SIGNIFICANCE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

The renewable source of energy has attracted global attention and evoked interest among planners, policy makers, economists and environmental activists as a viable option to achieve the goal of sustainable development.

India is facing an acute energy scarcity which is hampering its industrial growth and economic progress. Setting up of new power plants is inevitably dependent on import of highly volatile fossil fuels. Thus, it is essential to tackle the energy crisis through judicious utilization of abundant the renewable energy resources, such as biomass energy, solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy. Apart from augmenting the energy supply, renewable resources will help India in mitigating climate change. India is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs. Most of the power generation is carried out by coal and mineral oil-based power plants which contribute heavily to greenhouse gases emission.

The average per capita consumption of energy in India is around 500 W, which is much lower than that of developed countries like USA, Europe, Australia, Japan etc. However, this figure is expected to rise sharply due to high economic growth and rapid industrialization. The consumption of electricity is growing on the worldwide basis. Energy is a necessity and sustainable renewable energy is a vital link in industrialization and development of India. A transition from conventional energy systems to those based on renewable resources is necessary to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy and to address environmental concerns.

Renewable Energy Sources in India

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy can play a major role in reducing India’s reliance on fossil fuels by making use of thermo-chemical conversion technologies. In addition, the increased utilization of biomass-based fuels will be instrumental in safeguarding the environment, creating new job opportunities, sustainable development and health improvements in rural areas. Biomass energy could also aid in modernizing the agricultural economy. A large amount of energy is expended in the cultivation and processing of crops like sugarcane, food grains, vegetables and fruits which can be recovered by utilizing energy-rich residues for energy production. The integration of biomass-fuelled gasifies and coal-fired energy generation would be advantageous in terms of improved flexibility in response to fluctuations in biomass availability with lower investment costs.

Solar Energy

Solar power, a clean renewable resource with zero emission, has got tremendous potential of energy which can be harnessed using a variety of devices. With recent developments, solar energy systems are easily available for industrial and domestic use with the added advantage of minimum maintenance. Solar energy could be made financially viable with government tax incentives and rebates.

An exclusive solar generation system of capacity of 250 to KWh units per month would cost around Rs. 5 Lacs, with present pricing and taxes. Most of the developed countries are switching over to solar energy as one of the prime renewable energy source. The current architectural designs make provision for photovoltaic cells and necessary circuitry while making building plans.

Wind energy

Wind power is one of the most efficient alternative energy sources. There has been good deal of development in wind turbine technology over the last decade with many new companies joining the fray. Wind turbines have become larger, efficiencies and availabilities have improved and wind farm concept has become popular. It could be combined with solar, especially for a total self-sustainability project. The economics of wind energy is already strong, despite the relative immaturity of the industry. The downward trend in wind energy costs is predicted to continue. As the world market in wind turbines continues to boom, wind turbine prices will continue to fall. India now ranks as a “wind superpower” having a net potential of about 45000 MW only from 13 identified states.

Hydro Electric Power

India has a huge hydro power potential, out of which around 20 % has been realized so far. New hydro projects are facing serious resistance from environmentalists. Resettlement of the displaced people with their lands becomes major issue.

Waste-to-energy

Waste-to-energy plants offer two important benefits of environmentally sound waste management and disposal, as well as the generation of clean electric power. Waste-to-energy facilities produce clean, renewable energy through thermochemical, biochemical and physicochemical methods. Moreover, waste-to-energy plants are highly efficient in harnessing the untapped sources of energy from a variety of wastes.