Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Variables of Energy Production: An Analytical Overview - I

Id put my money on the sun and solar energy. 
What a source of power!
I hope we dont have to wait until oil and coal run out 
before we tackle that.”
Thomas Edison

India, where land is the soul that feeds its millions grapples with the nations' insatiable demands for power and water....... the two forces that can either lead an economy, or, stunt its growth.

A country named after the vast river basin of Indus - much of which has either disappeared or depleted - has finally woken up to the harsh reality that water is a scarce commodity.

River Indus today - after passage through India

The historically abundant water reserves in river basins and groundwater, annually replenished by monsoons, fed the needs of the agrarian sector - the backbone of the economy.Water use grew in leaps and bounds with increased agricultural subsidies and indiscriminate use of water pumps. A no-water taxation policy and export holidays further aggravated the situation.

Since the latent part of the 20th century, water usage has grown with the entry of multinational firms in the agriculture and farming sector, and indiscriminate licensing of bottled water plants and breweries. Hydroelectric projects are being commissioned at a fast pace at the cost of irrigation and seismic threats, to cater to the needs of a fast transmuting energy-guzzling nation. Water reserves abundantly found in the riverine systems and groundwater, is depleting fast, getting polluted and undergoing transformation in its chemistry - all of which are a tangible concern today.

That groundwater is already fast depleting all over the country, is no news. Whats alarming though is increased salinity in regions like Rajasthan, as draw down depths creep down to a national average of 28%.  To add further dimensions to the water issues, lack of proper treatment of industrial and urban effluents has further worsened the quality of water, in the sea, river and groundwater. On the world map India is currently seen as the country with the most shrinking reserves.


Courtesy: American Geophysical Union

In its race for economic development, India has been tagged the second fastest-growing major economy in the world. However, it is now being been called upon to bear the cost of this development, with the need for increased energy to feed its new power plants. Further, the policy of reduction in fertiliser subsidy, means more fertiliser plants are expected to use gas instead of naphtha. 

A short-sighted approach, inadequate legislation that addresses the multivariate needs, lack of awareness or stringent monitoring and a deficit policy of natural resource management, has translated the abundant water reserves of India into a cacophony of  analogous issues, all of which demand an immediate policy re-think and action.

A triple whammy situation has emerged where water reserves are fast depleting, existent water is unfit for use sans treatment, while water requirement is growing multifold.  This series primarily looks to the water-energy nexus that has assumed a critical issue in the filed of business and environment, demanding an urgent policy re-think into the water consumption and environmental impact in the process of energy production.

Even as the blog is posted, it is being considered to bring Groundwater under the public domain, where the aquifer shall be managed by community. This may not address the problem at the core, but nevertheless is symptomatic of a thinking process that has kick-started on the water reserves front.

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