(IGP) GS Paper 1 - India & World Geography - "Non-Conventional Energy"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre)

Subject - India & World Geography
Chapter :Non-Conventional Energy

Hydro Power in India

  • India has a unique culture and is one of the oldest and greatest civilizations of the world. It stretches from the snow-capped Himalayas in the North to sun drenched coastal villages of the South, the humid tropical forests on the south–west coast, the fertile Brahamputra valley on its East to the Thar desert in the West .It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq .km. it has achieved all–round socio–economic progress during the last 63 years of its Independence. India is the seventh largest country in the world and ranks second in population. The country stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give her a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
  • Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8°4’ and 37°6’ north longitudes 68°7’ and 97°25’ east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south .


  • India has one of the world’s largest potential for hydro electric power. The hydro power potential in India is around 84,000 MW at 60% load factor (installed capacity 148,000 MW). However, less than 20% of this has been harnessed so far.

  • Currently, hydro power contributes about 24% of total installed generation capacity in the country.

  • The oldest hydro electric power plant in Asia is the Sidrapong Hydel Power Station in Darjeeling. Its installed capacity was 130 kW and was commissioned in 1897.

  • The largest hydro electric power project in India is the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (Assam- Arunachal Pradesh border). Located across the Subansiri river, the project is currently under construction and is expected to be commissioned in 2012.

  • The advantages of Hydro Power include
    (i) Non polluting
    (iii) Long life of projects
    (iii) Low cost of operation and maintenance
    (iv) Ability to start and stop quickly ot meet load demand
    (v) Much higher efficiency than thermal power

National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC)

  • Established 1975, headquarters Faridabad.
  • The NHPC functions under the Ministry of Power.
  • Primary objective of the NHPC is to plan and promote efficient development of hydroelectric power inthe country

Renewable Energy In India

  • Renewable energy in India currently contributes around 7.7% of total electricity generation in the country. The installed capacity is around 13,000 MW

  • India was one of the first countries in the world to establish a separate ministry for non-conventional energy resources (1980s) however, progress has been slow

  • Renewable energy in India comes under the purview of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

  • The largest contributor to renewable energy in India is Tamil Nadu (about 33%), largely from wind power

  • India ranks first in the world (along with USA) in annual solar power generation. It also ranks fifth in wind power generation.

Solar Power In India

  • India (along with USA) ranks number one in solar power generation in world. However, it still only contributes about 0.4% of total electricity generation in the country.

  • India’s high population density and high solar insolation provide an ideal combination for solar power india.

  • Solar insolation is a measure of the solar energy received on a given surface area in a given time. It is usually experssed in W/Sq. m.

  • In 2009, the Government unveiled a plan to generated 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020. Under the plan solar powered equipment and applications would be mandatory in all government buildings

  • Presently solar power is primarily advocated in villages for water pumps, replacing the millions of diesel powered water pumps. Since the villages are not integrated into the power grids, stand-along solar units are especially helpful.

  • About 35,000 sq km of the Thar Desert has been set aside for solar power projects.

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

Wind Power In India

  • India has the fifth largest installed wind power generation capacity in the world.

  • Wind power accounts for about 6% of total electricity generation in the country (about 11,000 MW). It is expected that a further 6000 MW of installed capacity will be added by 2012.

  • Tamil Nadu contributes the maximum wind power generation (about 4000 MW).

  • Suzlon Energy, based in Pune, is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in Asia and the fifth largest worldwide.

  • Among the advantages of wind power include the short gestation periods and increasing reliability and performance of wind turbines.

Biofuels In India

  • Biofuel development in India is primarily focused on Jatropa plant seeds

  • The Jatropa curcas is a flowering plant whose seeds contain about 35%oil. This oil can be processed to obtain high quality biodiesel for use in regular diesel engines

  • The use of Jatropa for biodiesel generation has multiple benefits
    (a) Jatropa is easily grown in dry and non-agricultural lands, thereby allowing villagers to use non-farmland forincome generation
    (b) It reduces the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. This is especially important because India needs to import a vast majority of fossil fuels from abroad
    (c) Since Jatropa is carbon-netural is helps the country achieve better carbon emissions targest
    (d) Since no producing farmland is needed for Jatropa (unlide corn or sugarcane ethanol or palm oil diesel), it is considered the best option for biodiesel generation
    (e) Jatropa has no known negative impact on the production of food crops. Other biodiesel crops (like corn ethanol) have caused serious price increases in basic food crops since they take up valuable agricultural land.

Government Bodies In Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Centre (SEC)

  • Established 1982; located Delhi
  • The SEC serves as an interface between the Government and institutions and industries for the development of solar energy
  • Functions of the SEC include
  • Research and development
  • Technology evaluation, testing and standardisation
  • Advisory and consultancy services Agriculture

Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET)

  • Established 1998, location Chennai
  • The C-WET serves as the technical focal point for wind power development
  • Functions of the C-WET include
  • Offer services and solutions for wind power harnessing
  • Research and development
  • Testing and evaluation

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA)

  • Established 1987, located New Delhi
  • The main objective of the IREDA is to provide financial support to projects and schemes for electricity generation using reneration using renewable sources

National Policies on Biofuels

Approved in Dec 2009, Implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable EnergySalient features of the policy include:-

  • By 2017, 20% of diesel consumption to be met by biofuel blends (includes bioethanol and biodiesel)

  • Biodiesel production to be taken up in waste/non-agricultural lands

  • Biodiesel plantations on community/government waste lands to be encouraged. Plantations on agriculutal lands to not be encouraged

  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) to be announced for biodiesel oil seeds

  • No taxes or duties to be levied on biodiesel

  • National Biofuel Coordination Committee chaired by the Prime Minister to be created. Biofuel Steering Committee to be chaired by Cabinet Secretary to also be created

Remove Village Electrification Programme (RVEP)

  • The RVEP is a programme that times to provide electricity for remote villages through renewable sources

  • The programme covers those remote villages and hamlets which are not covered under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY). These are usually remote areas where grid b connectivity is either not feasible or not cost effective

  • The RVEP is a component of the Rural Electrification Policy, which seeks to provide electricity to all households by 2009.

  • The scheme covers multiple technology for electrification of these remote areas:
    (a) Small hydro power plants
    (b) Biomass power generation
    (c) Vegetable oil based engines
    (d) Biogas based engines
    (e) Solar energy

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

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