Energy is a primary input for almost all activities and is, therefore, vital for improvement in quality of life. Its use in sector such as industry, commerce, transport, telecommunications, wide range of agriculture and household services has compelled us to focus our attention to ensure its continuous supply to meet our ever increasing demands.
Energy related problems are not new. The energy related problems are as old as 2500 years ago. The early Romans and Greeks faced fuel shortage as wood was their primary source of energy. They had to import wood from very faraway places. Fossil fuel is still the main source of energy. Today we are facing the peak of oil and gas utilization. Fossil fuel resources took millions of years to form and are infinite.
These resources may be exhausted in a few hundred years. Historical evidence shows that world energy demand has increased at almost the same rate as gross world product (GWP). People living in industrialized or developed countries are a relatively small percentage of the world’s total population, but they consume a huge share of the total energy produced in the world.
The main issues regarding the energy problem in urban areas are:
(a) How to utilize the energy from non-renewable sources at their maximum efficiency.
(b) How to make use of renewable sources of energy or the alternative energy sources?
Energy policy today has two choices (paths). One path leads to the fossil fuels (hard path), which means continuing as we have been for a number of years i.e., emphasising energy quantity by finding more amount of fossil fuels and building much larger power plants.
The second path is the soft path which leads to the energy alternatives that emphasize energy quality and are also renewable, flexible and more environmental friendly. The soft path relies mainly on renewable energy i.e. sunlight, wind biomass, tidal energy etc.
There is a need to resort to energy management. This concept recognizes that no single energy source can possibly provide all the energy required by the source nation. Thus, the basic objective of the integrated energy management is to obtain sustainable energy and which should be realized at the local level. In addition, measures to conserve energy need to be followed.
Energy conservation is considered as a quick and economical way to solve the problem of power shortage as also a means of conserving the country’s finite sources of energy. Energy conservation measures are cost effective, require relatively small investments and have short gestation as well as pay back periods. The studies conducted by Energy Management Centre, New Delhi have indicated that there is about 25% potential of energy conservation in the industrial sector.