Focus on alternatives for coal-based power: Jairam

Focus on alternatives for coal-based power: Jairam

India needs to develop radical thinking in terms of renewable energy resources, former union minister Jairam Ramesh has said. Climate change has added a whole new dimension to our energy policy, the Rajya Sabha member said.

He was delivering a lecture on ‘The Changing Climate for India’s Energy Policy,’ organised by National Institute of Advanced Studies and The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy here on Monday.

On the impact of coal use, he pointed out that over half of India’s greenhouse gas emissions (expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent terms) is from the power generation sector alone. With coal-based power generating sector increasing rapidly, these emissions are likely to increase further, he said.

“We use about 500 million tonnes of coal to generate electricity and we have plans of doubling this by the end of this decade. It will be imperative for us to think of alternative forms of energy,” Ramesh said.

Nuclear power
Discussing alternatives, he said one option could be nuclear power, since atomic power plants emit no carbon dioxide or sulphur dioxide.

“However, our performance on the nuclear power front has been disappointing. Forty five years after the first atomic power plant at Tarapur became operational, nuclear power still accounts for just about 3.5 per cent of the supply,” he said. When it comes to wind and solar energies, they account for 13 per cent of the total generating capacity.

As far as hydel projects are concerned, even though they are non-polluting, they pose ecological challenges, especially when they involve storage dams and large-scale displacement of people becomes inevitable.

So, a sensitive approach to hydel power was needed, he said, concluding that the country had to plan for much cleaner coal, while focusing on other aspects of energy policy such as use of biogas.

India must play a significant role in the global climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015.

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