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Renewable Energy in India

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 3469 words Published: 12th Jun 2017

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As a developing country with the world’s second highest population, India is facing nationwide shortage in power supply. It is very essential to make optimum use of all available resources of power inside the nation and thus found that the New and Renewable Sources of Energy (NRSE) can contribute significantly towards power generation in forthcoming years. Development of new technology and advancement in this sector has lead to commercialization of numerous NRSE technologies. This sector has also got an advantage of reducing pollution and creating awareness of the necessity to reduce carbon emissions to protect the environment. Recognizing the importance of renewable energy sources, the Government of India set up a fully fledged independent department named “Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources” in 1982 and later on the name converted into the “Ministry of New and Renewable Energy” (MNRE) in the year 1992. MNRE acts as the nodal agency of the Government of India for all matters relating renewable energy. It undertakes policy making, planning, promotion and co-ordination functions relating to all aspects of renewable energy.

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New reports states that India is the fourth largest nation in installed power generation capacity in the field of renewable energy sources with a total capacity of 17,594 MW. Wind, Solar, Hydro, Biomass and Geothermal are main renewable energy sources and India has high potential of these resources to exploit. Power generation from wind and solar energy resources has posted enormous growth in recent years. India became favorite destination for renewable energy technology developers, equipment manufacturers and service providers. Certain measures are adopted by the Government of India for the eradication of power poverty, commercial exploitation of renewable energy resources by ensuring affordability and availability as well.

The estimated potential of renewable energy in the country is around 85,000 MW from commercially exploitable sources. Whereas wind resources accounts to 45,000 MW, small hydro projects dominates 15,000 MW and 25,000 MW from biomass/bio energy sources. It is calculated that India has the potential to generate 35 MW/Km2 with the use of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy.

The main resources of renewable energy in India are as follows:

  • Wind Energy
  • Solar Energy
  • Hydro Power
  • Bio-mass
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Tidal energy

Wind Energy.

With reference to the world wind energy report-2009, India has the 5th largest installed wind power capacity in the world following USA, China, Germany and Spain. India is the second largest wind energy market in Asia, with a growth rate of 14% reaching a capacity of 11 GW. India became a global player in wind energy sector in the past few years and expected to expand modest growth in the future with the strong domestic market.

The idea of wind power in India developed in 1990s, and has achieved significant and tremendous growth within the last two decades. The performance and reliability of wind related power increased the installation of more wind turbines across the country and now it became a capacity addition of energy in Indian subcontinent. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep are the Indian states/union territories with high potential of wind energy utilization.

At the end of March 2010, Tamil Nadu is having the most wind generating capacity of 4889.765 MW and Muppandal wind farm of Tamil Nadu is the largest in India.

Suzlon holds 52% of domestic market share, is the largest wind power company in India. In addition to this Suzlon has risen to world’s 5th largest with 12.3% of the global market share. The Indian wind market achieved quality growth with the government incentives and new policy of GBI (Generation Based Incentive) scheme that helped foreign and domestic private power producers and investors to establish large-scale, commercial wind plants across the country. Turbine technology is improving, that may contribute to higher capacity utilization of wind in future. The modern wind turbines produced in India with foreign collaboration have capacities more than 1 MW and they are highly efficient for a tropical country like India. The country has an advantage in the installation of offshore wind plants with 7,600 km of coast.

The concept of wind farm became popular with the higher efficiencies and availability due to the development of wind turbine technology over the last decade. Recent studies shows that wind energy can be combined with solar for the generation of self- sustainable renewable energy projects. The relative immaturity of this sector may not be sustainable with the strong economics of wind energy. India is renowned as “wind superpower with an installed potential of 4500MW from thirteen states.

Solar Energy

India is blessed with rich solar energy resource due to its geographical location. It is calculated that the average intensity of solar radiation obtained on Indian subcontinent is 200 MW/km2 and this amounts to 657.4 Million Mega Watts of energy for the whole 3,287 million square kilometer. By considering these characteristics India can generate enormous amount of energy from this resource and it would be likely thousand times greater than the electricity demand in 2015 even with the theoretical assumption of 10% efficiency for photo voltaic modules. Considering these potentials the country is emerging as a strong hub for solar energy production.

The amount of solar energy produced in India is very less when compared to other resources of energy and this accounts to merely 0.4%. As of October 2010 the grid-interactive solar power was about 114.74 MW. Report says that India is currently ranked number one along with the United States in terms of installed solar power generation capacity. The applications of solar energy is active in the fields of telecommunications, lighting, water heating, battery charging, cooking and other small power requirements. Today there is some14-15 lakhs of solar photo voltaic systems in operation and around 6 lakhs solar cookers in use and an area of around 200,000M2 has been developed for solar water heating applications. The present scenario of installed capacity is around 33-35 grid interactive solar photovoltaic power plants with an aggregate capacity of around 2-2.5 MW, that generate around 2.5 million units of electricity per annum, in sharp contrast to the estimated potential of 50,000 MW

Solar energy is a perfect alternative for conventional energy in the case of domestic and industrial applications, with an advantage of minimum maintenance and maximum viability. Government of India promoting the installation of new solar and other renewable energy projects by giving tax incentives and rebates. The government of India proposed some large projects in solar energy sector, in cooperation with some private investors. Thar Desert in the state of Rajasthan has been set aside for solar power projects, sufficient to generate 700 to 2,100 Giga watts and it would be the next generation powerhouse of India.

The ministry for new and renewable energy aims to bolster the annual photovoltaic production to at least 1,000 megawatts a year by 2017, as part of the National Solar Mission. It is estimated that the power generation capacity in India would have to increase to 306 GW in the next ten years in order to sustain an average growth rate around 10%. “India unveiled a $19 billion plan, to produce 20 GW of solar power by 2020.Under the plan, solar-powered equipment and applications would be mandatory in all government buildings including hospitals and hotels”. On November 18, 2009, it was reported that India was ready to launch its National Solar Mission under the national action plan on climate change, with plans to generate 1,000 MW of power by 2013. Recent developments in technology made solar power as a clean renewable; zero emission resource harvested using a variety of modern devices. Developed countries like USA & Australia are switching over to solar energy as their main source of energy production.

3.3. Hydropower

India was one of the pioneers in the establishment of hydro based electric power plants. Presently India ranks 5th worldwide in terms of exploitable hydro-potential and is also enriched with a large potential of hydro power, of which only around 20% has been utilized so far. It is the most abundant and widely used form of renewable energy in the Indian subcontinent. Electricity is generated in hydro power plants through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. The hydro electricity is considered as a clean and renewable source of energy but it also have some bad effects in environment clearance due to the large pondage area.

About 21% of the electric power consumed in India is generated by hydro electric plants. As of November 2010, the installed hydro power capacity was around 37,400 MW. The public sector has a major share of 97% in this sector. It is clear from the information given by NHPC (National Hydro electric Power Cooperation) that “Economically exploitable and viable hydro potential assessed to be about 84,000 MW at 60% load factor (1, 48,701 MW installed capacity). In addition, 6780 MW in terms of installed capacity from Small, Mini, and Micro Hydel schemes have been assessed. Also, 56 sites for pumped storage schemes with an aggregate installed capacity of 94,000 MW have been identified”. Thus, in totality India is enriched with hydro-potential of about 2 50 000 MW.

The hydro power project t in Darjeeling and Shivanasamudra was established in 1898 and 1902 respectively and was one of the first of that kind in Asia. The Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station (NJHPS) of Himachal Pradesh is the largest hydro power plant in India, with an installed capacity of 1,530MW. It has been estimated that the potential for small hydropower schemes up to 25 MW are under Ministry of Non-Conventional Sources of energy capable of generating 15000 MW per annum.

3.4. Biomass

Biomass is defined as “A renewable energy resource derived from the carbonaceous waste of various human and natural activities”. This can be derived from a number of sources like; agricultural/crops, raw material from the forest, household waste and even with the by-products from the timber industry.

There is a sort of high potential of biomass energy available in the country at about 540 million tonnes/year covering resources such as agro residues, firewood, and other organic wastes. These kinds of resources are mainly utilized by the people of villages and rural areas of the country. The potential to install 19500 MW capacities through biomass conservation technologies like combustion, gasification, incineration and also bagasse has been rectified. This sector is in lack of technological advancement and proper utilization so that India could only tap around 380 MW capacities so far. There is a wide scope for the utilization of these resources for the benefit of rural population in the remote areas of India.

India ranks 2nd in the utilization of biomass based power generation with an ideal environment of water based vegetation as well as organic wastes. Today bio energy has became an essential add up to India’s energy mix with the favorable climatic conditions. As on October 2010, the cumulative installed capacity of grid-interactive biomass and bagasse cogeneration power was 2313.33 MW. Bio mass sector attracted an investment worth USD 120 million providing vast employment opportunities to village men and also generating an amount of 5,000 million units of electricity in every year. As per the notification in 11th plan period the Government of India plans to add as much as 1700 MW through biomass and bagasse cogeneration in various states. Various promotional policies in the form of incentives, financial assistance, concessions and duty exemption are available for biomass power projects. In addition to these, SERC (State Electricity Regulatory Commission) & IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) provides capital subsidies and loans for the setting up of biomass based units.

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In present day scenario, biomass utilization for generation of energy has gained momentum due to the scarcity of the conventional energy resources as well as to prevent environment from GHG emissions. The development of efficient biomass handling technology, improvement and establishment of small and large-scale biomass-based power plants can play a major role in rural development. The orientation on green power marketing will leads to tremendous growth of the bio energy industry in the future.

3.5. Geothermal energy

According to the geological, geochemical, shallow geophysical and shallow drilling data, it is predicted that India has a great potential of geothermal power about 10600 MW. This can be economically harnessed for various purposes including industrial and domestic applications. India holds 15th rank in the utilization and applications of geothermal power when comparing to other leading countries. India will need to depend more on renewable and eco-friendly energy sources in coming days due to the increasing environmental problems and cost with fossil fuel as well as nuclear based projects.

Geothermal energy is the natural heat available inside the core of earth. This energy is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil. Geothermal energy is an enormous, underused heat and power resource that is clean and reliable. Rocks covered on the surface of India ranging in age from more than 4500 million years to the present day and distributed in different geographical units. Geological survey of India has been identified more than 300 hot spring locations suited for geothermal utilization. Geothermal power projects in India have not been exploited at all due to the abundant supply of coal at comparatively cheap rates. Some of the potential sites for geo thermal in India are listed below

  • Puga Valley-Jammu & Kashmir
  • Tatapani-Chhattisgarh
  • Godavari Basin Manikaran-Himachal Pradesh
  • Bakreshwar-West Bengal
  • Tuwa-Gujarat
  • Jalgaon-Maharashtra
  • Unai-Maharashtra

India will further strengthen its clean energy portfolio with geothermal energy and open the gates for more investments in the future. The MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) of India is moving forward with geothermal and other renewable energy sources by the implementation of research, development and demonstration program.

Tidal energy

The geographical location of India is most favorable for harnessing tidal energy as the country is surrounded by sea on three sides. Government of India took some initiative for the tidal power development and certain places with potentials have also been located. The most favorable locations are the Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kachchh on the coastal area of Gujarat state. The maximum tidal range in these proposed sites are 11 m and 8 m with average tidal range of 6.77 m and 5.23 m respectively. The Ganges Delta in the Sunderbans in West Bengal also has a very good potential for small scale power projects. As per the surveys and data available, the economic tidal power potential in India is of the order of 8000-9000 MW with about 7000 MW in the Gulf of Cambay about 1200 MW in the Gulf of Kachchh and less than 100 MW in Sundarbans. The proposed project of Kachchh with an installed capacity of about 900 MW is able to generate electricity at about Rs. 0.9/unit.

With reference to the recent data available, the first tidal project of India is coming up in Durgaduani Creek of the Sundarbans. The project is aimed on technology demonstration with a capacity of 3.75MW, span over an area of 4.5 KM.

Structure of Indian Power Industry

Indian power industry comprises of various governmental bodies in charge of installation, generation and supply of electricity. Public owned State Electricity Boards (SEB) is the controlling agency for planning and implementing the power development programmes in their respective states, with major input from resources inside the state. These state level electricity boards are controlled and co-ordinate by the central ministry of power. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) along with its subsidiaries is in charge of managing all renewable energy projects in India.

Ministry of Power: The whole public and private power producers of conventional energy in the country is monitored and managed by this central ministry, previously known as Ministry of Energy. This central agency comprised of separate departments for power, coal and nuclear sources of energy. Ministry of Power is an independent government body with the functions of planning and strategizing the Indian power policies & projects. Monitoring power companies, power production plants, power generation and solving the issues of shortfall etc are the responsibilities of this department. The funds are generated by the ministry of government for the public enterprises with the aid of public issues, global funds and international agencies like World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc. The Power Finance Corporation of India provides funds to major projects in power production, transmission and supply of electricity. The Ministry of Power, India is coordinated by the subsidiary organizations in all economic and technical aspects. The subsidiary organizations are as follows:

  • Central Electricity Authority (CEA)
  • National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
  • National Hydro Electric Corporation (NHEC)
  • Power Finance Corporation of India (PFCI)
  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL)
  • North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPC)
  • Rural Electrification Corporation (REC)
  • Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC)
  • Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB)
  • Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)
  • Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN)
  • Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (Power Grid India)
  • Power Trading Corporation (PTC)
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)

The generation of electricity in India is based on various sources include thermal power, hydropower, solar power, biogas energy, wind power etc. The distribution of the generated power is committed by Rural Electrification Corporation for electricity power supply to the rural areas, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation for electricity supply to the North East India regions and the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited for an all India supply of electrical power in India.

Thermal Power: Generated through the burning of fossil fuels, coal forms a majority share of the source of electricity generation in Indian subcontinent. The generated power from various thermal power stations situated across the country linked through power grids for the distribution. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is responsible for the countrywide operations of thermal power.

Hydroelectricity: National Hydro Electric Power Corporation (NHPC) operates hydro electric power plants and power generation companies. Generation of electricity through the kinetic energy of flowing water has been utilizing in Indian land for many years till date.

Wind Power: The high potential of wind energy in India encouraged the government to utilize this natural source of energy. Huge wind farms for the tapping of wind energy have been set up by the government to meet the future energy requirement

Solar Power: Installation of massive solar panels is being very common in the country, for the utilization of large scale solar energy. Small industrial and domestic applications can be meet with this form of energy. This sector is achieving a high growth with the new government initiatives.

Nuclear Power: The energy generated from huge nuclear plants and power stations are making the path for industrial development in India. Nuclear fuels are the source of energy production in these plants. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCL) manages all nuclear power plants and distributing generated power under the nuclear project scheme.


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