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Energy Scenario

Why is energy important?

  • Meeting basic human needs is important
  • Economic growth is important,
  • The environment is important,
  • International relations are important

Energy is intimately entwined with all four.

Why Energy is Critical for India?

Energy is the engine for growth. It multiplies human labour and increases productivity in agriculture, industry as well as in services. To sustain growth rate in economy, energy supply has to grow in tandem.

Global Energy & Population Growth

Global energy & population growth20-fold increase in energy use over past 150 years brought growth of world population & unprecedented prosperity


Growth rate 1850-1950 was 1.45%/yr, driven mainly by coal.  From 1950-2000 it was 3.15%/yr, driven mainly by oil & natural gas.

1974: Peak of the Great World Population Spike

SOURCE: Rostow W.W. “The Great Population Spike and After: Reflections on the 21st Century”

Problems of Energy Supply in India

Rural Electrification 

  • 84 Millions Households (mostly Rural) are today without Electricity (even though 85% villages receive electricity : Due to continued dependence on biomass (wood) has led to deforestation, loss of habitat extinction of plant and animal species. 
  • Inadequate power for agricultural operations:  Loss of agricultural productivity and growth and calling for huge subsidies in form of free electricity

Solutions Advanced by GoI for Energy Supply in India

Millions of Rural Households without Electricity

Continued dependence on wood. Massive (150 million) afforestation programme proposed along with 12 million biogas plants (Note: India has about 650,000 villages. This proposal amounts to providing 230 acres of forest and 18 biogas plants per village)

Inadequate power for agricultural operations

  • Currently, some States give free electricity for farmers.
  • In one State, Andhra  Pradesh, 230,000 pump sets get free power amounting to about 6% of the entire power produced by the State. Coupled to AT&C losses, 650 MW power can be freed for industrial/domestic consumption by providing decentralized solar pumping for agriculture.
  • To provide free electricity for farmers, AP State has allocated Rs 5000 Crores in the  budget F/Y 2009-10
  • The question now is : even with today’s high capital cost of solar PV systems, is it  better, for the State  to subside and provide the capital cost & infrastructure of solar PV-based pump sets (centralized r decentralized) , rather than perennially subsidizing electricity (revenue) costs from thermal power stations to provide free electricity for farmers…….”

Growing Dependence on Imported Oil & Gas

Indigenous reserves deplete by 2030, and Oil Prices increase year by year. This poses serious threat to national security, transportation sector and economic growth other areas

Declining oil production in India

Source of data points [1,2,3] Petroleum Minister of India, 1st . Meeting of the Standing Committee on Oil Diplomacy for Energy Security, New Delhi, 16 Nov. 2004. From: “The Hindu” 17 Nov. 2004 Page 11 “Oil Diplomacy for Energy Security”

Growing Dependence on Imported Oil

Oil substitutes proposed

  • Bio diesel  50 million acres of wasteland cultivation (or 18 million acres of intense cultivation) of bio-fuels like Jatropha yields 20 million tonnes of oil per year; also ethanol 10 million tonnes per year
  • Remaining: electric vehicles : Trucks, buses, cars, two-and three wheelers using hydrogen fuel cell technology and special batteries

Oil Crisis: A Tough & Critical Issue for India’s Economic Survival

Oil crisis affects only the Transportation sector in India, NOT the industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors that need Electricity from other energy sources

Problems of Energy Supply in India

Rapid Depletion of Fossil Fuel Reserves in India and clear limits to Capacity for (non-solar) renewable energy sources

Depletion of Fossil Fuels in India

  • With current fuel consumption rates, India will be depleted i.e. run dry of oil by 2030 , gas by 2040, coal from 2070.
  • Much earlier than 2030 India’s then 1.4 billion people will depend entirely on imported oil supplies.
  • Implications on nation’s national security when nations other than the US dominate the world economy can well be inferred.

Solutions Advanced by GoI for Energy Supply in India

Rapid Depletion of Fossil Fuel Reserves in India and clear limits to Capacity for (non-solar) renewable energy sources beyond 2030

  • Energy Mix for 2030 proposes about 15% Renewables (that includes mainly wood from afforestation and wind).
  • Even though only 60 years supply of coal is left, Solar Energy suggested by GoI less than 0.35 % of total energy production  whereas President of India had suggested nearly 35% Renewables that include large scale solar energy
  • Implicit  GoI suggestion is thorium reserves are plentiful and R&D is underway in India; also nuclear fusion R&D abroad. These R&D efforts have been going on since 1960’s i.e for nearly 50 years

Problems of Energy Supply in India

Low power sector performance & productivity in power sector has resulted

  • In energy shortages
  • Power outage
  • Poor power quality
  • 40% energy AT&C losses
  • Inadequate  (< 50%) capability to take up large scale powerplants expansion programmes ( 3453 MW against 11,000 MW target in 2008-09: problems of agricultural land acquisition , water supply, industrial capability and capacity)

Low Performance & Productivity in Power Sector

No solution yet in sight to curb AT&C losses and strengthen project implementation for fuel and electricity production capacity expansion in all sectors (Thermal, Nuclear, Hydro, Renewables)

SOLAR ENERGY: The Benefits

  • This is the only remaining source of energy for all mankind  that is perennial, clean and can be made available both centralized and decentralized forms.
  • 1% of land area of India would yield 100,000 MW at 15% cell efficiency
  • Limitless source. One day solar energy = 27 years electricity consumed by whole world of 6 billion people
  • Clean and environment friendly : no air, water and ground pollution
  • Safe and easier to maintain

Access to Silicon metal

  • Decision to build silicon production plants in India taken only a few years ago. Capacity of 7500 t/yr planned = 750,000 MW-yr energy production
  • Imported supply restricted due to hoarding of  silicon metal by several nations
  • About 65 MW solar array assembly facilities set up mostly private sector for export only to Europe with their silicon metal supplies

Lower Energy Conversion Efficiency

  • Advanced R&D required to increase solar cell efficiency from present 10-15 % to over 50% ( as already demonstrated in several countries) yet to start in India
  • GoI has allocated Rs 220 crores for solar cell R&D to BARC for 5 years (2002-12) i.e Rs 45 cr per year.
  • But ONGC has spent Rs 50,000 crs over 10 years (1995-2005)  exploring for oil (on-shore and off-shore drilling) in India and abroad, and finding very negligible quantities.
  • Enhance solar R&D 10-fold:  Give same funding (Rs 5000 cr per year) & priority for solar cell and system R&D as for oil/coal exploration: allot the work to BARC, DRDO, ISRO, CSIR labs, academic institutions, public & private sector industries, and watch a miracle unfolding in India within 5-7 years!

Higher Capital cost

  • Currently more Capital intensive compared to coal, hydro and nuclear for direct energy use ( Note: this cost could be acceptable when solar energy is converted to and consumed as drinking water by advanced desalination technologies)
  • Long term capital subsidies (through FDI if needed) could reduce immediate burden of finding large sums of money for farmers and urban roof-tops
  • Costs would come down and efficiencies go up substantially by 2020

Solar Power Current Limitations

Intermittent Supply for Ground Based Solar Power Average availability of solar energy on earth is about 6 hours/day (due to day/night cycle and cloud cover in different seasons). However,

  • Solar energy for farming Solar energy synergizes with farmers! They are not affected by intermittent supply because electricity is required only in the day and not in rainy seasons.
  • Solar PV coupled to Solar Thermal (Hybrid System)   Could  affordable even now to economically better placed people when used for   air conditioning of offices and hotels, residential bore wells and for charging stand-by power systems now being charged by thermal power
  • Solar power for desalination can economically store solar energy in the form of drinking water for use throughout the day.

Space Solar Power


  • Focused programme management enables solar cell and array production be accelerated. Every 1 GW SSP will enable about 250 MW-yr ground solar plants perennially.
  • Ground receiving site can be located in remote areas, including islands and mountainous regions too expensive for conventional transmission lines.
  • SSP not subjected to earth quake, tidal wave, tornados, atmospheric corrosion, snow, hail storm, rain and other damaging/ deteriorating earth conditions.


  • SSP is seen as competitive and not complementary to nuclear energy: departmental rivalry issues in all countries
  • Low cost space transportation yet to be demonstrated.  Several proposals from India, US, Europe still to receive adequate funding because space market yet to be guaranteed. Hen & egg arguments
  • Environmental and safety issues for wireless power transmission raised and can be resolved only by small scale SSP demonstration.
  • Space security issues raised like military use of power beaming
  • Concepts of ownership and control of power beaming yet to be addressed