Kolkata: A German energy expert Friday said it was high time that India tapped its potential for alternative sources of energy.
"India has a huge energy requirement. Ninety-eight percent is generated by thermal/hydro power plants and only two percent by renewable sources. India needs to focus a lot more on the alternative, renewable sources," said expert Reinhard Plotz.
Renewable sources of energy include the sun (solar energy), wind, and water (hydro) and with new techniques, it is possible to harness these sources in everyday life.
"For example, you can reduce the energy demand in the transportation sector by more than 50 percent if you use alternative systems. In 2011, 5.5 million tonnes of petroleum were used for transportation in India. This would have been 3 million tonnes less with alternative sources," said Plotz.
According to the expert, engines of trains, buses etc should run on gas or hydrogen and new generation solar cars equipped with high-tech solar panels are the best options available.
"Solar ovens, solar tower systems and solar updraft towers can be installed to meet the increasing energy demands," said Plotz, who was here at the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management to deliver a lecture.
Besides transport, there is a need for sustainable residential planning that makes maximum use of solar energy, which has been initiated in countries like Tunisia.
Another innovation that one can put to use is the concept of fuel cells to power cars and other devices.
"They just need hydrogen and oxygen, to generate electricity, in a controlled manner. There is no pollution and no waste," said Plotz.
According to Plotz, the questions that remain to be answered are government aid for installation of renewable energy sources, compensation or refunding of electricity fed into the grid and the safety of investments.
According to scientific estimates, oil, gas and coal reserves are predicted to last for the next 42, 65 and 155 years, respectively.