Kerala Has To Balance Energy & Environment Needs: CM
The Kerala government is open to all practical measures that will help the state generate clean, affordable power for future needs, and balance its energy requirements and environmental concerns, Chief Minister Shri. Oommen Chandy said today.
Inaugurating a day-long workshop on ‘Energy & Environment – Challenges & Solutions’ organized in the state capital by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Shri Chandy said the state can neither block development in the name of conservation nor destroy the environment to pursue growth.
“Finding a balance between the two is our biggest challenge today. The Government will see any recommendation from this workshop and from public forums on energy, waste management and other pressing issues very positively and see if it can be practically implemented,” he said.
The Chief Minister said environment concerns have meant that the state has had to rethink its energy options. “Our focus in the last century was hydel power; but today we find it hard to get environmental clearances for such projects, which means we now need to concentrate on non-conventional resources such as solar and wind power.”
In his keynote address at the inauguration Minister for Industries and IT Shri P K Kunhalikutty said Kerala’s challenge today is to generate power that is cheap, reliable and cost effective. “This is the biggest discussion point and everyone must think about it,” he said.
“Waste to energy is a good slogan, but talking about is not going to help, we need to see what can be done practically,” the Minister added. “There are solutions out there, technologies that have been developed and deployed successfully; the key is to find which of these will suit the specific needs of our state.”
Minister for Power & Transport Shri Aryadan Mohammed in his special address pointed out that although Kerala generates 28 times more power than it did in 1957, the number of consumers has increased by a massive 100-fold.
“At this rate our power deficit will only widen in the future. If we cannot address the issues of energy availability and pricing urgently, we are heading for an even bigger crisis,” he said. “We have projects with total capacities of around 700MW still awaiting environmental clearances. Environment is a genuine concern and we must do all we can to minimize the impact on it, but it is vital that these energy projects get off the ground if we are to sustain development.”
He said solar and wind energy, as well as other non-conventional sources also needed to be explored, but there are limitations to overcome for Kerala in this area in terms of land availability, population density and financial viability.
“However, if the 84 lakh domestic consumers in Kerala install rooftop solar power units of at least 1-2 kWh each, we can significantly reduce the load on our grids. These are solutions we must consider seriously,” Shri Aryadan Mohammed added.
At the start of the workshop, Shri. Manu Puri, Principal, Energy and Utilities, Accenture, set the theme for the workshop by listing out the energy options before Kerala including gas-fired plants, coal-based stations, hydroelectric power, solar energy, wind power, biofuels, energy from waste and nuclear power.
He said the current over-dependence on hydel power which is in turn reliant on seasonal rains can be damaging for Kerala in the future. “There is a dire need for the state to look at a more diverse mix, particularly sustainable power sources such as solar and biomass,” he said. “If Kerala utilizes all the resources available and takes advantage of its geography it can have sustained, uninterrupted electricity year-round and become a power surplus state.”
Shri K S Sreenivas, Secretary (Industries) delivered the welcome address. KSIDC Managing Director Shri Tom Jose was among the dignitaries present at the workshop.
In the first session of the workshop, Shri Preman Dinaraj, Director (Finance), Nuclear Power Corporation of India, made a presentation on Energy Security from a national and state perspective. He said India needs to have sustained growth of 7-8% in the coming years which means power generation has to be added rapidly.
“The planning process for energy has to start at least 10 years early if we have to match our demand with supply; and supplemental efforts must come from both public and private sector.”
He said nuclear power is an option that states like Kerala can consider since it requires less land, less fuel by volume when compared to coal, is cheap, reliable, has negligible emissions and has a far longer life relative to other renewables.
Dr A K Balyan, Managing Director and CEO of Petronet LNG Ltd and Shri J Wason, Chairman, Kerala GAIL Gas Ltd made detailed presentations on natural gas as an energy source.
Dr Balyan pointed out that natural gas has been acknowledged as the cleanest and the most efficient fuel. He said across the world new, massive gas reserves are being discovered every year; in the future more availability will translate into lower costs.
He said the way forward for the sector was having robust infrastructure, creation of a sovereign fund to help companies acquire assets outside and better pricing and taxation to improve affordability of gas as an energy source.
Shri. Wason listed the wide applications of natural gas in various sectors ranging from power generation, industrial purposes such as in bakeries, cashew factories, steel foundries, glass manufacturing; for transport; cooling and refrigeration. He said the Kochi-Mangalore pipeline project will create a virtual river of energy that can drive economic growth.
Shri. M Sivasankar, Secretary (Power) and Chairman, KSEB, chaired the session.
The afternoon session focused on non-conventional energy sources and waste management. Speakers included Dr. Rajan Khobragade, Secretary (LSG); Dr Kala Seetharam Sridhar, Head, Public Policy Research , Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore; Shri. Narasimhan Santhanam, Co-founder and Director, Energy Alternatives India; Shri M S Unnikrishnan, Managing Director Thermax; Shri. Mohammed Hussain, Director, Centre for Wind Energy Technology; Shri. Ajith Gopi, Joint Technical Director, ANERT; and Dr Prava Debal, Assistant General Manager, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd.
Shri K M Chandrasekhar, Vice Chairman, Kerala State Planning Board made the concluding remarks at the workshop.