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Renewable energy

While fossil fuels and hydro-electricity will continue to play a dominant role in the energy scenario in our country in the next few decades, conventional energy resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas are limited and non-renewable. Also, fossil fuels need to be used prudently on account of being environmentally harmful. On the other hand, renewable energy resources are indigenous, non-polluting and virtually inexhaustible. India, being a tropical country, enjoys abundant sunshine. The country?s topography also provides opportunities for using solar, wind and small hydro resources; and its vast land resources can sustain production of significant quantities of biomass, yet another form of renewable energy. Renewables have enormous potential to meet the growing energy requirements of the increasing population of the developing world, while offering sustainable solutions to the global threats of climate change.

Renewable energy sources are indigenous and can contribute towards reduction in dependency on fossil fuels.Renewable energy sources assume special significance in India when viewed in the context of the geographic diversity and size of the country, not to mention the size of its rural economy. Since renewable energy resources are diffused and decentralised, they are more appropriate as local energy systems to meet the ever expanding and diversified energy needs. In this perspective, they offer numerous possibilities for meeting the basic energy needs of the rural poor. This apart, renewable energy offers significant possibilities for job creation. Such jobs would also help arrest rural to urban migration.

Renewable energy also provides national energy security at a time when decreasing global reserves of fossil fuels threatens the long-term sustainability of the Indian economy. The energy security is an issue not only at the national level but also at the local level. This means that a remote hamlet or village will not need to depend on mostly erratic energy supply from far flung areas but will be in a position to meet its own demands through indigenous energy resources. The use of such technologies, which on the one hand enable users to use traditional fuel more efficiently and on the other hand utilize locally appropriate renewable energy resources provides a certain level of energy security to these users.

The renewable energy programme was initiated in the country formally after the setting up of the CASE (Commission on Additional Sources of Energy ) in 1981, and the DNES (Department of Non conventional Energy Sources ) in 1982. State nodal agencies were established in several states to co-ordinate, implement, and facilitate renewable energy programmes. A unique institutional innovation has been the setting up of the IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) in 1987 to finance renewable energy projects. A full-fledged Ministry, the MNES (Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources) was formed in 1992 to provide further impetus to renewable energy development and utilisation in the country. The emphasis of the programme during the 1980s was on research and development, demonstration, and extension, based mainly on grants and subsidies. In the 1990s, the focus shifted to commercialisation and market orientation with a view to encourage greater involvement of the private sector. The emphasis has been on progressively moving away from direct subsidies to indirect fiscal and promotional incentives such as soft loans, innovative financing packages, reduced duties, and taxes. These are supported by state-level policies for power generation from renewables, including wheeling, banking, and power purchase. These policy initiatives have led to the creation of a sizable indigenous manufacturing base and an institutional framework and delivery mechanism to support research, development, demonstration, deployment, and extension. As a result, India has many achievements in several areas in the renewable energy field.

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