Hydro power on Ganga: the Solution to India's energy crisis

Hydro power on Ganga: the Solution to India's energy crisis

Mumbai : India | Jul 12, 2012 at 2:09 AM PDT
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Visit to Small Hydro Power plant in INDIA
India has been facing a major energy crisis. With the population ever rising, India needs the ability to light up 400 million rural homes, which is roughly one-third of India’s population. There are as many new cars on the roads as the number of middle class and rich households in the country. Every year about 1.5 million new vehicles are added to the road every month. This is rapidly increasing our dependence on Oil, Natural Gas and petroleum products. Soon, the demand will soar and the supply would be in deficit. And gradually these expensive fossil fuels would put the whole country to risk. The demand is expected to multiply in the future. The annual demand might double up in the next twenty years. How long can India keep on importing petroleum products? Considering, other countries too are facing deficits. Is this sustainable? Most of the power plants have extremely low coal stocks. In fact some of these have coal stocks that wouldn’t even last for seven days. Himachal Pradesh has set an example by rising up from the existing scenario. It has over half-a-thousand small scale hydro projects. It is ahead from every other state in the hydel race. The state has designed its policies in such a way that the small hydel projects get incentives. Several companies have commissioned such projects. This has fostered growth and development in Himachal Pradesh. It has been instrumental in reducing the widening power crisis in the state. Its future too looks promising. In India, only 8% of electricity is generated through renewable sources of energy. Majority of the energy production happens through coal, which releases pollutants in the environment. Electricity cuts are practiced in order to reduce the electricity consumption. The irony is that when there are electricity cuts in business hubs and industries, they are tackled by using generators; which again run on petrol or diesel. Hence, it renders the whole activity futile. The cost of diesel fuel is much more than their electricity bills. “The cost of diesel fuel majorly eats into my monthly income. If we get more electricity, it could help me produce more” said Mr. Sinha, who runs a small scale steel industry. Hydropower in India is majorly underutilized due to the lack of infrastructure. Hardly any new exploration of gas has been witnessed in India. With this emerging energy crisis, we will have to use renewable sources of energy. Various hydel projects will have to be initiated by the government across major rivers in India. Such projects would generate employment in those areas, as well as help in reducing pollution. Hydropower supplies at least 50% of electricity production in 66 countries and at least 90% in 24 countries. Developing countries hardly have any renewable energy consumption. 5 MW small hydel projects in rural areas have lit up several villages in India. States like Uttarakhand and Maharashtra should take a cue from Himachal Pradesh and resume work on the stalled hydropower projects. India has immense amount of hydroelectric potential. According to an assessment made by CEA, India ranks 5th in exploitable potential of hydroelectricity. It has 1, 48,700 MW of installed capacity. But unfortunately, only 30,920 MW has been utilized. This has to increase if India needs to solve its widening energy crisis. India has a tight domestic coal supply from other countries. In order to be self- reliant in the energy sector, India will have to utilize its vast hydropower potential, says the report by HSBC Global Research. These projects would also attract FDI from other nations. In fact, in Sikkim, six players have invested Rs. 750 crores in a hydel project. India’s forty percent of the population has no access to electricity, said a report of the World Bank. In fact, World Bank has been involved in hydro power projects in India since over fifty years.
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Harnessing renewable energy - including solar, wind and hydro power - is costlier than fossil-fuelled power plants
Harnessing renewable energy - including solar, wind and hydro power - is costlier than fossil-fuelled power plants
mayankgupta11 is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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