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Energy is a very important aspect of the economic development of a nation. It is used for cooking, household lighting and hating on a domestic scale and in agriculture, manufacturing and production, transportation of pesticides etc.

Sources of Energy

Sources of energy are of two kinds commercial and non commercial. Commercial sources of energy are coal, petrol and electricity because they are bought and sold. They occupy more than half of the share of energy sources consumed in India. Firewood, agricultural waste and dried dung are sources of non commercial energy. They are non commercial as they are available in the nature. Commercial sources of energy are generally non renewable while non commercial sources are renewable.

Non-conventional Sources of Energy

The sources of energy that we generally use are conventional sources of energy. Non conventional sources of energy are solar energy, thermal energy and wind energy which are alternate sources of energy. India has an abundant supply of these non conventional energy sources and if we can find a way to tap them, then they would result in cheaper rates of energy.

Consumption Pattern of Commercial Energy

65% of the total energy consumed in India is commercial energy. Coal has the largest share with 55% followed by oil at 33%, natural gas at 11% and hydro energy at 3%. Non commercial energy sources include cow dung, firewood and agricultural wastes account for around 30% of India's energy consumption. The important feature of India's energy consumption is the import dependence on crude oil and petroleum products whose import will rise to almost 100% in the future.

Sectoral share of energy consumption





































The sectoral pattern of energy consumption over the years is shown above. While the share of transport has fallen over the years, the share of industry has increased. The rapid economic growth has resulted in the increase in the rate of energy consumption.

Power/ Electricity

Power of electricity is the most commonly used form of energy. The rate of demand of power is greater than the growth rate of the GDP. The demand for power is an indicator of the economic growth and economists point out that the power supply needs to annually grow at 12% for a GDP growth of 8%.

Electricity is a secondary form of the energy produced from primary sources like coal, hydro carbon, nuclear energy etc. Primary energy consumption takes the direct and indirect consumption of fuels into account. It cannot, however, give a complete picture of the consumption of energy. Coal, oil, electricity and natural gas are the secondary sources of energy in India.

Thermal energy accounted for 70% of our power generation capacity in 2003-04. Hydro accounted for 28% while nuclear energy accounted for 2% of power generation. Our energy policy encourages hydel and wind energy sources because they are not dependent on fossil fuels and hence avoid the emissions of carbon. There has been a rapid growth in the amount of electricity produced from these two energy sources.

Atomic energy is a very important source of energy and it does not have too many environmental side effects. At present, the production of power from nuclear sources is just 2.4% against the global average of 3%. This is too low.

Challenges faced in the Power Sector

Electricity generated by the power stations is not completely consumed by the population a part is also consumed by the power auxiliaries. While transmission of power also, a portion is lost. Some of the challenges that our power sector faces today are:
  1. Our installed capacity of power generation capacity is insufficient to feed an economic growth of 7%. In order to meet our electricity demand between 200 and 2012, we have to add 1, 00,000 MW of new capacity of power generators while we are just able to add 20,000MW annually. The installed capacity is also under utilized as it is not managed properly.
  2. State Electricity Boards (SEBs), which distribute electricity in our country, lose about Rs.500 billion because of loss due to transmission, wrong pricing and other inefficiencies. In addition to this electricity distributed to farmers also causes losses and electricity is also stolen which adds to the loss incurred.
  3. Foreign investors and the private sector are yet to play a major role in power generation.
  4. Prolonged power cuts and high tariffs cause public unrest in many parts of India.
  5. Shortage of coal supply and raw materials in thermal power plants is a major challenge because thermal plants are our main source of electricity generation.
Due to rapid economic and industrial growth, the demand for power has increased and India is not able to meet it. This sector needs more research, funds, exploration and development efforts. Non renewable energy sources should be used to augment the power supply. Efforts are being taken in order to increase power production. For instance, India is the fifth largest producer of wind energy and for this more than 95% of investment comes from the private sector.

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