Although primary energy sources are different world over, world's production and use of energy over the past 15 years have shown striking changes. The World relied heavily on oil for many energy applications including electricity production in the pre-1973 era. Price fluctuations combined with politicization of world oil prices and supply seemed to have influenced in opting for alternate fuels with even, the electric power generation with fuel other than oil. Oil's contribution was less than 10% despite large increase in electricity demand in 1987. In fact, nuclear power replaced 11.7 billion barrels of oil worldwide between 1973 & 1987. It was estimated that energy use has been growing at 3% per year since 1983.
Electricity use in the world has risen since 1973 thus resulting in a remarkable difference in the pattern of energy use. The increased use of electricity further, points to important differences between western industrial world and Eastern European countries as well as between the industrialized West and the developing regions of the world. While Eastern Europe and Third World countries continue to develop, electricity retains the same pattern in the Western World.
The above trend leads to the amount of fuel or electricity required per unit of economic output. The growing energy efficiency of the industrialized world seems to have been achieved through displacing direct use of energy while increasing use of electricity. Understandably, energy efficiency has a direct bearing on economic and environmental implications. Availability of different fuels for electricity generation simplifies selection of generation sources which could be environmentally sound, as well.
The initial options that the world had for switching fuel resource and sailing successfully through 1990s presented larger challenges for the world in terms of global warming coupled with almost dwindling fossil fuel resources. Many researchers and countries today are attempting alternate energy resource beyond 2030.
Humans have always strived to develop ways to expand the ability to harvest energy. Increase in energy consumption has been gradual and with industrialization, the rate of energy consumption increased dramatically. The technological man of 1970 (US) consumed approximately 230,000 Kcal of energy per day, almost 115 times that of a primitive man out of which 26% being electrical energy. Just about 10% of this 26% electrical energy resulted in useful work with the remaining 16% going waste due to inefficiency in generation and transmission.
Looking at the progressive energy requirement of 'Technological Man', it is quite obvious that it attracts a combination of resources as single one of them cannot meet this high requirement. Tracking the energy source tells us that wood, the sole resource of earlier days made way for coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydroelectric power and ending, perhaps with nuclear electric power.
The statistics of oil displacement by nuclear power in 1987in this regard is indeed a strong pointer to alternate energy resources other than oil.
The Asia Pacific region with 38.1% of the world total, leads global energy consumption. Coal, the dominant fuel alone accounts for 52.1% of energy consumption here. In addition, they are leading users of oil and hydroelectric generation. Oil dominates in other regions except Europe and Eurasia where, natural gas is the fuel.
While coal remains the most abundant, oil and natural gas proven reserves have risen over time. Non-OECD countries account for 93.4% or world's proven reserves; 90.9% natural gas and 56% coal reserves.
When we look at the World' Energy resources, oil, natural gas and coal seem to be still riding the energy requirement and the contributions of renewable including hydro seem negligible at this juncture.
While hydroelectric and nuclear occupied 1970's & 1980's, it had moved away from absolute predominance of one particular resource to a complex mix by 2000.
North America was the greatest consumer of energy in the world. Asia' consumption increased dramatically against a decline in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union.
The increasing population so far seems to have managed the energy requirement and the industrial civilization banks heavily on amount of energy of different types. If, for some reason this energy falls short, it will have significant ramifications throughout the world.
While the global average of 1.2 toe (TOE -- Ton of Oil Equivalent -- the amount of energy released by burning one ton of crude oil, approximately 42 GJ = 11.63 MWh) per capita of 1966 rose to 1.7 toe in 2006, the same averaged about 1.5 toe over the last forty years.
According to a recent report:
Fossil fuels are by far, the most important contributors to the energy mix in the present scenario. However, all of them are in rapid decline with Hydro and Renewables making respectable contributions. Nuclear seems to play a steady role.
India, world's fifth largest electricity generation country is the 6th largest consumer accounting for 3.4% of global energy consumption. State utilities, Central utilities and Private players contribute to generation with their individual shares being: 48%, 31% and 21% respectively.
The installed capacity of 31.12.2011 indicated below shows that Coal (56%) is still the major fuel of power generation. Natural gas accounts for just around 10%. While hydro stands at 21%, Nuclear is at just 2.56%. Renewables contribution has been around 11%. The trend seems to be no different between 2000 and 2009.
The target -- achievement ratio for the period between 2007 and 2011 is quite encouraging. The Plant Load Factor (PLF) for State, Central and Private for the period 2007 & 2010 are at 71.3%, 85.5% and 88.6% respectively. However, power availability against the demand over the plan periods between VI and XI show considerable gap.
Challenges and the future road map for India
Since the Government regulates the industry -- Tariff control, Subsidies, Environmental Norms etc. -- protecting consumer interest and commercial viability at the same time, are key goals of the Government. In fact, the move to set up Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP) of 4000 MW each -- of which four are likely to be commissioned between 2011 & 2017 -- to ease country's power deficit is in the right direction.
Fuel source dilemma:
Shortage of skilled manpower for construction and commissioning; contractual disputes; delay in readiness of balance of plants are a few other issues which could be ironed out.
Land acquisition, rehabilitation, environment and forest related issues are likely to be tougher in course of time.
The per capita level of 734 kWh (2008-09) is targeted to 1000 kWh by the end of eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) under "Power for All by 2012" plan of the Government. However, this ambitious target demands capacity addition of more than 100,000 MW with fairly good efficiency rates.
The capacity addition provides an excellent opportunity to draw an effective road map. Moreover, Planning Commission under 'Integrated Energy Policy' suggested that the nuclear capacity could reach 21-29 GW by 2020 and 48-63 GW by 2030; Current 25% hydro holds a potential of 1,50,000 MW.
India, therefore is poised to realign the policies at this stage with greater emphasis particularly on, Renewables which showed encouraging advancement to 10.63% (March 2011) from 1.1% (2001-02). Gradual and Careful planning of nuclear supplement would enhance better opportunity to progress steadily.
Renewables have shown a steady progress globally from 10% (2004) to almost 35% (2010) reflecting its share in global power at 30% for 2010. It is this share that needs to move forward from 2010 in the next decade and we could perhaps be talking of 50% share of the Renewables.
Among the renewables, wind leads the table followed by biomass, Solar PV and Geothermal between 2004 and 2010. China heads the Renewables for the year 2008 although hydro share is much larger. Among the others there is higher contribution of the wind against solar. India similarly has a greater share of hydro but, wind contribution is higher than China. Projections for 2012- 2022 lay greater contribution from Wind power followed by small hydro and solar power.
While oil is getting peaky, it is time now to look at renewables more seriously lest we miss opportunity to be global competitive. Climate Change (Copenhagen Accord: Nations came forward with their non-binding carbon reduction targets for 2020 to arrest global temperature rise to 2 degree C or less), Alternative Future, New Green Developments, Economic Green Technology and gradual technological switch over worldwide are a few additional pointers to opt for renewables. Global new investment in renewable energy stood at 211 billion USD compared to 33 in 2004.
Although wind and solar among the renewables are leading options, the developments on the others are constantly growing to be competitive - Biomass proportion of energy is increasing exponentially throughout Europe with reports of much higher conversion rates; 'The Wave Hub' marine renewable infrastructure project (ten miles from the coast of Cornwall in England) will be the world's largest test site for wave energy.
Solar, seems to enjoy a better edge over the others at this juncture due to vigorous pursuit to transform it into an attractive and economic option. "June 2011, Professor Michael Gratzel, Lausanne Federal Technology Institute, Switzerland was awarded the 2010 Millenium Technology Prize for his invention of low cost solar cell that is used in electricity-generating windows, inspired by photosynthesis, they turn light into energy".
SMRs present several advantages: