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Electricity hassles in India - Part 2
India is the world's sixth largest energy consumer, accounting for 3.4 per cent of global energy consumption. Due to India's economic expansion, demand for energy has grown at an average of 3.6 per cent per annum, over the past 30 years.
IN CONTINUITION to Electricity hassles in India - Part I, I would like to bring to light other crucial points in this context. India is the world's sixth largest energy consumer, accounting for 3.4 per cent of global energy consumption. Due to India's economic rise, the demand for energy has grown at an average of 3.6 per cent per annum over the past 30 years. More than 50 per cent of India's commercial energy demand is met through the country's vast coal reserves.
 
About 76 per cent of the electricity consumed in India is generated by thermal power plants, 21 per cent by hydroelectric power plants and 4 per cent by nuclear power plants. The country has also invested heavily in recent years on renewable sources of energy such as wind energy.
 
In March 2009, India's installed power generation capacity stood at 147,000MW, while per capita power consumption stood at 612kWh. The country's annual power production increased from about 190 billionkWh in 1986 to more than 680 billionkWh in 2006. The Indian government has set an ambitious target to add approximately 78,000MW of installed generation capacity by 2012. The total demand for electricity in India is expected to cross 950,000MW by 2030.
 
Electricity losses in India during transmission and distribution are extremely high and vary between 30 to 45 per cent. In 2004-05, electricity demand outstripped supply by 7-11 per cent. Due to shortage of electricity, power cuts are common throughout India and this has adversely affected the country's economic growth. Theft of electricity, common in most parts of urban India, amounts to 1.5 per cent of India's GDP.
 
Despite an ambitious rural electrification program, some 400 million Indians still have no access to electricity. While 80 per cent of Indian villages have at least an electricity line, just 44 per cent of rural households have access to electricity. According to a sample of 97,882 households in 2002, electricity was the main source of lighting for 53 per cent of rural households compared to 36 per cent in 1993. The Multi Commodity Exchange has sought permission to offer electricity future markets.
 
We must also note the following things in this context:
Electricity generation in India is presently below targetted generation, and falls short of the growing requirement. Electricity generation does not necessarily mean that it is available to the users; the distribution network, and the administrative machinery controlling it, also matters. We must emphasise the use of solar energy.
 
The best example is that of Auroville Ashram which is situated in the middle of villages of Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu. It is a growing and dynamic community that presently involves about 1500 persons from over 30 countries. It biggest succes story is without doubt Auroville Energy Products (AEP) that was founded in 1996. It specializes in solar energy products - such as in solar lamps, solar charge controllers and inverters to provide a complete solution for solar home systems, wind energy systems - design, supply and erection of wind-diesel hybrid systems, as well as micro-hydro systems. One of its main focus points is the development of solar transport, starting with a simple bike.
 
There are features that make it an attractive option; these include widespread distribution, lack of pollution and virtually inexhaustible supply. Under clear sky, the daily average solar energy incidence varies from 4 to 7kWh/m², depending on the location (peak will be 1kW/m² at noon). As there are 250-300 sunny days a year in most parts of the country, India receives the solar energy equivalent of about 5,000 trillion kWh/year, which is far more than its total energy consumption. Solar energy, experienced as light and heat, can be used in various ways and for a number of applications. The two principal technologies for its utilization are: the photovoltaic (PV) route, in which sunlight is converted into electricity and the thermal route, in which the heat produced by solar radiation is harvested and put to some use.
 
We must also remember the basic physics equation that determines the amount of power that actually flows into the wires going into your house/office. There are many power thieves, located all over, especially in industrial areas in all the cities. Stung by their failure to curb huge power thefts, the distribution companies are now aggressively stepping up surveillance and raids to figure out just where the theft is taking place, in some cases, even down to the street/building where it may be happening.
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