There should not be any doubt that the achievements of the Power, Coal and MNRE Ministries of Government of Bharat exceed expectations and mission of 24 x 7 power supply to all doesn’t appear to be just a pipe dream anymore.
The Organiser has published several articles on energy this year. It is heartening therefore, to note the achievements of the Power, Coal and MNRE Ministries of Government of Bharat. For the first time there is an addition of 29 GW of capacity generation including renewable energy, addition of 37.8 thousand circuit km in transmission lines and distribution of 3 crore LED bulbs. Supply from Coal India Limited (CIL) has gone up by nearly 10 per cent. We know how coal bearing states stand to benefit to the tune of Rs 3.4 lakh crore by transparent e-auctions of 32 coal blocks and allotment of 41 blocks to states and PSUs. It is a great relief to those who witnessed the power outages of 2012 to note that power deficit has come down to just 2.4 per cent.
There should not be any doubt that these achievements exceed expectations and mission of 24 x 7 power supply to all doesn't appear to be just a pipe dream, anymore. Soon we may start thinking not only for round the clock power access to all but for substantial increase in per capita consumption simultaneously with improved efficiency in its use. Improving the plant load factor, decreasing the transmission and distribution losses which average to Rs 60, 000 crore annually with accumulated losses of Discoms (Distribution Companies) exceeding Rs 4 lakh crore, and efficient and smart use of energy devices such as LED bulbs and sensor controlled hoe systems and smart grid can improve the deficit situation a great deal. The government plans to provide 72 crore cheap LED bulbs. This will bring down the family power bill substantially even without subsidy.
Rapid strides in technologies are helping not only in access to electricity but lowering its price. Cost of PV systems plummeting even otherwise due to scale economies such as marketing and acquisition costs, system design, installation, permitting, and inspections, may drop more rapidly with use of new material such as Perovskite which is cheaper and also with improvement in the manufacturing technique of silicon wafers cutting down wastage of raw material from 50 per cent to nil. Some people suspect that lower prices of the Chinese PV system are due to distress and dumping, but what is wrong with that if we get
them dirt cheap and thus help in low cost expansion of solar energy installations?
Only thing we must watch strictly is the quality. There are promising developments in other renewable areas such as blade-less wind turbines and in storage. Reversible decomposition of chemicals like strontium carbonate into strontium oxide and carbon dioxide, which consumes thermal energy during decomposition and releases the same during recombination, offers great hopes so also systems being developed in Israel. Once a satisfactory storage system is developed, CSP (concentrating solar power) plants may also become commercially viable.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UN has developed scenarios. Share of renewable energy in primary energy supply is expected to reach a 17 per cent in 2030 and 27 per cent in 2050. The best scenarios show the share at 43 per cent in 2030 and 77 per cent in 2050. Our Niti Aayog has developed India Energy Security Scenario builder for 2047. Determined scenario based on the existing policies is quite encouraging, and those with aggressive and heroic assumptions are much more so. The scenario based on the current policies for instance shows that while total energy may increase at CAGR of 3.3 per cent to support a GDP growth rate of 7.4 per cent, the supply of energy may increase by 4.4 per cent, with the share of electricity in the same increasing from 15.6 per cent to 18.8 per cent and to 20.6 per cent – 762 TWH in 2012 to 1433 TWH in 2022 and 2239 TWH in 2030. T&D losses will decrease from 22.7 per cent to 13.9 per cent and to 9.9 per cent over those three horizons.
Installed capacity may increase from 193 GW to 398 GW and 562 GW respectively and generation from 1057 TWH to 2097 TWH and 2803 TWH with share of renewal improving 5.5 per cent to 10.2 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Government of Bharat is running two separate programs namely Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (ddugjy) for the rural areas and Integrated Power development Scheme for the urban areas with investment aggregating Rs 1.4 lakh crore. DDUGJY involves 24×7 power supply to all villages including the remote ones through feeder segregation, new transformers and up gradation and solar installation for off grid, micro grids supply etc. IPDS with investment of Rs 65 thousand crore will focus on smart and temper proof metering, underground cabling, roof top solar installations and infrastructure up gradation.
In his last ‘Mann Ki Baat’ broadcast, the PM appreciated efforts of Noorjehan of a Kanpur village who is making a living by renting solar lanterns. Such entrepreneurs need all support and encouragement. Even in USA, solar systems are generating far more employment as compared to IT. Solar systems may thus not only generate light but also employment as installation of PV systems is labour intensive.
Governments can similarly auction terrace rights of all government buildings and apartment blocks of group housing societies (such as DDA), to install solar panels to charge batteries and thus generate power replacing power backups. Owners can be suitably compensated by reduction in their electricity bills. There should be a determined effort to replace diesel gensets with solar backups in housing societies, markets and offices. Even in USA solar energy installation has registered a 30 per cent increase per year with cost of PV systems plummeting. Houses with solar roofs are commanding better price. Also air conditioning and heating should be built around the solar energy thus using the same source to moderate its own harshness.
It is now well known that renewal power generation is much less polluting as compared to coal or gas fired thermals – just 5-10 per cent in terms of green house gases and 3-10 lower in terms of particulate matter. Overall adverse impact on human health in RE is 10 to 30 per cent as that of the most modern thermal power. Thus while increase in coal consumption is unavoidable and dependence on import of oil, gas and coal may continue in foreseeable future, our thrust on renewable energy is to ensure that carbon footprints remain well within control.
The story of human progress from the lighting of first fire to the comfortable life today, has been built around generation and use of energy. And it is going to remain so. The optimism that life is going to be better tomorrow is well founded on finding newer sources, newer pathways and newer technologies that help us to produce and conserve more power and simultaneously use it most efficiently.
JP Dubey (The writer is Senior Columnist and having expertise on developmental issues)