Trying to switch

Published: Monday 30 November 1992

For officials in the power sector, setting targets for electricity generation has become a leap in the dark. Because of environmental considerations, all targets for producing power from conventional sources have been upset and several hurdles have been placed in the way of securing international assistance for power projects. Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao has said not enough is being done to make renewable energy sources popular and last month convened a conference of state ministers of non-conventional energy sources, the second such meeting this year. "Generating electricity with conventional sources with low or no pollution is now almost impossible. This more than ever before underscores the need for non-conventional sources," he said at the conference.

Despite an investment of about Rs 1,000 crore during the past decade, power generation from non-conventional sources is less than 700 mw, compared with the total production of about 70,000 mw in the country. The Central government extends a variety of incentives to industries manufacturing and utilising renewable energy systems. But it has started reducing subsidies given through state agencies to promote alternative energy technologies with the hope that the promotional measures taken up so far would bear fruit.

Statewise, the use of non-conventional energy sources has been varied. For instance, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have made progress in wind power generation. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh account for the largest number of improved chulhas whereas Gujarat and Maharashtra lead others in setting up biogas plants. However, states are still heavily dependent on the Centre for renewable energy technology and the finances to promote them.

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