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India Combats Energy Poverty through Natural Resources

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India's energy program is extremely interesting, given the sheer size of its electrical grid and the dire necessity to develop additional forms of electric generation.  Overall, it is the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world behind the US, China and Russia.  Yet over 300 million citizens in India function without electricity and over 800 million remain with limited electrical access.  What's worse is 300,000-400,000 deaths occur each year from energy poverty, as burning traditional things like wood and animal waste indoors for cooking purposes lead to respiratory ailments that would be mitigated with better electrical services.

The July 2012 blackout throughout northern India - affecting over 620 million people over the course of two days - was a considerable catalyst to spur motivation.  Following the outages, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Rajiv Kumar addressed the importance of grid modernization, "One of the major reasons for the collapse of the power grid is the major gap between demand and supply.  There is an urgent need to reform the power sector and bring about infrastructural improvements to meet the new challenges of the growing economy."

Oddly enough, some of the states affected by the blackouts in 2012 are also some of the most conducive for solar energy generation.  The solar resource map below provided by Wikipedia shows the potential for great solar development along the northwestern and central regions of India.

 National Solar Mission Underway

Many of the country's natural resources are beginning to be utilized to address energy poverty, and the country is addressing concerns through projects designed to improve electric infrastructure in a comprehensive, but prompt way.  For example, the Jawaharial Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) is widely considered to be the main solar operative for the country.  Started in 2010, the project's eventual goal is to install 20 gigawatts (1 gigawatt = 1,000 megawatts) worth of solar power into India by 2022.  The project is broken down into three separate phases.  Phase I was originally slated to be completed by the end of 2013 and the Indian government has successfully followed through - the intended 500 megawatts (MW) have already been successfully allocated. 

On May 9th, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) also distributed a draft proposal for Phase II of the initiative.  While the final draft has not been released yet, the early indications are that an additional 750 megawatts of solar energy will be installed between now and the end of 2017. 

JNNSM Private Sector Gains

Some companies have already leapt at the potential to contribute to Phase II, including solar module manufacturer Lanco Solar Private Ltd.  The prospect of providing solar panels for the project proved to be too enticing for Lanco, as it expects to raise $300 million in revenue through Phase II.  Satyendra Kumar, Chief Technology Officer for Lanco Solar, added, "In the second phase of the Jawaharial Nehru National Solar Mission indigenous manufacturing should be encouraged.we want implementation as early as possible and on a consistent basis."  Plans are to begin production of panels by mid-2014.  

Tata Power, the country's largest integrated power utility, has not directly been tied to Phase II of the JNNSM plans, but it is diligently working to invest in both solar and wind energy development on its own accord.  This week Tata announced ambitious plans to add 30-50 MW of solar power and 150-200 MW of wind energy every year moving forward.  The effort is part of a long-term sustainability initiative, which will add to the 873 MW in renewables already installed from the utility in India.

Within Phase II, the MNRE will also create a national offshore wind energy policy to begin research this year, as it was determined the cost effectiveness of pursuing offshore wind was comparable to conventional fossil fuel generation.   

Despite the various efforts mentioned, India remains a long way away from achieving its sustainability goals.  But the effort certainly appears to be present, and prosperity appears to be just over the horizon for many people in India.            

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Kristopher Settle

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Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on August 8, 2013
I'm sure that prosperity is just over the horizon for many people in India, and the same is true here in Sweden. I dont know what the exact situation is in India, but where prosperity is concerned the people looking at a blue horizon here in Sweden are those with high IQs, who attend the right schools, ski in the right resorts, take the right tennis lessons, and probably have as Little as possible to do with dope and pornography. Everybody else is involved in a lottery where the odds are probably not in their favor. I was definitely one of the latter when growing up in Chicago, and if there had not been a Cold War and US Army I might have ended up with a Bombay standard of living..
Harry Valentine's picture
Harry Valentine on August 8, 2013
India has a very serious problem with institutionalised corruption . . . officials are open to bribes and bribery goes a long way in India. With regard to energy, India does indeed have tremendous potential for future development of energy resources . . . India has deposits of the ore that contains thorium that may provide fuel for India's future nuclear reactors.

With regard to solar power, India is a nation where subsidy-free solar-electric power could excel . . . using self contained systems that involve PV panels, batteries and LED lights . . . that actually sell at low cost. Such technology would replace candles. With regard to electric vehicles, it would very definitely be possible to operate modified golf carts as taxis and for personal transport in many smaller communities across India . . . a few upscale customers may buy a Tesla Roadster or Chevrolet Volt.

India's power sector is over-regulated . . . there is a need for local private power generation and distribution . . . provided that the central and state governments provide the necessary freedom for people to generate micro-power and connect private power lines across shared property lines.

Don Hirschberg's picture
Don Hirschberg on August 13, 2013
Let's see, for Indians to have the per capita electricity supply Canadians have today they would have to add a NET 3% every year for the next 101years.

(Twenty times as much is needed. 1.03^101 = 19.8 on my trusty slide rule.)

But wait, only if no people are added- and the Indian population is growing more than any other country..

Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on August 14, 2013
You are strictly a kill-joy, arn't you Don. Well, there are some highly educated people taking the opposite line. This morning on Swedish TV, some kind of person with a professor's title in environmental something identified for his hosts some countries moving into the global industrial mainstream. India, South Africa and Ethiopia were mentioned by that gentleman. Better get your slide rule out and work with that. (Incidentally, I still have a small pocket slide rule that I keep to remind me of the old Days. The last time I used it was to check some calculations I made for the simulated firing of a nuclear projectile in a very large manouvre in Germany called Apple Harvest. If it had been a real projectille the Eastern suburb of Nuremberg would have been wrecked.)
Don Hirschberg's picture
Don Hirschberg on August 14, 2013
Professor Banks a quotes a learned professor: “...some countries moving into the global industrial mainstream...” namely India, South Africa, and Ethiopia. ( I have already commented on the Indian dilemma several times. And I would rather be a Pollyanna)

The same sort of joke we get from Academe when we hear Egypt frequently referred to as an admirable “emerging nation.” I guess emergence is still emergence if it takes thousands of years?

Two numbers Characterize Ethiopia. Per capita GDP is $ 531/year and average IQ is 64. When I was a child I learned about the heroic Ethiopians repelling Mussolini's tanks with spears. Yeah, sure.

South Africa has an astounding sub Saharan GDP of $ 7257 sand an average IQ of 72. But wait a minute. They were run by Europeans for a hundred years, both business and government. Today there is still a significant non-black African population and if I adjust the IQ algebraically it sinks to bout 67 – in good agreement with many sub Saharan countries.

But the biggest negative about SA is the behavior of its citizens. Since the end of Apartheid the crime rate for rape and murder has become so great that official statistics can hardly be accepted. I am not going to look it up gain because it is depressing and not likely accurate but if memory serves about half of men admit to having raped girls or women. Gang rapes of school girls walking home from school is common. Did the learned professor deal with this in his “main stream?”

Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on August 15, 2013
Don, if you had seen or Heard that "learned professor" you would have headed for the hills. But he isn't to blame. The blame rests on the people who appointed him to walk into a classroom and foist his ignorance and stupidity on some of the most intelligent students in the World.

However some people just dont get it. If the US wasn't pulling out of Afghanistan, Obama would ask for the Swedes for more help in that war, and most likely get it. Guaranteed. You see, where our political masters are concerned, statistics have no meaning at all, unless they conform to popular opinions.. And so instead of adjusting IQs down, you should adjust them up, which is the first thing I noticed when I came to this country, and offended me the most.,

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on August 15, 2013
Don -- " Ethiopia. Per capita GDP is $ 531/year and average IQ is 64. " -- What's your reference for that claim? Is it still that "analysis" (LOL) done in Isreal on 12 refugee school children (traumatized, ill-fed and kept, uneducated), where then the results of that test were applied by your author to the entire nation of Ethiopia? Hopefully you've come up with something less racist.
Anumakonda Jagadeesh's picture
Anumakonda Jagadeesh on September 10, 2013
Very optimistic analysis of power in India. The electricity sector in India had an installed capacity of 225.133 GW as of May 2013, the world's fifth largest. Captive power plants generate an additional 34.444 GW. Non Renewable Power Plants constitute 87.55% of the installed capacity, and Renewable Power Plants constitute the remaining 12.45% of total installed Capacity. India generated 855 BU (855 000 MU i.e. 855 TWh) electricity during 2011–12 fiscal. In terms of fuel, coal-fired plants account for 57% of India's installed electricity capacity, compared to South Africa's 92%; China's 77%; and Australia's 76%. After coal, renewal hydropower accounts for 19%, renewable energy for 12% and natural gas for about 9%. In December 2011, over 300 million Indian citizens had no access to electricity. Over one third of India's rural population lacked electricity, as did 6% of the urban population. Of those who did have access to electricity in India, the supply was intermittent and unreliable. In 2010, blackouts and power shedding interrupted irrigation and manufacturing across the country. Despite this states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and others provides continuous power supply. I have been advocating Wind Farm and Solar. Co-operatives in India on the lines of those in Germany,Denmark,US,UK etc. Hitherto Depreciation Benefits are given to big industries. A RENEWABLE ENERGY FUND can be created and tax exemption for Individual tax payers who invests in it can be given exemption under section 80C. This way there will be mass participation of people in Renewables. Also Since India has long coast Offshore Wind Farms can be promoted. MNRE can take initiative in initiating a pilot project so that Private industry will follow. Biofuel from Agave and Opuntia and Biogas and subsequent power generation through biogas route can supply power locally. Both are care free growth plants and can be grown in millions of hectares of waste lands. Both are CAM plants too. Biogas power generators from KW to MW level are commercially available from China and Vietnam. Yet another option is Energy efficiency in lighting and electric irrigation pumpsets in agriculture. Put the RENEWABLES to WORK: To get inexhaustible,pollution – free energy which cannot be misused. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Renewable Energy Expert E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

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