(IGP) GS Paper 1 – India & World Geography – “Non-Conventional Energy”

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS

Subject – India & World Geography
Chapter :Non-Conventional Energy

Hydro Power in India

  • India has a unique culture and is one of the oldest and greatest
    civilizations of the world. It stretches from the snow-capped Himalayas in
    the North to sun drenched coastal villages of the South, the humid tropical
    forests on the south–west coast, the fertile Brahamputra valley on its East
    to the Thar desert in the West .It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq .km. it
    has achieved all–round socio–economic progress during the last 63 years of
    its Independence. India is the seventh largest country in the world and
    ranks second in population. The country stands apart from the rest of Asia,
    marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give her a distinct
    geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it
    stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian
    Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
  • Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between
    latitudes 8°4’ and 37°6’ north longitudes 68°7’ and 97°25’ east and measures
    about 3,214 km from north to south .


  • India has one of the world’s largest potential for hydro
    electric power. The hydro power potential in India is around 84,000 MW at
    60% load factor (installed capacity 148,000 MW). However, less than 20% of
    this has been harnessed so far.

  • Currently, hydro power contributes about 24% of total
    installed generation capacity in the country.

  • The oldest hydro electric power plant in Asia is the
    Sidrapong Hydel Power Station in Darjeeling. Its installed capacity was 130
    kW and was commissioned in 1897.

  • The largest hydro electric power project in India is the
    2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (Assam- Arunachal Pradesh
    border). Located across the Subansiri river, the project is currently under
    construction and is expected to be commissioned in 2012.

  • The advantages of Hydro Power include
    (i) Non polluting
    (iii) Long life of projects
    (iii) Low cost of operation and maintenance
    (iv) Ability to start and stop quickly ot meet load demand
    (v) Much higher efficiency than thermal power

National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC)

  • Established 1975, headquarters Faridabad.
  • The NHPC functions under the Ministry of Power.
  • Primary objective of the NHPC is to plan and promote efficient
    development of hydroelectric power inthe country

Renewable Energy In India

  • Renewable energy in India currently contributes around
    7.7% of total electricity generation in the country. The installed capacity
    is around 13,000 MW

  • India was one of the first countries in the world to
    establish a separate ministry for non-conventional energy resources (1980s)
    however, progress has been slow

  • Renewable energy in India comes under the purview of the
    Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

  • The largest contributor to renewable energy in India is
    Tamil Nadu (about 33%), largely from wind power

  • India ranks first in the world (along with USA) in annual
    solar power generation. It also ranks fifth in wind power generation.

Solar Power In India

  • India (along with USA) ranks number one in solar power
    generation in world. However, it still only contributes about 0.4% of total
    electricity generation in the country.

  • India’s high population density and high solar insolation
    provide an ideal combination for solar power india.

  • Solar insolation is a measure of the solar energy
    received on a given surface area in a given time. It is usually experssed in
    W/Sq. m.

  • In 2009, the Government unveiled a plan to generated
    20,000 MW of solar power by 2020. Under the plan solar powered equipment and
    applications would be mandatory in all government buildings

  • Presently solar power is primarily advocated in villages
    for water pumps, replacing the millions of diesel powered water pumps. Since
    the villages are not integrated into the power grids, stand-along solar
    units are especially helpful.

  • About 35,000 sq km of the Thar Desert has been set aside
    for solar power projects.

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Wind Power In India

  • India has the fifth largest installed wind power
    generation capacity in the world.

  • Wind power accounts for about 6% of total electricity
    generation in the country (about 11,000 MW). It is expected that a further
    6000 MW of installed capacity will be added by 2012.

  • Tamil Nadu contributes the maximum wind power
    generation (about 4000 MW).

  • Suzlon Energy, based in Pune, is the largest wind turbine
    manufacturer in Asia and the fifth largest worldwide.

  • Among the advantages of wind power include the short
    gestation periods and increasing reliability and performance of wind

Biofuels In India

  • Biofuel development in India is primarily focused on
    Jatropa plant seeds

  • The Jatropa curcas is a flowering plant whose seeds
    contain about 35%oil. This oil can be processed to obtain high quality
    biodiesel for use in regular diesel engines

  • The use of Jatropa for biodiesel generation has multiple
    (a) Jatropa is easily grown in dry and non-agricultural lands, thereby
    allowing villagers to use non-farmland forincome generation
    (b) It reduces the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. This is especially
    important because India needs to import a vast majority of fossil fuels from
    (c) Since Jatropa is carbon-netural is helps the country achieve better
    carbon emissions targest
    (d) Since no producing farmland is needed for Jatropa (unlide corn or
    sugarcane ethanol or palm oil diesel), it is considered the best option for
    biodiesel generation
    (e) Jatropa has no known negative impact on the production of food crops.
    Other biodiesel crops (like corn ethanol) have caused serious price
    increases in basic food crops since they take up valuable agricultural land.

Government Bodies In Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Centre (SEC)

  • Established 1982; located Delhi
  • The SEC serves as an interface between the Government and institutions
    and industries for the development of solar energy
  • Functions of the SEC include
  • Research and development
  • Technology evaluation, testing and standardisation
  • Advisory and consultancy services Agriculture

Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET)

  • Established 1998, location Chennai
  • The C-WET serves as the technical focal point for wind power development
  • Functions of the C-WET include
  • Offer services and solutions for wind power harnessing
  • Research and development
  • Testing and evaluation

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA)

  • Established 1987, located New Delhi
  • The main objective of the IREDA is to provide financial support to
    projects and schemes for electricity generation using reneration using
    renewable sources

National Policies on Biofuels

Approved in Dec 2009, Implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable
EnergySalient features of the policy include:-

  • By 2017, 20% of diesel consumption to be met by biofuel
    blends (includes bioethanol and biodiesel)

  • Biodiesel production to be taken up in
    waste/non-agricultural lands

  • Biodiesel plantations on community/government waste lands
    to be encouraged. Plantations on agriculutal lands to not be encouraged

  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) to be announced for biodiesel
    oil seeds

  • No taxes or duties to be levied on biodiesel

  • National Biofuel Coordination Committee chaired by the
    Prime Minister to be created. Biofuel Steering Committee to be chaired by
    Cabinet Secretary to also be created

Remove Village Electrification Programme (RVEP)

  • The RVEP is a programme that times to provide electricity
    for remote villages through renewable sources

  • The programme covers those remote villages and hamlets
    which are not covered under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY). These
    are usually remote areas where grid b connectivity is either not feasible or
    not cost effective

  • The RVEP is a component of the Rural Electrification
    Policy, which seeks to provide electricity to all households by 2009.

  • The scheme covers multiple technology for electrification
    of these remote areas:
    (a) Small hydro power plants
    (b) Biomass power generation
    (c) Vegetable oil based engines
    (d) Biogas based engines
    (e) Solar energy

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