Renewable energy for rural areas

Indian Merchants Chamber organises two-day conference


Geetanjali Minhas | January 20, 2012

As over 40 percent of the country’s population does not have access to energy, availability of power is a major limiting factor for growth of rural India. Its annual energy demand is expected to grow at an average rate of 7.4 percent in the next 25 years. To keep pace with demand, power generation capacity too will have to increase fivefold. Unless new measures of electricity generation and operational efficiency in its distribution and management are undertaken, the gap between demand and supply will increase.

The scarcity and price distortions of non-renewable sources of energy such as coal and petroleum have diverted the attention to the development of technology that can work on renewable sources of energy such as wind and water. Especially when compared to conventional fuels like kerosene which is widely used by the poor, distributed renewable power is expected to provide quality energy access to every individual in the country at an affordable price.

Even as non-renewable energy sources are depleting, focus now has shifted to alternative sources of power generation. A two-day conference, RuDiCON 2012, (the acronym stands for ‘rural energy security through distributed clean power generation’) was organized by the Indian Merchants Chamber in Mumbai. Its vision statement was: “To make Maharashtra power surplus in next five years and to electrify 60,000 villages in India.”

“Conventional power has failed to provide energy security it is time to look at other alternatives. Though wind energy has immediate potential for rural electrification in India, the potential of solar energy is unlimited,” said chief guest and former power minister Suresh Prabhu while delivering his keynote address. He also noted that issues of land, environment and natural resources had rendered stagnant many ambitious projects of the government.

“Technological developments in the field of renewable energy which is expensive than conventional power will help reduce the cost of renewable generation as cost of conventional sources of power is expected to rise significantly. Every project of renewable energy, whether grid or off grid, creates clean energy and also helps avoid the use of fossil fuel.”
The government has targeted production of 11,000 MW through biomass and 3,800 MW through solar power in the 12th five-year plan beginning April 1, 2012. The ministry for new and renewable energy has projected renewable capacity addition of about 30,500 MW during the 13th five-year plan. To bridge the demand-supply gap, the government has set a target of installing at least 40 GW additional capacity of renewable in the next 10 years.



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