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High demand for thermal power result of 'not having' diligently prepared energy policy

By Shankar Sharma* 

What a great scenario is emerging in our country! At a time when the global society is making efforts to reduce the GHG emissions by actively pursuing the path of accelerated reduction of fossil fuel burning, our government seems to be taking pride in adding massive coal power capacities (See 12 GW thermal power by next year to meet high demand, says RK Singh). And the vastly unsubstantiated reason given is the "high demand".
Are there any visible and effective initiatives to carefully manage the energy demand; instead of simply blaming the "high demand"? The annual increase in power demand (both in annual electrical energy and annual peak demand) is not new or unexpected. In view of the fact that the legitimate demand for electricity of many sections of our country is not satisfactorily met even after 75 years of independence, and the ever growing economic activities and aspirations of the people, along with the impacts of climate change, our country has been witnessing such high growth in demand since many decades, and is most likely to continue for many more years/ decades unless urgent and effective corrective actions are implemented.
But have we honestly implemented action plans which are techno-economically feasible and attractive to contain such demand without impacting our welfare activities? Can we say the avoidable losses in the integrated power grid is at the lowest level possible, although there have been clear recommendations to do so since early 2000? Are the efficiencies of the end use equipment being used in our premises the best in the market? Have we optimally harvested the humongous potential available to our country in REs? Why the implementation of roof-top SPVs systems so abysmal?
There are a large number of such questions which are being raised by civil society since many years. But none of our authorities seem to care for such issues. They all seem to be interested only in large ticket projects such as coal, hydro, nuclear power plants, and RE power parks; obviously for political reasons; all of which can come only at enormous and avoidable societal level costs.
The fact that there is not a diligently prepared national energy policy yet, which could have effectively discussed all such issues, is the clear evidence of such lackadaisical approach of the concerned Union ministries.
The result is that our people will continue to suffer from the associated ecological and social damages.
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst



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