Supporting green power
The Energy [R]evolution demonstrates how the world can get from where we are now, to where we need to be in terms of phasing out fossil fuels, cutting CO2 while ensuring energy security. This includes illustrating how the world’s carbon emissions from the energy and transport sectors alone can peak by 2015 and be cut by over 80 percent by 2050. This phase-out of fossil fuels offers substantial other benefits such as independence from world market fossil fuel prices as well as the creation of millions of new green jobs.
In India, because our energy infrastructure is not fully developed as yet, we have the opportunity to make the right choices today. We can choose between abundantly available renewable and sustainable energy that is the way the world is going to be powered in the future or the old, dirty energy technologies that will drive India’s dependence on foreign countries for supply of fuel, whether it is nuclear, coal or oil.
Decentralised renewable energy:
In an effort to bring about this revolution, Greenpeace India is working to promote Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE). Decentralised energy systems are based on the idea that energy doesn’t have to be generated in one giant centre and then transported long distances. It can be generated near the place it is needed, and often under the control of the people who will use it.
As decentralised energy system serves people locally, it will necessarily be smaller than the huge power stations in a centralised system. Renewable energy technologies are ideally suited to this type of small-scale energy generation and have the advantage that they won’t pollute the air, water and land of the people who live nearby. Renewable energy technologies also don’t generate greenhouse gases and therefore won’t exacerbate climate change.
In India, where the vast size of the country and the huge power deficits mean that most people – particularly those in rural areas – can’t rely on their electricity supply, DRE systems are particularly relevant. The beauty of operating on such a small scale means that the energy supply can be designed to exactly suit the needs of the community it serves.
Depending on the natural resources available, people can choose to capture solar power, wind power, the power of moving water using micro-hydro technology, or a combination of all of three. There are many other forms of renewable energy present in the world too, and we’re getting better at capturing them. Systems can be isolated – these are called ‘stand-alone’ – or can even be connected to the main electricity grid – these are called ‘grid interactive’. Grid interactive systems have the advantage that the owners of the system can actually sell power to the grid if they generate excess, creating another source of income for them, or draw extra power if they find they ever need more.
Examples of DRE systems are cropping up all over India. In Bihar, over one lakh people are using electricity made from waste rice husk. In Ladakh, tribal communities are processing their farm produces with machines powered by micro-hydro. In Karnataka, villagers are cooking food on clean gas flames produced by cow manure. We’ve set out to document some examples such as these and will be posting the details soon.