Another critical area of energy security relates to India’s dependence on imported crude oil. ‘Last year India imported 121.67 million tones (9.1% more that the year before) billed at $68 billion (40% more than the year before, because of the price rise). With rising number of vehicles on road and other usages, the demand of oil will remain on increasing. Import bill of crude oil will put biggest pressure on Indian economy. India must participate and contribute in global research programmes to enhance fuel efficiencies dramatically with better technologies and to make the use of alternative fuels significant. Only the effective alternative for fossil oil can provide the necessary relief and reduce the burden. The use of CNG as fuel and the electric vehicles, both two- and four- wheelers, requires popularization.
The news of the solar cells on Prius by Toyota, development work to use carbon dioxide by Lotus Engineering, and bio-ethanol from waste as fuel, indicates the endeavours of the scientists and technocrats to face the grim situation of the fuel shortage in near future. Tata Motors association with an innovative approach of using compressed air as fuel in car is the step in that direction. I wish Indian scientists and technocrats appreciated the priority to work on the various alternatives to fossil fuels. While computers can be an effective aid in improving effective use of fuel, some breakthroughs in innovations are needed to make a real impact on the total requirements.
The government and the industry have big plans. Auto industry had announced its plan on hydrogen as fuel. By 2020, the government wants 20% of all vehicles to run on HCNG and has also permitted mixing of ethanol in gasoline in limited way. Indian Railways, one of the big users of diesel, is blending bio-fuel from Jatropa in diesel.
The country and its people must appreciate the importance of conserving the oil. As estimated, India can save 351 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) or 19% of its total requirement by 2032 in different ways:
1. 7.5% (142 MTOE) from efficient energy use in industry, lighting, and home appliances
2. 1.8% (34 MTOE) by increasing the share of the railways to 50% of freight transport from the present level of 32%.
3. 4.3% (81 MTOE) from use of mass transport and improved fuel efficiency in vehicles.
4. 5.8% (111 MTOE) from increase in thermal power generation efficiency from 31% at present to about 40%.
It appears to be wonderfully ambitious on paper. The programme requires hard working of all concerned in interest of the country. A recent announcement on the use of CFL by Indian Railways and its employees as well as by some state government is exhilarating one. I wish the whole country participated in the conservation plan as a first step to face he grim situation. For instance, it is madness to drive a car to procure a loaf of bread from the market. However, the main thrust must remain on improvements and innovations in technology and discipline.
Can one day a miniature nuclear device or solar energy run the prime movers?
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