If the aspirations of our young, energetic and educated citizens have to become a reality then our economy should continue to grow at a fast pace. But it cannot grow without energy. The growth potential and the dreams of the younger generation of the emerging economies like that of India look short lived and aborting as its engines of development are threatening to stall, starving for fuel.
While oil prices are continuously on the rise and the government is throwing up its hands saying that nothing much can be done about it, the people of this country are also slowly led to believe that nuclear energy perhaps is the only solution to secure our energy future. Even the former President of the country, a nuclear scientist has endorsed the deal. While the Left has arrayed a number of reasons as to why India should not go ahead with this deal including some costing models that seems to suggest that the nation is being clandestinely robbed through this deal, what I haven’t heard anyone (except a bank from Iceland exploring opportunities in India) talk about is the huge potential of geothermal power (that is clean energy) that is waiting to be harnessed straight out of the hot surface under our very feet. Geothermal energy has transformed nations like Iceland so much so their President Mr. Olafur Grimsson who is driving his country towards a zero carbon economy, swears by it.
So what is “geothermal power”? Have you seen hot steam piping out of the earth’s surface naturally? They are called hot springs. Well this simply put is geothermal activity. The earth’s inner core is very hot. Geothermal zones are known to be located near seismically active areas. This heat is harnessed through drilling holes to drive up water and steam which are separated. The cleaned steam is used to power the turbines that produce electricity without any greenhouse emissions and the separated water is pumped back to rejuvenate the steam source.
As many as about 20 countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, are operating geothermal power plants that run twenty four by seven.
A report of the International Energy Agency says that “The costs of geothermal energy have dropped substantially from the systems built in the 1970s. Generation costs at current plants in the United States are as low as USD 0.015/kWh to USD 0.025/kWh. New construction can deliver power at USD 0.05/kWh to USD 0.08/kWh, depending on the quality of the resource”
India does not figure anywhere on the global geothermal power map. Has our planners done anything on this so far? Is there a policy formulated to attract investment in geothermal energy? The country needs to tap on all possible sources of energy, particularly renewable and green sources of energy like geothermal. The Minister for New and Renewable Energy is reported to have recently announced that they will encourage private participation and provide access to data on geothermal resources in India available with the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad. It will again be the pioneering entrepreneur who will have to educate our policy makers. Hopefully the state governments will not create bottlenecks in the absence of a national policy.