When you are not quite blessed with nature’s bounty in the form of limitless oil/gas reserves, you have no choice but to make do with what you have got. In India, we have been particularly unfortunate in this respect, with hardly any fossil fuel reserves to speak of and our energy requirements only expected to rise exponentially in the years to come.
Against such a background, recent initiatives taken by the govt and the private sector alike in harnessing the forces of nature, especially so in the realm of wind energy, certainly do deserve due credit.With the current capacity standing at nearly 13000 MW, wind energy presently constitutes upwards of 70% of India’s overall renewable energy matrix.A number of major international players in the segment have already set up base in the country, with GE Wind, Gamesa, Enercon, Siemens, Suzlon, Kenersys and Vestas being amongst the more well known names choosing to try their luck in the Indian market in view of the enormous demand that is expected to arise in the coming years .However, the tag of the undisputed market leader undoubtedly has to go to our very own Suzlon Energy, which currently contributes an astounding 40 percent to India’s total wind energy installation and almost 30 percent of total renewable energy installation.
But is this new found love for environment friendly energy solutions just a passing fad or can it seriously challenge the dominance of conventional sources that we have long grown accustomed to?…Without turning a necessity into a virtue, in the era of the Big Green, wind power certainly possesses the requisite environmental credentials to pass the sternest of tests (though the visual appeal of towering turbines amidst rolling hills is still open to question). And even if you are not a card carrying member of the green brigade, the harsh reality is that you haven’t got much of a choice. Notwithstanding the TAPI pipeline( how reliable even this is, only time will tell), with most known reserves of fossil fuels residing in some of the most volatile and terror infested regions of the globe, it is but inevitable that renewable energy will have to become an increasingly dominant part of our energy mix in the years ahead. Ideally, such a mix should comprise of the triumvirate of solar, tidal and wind energy, with each being present in adequate measure. In fact, given the brutally harsh summers most of India has to endure, it might seem odd not to find solar energy at the top of the table. Unfortunately, when it comes to the sun, the technology is just not there to render solar power a cost-effective source of energy as of yet, in sharp contrast to the wind segment, where a number of players have already made significant strides towards developing effective solutions that can be used on a large scale. With a 7600 KM coastline, even tidal power holds promise, with India’s first tidal power plant getting the go-ahead in Gujarat just recently. Atlantis Resources, one of the leading players in the global marine energy industry signed the MOU for a 50 MW tidal power project to be constructed in the Gulf of Kutch, with construction expected to commence in 2011 itself.
So can we ride this tide of renewable energy as we seek to tap into more and more diversified sources to meet our rising demands in the years ahead? Where there’s demand, supply is bound to follow suit- some precepts of economic theory hold as true as ever. However, it might just be a little premature to get overly pessimistic over the future of what is often referred to as black gold- in all likelihood, non-conventional sources, including wind, solar, tidal and even nuclear energy, will continue to play second fiddle to the dominant role that oil/natural gas/coal currently play, with there being enough demand for us to make use of all, at least as far as the short to medium term is concerned. And let’s not forget, it’s always difficult to give up on something we have all been addicted to for such a long time- gold can lose its luster, but its inherent value is always pretty hard to ignore.