Coal will remain the principal fuel to meet the country's energy requirements for the next 30 to 40 years, despite intense efforts to promote the use of other sources of energy including renewable, according to O.P. Bhutani, Director (Engineering, Research and Development), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), New Delhi.

Addressing a plenary session on challenges in energy security as part of the 98th Indian Science Congress at Kattanakulathur near here on Thursday, Mr. Bhutani gave an account of the energy position at the international level and said there was no tailor-made energy solution for any country. Pointing out that several technologies were now available to increase the efficiency of power generation from coal, Mr. Bhutani said that using supercritical technology, a unit of 660 megawatt had been synchronised in Mundra. Over 45 plants of similar size had been ordered in the country.

Through another such technology - Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), the BHEL was setting up a 182-MW unit at the Vijayawada Thermal Power Plant for the Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO).

The Union Government had taken the initiative for the development of advanced ultra super critical technology, for which the BHEL, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research and NTPC had signed a memorandum of understanding, he said.

He called upon the academia and research institutions to extend their cooperation to power utilities in fine tuning technologies that were aimed at efficient use of electricity production through coal.

Seeram Ramakrishna, vice-president (Research Strategy) of the National University of Singapore, said that while India had been a leading country in wind power generation, Germany, Spain and Japan were leaders in solar energy.

Prof. Ramakrishna said nanoscience and nanotechnology provided the scope for lowering the cost of solar photovoltaic modules.

Chairing the session, Baldev Raj, IGCAR Director, called for a judicious mix of all sources of energy. He called upon scientists not to work in isolation but along with policy makers and public leaders.

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