TIDAL POWER IN INDIA
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Context: The Standing Committee on Energy has recently released a report on Tidal Power Development in India, urging the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to provide updates on initiatives related to assessing the country's tidal, wave, and thermal energy potential. The report was presented in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
- The Committee expects updates on the progress made in the tidal power sector under the Renewable Energy Research and Technology Development program, emphasizing the importance of practical action to realize the potential of tidal power in India's renewable energy landscape.
Tidal Power in India
- The ocean tides and currents are natural phenomena that can be harnessed to produce electricity. This is called tidal power, and it is a renewable energy source that does not emit greenhouse gases or depend on weather conditions.
- Tidal power works by capturing the energy of the changing water levels and flows caused by the moon and the sun's gravitational pull.
- Some countries, such as France, Canada, and China, have been using tidal power for a long time, but it is still a new technology in India.
- India has a long coastline of about 7,500 km, which offers a potential for harnessing ocean energy. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India is estimated to have a theoretical potential of about 54 gigawatts (GW) of ocean energy, including about 12.4 GW of tidal power and 41.3 GW of wave power. However, the MNRE also states that this potential does not necessarily constitute a practically exploitable potential, as there are many technical, economic, and environmental barriers to overcome.
- India started its efforts to assess and harness tidal power in the early 1980s when it commissioned a feasibility study for a 900 MW tidal power project at the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat. However, the project was shelved due to high cost and environmental concerns. Later, two more tidal power projects were initiated in West Bengal and Gujarat, but they were also abandoned for similar reasons. As of now, India does not have any operational tidal power plant.
- Predictability: Unlike solar and wind power, which depend on weather conditions, tidal power can be easily forecasted based on the lunar and solar cycles. This means that energy producers can plan and optimize their operations according to the expected tidal patterns.
- Environmental Friendliness: Tidal power does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, making it a clean and sustainable way of generating electricity. Moreover, tidal power has minimal impact on marine ecosystems, as it does not require dams or barrages that can alter the natural flow of water and affect the habitats of aquatic species.
- Reliability: Tidal power is consistent and dependable, as it does not vary with the seasons or the time of day. Tidal currents are always present, providing a steady and constant source of energy. This contrasts with the intermittent nature of solar and wind power, which can fluctuate depending on the availability of sunlight or wind.
- Energy Security and Diversification: Tidal power can provide a stable and predictable source of electricity generation, complementing other renewable sources like solar and wind. This diversification can help buffer against supply disruptions and price volatility associated with fossil fuels.
- Clean Energy Generation: Tidal power is a low-carbon energy source that produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions during operation. By integrating tidal power into its energy mix, India can make significant strides towards its climate goals and reduce its overall carbon footprint.
- Job Creation: The establishment of tidal power projects would create a range of job opportunities, from skilled labour needed for manufacturing and installation to ongoing roles in operation and maintenance. This can particularly benefit local communities, fostering economic development and prosperity.
- Technological Innovation: Tidal power projects require advanced engineering and technological solutions. By investing in tidal energy, India can drive innovation in the renewable energy sector, potentially leading to the development of new technologies and expertise that could be exported to other countries.
- Rural Electrification and Livelihoods: Tidal power has the potential to provide electricity to remote and off-grid coastal communities that may not have reliable access to traditional energy sources. This can improve living conditions, support local businesses, and enhance livelihoods.
- Indigenous Technological Development: Developing tidal power capabilities can lead to the creation of indigenous technologies and expertise, reducing reliance on imports and positioning India as a leader in ocean energy research and development.
- Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Tidal power can contribute to mitigating climate change by displacing the use of fossil fuels. Additionally, as rising sea levels and coastal erosion become more significant concerns due to climate change, tidal power installations could serve as protective infrastructure while generating clean energy.
- Resilience to Energy Supply Disruptions: Tidal power is not dependent on weather conditions like solar or wind power, making it a reliable and consistent energy source. This can enhance energy security by reducing vulnerability to external factors that can disrupt energy supply.
- Potential for Export: As India develops its tidal energy capabilities, it could potentially export its expertise and technology to other countries, further bolstering its economy and global standing.
Steps Taken by India
- Research and Studies: Conducting assessments and studies to understand the theoretical potential of tidal and wave energy is crucial for effective planning and resource allocation. These studies provide essential data on the energy potential, feasibility, and environmental impacts of tidal power projects.
- Policy Support: Including ocean energy in renewable purchase obligations is a significant policy measure that encourages investment and participation in the tidal power sector. This policy creates a market demand for ocean energy, driving interest and funding for its development.
- Collaboration: Collaborative projects with renowned institutions like IIT Chennai enhance expertise and knowledge sharing, helping to develop feasible roadmaps and strategies for tidal power projects. This interdisciplinary approach can accelerate technology development and project implementation.
- Pilot Projects: Initiating pilot projects is a practical way to assess the viability and performance of tidal power technologies in real-world conditions. These projects provide valuable insights into technical challenges, operational issues, and potential benefits before scaling up to larger installations.
- Designation as Renewable Source: Designating ocean energy as a renewable source of energy makes it eligible for incentives, subsidies, and other support mechanisms. This recognition incentivizes further investment and promotes the growth of the tidal power industry.
- National Institute of Ocean Energy (NIOT): Establishing a dedicated research institute like NIOT under the MNRE's umbrella demonstrates a long-term commitment to advancing ocean energy technologies. This institute can play a crucial role in research, development, and knowledge dissemination within the sector.
- Support for Pilot Projects and Studies: Financial and technical support for pilot projects and research studies accelerates innovation and facilitates technology demonstration. These initiatives showcase the potential of tidal power to stakeholders and attract private sector involvement.
- Participation in International Forums: Engaging with international organizations and initiatives like International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and International Energy Agency (IEA) allows India to collaborate with other countries, share experiences, and benefit from global best practices in ocean energy development.
- High Cost: The high upfront and ongoing costs associated with tidal power projects can be a significant barrier to large-scale adoption. These costs encompass various aspects such as technology development, equipment installation, grid connection, and environmental mitigation measures. Financing such projects and ensuring a reasonable return on investment can be challenging, especially when compared to more established renewable energy sources.
- Environmental impact: Tidal energy projects may have adverse effects on the marine ecosystem and biodiversity, such as altering the natural tidal patterns, affecting the migration and breeding of fish and other aquatic species, causing sedimentation and erosion, and creating noise and visual pollution. Therefore, tidal energy projects require rigorous environmental impact assessment and mitigation measures to ensure their ecological sustainability.
- Social issues: Tidal energy projects may also face social opposition from the local communities, especially fishermen, who depend on coastal resources for their livelihood. Tidal energy projects may affect their fishing activities, access to fishing grounds, income and food security. Therefore, tidal energy projects require proper stakeholder consultation, participation and compensation to ensure their social acceptance and equity.
- Regulatory Hurdles: Navigating the complex regulatory landscape and obtaining the necessary approvals from multiple authorities and stakeholders can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Unclear or conflicting legal and institutional frameworks can impede project development and create uncertainties for investors and developers.
- Grid Integration: Integrating variable tidal power into the existing energy grid poses challenges in terms of grid stability and management. The intermittent nature of tidal energy generation requires sophisticated grid control mechanisms to balance supply and demand effectively.
- Technological barriers: Tidal energy is still an emerging technology that requires more research and development to improve its efficiency, reliability and durability. India lacks indigenous technology and expertise for tidal energy development and has to rely on foreign collaboration and technology transfer. Therefore, tidal energy projects require more support from the government and private sector for innovation and demonstration.
To maximize tidal power's potential, India can consider the following strategies:
- Reassess the Potential: Conducting an updated assessment of tidal power potential, considering technological advancements and environmental considerations will provide a clear picture of viable sites and resource availability. This assessment can guide project planning and investment decisions.
- Develop a Pilot Project: Establishing a pilot tidal power project serves as a practical demonstration of the technology's feasibility, performance, and benefits. Lessons learned from the pilot project can inform the design and execution of large-scale installations.
- Strengthen the Policy Framework: A robust and consistent policy framework is essential for attracting investments and ensuring the sustainable growth of the tidal power sector. Clear guidelines for incentives, tariffs, grid integration, and environmental safeguards provide confidence to stakeholders.
- Enhance Research and Innovation: Continued investment in research and innovation accelerates technological advancements and reduces costs. Collaboration between academia, industry, and international partners can drive the development of cutting-edge solutions.
- Create Awareness and Engagement: Public awareness and community engagement are crucial for gaining support and addressing concerns related to tidal power projects. Involving local communities in the decision-making process can foster a sense of ownership and shared responsibility.
- Capacity Building: Develop specialized training programs and educational initiatives to cultivate a skilled workforce capable of designing, implementing, and maintaining tidal power projects.
- Financing Mechanisms: Explore innovative financing mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, green bonds, and venture capital, to attract investment and reduce the financial burden on the government.
- Adaptive Management: Implement an adaptive management approach for pilot projects and larger installations, allowing for real-time adjustments based on monitoring data and changing environmental conditions.
- Collaboration Platforms: Establish platforms for regular dialogue and collaboration between government agencies, private sector players, research institutions, and local communities to foster a cohesive approach to tidal power development.
- Long-Term Vision: Develop a long-term vision and roadmap for tidal power integration into India's energy mix, outlining clear milestones and targets for capacity installation, technology development, and environmental sustainability.
- Tidal energy is promising sources of renewable energy that can help India achieve its energy security, climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals. However, tidal energy in India faces several challenges that need to be addressed through policy support, environmental protection, social inclusion and technological innovation. Tidal energy in India also offers some opportunities that can be exploited through international cooperation, renewable energy integration and coastal development. Tidal energy in India has a long way to go before it becomes a mainstream source of power generation, but it has the potential to become a game-changer in the future.
Renewable energy capacity installed in the country: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/renewable-energy-capacity-installed-in-the-country
RENEWABLE ENERGY IN INDIA: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/renewable-energy-in-india-15
Q. What is the significance of tidal energy in the context of renewable energy sources, and how does its adoption contribute to sustainable development and energy diversification? Outline some of the key challenges faced in harnessing tidal energy effectively. What strategies or measures can be considered to address these challenges and foster the continued growth and integration of tidal energy into the global energy landscape?