Life is energy based, more so the modern life. Entire industry, trade, commerce, business, social and domestic activities are today driven by various forms of energy. The sources of energy are under great pressure to meet the ever increasing demand. The coal, lignite, petroleum and natural gas are non-renewable resources. They are the most exploited and running out at the most alarming rate. The prices are escalating putting huge burden on the poor economies of the developing nations. That compounds the problem. The renewable resources are inconvenient and have many limitations. So, there is energy crisis.
The renewable resources are fuel wood, animal waste and agricultural residues. They are known as non-commercials. The commercial renewable sources are hydro-electricity, solar and wind power besides nuclear energy. Hydrogen fusion holds great promise but the technology to do it is yet at experimental stage. So is energy from sea waves.
Over the thousands of years, the man has cut down forests mercilessly without caring to plant trees to renew this source. It takes half a century to grow a forest. Thus, the damage has been done. The solar and wind energy harnessing is progressing at a very slow pace. The acceptance of the people is not enthusiastic because old habits die hard. There is also the fact that technologies are based on fossil fuels. The shift over is not easy. Besides it will require mind-blowing capital investments.
River-valley projects are capital intensive although pollution free. They also have the limitations as they require special geographical conditions to build dams. The man can create new rivers.
The coal although readily available has one big draw-back of being a big polluter of air. The coal based thermal power plants fill the air with smoke and ash. They also clog the railway services as constant supply of loads of coal is required to keep them running. The oil and natural gas are becoming costlier by the day. But the oil and gas guzzling vehicles are multiplying on our roads. It puts heavy burden on individual and national budget. Currently India’s entire goods export earnings are going into paying the oil bills. That is very worrisome.
Nuclear energy is pollution free. Its negative factors are that it creates nuclear waste disposal problem. Then, there is danger of mishaps which can result in grave disasters. Don’t forget Chernobyl. Still it appears to be most attractive proposition as pollution is becoming a concern of the entire mankind.
So, most of the expanding economics are turning to nuclear energy in a big way. Recently India has signed a nuclear deal with U.S.A. which opens the doors of advanced atomic technology and nuclear fuel supplies to it. It gives India a great opportunity in meeting its growing energy demand to feed its fast growing economy. We can say that the nuclear deal of 2006 is a major positive event for India.
It is about time we woke up to meet the challenge of the energy problem. The people of a country like ours where sun shines 11 months of a year solar power must be extensively used. At domestic level we can use solar cookers to cook health meals. Heavy investments should be made to harness the wind energy. All of us must opt for alternate sources of energy to fossil fuels wherever possible.
Research must be done to find more efficient uses of animal and agricultural wastes in rural areas. Tree plantation requires to be made a social movement all over the country. ‘Save fuel and energy’ should become our national motto. We can travel only when necessary. Better roads and flyovers at crossings can save a lot of fuel. The government must subsidies solar power implements and solar panels.
The dependence on the fossil fuels should be discouraged. The researches on the use of alternative energy sources must be encouraged and financially supported. In this regard the greatest need is to educate people on the energy crisis and about what they can do.
Some new thinking and innovative minds are all that is required. India is a sun-shine country. Our scientists must think of making our country truly a sole ‘Solar Power’ instead of being a third rate atomic power.