S. Ratnakumar, energy expert and research scholar attached to the Gandhigram Rural Institute, Dindigul, said that with the country preparing itself to observe yet another Energy Conservation Day on December 14, it is vital that comprehensive strategies to tap alternative energy sources to the maximum are evolved.

Talking to The Hindu here on Sunday he said given the fact that power generation from renewable energy sources involves no fuel cost and given the initiatives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes, it is pertinent that aggressive strategies, policy framework and fiscal measures for bulk exploitation of green energy is initiated.

Mr. Ratnakumar who is one of the founders of the energy conservation and energy conservation club movements in the State, said that the recent fall in prices of solar power equipments, wind turbines and associated machineries together with the emerging smart grid technologies will catalyse full utilisation of renewable energy sources in the coming years.

He said that India being the only country having an exclusive ministry for renewable energy, promotion of research and development in all sectors of renewable energy will give a boost to the efforts of finding solutions to the energy crisis which the country faces.

In fact encouragement of energy efficiency by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and green house gas emissions to the maximum possible extent through the utilisation of renewable energy are the major routes for conservation of energy and the environment.

Mr. Ratnakumar said that India will need at least an additional 1,00,00 MW during the XII Plan period to keep in pace with the present level of development. On going public protests against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant and the nuclear catastrophes in Japan, France, Germany and Switzerland should work towards research and development efforts aimed at tapping renewable energy resources more cost effective.

The renewable energy contribution since the IX Plan increased six fold to touch 21,125 MW as on August 31, 2011. During the same period the wind power exploited showed a nine fold increase to touch 14, 989 MW enabling India to attain the fifth position in installed wind power generation capacity. But the wind energy potential of the country stands at 48, 500 MW.

Compared to the wind power generation, solar power generation in the country is poor. When China added 80.3 per cent of solar heating capacity in 2009 India’s contribution was just 1.1 per cent. Mr. Ratnakumar said that the daily average solar energy density in India varies from 4 to 7 kWh/m2, from almost 3,200 sunshine hours every year.

Mr. Ratnakumar said that the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission launched in 2009 had aimed at making India a global solar power leader as part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The mission envisaged bulk investment in research and development, creation of solar manufacturing capability for indigenous production related to off grid applications reaching 20,000 MW by 2022 apart from installation of 20 million solar lighting systems, 20 million square meters of solar thermal collection area and abundant employment opportunities in the coming years, he said.