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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moving beyond Nuclear Power

Prayas is a Pune based group that has been talking about energy in India seriously. Wanted to bring to notice their write-up on the Nuclear Power issue.
...If there’s real concern about energy security, then far more important areas need urgent attention. Coal provides more than 70% of India’s electricity. Yet, only 45% of the potential coal bearing area has been systematically explored, and knowledge of our coal reserves is abysmal. Productivity in our coal mines is only 7-10% of that in American and Australian mines. Yet, we are slow in adopting new technologies, resulting in poor coal quality and yield, and higher costs and emissions. More efficient use of coal, particularly in power generation, would pay handsome dividends towards energy security. But there is no strategic programme to assess, develop and deploy emerging technologies even as privatization is being promoted as a panacea....

...The most painful is the callous disregard for the energy needs of the poor. Nearly 65% people still use conventional, non-commercial fuels such as wood and dung for cooking. With a severe shortage of these fuels, the rural poor —especially women—spend hours every day collecting cooking fuel. A World Health Organization study indicates that nearly 500,000 people die every year in India due to indoor air pollution, largely a result of inappropriate burning of wood and dung for cooking. Thus, cooking fuel poses the real energy crisis for a majority. It is ironic that the focus is on India acting responsibly to protect the global environment and address the problems caused by developed nations, not on the environmental crisis at home.

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