Thursday, January 21, 2010

India's Energy Plans - or the lack of it!

Anything tangible or intangible, that costs money is evaluated very carefully and used equally carefully in India. This means expenses are controlled and kept as low as possible. The scenario in energy consumption in India is no different. It is not surprising that the per capita energy consumption figures are very low inspite of high rate of development now taking place.

Conventional sources are depleting, and even those coal based projects that are located at pit-mouth (for instance, in Jharkhand, WB) have only paltry stocks as fuel reserve. The solution is either to import coal and gas, or look towards other non-conventional sources.

India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water and biomass. What vigorous efforts during the past two decades have done is that people in all walks of life are more aware of the benefits of renewable energy, especially decentralized energy where required in villages and in urban or semi-urban centers. India has the world's largest programme for renewable energy as well.

However, a critical issue is that most of the capital allocated to such initiatives does not reach the intended target. A major share of this capital is consumed trying to make policies and trying to figure out what should be done. Policymakers' lack of clarity and gap between state and centre leads to unwarranted delay too.

What is required is a "learn as you go" approach, thereby reducing time-to-market, and inculcate a sense of continuity for the plans.

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