Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena in Bhubaneswar, November 18, 2017: The severe smog in Delhi has given the nation a major warning about the harmful effects of the highly polluted atmosphere to all the human beings residing in the area. Such situation more or less, prevails in most parts of the urban areas of the country. The nation’s health is being ruined causing increasing amounts of sufferings and unnatural deaths.

This hazardous air pollution should be of great concern for every citizen of India. In India, nearly 70% of the total energy used in different sectors like industries, transport and domestic are produced from the limited reserve of costly fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. During production as well as consumption of energy from fossil fuels, huge amounts of green house gases like oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur along with finer particles are generated causing a lot of environmental pollution.

In view of this, all over the world, efforts are being made to bring down the energy consumption in these sectors by adopting improved technologies, using developed equipments, reusing the waste heat, proper auditing of energy etc. In addition to these, to meet the growing requirements of energy and to cut down the use of fossil fuels, a lot of efforts are being made all over the world to harness renewable clean energy from sun, wind, biomass and small hydro power.

It may be mentioned here that, the agricultural and domestic organic wastes which are a major portion of biomass are mostly burnt in open air in most places in India with a view to dispose these. In this process, the environment gets further polluted. In other countries, these waste biomass are utilized to produce clean bio-energy.

It is encouraging to note that, nearly 20% of renewable energy out of total energy being used in the mining sector, are being consumed in countries like South Africa, Canada, USA, Australia, Chille etc. But, the mining sector in India is practically using no renewable energy.

In June 2014, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a global renewable energy roadmap (REmap 2030) aimed at doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by the year 2030.

REmap 2030 as currently planned, will result globally in a 21% share of renewables in the total energy consumption. In order to help technologically different countries, the IRENA has developed a technology roadmap for the global manufacturing sector. It is emphasized that, manufacturing sectors should use renewable energy as much as possible. The global industry sector in 2009 used 128 exajoules (EJ), which is about one third of all global energy used.

It is reported that, to achieve green house gas reduction substantially, the sale of electric vehicles in the world which is now only less than 1% of the total sale of vehicle should go up to 40% by 2040. By the same period, bio-fuel to be used in road transport, should be 10%, and those for shipping and aviation should be 11% and 33% respectively. It may be mentioned here that a significant amount of bio-fuel can be produced from the agricultural, forest and domestic organic wastes.

The transport system should run as much as possible by electric energy produced from the renewable resources or can be in hybrid with fossil fuels. It is also suggested that, transport systems particularly those on road should be equipped with facilities like photovoltaic cells and wind turbines to harness the solar and wind energy respectively and these can be used for charging the batteries.

The energy thus stored in the batteries can be utilized for providing necessary fuel for the transport system as such or in a hybrid form with fossil fuel. Programmes for electric vehicles using battery technology have been taken up in different advance countries like USA, Japan and Europe. The electric vehicles hybrid with wind or solar power can solve the problem of energy in the transport system considerably.

It is interesting to note that, globally electric bikes and scooters dominate electric car sale by a wide margin. For example, in 2013 about 112 thousand electric car and 40 million electric bikes and scooters were sold worldwide. It is reported that, in China there are more electric bikes and scooters than the total number of cars on the road. In 2013 sell of electric bikes and scooters in China was 32 million, in Europe 1.8 million, in Japan 440000 and in USA 185000.

Similarly, in domestic sector the renewable energy can be used in increasing amounts particularly from sun, wind and biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of organic wastes.

The industry operating with low and medium temperature (< 3000K) accounts for 45% of the total industrial process heat used. In such industries, solar thermal system has a very significant role to play. The mining companies in Chile are pioneer among other countries like USA, Canada, South Africa, China etc., in utilizing solar energy in mining sector. The parabolic trough technology is the most mature Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology and this is mostly used throughout the world.

Cement manufactures can use a good amount of biomass including organic wastes like agricultural and domestic wastes in their process. As a matter of fact, European cement companies derived 17% of their energy needs from waste fuels in 2005. Cement producers in some of these countries like Belgium, France and Germany have been able to use biomass ranging from 35 to 80% of the total energy required.

All over the world various efforts are being made to harness wind energy economically by using advance technology. Harnessing wind energy is the fastest growing sector with an average annual growth of 25%. The installed capacity of wind energy generation in the world has increased from 60 GW in 2002 and 160 GW in 2010 and was expected to be 460 GW by the end of 2015.

At present, nearly 83 countries in the world are harnessing wind energy and supplying the power to electricity grid. In 2010, the production of electricity from wind energy was 2.5% of the total electricity used in the world and it is increasing rapidly. A small country like Denmark is generating more than 25% of their total electricity demand from wind power. The total global installed capacity of wind energy was 296,065 MW by the middle of 2013.

Though China is rich in fossil fuels yet it is the leading country in the world to produce wind energy with an installed capacity of 62,733 MW by the end of 2011. The next higher production of wind energy countries are in the order Germany, France, Canada, USA, UK and Spain. World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) had estimated that, the global wind energy capacity by end of 2020 would be 1500 thousand MW.

There is a great scope to use wind energy for producing electricity and use in transport sector. In recent years, battery electric vehicles powered by regenerating energy are considered to be the best option, in view of increasing price of fossil fuel and its polluting effect on environment.

Generally for two wheelers, battery requirement is 12V, 2amp (24 watts). By using 304mm rotor diameter wind mill we can generate the required wattage i.e.24 watts power at 30 km/ph speed of vehicle.

In order to cut down the use of costly fossil fuels and to meet the increasing demand of energy in domestic, transport and industrial sectors, India should use the abundant amounts of renewable energy available from sun, wind and biomass (including domestic and agricultural organic wastes).

The technology and the necessary equipments are available in the country, only politics free efforts to materialize the projects are necessary. Polluted cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai etc., should be able to solve their problems by using renewable energy in all the three sectors as much as possible with necessary incentives.

Sincere efforts should be made to increase the numbers of electric vehicles, use of agricultural and city domestic wastes for producing biogas, plantation of more trees on road sides to cut down the amounts of dusts etc and taking necessary measures to cut down the emission of green house gases from the burning of fossil fuels in transport system and nearby industries.

(Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India)