Tap re­new­able en­ergy

This is a must to en­sure en­ergy ac­cess and en­ergy se­cu­rity

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY - NAYAN­JY­OTI GOSWAMI

IN­DIA IS SUF­FER­ING from acute en­ergy poverty. Per capita elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion of the coun­try is one of the low­est in the world with 778 kilo­Watt-hour (kWh) per year against the global aver­age of 2,600 kWh per year. About 306 mil­lion people ,mostly those in ru­ral ar­eas, do not have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity. Worse, 818 mil­lion people de­pend on tra­di­tional biomass for cook­ing. In 2013, In­dia ranked 136th on the hu­man de­vel­op­ment in­dex of undp.

Clearly, en­ergy ac­cess is­sues need to be ur­gently ad­dressed. While do­ing so In­dia needs to be cau­tious as it is vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change im­pacts. At present, coal-based power gen­er­a­tion is the largest source of car­bon emis­sions in the coun­try. These emis­sions will in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly if the grow­ing num­ber of coal­fired power sta­tions are not checked.

The coun­try’s de­pen­dency on hy­dro car­bon-based fuel is also in­creas­ing by the year.At present, it meets 30 per cent of the pri­mary en­ergy re­quire­ment through im­ports.The new govern­ment must strike a bal­ance be­tween en­ergy se­cu­rity and its im­pact on health and cli­mate.

1. The govern­ment must achieve the goals of Ru­ral Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion Pol­icy and pro­vide at least one unit of elec­tric­ity per day to ev­ery ru­ral house­hold by 2019.Re­new­able en­ergy-based mini-grids have emerged as the so­lu­tion for en­ergy ac­cess. They must be pro­moted through ef­fec­tive pol­icy and fi­nan­cial mech­a­nisms. The govern­ment must also pro­vide clean cook­ing fuel in ru­ral In­dia through lpg cylin­ders, piped biogas or im­proved cook­stoves.

2. In­dia needs to har­ness the full po­ten­tial of re­new­able sources.The govern­ment must frame poli­cies so that the share of re­new­able en­ergy in­creases from mar­ginal to main­stream in the to­tal en­ergy mix. The 12th Plan al­lo­cates

` 10,94,938 crore for the en­ergy sec­tor, of which 3 per cent is for re­new­able en­ergy. This should in­crease to 25 per cent.

3. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Power, about 25,000 MW can be saved through ef­fi­cient use of en­ergy. This can also help re­duce the de­mand-sup­ply gap by min­i­mal in­vest­ment.The new govern­ment should en­sure that en­ergy ef­fi­ciency is em­bed­ded in all kinds of en­ergy uses.

4. Cur­rent en­ergy poli­cies are frag­mented and han­dled by five sep­a­rate min­istries. The govern­ment must con­sol­i­date these poli­cies and bring co­her­ence among min­istries by in­sti­tut­ing an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion that will have a holis­tic view of In­dia’s en­ergy mix model.

5.Even re­new­able en­ergy can be detri­men­tal to the en­vi­ron­ment if ad­e­quate mea­sures are not taken. The new govern­ment must en­sure that the en­vi­ron­ment is pro­tected.

In­dia must

choose its en­ergy care­fully be­cause it is vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change

im­pacts

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