Can India’s Future Needs of Electricity be met by Renewable Energy Sources?
Suhas P. Sukhatme (SM ‘62, ScD ‘65), Professor Emeritus, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
We begin by describing the present electricity scenario in India and presenting estimates of how much electrical energy India will need in the future when it is economically developed. We then pose the question: Can this future need for electricity be met by renewable energy sources alone?
The question is answered by considering one-by-one all renewable sources (solar power, wind power, hydro-electric power, etc) which are deserving of serious consideration and estimating the potential of each of these sources to supply electricity in the future. In an overall sense, the main result obtained is that a significant part of the future annual need of electricity in India can be met by renewable sources.
Although this is satisfying, it has to be noted that the demand for electricity has to be met not just on an annual basis, but continuously on a daily 24 by 7 basis. Many difficult technical challenges will have to be overcome in order to tackle this issue successfully. The challenges include the development of smart power grids and of large-sized energy storage systems. Finally the need for sustainable development in India and in the world as a whole is emphasized and its implications are discussed.