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10 Gigawatts Of Geothermal Might Be Planned For India

It was recently reported that 10,000 MW of geothermal energy might be planned for India in order to bring much-needed electricity to rural areas.


A draft of a national policy on geothermal says, “The vision of the scheme is to establish India as a global leader in Geothermal power by deployment of Geothermal energy capacity of 1000 MW in the initial phase till 2022. The scheme is to focus on assessing the potential of geothermal resources in the country and promoting RDD &D projects of Power production and Geo exchange Pumps. Resource Assessment is being planned in 2016-2017 for public domain.”

This document was created by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. If the first 1,000 MW phase is successful, then it may be possible to develop another 9,000 MW.

The same document says a potential 10,600 MW was identified across 340 hot springs in 7 geothermal provinces/11 states.

Some of the sites mentioned are: Puga (J&K) in the north, West of the Himalayas and Tatapani, (Chhattisgarh) fields on the Narmada, Godavari Basin Manikaran, (Himachal Pradesh), Bakreshwar, (West Bengal), Tuwa (Gujarat), Unai (Maharashtra), Jalgaon (Maharashtra), Rajgir & Munger (Bihar), and Jharkhand.

According to Girish Kumar, scientist and head of the Geothermal Division: “Though the technology to generate power from geothermal energy is available, it is very site-specific; so major thrust of the proposed policy at present is on exploration, research and development of efficient pumps.”

It has been written that currently India doesn’t have any geothermal power plants in operation. However, it was recently reported that a tiny geothermal facility with 120 kW output is operating on a campus in Manali.

Obviously, it would be a huge shift to go from nearly zero to 1000 MW, and potentially to 10,000 MW, but there is very compelling motivation. According to the World Bank, India has well over 800,000,000 people living in rural areas. Several hundred million of these people do not have access to electricity.

After independence was achieved, there was national debate about whether energy should be controlled by the federal government or managed by individual states, and the decision was for states to control their own electricity. “Those early concerns about uneven development proved to be prescient. Today, some state governments provide electricity to most rural households, enabling farmers to pump up groundwater resources. Some even offer electrical subsidies to farmers to encourage the use of electricity for irrigation. Yet in other states, rural communities are still off the grid.”

Geothermal doesn’t get as much press typically as solar and wind do, but it has some advantages. It generally is available 24/7 and is considered to be very reliable. It can also come it at an extremely low cost. Greatly expanding geothermal in India would allow the country to provide much more electricity and to utilize a natural resource that produces clean energy, instead of relying on fossil fuels.

Image by Scott Dexter, via Wiki Commons

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