Integrated Power Policy-A People Centric Framework For India

Nov 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Adaptation, Books, Capacity Development, Energy, Environment, Governance, Hydropower, Information and Communication, Lessons, News, Opinion, Pollution, Publication, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Tourism, Water, Wind energy

Dr. Shankar SharmaMr. Shankar Sharma: Energy has become a crucial part of the modern society, so much so that per capita availability of energy is considered as an indicator of Human Development. However, the social, economic and environmental impacts of demand/supply of energy are so great that only a holistic and objective consideration of all the related issues from the society’s perspective will enable the formulation of a sustainable and effective national energy policy.

Electrical power sector, because  of its essential nature to the modern lifestyle, has become a contentious part of our economy due to multifarious crises facing it. A credible power policy, keeping in view the legitimate demand in the next 25-30 years and keeping its long term sustainability in focus, has become critically important to ensure all-round development of different sections of our society, and to discharge our obligations to the future generations.

To enable such a policy adequate deliberations at various levels of our society involving all shades of opinion are of critical importance. Effective participation of the civil society in the preparation and implementation of forming a national energy/power policy is hence essential.

In 2005, the Planning Commission of India had set up an “Expert Committee on Integrated Energy Policy” to prepare an Integrated Energy Policy for the country. The draft of such a report was posted on the Planning Commission website, and feedback from the public was invited. Towards the end of 2005, I provided feedback to the committee expressing many serious concerns on the recommendations in the draft policy. The committee finalised its report in August 2006. Though there were some improvements in the final report, the recommendations had many serious concerns to our densely populated and resource constrained communities, and could be seen as inconsistent with the overall welfare goals of our communities.

The Need of Integrated Power Policy in India

Integrated Energy Policy, as developed by the Planning Commission in 2006, seems to have based its policy recommendations largely on technical, financial and logistical issues, ignoring the hugely important social and environmental aspects of our society. Urgent course corrections are considered essential in order to ensure the true welfare of all sections of our society. Power sector, being a predominant part of the energy policy, needs an integrated approach in order tomeet the needs of all sections of our society on a sustainable basis. On the basis of our own experience, since independence, its impact on social, economic and environmental
aspects of our society needs an objective and serious consideration.

What our society is looking for is not electrical power itself, but the services such as lighting, heating, cooling, motive power etc. from the electrical power. Hence an integrated approach in determining which source of electricity is most suitable for which condition/application at minimum overall cost to the society can be etermined only through an Integrated Power Policy approach. The fact that about 40% of our population has had no access to electricity (Census 2001) should remove any doubts about the need for a paradigmshift in our society’s approach to the demand/supply of electricity.

Conclusions

In view of the gross inefficiency prevailing in the power sector, it can be said that the power cuts and all the other problems of the sector were/are entirely avoidable. Due to the impact on the society of conventional power projects and Global Warming implications, the society has no alternative but to become very responsible in managing the power sector and in conserving its natural resources. It is feasible to meet the legitimate electricity demand of all our communities satisfactorily with a national per capita electricity of about 1,000 kWH (per person per year at the national level), provided we ensure highest possible efficiencies in all aspects of energy consumption. Such an approach is, anyway, essential for a sustainable life-style. The huge potential available in the form of renewable energy sources in tropical India, can provide most of this electricity. In order to move to such a regime a paradigm shift is required and a commitment to effectively involve various sections of the society in the relevant decision making process.

Through an objective review of the power sector in India and the past practices in it, the book has concluded: (i) the true demand for grid quality electricity is much less than the huge figure projected by IEP; (ii) the overall efficiency of the power sector is abysmally low; (iii) the need for additional conventional power plants need not be as huge as being planned/built; (iv) the natural resources and the general environment is being seriously impacted by a large number of ill-conceived conventional power projects; (v) an integrated and objective approach to the sector’s multifarious problems can provide an integrated power demand/supply model where the highest possible efficiencies and widespread use of new & renewable electrical power sources can meet the legitimate demand for electricity of all sections of our society on a sustainable basis with minimum or negligible contribution from the conventional power sources; (vi) the power sector will continue to impact deleteriously the social, economic and environmental aspects of our society, unless a paradigm shift is adopted in the way our society looks at the demand/supply of electricity/energy.

The get an electronic and hard copy version of this publication, you can contact the author Mr. Shankar Sharma at shankar.sharma2005@gmail.com or The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) at cndpindia@gmail.com 

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