Skip to main content

India facing consequences of 'over-reliance' on coal power, dam based hydro power

By Shankar Sharma* 

A recent statement attributed to R K Singh, Union Minister for Power and NRE -- that renewable energy sources can meet 65% of world's power supply, 90% by 2050 -- can be said to have not only surprised many in India, but also has thrown up many questions from the true welfare perspective of our country.
Whereas, it is somewhat comforting to know that the Union government seem to have finally appreciated the humongous potential in REs to possibly address the calamitous threats of Climate Change, it is also a totally unanswered but a credible question to energy sector observers in India, why the country is still obsessed with throwing a lot of our financial and natural resources on conventional technology power sources such as coal, gas, nuclear and dam based hydel power.
There is probably not a single credible report to indicate that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)which is a measure of the average net present cost of electricity generation for a generator over its lifetime, from any of the conventional technology power sources in India is even comparable to that from REs; especially if all the direct and indirect costs, including the social and environmental costs, are objectively considered. And the ever increasing threats from Climate Change, to which the conventional technology power sources are recognised as the predominant causes, have always been a global challenge.
The World Energy Outlook 2023 by IEA indicates that "The energy world remains fragile but has effective ways to improve energy security and tackle emissions". What is also unfortunate fact about almost all of such outlooks/ surveys/ projections into future is the abject failure to provide adequate focus to the much needed Demand Side Management (DSM). 
 All these reports can be said to be guilty of focusing only on the supply side of the energy quagmire, whereas the effective energy demand at the national or global level is only increasing despite many tall claims about efficiency improvement of appliances.  Without optimally managing the effective energy demand, it will be impossible to consider a sustainable energy demand/ supply model for our country.
Our country has been experiencing and witnessing multiple consequences of not making adequate efforts to move away early from the ongoing over-reliance on the conventional technology power sources; largely whether its is coal power or dam based hydro power.
Whereas REs have the potential to meet 90% of world's supply by 2050, that potential can be stated as much higher in the case of India, when we also objectively consider our traditional life style which demands much less per capita energy, as compared to the global average. But deplorably, there has not been honest efforts in our country to optimally harness all possible technological advancements in REs, especially the roof top SPVs and battery energy storages systems.
A number of recent Round-The-Clock Renewable Power tenders should indicate an unambiguous shift needed in our country's policy to adopt more of energy storage battery projects so as to make optimal usage of the humongous potential for RE in the country, and to take a resolute policy initiative to move way from conventional technology power sources much earlier than the stated target year of 2070, or even before 2050, which will only be in the true interest of our people.
What should be of huge interest in some of these related tenders is a news report which states that: "Anaya Renewables secured rights to develop 500 megawatts and 300 megawatts capacity at a tariff rate of Rs 4.10 per kilowatt-hour. Spring Energy won 100 megawatts at Rs 3.99 per kilowatt-hour, while O2 Power secured 60 megawatts at Rs 4.27 per kilowatt-hour."
At this low per unit rate of supplying round-the-clock electricity, these tenders prices seem to be less than the average cost of per unit electricity being charged by most DISCOMs. If that is so, the most troubling question should be as to why there is still a preference for conventional technology power projects, such as coal, hydro and nuclear power projects, which will most probably have much higher per unit electricity cost.
A diligently prepared National Energy Policy should be able to deliberate on a number of such issues, including the much needed Demand Side Management (DSM). But sadly, there seems no focus on such a holistic and strategic policy initiatives in the country, as against the ongoing preference for empty rhetoric and ad-hoc measures without much considerations of long term consequences.
Can we hope there will be a paradigm shift soon in the Union govt. policy to move away early from the ongoing over-reliance on the conventional technology power sources?
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst. This article is based on the author's representation to RK Singh, Union Minister for Power and NRE

Comments

TRENDING

'Very low rung in quality ladder': Critique of ICMR study on 'sudden deaths' post-2021

By Bhaskaran Raman*  Since about mid-2021, a new phenomenon of extreme concern has been observed throughout the world, including India : unexplained sudden deaths of seemingly healthy and active people, especially youngsters. In the recently concluded Navratri garba celebrations, an unprecedented number of young persons succumbed to heart attack deaths. After a long delay, ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) has finally has published a case-control study on sudden deaths among Indians of age 18-45.

SC 'appears to foster' culture of secrecy, does not seek electoral bond details from SBI

By Rosamma Thomas*  In its order of November 2, 2023 on the case of Association for Democratic Reforms vs Union of India contesting constitutional validity of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court directed all political parties to give particulars of the bonds received by them in sealed covers to the Election Commission of India. SC sought that information be updated until September 2023. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Only 12% of schools RTE compliant: Whither 6% budgetary allocation for education?

By Ambarish Rai* Despite Indian state’s commitment of 6% GDP on education, the Finance Minister completely ignored right to education for children and strengthening implementation of RTE Act which makes education a fundamental right in her budget speech . The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, which is a collective of different stakeholders in education, condemns this neglect of a legal entitlement, which is unconstitutional and demand for overall increase in the budget to ensure improvement in learning outcomes and overall enhancement of quality education.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Ambiguous policy': India late in advocating EVs as energy storage in national grid

By Shankar Sharma*  This is regarding the points raised by the Chief Electricity Authority’s (CEA's) advocacy for usage of electrical vehicles (EVs) as energy storage technology, and few associated issues . An objective reading of what he states should reiterate the enormously growing importance of battery energy storage systems (BESS) in our need to transition to a net-zero carbon scenario for the country.

Union Health Ministry, FSSAI 'fail to respond' to NHRC directive on packaged food

By Our Representative  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the adverse health effects caused by packaged foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Recognizing it as a violation of the Right to Life and Right to Health of Indian citizens, the quasi-judicial body called for a response from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding its selection of front-of-pack labels aimed at providing consumers with information to make healthier choices.

How national chauvinism 'overtook' sport despite cricketing glory of World Cup 2023

By Harsh Thakor*  The recently-concluded cricket World Cup was a testimony or manifestation of the thrills, intensity, twists and turns in sport and evolution of the game of cricket. It carried on the trend of the World Cups of yesteryears. Possibly, this was the best ever Indian team in a World Cup, and arguably amongst the best ever to contest a World Cup.