Alternate Sources of Energy

Non-Conventional Sources of Energy
The growing consumption of energy has resulted in the country becoming increasingly dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Rising prices of oil and gas and their potential shortages have raised
uncertainties about the security of energy supply in future, which in turn has serious repercussions on the growth of the national economy. Moreover, increasing use of fossil fuels also causes serious environmental problems. Hence, there is a pressing need to use renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind, tide, biomass and energy from waste material. These are called nonconventional energy sources.
India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water, wind and biomass. It has the largest programmes for the development of these renewable energy resources.

Solar Energy
India is a tropical country. It has enormous possibilities of tapping solar energy. Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into electricity. Solar energy is fast becoming popular in rural and remote areas. India has already made progress in the use of solar energy for daily requiremennts. It is a equi-stable energy and can rightly be called the energy of the future, because it is an inexhaustible source of energy. The largest solar plant of India is located at Madhapur, near Bhuj, where solar energy is used to sterlise milk cans. It is expected that use of solar energy will be able to minimise the dependence of rural households on firewood and dung cakes, which in turn will contribute to environmental conservation and adequate supply of manure in agriculture. Solar station at Baramar in Rajasthan was set up to produce large quantities of solar energy.

Solar energy is used as a source of electricity in villages. It is also used in railway signals, lift irrigation and for communication media. Solar cookers and solar heaters are very popular. It is also used in desalination of water and drying of grains. At Gurgao near Delhi, a centre has been opened to carry out special research in solar energy.


India now ranks as a “wind super power” in the world. The largest wind farm cluster is located in Tamil Nadu from Nagarcoil to Madurai. Apart from these, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and Lakshadweep have important wind farms. Nagarcoil and Jaisalmer are well known for effective use of wind energy in the country.


Shrubs, farm waste, animal and human waste are used to produce biogas for domestic consumption in rural areas. Decomposition of organic matter yields gas, which has higher thermal efficiency in comparison to kerosene, dung cake and charcoal. Biogas plants are set
up at municipal, cooperative and individual levels. The plants using cattle dung are know as ‘Gobar gas plants’ in rural India. These provide twin benefits to the farmer in the form of energy and improved quality of manure. Biogas is by far the most efficient use of cattle dung. It improves the quality of manure and also prevents the loss of trees and manure due to burning of fuel wood and cow dung cakes.

Tidal Energy
Oceanic tides can be used to generate electricity. Floodgate dams are built across inlets. During high tide water flows into the inlet and gets trapped when the gate is closed. After the tide falls outside the flood gate, the water retained by the floodgate flows back to the sea via a pipe that carries it through a power-generating turbine. In India, the Gulf of Kuchchh, provides ideal conditions for utilising tidal energy. A 900 mw tidal energy power plant is set up here by the National Hydropower Corporation.

Geo Thermal Energy
Geothermal energy refers to the heat and electricity produced by using the heat from the interior of the Earth. Geothermal energy exists because, the Earth grows progressively hotter with increasing depth. Where the geothermal gradient is high, high temperatures are found at shallow depths. Groundwater in such areas absorbs heat from the rocks and becomes hot. It is so hot that when it rises to the earth’s surface, it turns into steam. This steam is used to drive turbines and generate electricity. There are several hundred hot springs in India, which could be used to generate electricity. Two experimental projects have been set up in India to harness geothermal energy. One is located in the Parvati valley near Manikarn in Himachal Pradesh and the other is located in the Puga Valley, Ladakh.

Conservation of Energy Resources
Energy is a basic requirement for economic development. Every sector of the national economy – agriculture, industry, transport, commercial and domestic – needs inputs of energy. The economic development plans
implemented since Independence necessarily required increasing amounts of energy to remain operational. As a result, consumption of energy in all forms has been steadily rising all over the country. In this background, there is an urgent need to develop a sustainable path of energy development. Promotion of energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy sources are the twin planks of sustainable energy. India is presently one of the least energy efficient countries in the world. We have to adopt a cautious approach for the judicious use of our limited energy resources. For example, as concerned citizens we can do our bit by using public transport systems instead of individual vehicles; switching off electricity when not in use, using power-saving devices and using non-conventional sources of energy. After all, “energy saved is energy produced”.