Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena in Bhubaneswar, June 5, 2022: Energy is the most essential resource for our industrial, agricultural and socio economic developments. Since the dawn of civilization, man has been using renewable energy resources like sun, biomass and wind in various ways in his day to day life.

In due course with development of science and technology, he discovered more attractive and readily available large reserves of non renewable energy resources like coal, oil and natural gas in the earth crust and started mining and using these extensively through generating energy for mining of minerals, producing various items in industries, transporting men and materials and for other commercial and domestic purposes. At present, nearly 90% of total energy consumed by human society on this planet is being derived from fossil fuels.

Due to extensive mining and utilization of these non renewable with limited reserve, it is apprehended that, by the end of the century most of these will be consumed. Besides this, release of large amounts of green house gases like carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur along with fine particulate matters to the atmosphere during combustion of these fossil fuels, has resulted in global warming and climate change causing sufferings to all living beings on the planet.

In view of the abundant energy available from sun, biomass and wind, the scientists and technologists in different parts of the world are engaged in developing better technology to harness clean energy from these for meeting the growing needs of human society. Harnessing renewable energy resources while enhancing our total energy resources will also help in various ways like mitigating the adverse effect of climate change, improving our health conditions and maintaining sustainable development for all time to come.

At the United Nation Climate Change Conference which took place in Paris in the latter part of 2015, all nations have committed to replace at a fast rate the fossil fuels by green renewable energy. At present, extensive research and development programmes have been taken up all over the world for using renewable energy in major areas like mining, industries and transport sectors besides their application in agriculture and domestic sector for supplying electricity.

Renewable energy which is abundant in nature from sun, wind and biomass, can be substantially and economically harnessed by using advance technology. Some advance countries are using these increasingly in mining, industries and transport sectors. This would help to conserve a large amount of fossil- fuels based energy for other special purposes where renewable energy cannot be used. Further, by using minimum amount of fossil fuels, the earth can be saved from the effect of global warming caused by the green house gases released from these.

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. The ambitious target for this roadmap is derived from the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, which is currently Co-chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General and the World Bank President. They have recommended the following two parallel tracks in this regard:

• A country-based analysis is to be carried out to identify actions relevant to technology deployment, investment and policies in collaboration with IRENA Members and other key entities; and

• A series of technology road maps are to be prepared to identify cross-country insights on actions needed to achieve the target of doubling the share of renewable in the global energy mix.

Remap 2030 as currently planned, will result globally in a 21% share of renewable in the total energy consumption. In order to help technologically different countries, the IRENA has developed a technology road map 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 in total 128 exajoules (EJ), which is about one third of all global energy used.

The fuel mix varies substantially in different regions of the world. For example, natural gas accounts for about 40% in regions like Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), America and Europe while China and the OECD pacific use coal to meet industrial energy demand by 80% and 35% respectively. In developing countries like India, Latin America and Africa, the use of renewable energy in all sectors is 24%, 35% and 42% respectively.

All over the world the manufacturing industries use nearly 33% of the total energy being used in all sectors. About 75% of the energy used in manufacturing industries are consumed in energy intensive units like extraction of metals and production of chemicals, petro- chemicals, pulp and paper. Over and above, these industries by using fossil fuel based energy, produce a lot of green house gases which are responsible for global warming.

During the next four decades, it is expected that, the industrial production may increase by a factor of four. In view of this, it is very much necessary not only to improve the technology to reduce the energy consumption but also to replace the fossil fuels- based energy by renewable energy produced from various sources like biomass, sun, wind and small hydro power.

At present, biomass contributes maximum amount of renewable energy to the industry. In 2007 nearly 8% of the energy used in various industries was from biomass. It has been estimated that, by applying better technology the long term potential for use of renewable energy in industrial sector can come up to 21% by 2050.

The use of biomass primarily for process heat has a great potential in the pulp and paper industry. Other sectors including chemicals, petro chemicals and cement also have potential to increase their use of biomass. It has been predicted that, by the year 2050, biomass may constitute 22% (9 Ej per year) of final energy use in the chemicals and petro chemicals sectors and 30% (5 Ej per year) in the cement sector.

Similarly, by that period solar thermal energy has the potential to contribute about 5.6% per year to various industries. At present, renewable energy are not cost competitive particularly where fossil fuels based energy are subsidized. Therefore, it is necessary from environmental point of view and also due to abundance of renewable energy, to encourage the use of all types of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels.

The civilized world needs energy for various socio- economic activities of which industrial sector is the major one. At present, nearly 80% of the energy used in industrial sector is produced from fossil fuels. Besides limited availability of fossil fuels in nature and with its increasing cost, it produces a lot of environmental pollution; on the other hand, the nature has given us huge amounts of clean renewable energy resources like sun, wind, biomass and hydro power for a better living.

Unlike fossil fuels these energy are unlimited and freely available in the nature. We have to only develop techno- economically viable process to harness these. It is very encouraging that, a lot of advance technology has been developed to economically harness energy from these renewable resources. It is emphasized that, while conserving the fossil fuels for special purposes like production of metals and chemicals, larger quantities of renewable energy should be used for our sustainable development.

In 2014, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) has released a global renewable energy road map which aimed at doubling the share of renewable in the global energy mix by the year 2030. All the nations in this world should work towards meeting this ambitious target sincerely by developing and using better technology. India with limited reserves of fossil fuels should take a lead in this regard as it is blessed with huge amounts of the renewable energy resources to meet increasing demands of the people particularly in industrial, transport and agricultural sectors.

• Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India

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