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The Ministry concentrates primarily on policy and program implementation related to conservation of natural resources -- lakes and rivers, biodiversity, forests and wildlife and prevention and abatement of pollution preferably, guided by the principle of sustainable development and enhancement of human well-being.
A set of legislative and regulatory measures are in place aimed at the preservation, conservation and protection of the environment. The National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development 1992, National Forest Policy 1988, Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution 1992 and the National Environment Policy 2006 are a few guiding Ministry's tasks and objectives.
The Ministry has, through a couple of recent notifications and Office Memoranda embarked on a new thinking of its objectives and the trend focusing on a couple of priority issues seem to sharpen industrial thinking towards better options than the current conventional practices.
The paper attempts to look at the options for the power sector in the country in the light of the above notifications / Office Memorandum particularly, the coal based power generation which has been dominant ever since independence till date.
The Environment (Protection) Act enacted in 1986 empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country. The Act was last amended in 1991. This has been followed by various other acts -- Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1981); Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974); Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act (1977); Public Liability Insurance Act 1991; National Environment Appellate Authority Act 1997; Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972; Forest Conservation Act 1980 and Biological Diversity Act 2002.
A. Environmental Guidelines for Siting of Industry -- August 1985
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), in order to streamline locating industries which otherwise was considered on the basis of raw material availability, access to market, transport facilities and other techno-economic considerations, brought out guidelines to ensure optimum use of natural and man-made resources in a sustainable (which now, has become topmost priority) manner.
The areas to be avoided while locating industries include:
In addition to issuing the guidelines for siting of industries, MoEF brought a notification in January, 1994 -- "...expansion or modernization of any activity (if pollution load is to exceed the existing one, or new project listed in Schedule I to this notification, shall not be undertaken in any part of India unless it has been accorded environmental clearance by the Central Government in accordance with the procedure hereinafter specified in this notification."
C. Environmental Clearance Procedure -- 2006
Having evaluated several projects over more than a decade since 1994, MoEF realized the need to focus on 'potential environmental impact' rather than project investment and accordingly notified a new procedure for Environmental Clearance in September, 2006, the salient points of which are as under:
All projects and activities are broadly categorized in to two categories -- Category 'A' and Category 'B', based on the spatial extent of potential impacts and potential impacts on human health and natural and man-made resources.
The notification has been strengthened with 'Model Terms of Reference (TOR)' for various sectors under the notification.
The assessment so carried out has been documented in the form of a report entitled "Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of Industrial Clusters". In all 88 industrial clusters have been assessed.
The report has concluded that the industrial clusters/areas having aggregated CEPI scores of 70 and above should be considered as critically polluted; the clusters/areas having CEPI scores between 60-70 should be considered as severely polluted areas and shall be kept under surveillance and pollution control measures should be efficiently implemented; and the critically polluted industrial clusters/areas need further detailed investigations in terms of the extent of damage and formulation of appropriate remedial action plan. (Office Memorandum, dated January 13, 2010)
MoEF has decided that the final EIA/EMP by all the PP to whom TOR were awarded under EIA Notification, 2006 would be entertained only if the same is prepared by the Consultants accredited by National Accreditation Board of Education and Training/Quality Council of India ("NABET/QCI"). After July 1, 2010, MOEF would not entertain any final EIA/EMP from any PP prepared by non-accredited consultant.
The accredited consultants preparing the EIA/EMP reports would need to include a certificate in such report along with the data provided by other organization/s and the status of the approvals. (December 2, 2009; March 18, 2010)
India may have to therefore take many steps towards GHG reduction particularly, in the power sector which needs to continue in the future. This warrants knowledge improvement, right institutions and processes for a reasonably good progress of the power sector.
Options for Power Plants:
Resource availability (Land, Water and Fuel) for power plant henceforth will be quite challenging and warrants proper planning. Power promoters need to pursue data bank/literature with utmost care to ensure the right choice of technology to cope with not only the current regulatory requirements but also, to look beyond in their pursuit on sustainability.
While imported fuel is more expensive, gas production is insufficient to meet needs of power utilities. Domestic coal production will take another five-seven years to ramp up to industry needs.
Energy sector currently, driven by carbon abatement, security of supply and affordable energy are termed as 'Energy Trilemma". Not only the power generators but even the consumers therefore need to realize that the system and market are indeed facing fundamental change. What is therefore needed is 'integration' approach as isolated efforts would mean nothing. Diverse energy generation technologies, efficient energy management and wise consumption would bring about a 'Comprehensive Energy System' -- major change in our outlook at this juncture.
The simple answer world over is conservation and efficiency. The first step to utilizing these options is to commit making changes in our own lives. Developing and advancing an energy conservation and efficiency culture requires that we all, individually and collectively choose to make a coherent and lasting reduction in our energy consumption.
Boosting energy efficiency can be thought of as squeezing more utility out of each unit of energy, or delivering the same or more service with less energy. The economic benefits are obvious; consumers and businesses save millions of rupees in energy costs annually. In fact, energy-efficient solutions can easily reduce the energy bill for many homeowners and businesses by 20 to 30 percent. And using less energy reduces the need to generate energy at power plants, which cuts greenhouse-gas emissions and improves the quality of our air.
International Energy Agency refers to energy efficiency as the ''fifth fuel,'' and energy-saving actions as producing 'negawatts,' (a term coined by Amory Lovins to describe units of energy that are not used and, therefore, available for some other use).
It is estimated that world energy consumption has risen 45% since 1980 and it is projected to be 70% higher by 2030. Due to the intrinsic efficiency of most power plants and losses in transmission and distribution, 1kWh of usage in a building requires 3kWh of production: for each energy unit saved in the building we save 3 times as many at production level. Similarly, an energy star qualified Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulb can save substantial electricity costs over its lifetime, as it uses 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and lasts up to ten times longer.
Sooner or later, fossil fuel may no longer be a viable energy option, not because of its impact on the environment, but economy in the long run, as well. Cost effective and sustainable renewable energy could be challenging. It is quite essential to strike a balance between growing demand for energy & the need to safeguard environment on one hand and to rely on reliable and affordable energy to be competitive. Biomass, wind and solar have shown considerable potential which, need be tapped for the industrial requirement.
While planning for renewable, one needs to pay attention to -- storage system as they are not constant power generators; smart grid that can handle power generated including the power by fossil fuels and finally, smart meter to monitor energy consumed and regulate use later. In addition, efficient transformers that reduce energy wastage could be an essential requirement.
In order to achieve the above, you need a strong and dedicated "knowledge management" group who could synergize competitive core groups within the institution for better overall results. It is indeed high time that we stop looking at solutions in a conventional way and focus at 'out of the box' solutions as brought out in a few demonstrations quoted below:
As the focus all over the world is towards conservation and efficiency, many remarkable expositions have come to light which could become economical over the next few years.
In part, because of its concerns about freshwater supply, China's government and its manufacturing sector have embraced wind power and solar photovoltaic energy, neither of which uses much water in manufacturing or energy production. In 2005 the government passed a renewable energy standard requiring 10 percent of the nation's power to be generated from alternative sources by the end of this year. It also backed the standard with public financing to assist developers in tapping new business.
According to the Department of Energy, new technology and work being done by their Office of Fossil Energy might double the efficiency of coal-fueled plants within the next 15 years. Higher efficiency means more economical electricity for the public and less greenhouse gases for the planet.
While plant carbon dioxide emissions depends on size and efficiency, on an average, one 500 MW coal fired power plant emits approximately 3 million tons / year. When we talk of renewable role in coal fired power plant, it is wiser to initially focus on the easier solutions as for example, preheating water with solar energy. This option would certainly reduce the coal consumption to atleast 2-3 percent. In fact, Xcel Energy's new solar-coal hybrid power plant in Western Colorado is a good example in this regard.
While the operating units could exercise some of the above options, it is equally important to disseminate simpler solutions on conservation in their own townships and extend even simpler tips around their villages which together would contribute substantially to the goals that need mandating.
There has never been a greater involvement on energy conservation than now and 'Green Innovations' is indeed worth tapping --
"Company creates a desktop printer that doesn't use ink or paper"
"Environmental company creates a staple-free stapler to avoid staple pollution"
"Designer creates a sink that uses wasted water to grow a plant"
"Designer creates a shower that forces you to leave when you have wasted too much water"
"Designer creates light-switch that changes colors to teach children how to save energy"
"Disco pub gets electricity produced by people dancing at specially modified dance floor"
"Hotel offers free meal to guests who are willing to generate electricity"