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Renewables, energy efficiency better options for India than nuclear power

Koodankulam struggle: Western nations are learning from their mistakes, India is not  The Weekend Leader,   By Nityanand Jayaraman & Sundar Rajan, 30 Nov Chennai  “…….Nuclear power is not the only option for generating electricity. There are a number of conventional and non-conventional sources of energy that can be explored for generating electricity.

It is a fact that in more than 60 years of post-independence industrialisation and modernisation, the contribution of nuclear energy to the total electricity generation is less than 3%.
Renewable energy sources already contribute more than 10% of India’s electricity and large hydro projects deliver about 22%. Large dams, though, have exacted a devastating toll on the environment and lives of adivasi communities.

For India to emerge as a true leader, we have to be careful not to destroy our natural capital — our waters, lands, air and people. By saying “No” to dangerous, risky and expensive technologies like nuclear, we create opportunities to develop cleaner, saner and less dangerous forms of electricity generation.
Increasing the available electricity can also be achieved by conservation and demand-side management strategies. For every 100 MW of electricity generated in India, more than 40 MW is lost because of inefficient transmission and distribution (T&D)…..

If efficiency were to be increased to, say 90%, the savings would be the equivalent of setting up a 60,000 MW power plant — or about 60 plants the size of the Koodankulam plant that is currently at the heart of a controversy — with a fraction of the investment, and none of the risks.
Increasing energy efficiency of electrical appliances is another way to save electricity. In Tamil Nadu alone, if incandescent lamps are converted to LED bulbs we could save about 2,000 MW.
Add to all this, the benefits of cutting on wasteful consumption. Shopping malls and IT companies burn electricity throughout the day. Night or day, lights and ACs are running even as households and small commercial establishments have to suffer power outages.

There must be a rationalisation of the use of electricity. The fact that villages surrounding Kalpakkam, where a nuclear plant is situated, are reeling under major power shortages is proof of the “inequitable distribution” of electricity.

On the topic of renewable forms of energy for electricity generation, though, the fact remains that we have barely scratched the surface in terms of harnessing the potential.

According to the Government of India, India’s potential in renewables is as follows: wind energy — 48,500 MW (65,000 MW, according to the Indian Wind Energy Association;; small hydro power — 15,000 MW; biomass energy — 21,000 MW; and at least 400,000 MW from solar energy.

The monumental amounts of money being sunk into nuclear technology can be gainfully diverted to increase research in renewables, and electrical energy efficiency.
Already, advances in solar and wind technologies are reducing per MW costs. The capacity of existing windmills can be increased six to eight-fold by replacing older, lower-capacity turbines with newer, higher-capacity turbines, or by installing new and more efficient turbines amidst existing windmills.

In the last 15 years, India has added about 17,000 MW of power using renewable sources; China has added the same amount in just one year. So, where is the need to put all our eggs in the “nuclear basket”?

Secondly, many of the applications of electricity can be met by smart design. Tinted glass buildings in a city like Chennai require the burning of electricity for lighting throughout the day, even when the sun is shining brightly outside. Our city’s malls and IT companies in the Knowledge Corridor are examples of such “stupid” design…..

November 30, 2011 - Posted by | India, renewable

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