It was the energy crisis of 1973 and 1978 which forced people to recognize the vulnerability of oil-based economy all over the world and sincere efforts were undertaken to develop non- conventional sources of energy. In India also efforts to utilize non-conventional, renewable sources of energy were started only during seventies and a separate Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources (DNES) was established.
Moreover, the centralized system of power generation which we have developed with conventional sources of energy involves huge distribution networks. These are wasteful and expensive to maintain.
Non-conventional sources provide energy in decentralized manner to small areas and can reach places where it is difficult to carry fossil fuels or power lines. Large-scale use of non-conventional energy resources tends to reduce the burden from conventional energy systems and therefore is helpful in enlarging their life span.
An enormous amount of energy is available in the form of sunshine in our country which provides light as well as heat. Solar heat can be trapped by using simple reflecting devices which concentrate solar energy to a particular area. The Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources has been trying to popularize the use of solar cookers and solar water heating devices by providing large subsidies to the consumers. Solar water heater, solar drier and desalinization plants have already become popular in India at a number of places.
Solar photovoltaic modules can convert solar energy into electricity. A large number of these modules are arranged on a panel which is called Solar panel which can either be directly connected to the energy-using device or indirectly to batteries so that the electricity generated could be used later when there is no sunshine. In India Solar photo-voltaic systems are being installed by the Department of Non-conventional Energy Resources for lighting, running of television sets and radios, pumping water in remote area where it is difficult to carry electricity.
Wind energy is another very important, clean and renewable source of energy which is slowly making its presence felt in India. In fact the efforts to use wind energy were started during the Seventh Five-Year Plan period in our country. It was in the year 1983 that wind velocity data from various observatories of Indian Meteorological Department were analyses and published which revealed the enormous wind energy potential of our country. This led the Government to initiate surveys and research. The wind energy potential of our country has now been estimated to be about 20,000 MWs.
Biomass based energy resources are renewable and cleaner than coal, oil or fuel wood. They can also be used to minimize the pollution caused by organic wastes. All bio-degradable materials when subjected to anaerobic decomposition yield combustible gases, mostly methane (CH4) which is a major constituent of natural gas as well.
In India plenty of cow-dung and other agricultural wastes are available which may be digested anaerobically to produce about 22,500 million cubic metres of methane (commonly called Gobar gas) and about 206 million tons of organic manure every year. Department of Non- conventional Energy Sourches launched a national gobar gas development porgramme under which about 150,000 gobar gas plants were installed in our country during the year 1984-85. It is estimated that these plants can save about 600,000 tons of fire wood every year and satisfy the energy requirement of about 20 million houses in Indian villages.
Proposals for utilization of ocean tidal energy, the energy of ocean waves and geothermal energy are also under consideration in India. Our country has a vast coastline – about 6000 kms and a number of places where we can conveniently harness energy from oceans. Similarly the hilly tracts of Himalayas and hills of Central India have a number of locations suitable for development of geothermal energy. However, the use of these forms of energy is in survey, research and planning stages only.
Distributed/decentralized renewable power projects using wind energy, biomass energy, hydro power and hybrid systems are being established in the country to meet the energy requirements of isolated communities and areas which are not likely to be electrified in near future.
According to the Eleventh Plan, the main objectives are: supporting RD&D to make such systems more reliable and cost-effective, demonstration, field testing, strengthening manufacturing base.
MNRE has prepared this Strategic Plan for the period 2011-17 (covering the last year of the 11th plan and the next 5 years period of the 12th plan) and perspective till 2022, which seeks to articulate the goals of the Ministry, the strategy to be adopted by it during this period to achieve these goals and the corresponding action plan.
An attempt has been made to quantify the aspirations in terms of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) targets for different renewable resources/ application areas. As would be evident from the status of current energy scenario in the country, each of the targets, and the totality, is fully commensurate with national and sectoral priorities.
India has an estimated renewable energy potential of about 900 GW from sources like Wind – 102 GW, Bio-energy – 25 GW, Small Hydro – 20 GW and Solar power – 750 GW. Renewable energy enjoys 15.90% shares in total installed capacity in India. As of March 2017, renewable energy installed capacity totalled to 57,260 MW. Renewable energy has been witnessing over 20% growth in the last five years. From the total renewable power installed capacity of 14,400 MW at the beginning of 2009, it has increased to the capacity of 38,822 MW at the end of December, 2015 to 57,260MW by March, 2017. Wind energy continues to dominate India’s renewable energy industry accounting for 29151.29 MW by March, 2017 from 25,088 MW by December, 2015.