector. There are proposals for solar parks which are large scale solar energy generation projects apart from roof top solar energy generation. India and China are also under pressure to cut down their carbon emissions. Emission from coal based power generation needs to be reduced which is still dominant. As far as nuclear energy is concerned, there are issues like fear among people and land acquisition for projects plus it takes time to materialise. At this stage of development in India, where a large part of population is without access to energy, it cannot afford to cut down its energy consumption. At the same time, it needs to promote all forms of renewable energy for the best of its people and environment.
Another source of future alternative energy may come from the world’s vast reserves of natural gas. Currently, much of our electricity comes from burning coal in power plants, releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide and other gases. Despite advancements in clean coal technology, alternatives to coal will surely be part of tomorrow’s solution. New technologies are beginning to unlock vast reservoirs of natural gas, making it both a cheap and clean alternative to coal. Natural gas is also more easily transportable over long distances and releases fewer pollutants for the same amount of energy produced. It is likely that meeting tomorrow’s energy needs will require not just one but all of these alternatives working alongside traditional fossil fuels.
The other challenges in meeting energy demand will require not just producing more, but also using what we do produce more efficiently while supplying consumers with affordable energy to allow them to maintain a comfortable standard of living. New technologies will have to be developed and new cultural habits will have to be cultivated.
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