Scrutiny on India’s Renewable Energy Potential

Vice Chancellor Dr. N. K. Bansal called for India to take an integrated approach to harnessing technology by using renewable energy sources, practicing energy conservation, discouraging use of private vehicles and working on possible future inventions like hydrogen.

Dr. Bansal discussed wind energy, small hydropower, biomass, and the limitations of renewable energy sources, energy conservation measures, and distribution of energy. Regarding electrical power, he said that thermal contributes nearly 70 percent while 28 percent is hydro and the rest is nuclear and wind. The gap between demand and supply, he said, persists throughout the year in most parts of the country. With this energy demand and supply, solutions being discussed at the highest level are abundantly available renewable energy: sources like solar, wind, hydro, bioenergy — plus improving the efficiency of energy uses by implementing energy conservation measures. The Vice Chancellor said the industrial sector is the major energy user accounting for 47 percent of commercial energy consumption. But energy intensity, which is the energy consumption per unit of GDP, is high in comparison to most developed countries, he said, adding that it is 3.7 times more than that of Japan, 1.55 times of the US and 1.5 times the world average. Higher energy intensity indicates a huge potential for energy conservation in the country. The energy sector holds the key for accelerating the economic growth of India. Looking at the pattern of energy consumption, he said one observes that although India ranks sixth in the total energy consumption, per capita energy consumption remains very low. Coal and oil are main commercial fuels and the country remains a net importer of energy, more than 25 percent of primary energy needs are met through imports mainly in the form of crude oil. Coal is the dominant indigenous energy source in the country, he added. The use of low-tech solar systems like solar water heating to supplement conventional heating and use of solar photovoltaics for small power applications in remote locations can be economical. Bansal pointed out these technologies could help in saving conventional energy or providing electricity in difficult regions but improvements in the technology are needed to reduce cost.
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