Is tidal energy the next frontier for India’s energy security?
New Delhi: Even as the largest global green energy programme is gaining traction in India, a new frontier in the form of tidal energy may open up to help meet the country’s energy demand.
India’s power minister Raj Kumar Singh informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday about the country having an estimated tidal energy potential of around 8000 megawatt (MW), according to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, along with credit rating firm Crisil Ltd.
With a 7,517 km coastline, India’s interest towards tidal energy is understandable. According to the study, while the Gulf of Kambhat and Gulf of Kutch near Gujarat have an estimated potential of 7000 MW and 1200 MW, respectively, even the Gangetic delta in Sunderbans in West Bengal has a potential of 100 MW.
However, commercial projects are still some time away, given the high costs involved. According to Singh, the cost of harnessing tidal energy ranges from Rs30 crore to Rs60 crore per MW.
Some believe that India’s large consumer base and economies of scale will help bring down the cost, as was witnessed in the case of solar and wind power tariffs. India has registered record low wind and solar power tariffs of Rs2.43 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and Rs2.44 per unit, respectively.
The interest in tidal energy comes in the backdrop of India’s growing energy demand. This demand is expected to further increase with the government’s focus on improving energy access through schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya launched to provide electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas.
According to the government’s policy think-tank Niti Aayog, the country’s energy demand is likely to go up by 2.7-3.2 times between 2012 and 2040 and hence the need to scale new frontiers.
“India has an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies in the new infrastructure, to be able to exploit these technologies as they mature and costs fall,” stated Niti Aayog’s draft national energy policy.
With India’s per capita energy demand expected to reach 1055-1184 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) in 2040 from 503 kgoe in 2012, perhaps the Arabian sea holds some of the answers for the nation’s energy quest.