Middle class must curb electricity consumption
If we don’t want dams in the Himalayas, the path is via our electricity consumption. India’s residential electricity consumption has tripled since 2000.
A research conducted by Prayas, an organisation working on energy, reveals that residential consumption is increasing inequitably. The national Capital, which consumes 250-270 units per month, is comparable to a German household. Delhi’s electricity is from coal and dams. The study points out that this is more than Mumbai at 110 units or even Chandigarh at 208 units. Much is used for running gadgets like air-conditioners. Is this not inequitable?Coal and large hydro-electric plants account for most of this. We, and I am part of this, often ask that the coal-based thermal power plants upgrade to newer standards. Often, question the wisdom of renewables like hydro-electricity from large dams. But what we must know is that our energy demand is rapidly growing, and as 80% of India hits some or the other level of middle class by 2030, the consumption will increase significantly.
Where will this come from? We can’t keep expanding even renewables-where is the land for large solar parks? We need an urgent paradigm shift. Energy efficient goods must displace others, and fiscal instruments must be used. Our losses in transmission and other sources have to be plugged, and energy generation cut down. We need a big shift in social behaviour- states must find culturally appropriate ways to cut down consumption. Only then can we expect fewer dams and coal-based power plants. Only then can we protect the environment.
(The writer is the founder and director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)
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