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Energy Resources in India

Ms. Sonali Murzello Asst. Professor,

Energy Resources

Energy is an essential building block of economic development. In an effort to meet the demands of a developing nation, the Indian energy sector has witnessed a rapid growth. However, resource augmentation and growth in energy supply have failed to meet the ever increasing demands exerted by the multiplying population, rapid urbanization and progressing economy. Hence, serious energy shortages continue to plague India, forcing it to rely heavily on imports.

Energy Resources in India

India currently faces coal shortage of 23.96 MT . Production of petroleum reserves has been stretched from 5.7 MT during 1970-71 to 110 MT in 2003-04. Natural gas demand too has been steadily growing at the rate of about 6.5% during the last 10 years. Comprehending that the dependence on energy is expected to increase further to achieve the targeted Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 8% during the Tenth Fiveyear Plan, the Government of India has granted high priority to the energy sector.

Renewable Energy Sources

Solar Wind Biomass


India is endowed with rich solar energy resource. The average intensity of solar radiation received on India is 200 MW/km square (megawatt per kilometre square). With a geographical area of 3.287 million km square, this amounts to 657.4 million MW. However, 87.5% of the land is used for agriculture, forests, fallow lands, etc., 6.7% for housing, industry, etc., and 5.8% is either barren, snow bound, or generally inhabitable. Thus, only 12.5% of the land area can be used for solar energy installations. Even if 10% of this area can be used, the available solar energy would be 8 million MW, which is equivalent to 5,909 mtoe (million tons of oil equivalent) per year.


However, solar energy is a dilute source. The energy collected by 1 m square of a solar collector in a day is approximately equal to that released by burning 1 kg of coal or 1/2 litre of kerosene. Thus, large areas are needed for collection. Besides, the efficiency of conversion of solar energy to useful energy is low. Nonetheless, it is obvious that solar energy can be a good source of meeting energy demands.


The range of solar energy is very large.

While at the high end there are megawatt level solar thermal power plants, at the lower end there are domestic appliances such as solar cooker, solar water heater, and PV lanterns. Then, in between, there are applications such as industrial process heat, desalination, refrigeration and air-conditioning, drying, large scale cooking, water pumping, domestic power systems, and passive solar architecture.
Solar cookers and hot water systems based are gaining popularity in India and to a large extent attained commercial status.


Solar energy can be harnessed to supply thermal as well as electrical energy. Those technologies that use solar energy resource to generate energy are known as solar energy technologies. Solar thermal technologies can be used for both, supplying thermal energy as well as for generating electricity. Applications of solar thermal technologies includesolar water and space heating , solar process heating for industrial applications , solar drying , solar refrigeration and air conditioning , solar cooking , solar passive architecture , solar water desalination and water purification , and solar thermal power generation.


In July 2009, India unveiled a US$19 billion plan to produce 20 GW of solar power by 2020. Under the plan, the use of solar-powered equipment and applications would be made compulsory in all government buildings, as well as hospitals and hotels.


Wind energy is extracted by turbines to convert the energy into electricity. The wind resource assessment in India estimates the total wind potential to be around 45 000 MW (mega watt). This potential is distributed mainly in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.


Wind power has become one of the prominent power generation technology amongst the renewable energy technologies. The leading countries in wind power installation are Germany (18 428 MW), Spain (10 027 MW), the USA (9 149 MW), India (4 430 MW) and Denmark (3 122 MW). India has overtaken Denmark and is the fourth largest wind market in the world.

Wind power in India

Wind turbines offered in India range from 250 kW to 2 MW capacities. As of 31 March 2006, the total installed capacity in the country was 5340 MW, which is 46% of the total capacity of renewable resources based power generation. There are 7 manufacturers of wind turbine generators in India.


Biomass has been one of the main energy sources for the mankind ever since the dawn of civilisation, although its importance dwindled after the expansion in use of oil and coal in the late 19th century. There has been a resurgence of interest in the recent years in biomass energy in many countries considering the benefits it offers. It is renewable, widely available, and carbon-neutral. Biomass is also capable of providing firm energy. Estimates have indicated that 15% - 50% of the worlds primary energy use could come from biomass by the year 2050. Currently, about 11% of the worlds primary energy is estimated to be met with biomass.

Biomass in India

For India, biomass has always been an important energy source. Although the energy scenario in India today indicates a growing dependence on the conventional forms of energy, about 32% of the total primary energy use in the country is still derived from biomass and more than 70% of the countrys population depends upon it for its energy needs.


India produces a huge quantity of biomass material in its agricultural, agro-industrial and forestry operations. According to some estimates, over 500 million tones of agricultural and agro-industrial residue alone is generated every year. This quantity, in terms of heat content, is equivalent to about 175 million tones of oil. A portion of these materials is used for fodder and fuel in the rural economy. However, studies have indicated that at least 150-200 million tones of this biomass material does not find much productive use. This quantity of biomass is sufficient to generate 15 000-25 000 MW of electrical power at typically prevalent plant.

Biomass Gasification

Biomass gasification is the process through which solid biomass material is subjected to partial combustion in the presence of a limited supply of air. A typical composition of the gas obtained from wood gasification, on volumetric basis, is as follows; Carbon monoxide 18 - 22% Hydrogen 13 - 19% Methane 1 - 5% Heavier hydrocarbons 9 - 12% Water vapour 4% The calorific value of this gas is about 1000 - 1200 kcal.Nm3.

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Biggest player in bio-fuel is Brazil where 30% of automobile fuel is from ethanol (sugarcane). US uses 12Billion gallons of ethanol. This is 8% of US gasoline consumption. Bio-fuel can be prepared from the plant Jatropha.

Clean Technology
Economically competitive and productive technology that uses less material and/or energy, generates less waste, and causes less environmental damage than the alternatives. Any product, services or processes which delivers value using limited or zero non-renewable sources and/or create significantly less waste than the conventional offerings.

Clean technology

Clean technology includes recycling, renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels), information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, Greywater, and many other appliances that are now more energy efficient.

Clean technology

It is a means to create electricity and fuels, with a smaller environmental footprint and minimise pollution. To make green buildings, transport and infrastructure both more energy efficient and environmentally benign.