Chennai: Alarmed by a sharp rise in power consumption in the state, Kerala government is seriously considering clean energy alternatives to overcome widening power deficit in the state.
In this regard, minister for Power and Transport Aryadan Mohammed today said, although Kerala generates 28 times more power than it did six decades ago, the sharp rise in consumption is the biggest concern in the energy sector. The number of consumers has increased by a massive 100-fold during this period.
"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 headed for an even bigger crisis. We have projects with a total capacity of around 700Mw, awaiting environmental clearances. Environment degradation is a genuine concern and we must do all we can to minimise the impact on it. However, it is vital that these energy projects get off the ground if we are to sustain economic development, he added.
Addressing the inaugural session of a workshop on 'Energy & Environment - Challenges & Solutions' organised in the state capital by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), he said that solar and wind energy, as well as other non-conventional sources also needed to be explored, but there are limitations to overcome in this area in terms of land availability, population density and financial viability.
However, if the 8.4 million domestic electricity consumers in Kerala install rooftop solar power units of at least 1-2 Kv each, the state can significantly reduce the load on the national grids.
Earlier, inaugurating the seminar, chief minister Ommen Chandy said the Kerala government is open to all practical measures that will help it to generate clean, affordable power for future needs, and balance its energy requirements and environmental concerns. 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. The government is ready to consider recommendations from public forums on energy, waste management and other pressing issues very positively and see if it can be practically implemented," he said.
He said environment concerns have meant that the state has had to rethink its energy options. "Our focus in the last century was on the 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."
Manu Puri, Principal, Energy and Utilities, Accenture, 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 bio mass.
If Kerala utilises all the resources available and takes advantage of its geography, it could have sustained an uninterrupted electricity and could have become a power surplus state, he said.