Energy Alternatives

Updated: 7 days ago

When asked, the energy sources that come to mind are fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas). So the energy that is produced from any source other than fossil fuels is alternative energy. These clean and sustainable alternative energy solutions include solar thermal energy, solar photovoltaic energy, hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy and biomass energy.

Solar Energy- Solar energy is the most abundantly available form of energy. It is the energy from the sun that is captured, stored and converted to heat and electrical energy. Photovoltaic cells and photovoltaic modules are the two devices that are being made and put to effective use at many places. Many companies like Tata Solar, Vikram Solar, Photon, Synergy electric, Indosolar, etc. have forayed into this space to provide long term sustainable solutions to energy needs of the country.

Hydropower- India has an estimated hydropower potential of 1,45,320 MW. There are 197 total operational hydroelectric power plants producing 46,850 MW at present. With such a large river system, Brahmaputra takes the lead in terms of potential of generating hydroelectric power followed by Indus and Ganga. In central India, Godavari, Mahanadi and Narmada river basins have not been developed on a major scale but they are potentially very viable. Though not completely environment safe, hydropower helps in reducing dependability of fossil fuels. Another offshoot of hydropower is tidal power which has a potential of about 12 gigawatts (GW) of ocean energy.

Wind energy- This is another great resource of renewable energy, both onshore and offshore. High-speed winds are recognised as an actual resource in wind farms to generate wind energy. Wind power energy indicates how much wind energy can be converted to electrical energy by a wind turbine. The wind blows the blades of the turbine, which are attached to a rotor. The rotor then spins a generator to create electricity.

Geothermal energy- Geothermal energy is heat that is generated within the Earth which can be used directly for heating and cooling, or converted into electricity. With 340 geothermal hot springs in the country, India has a potential of about 10,000 MW for power generation at these sites.

Biomass Energy- It is the energy generated or produced by living or once-living organisms. This is produced from: 1) wood and agricultural products; 2) solid waste; 3) landfill gas; and 4) alcohol fuels. Most electricity generated from biomass is produced by direct combustion.

Government Policies and initiatives

· Several schemes to set up solar parks, Grid-connected solar PV Power, Grid-connected Solar Rooftop Programme have been initiated.

· Massive R&D is being conducted as far as conversion of tidal energy into renewable potential energy is concerned, in the Gulf of Cambay, Gulf of Kutch and the Sundarbans region.

· Fiscal and financial incentives such as Accelerated Depreciation benefit and concessional custom duty exemption on certain components of wind electric generators.

· For the last one decade, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been promoting the installation of biogas plants and biomass power/co-generation programmes in the sugar industry by using bagasse as a fuel.

  • The most promising projects in the geothermal sector are Puga valley in Ladakh, Chhumathang geothermal field and Manikaran geothermal field with the financial support of the government.

Significance In order to avert the looming energy crisis, it has become imperative to look beyond the traditional forms of energy consumption. These alternative sources have great potential and significance in the following ways:

· Energy Transition- These energy sources are totally renewable, and do not emit greenhouse gases.

· Energy Efficiency- Replacing old devices by energy efficient solutions, such as replacing traditional light bulbs by LEDs is the new age order.

· Energy Conservation- New alternatives will help in consuming less energy by improving and modernising energy infrastructure such as smart grid solutions and smart cities.

· Clean Energy- These forms of energy mostly do not pollute the environment.

Slowly and consistently, India is making progress in these potentially viable and sustainable potential energy forms. These energy transitions will make us not only energy rich but also future ready in terms of efficiency and self-sufficiency.

Energy efficiency and conservation is THE ONLY way to meet the needs of the future.

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