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OK, so I am not expert on energy (or on electricity for that matter!). But having been observing things in these fields last few years, you could say I am on the way to getting a “perspective”…

This week my obsession was electricity (oh well, last week it was the Chennai Super Kings @ IPL, but that’s quite a different matter). If you look at the three main uses of energy – as electricity, for transport fuels and for heating – you will see that electricity and heating are as basic as they can get when it comes to needs (Abraham Maslow anyone?). I decided to put on my browsing cap and revisited the facts I had dug up on electricity in India…

Some stats will help. The world’s total consumption of electricity is about 25000 TWh (terawatt hours), while India’s about 600 TWh (less than 3%). India’s per capita consumption of electricity is about 500 KWh per annum (see here). Guess what the figure for US is? – About 13000 KWh per annum. Boy! An average American consumes over 20 times the electricity as an average Indian.

Many folks all over India are “sustainability-minded” when it comes to using electricity, not because of enlightenment, but because of the necessity of having to pay as little power bills as possible (My mother still gets up in the middle of the night to ensure that we have switched off every possible thing that is not a necessity – thankfully she still considers fans a necessity!). About 80,000 villages do not have electricity in India. Digest these for a while, and you can see why India’s share of electricity consumption is measly % while it has 20% of the world’s population.

But this is all set to change. It’s rather obvious that a fast developing country is going to needs billions and billions of KWh of electricity, and that’s what’s happening right away. The GoI intends to electrify all (yep, that’s what they have said, all) villages by 2012. OK, GoI is not exactly a reliable gentleman when it comes to promises and plans, but I’m sure they are gonna pump in a lot of resources that way. The Indian middle class is growing, growing fast and all these “western wannabes” want every luxury in the world – greenhouse gases and global warming be damned. These folks couldn’t care less that the moment they switch on the light or fan or AC, most likely somewhere in their city a lump of coal is quietly thrown into the fire and it gives out SO2, NOx, CO2 and possibly a bit of mercury as well – we all live for today, don’t we! The Indian industrial sector will continue to grow at reasonably healthy pace, and with manufacturing sector picking up, it is going to require billions of gobs of additional electric power.

Right-O, I have made the case for electricity in India. The rate is going to be big (some estimates here show it will be almost 250% more by 2016, at 8% GDP growth), fast and furious, and I am sure the Ambanis and Tatas have their ears close to where it matters…

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