The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), India’s largest state-run oil exploration company, is investing Rs 500 crore on research and development in the areas of non-conventional energy sources, a top official said.
“Achieving energy security for the country was a major challenge to sustain a high growth rate. India is having only 0.5 per cent of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves and it would be difficult to meet the growing energy demand unless alternative and renewable sources were tapped and utilized to minimise our dependency on non-renewable resources like fossil fuels,” R S Sharma, chairman and managing director, ONGC said.
Addressing India Inc at the National Quality Summit 2010 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here, he said as part of its efforts to achieve energy security for the nation, ONGC has ventured into exploration of shale gas reserves. It is also engaged in tapping non-conventional energy sources like solar, thermal energy, LED (light emitting diode) and fuel cells, which results into less carbon emission.
Sharma said ONGC has also set up a 150 Mw wind power plant and the company’s board has recently approved setting up of another 100 Mw wind energy plant in the country. “We are looking at other natural sources to meet the growing energy needs of the country,” he added.
“As it will be difficult to meet the increasing energy demand from non-renewable resources such as hydrocarbons, there is an urgent need to shift generation and consumption patterns to renewable sources such as hydel, wind, solar and nuclear fuel,” Sharma noted.
Though India was about 70 per cent self-sufficient in exploring hydrocarbons and energy fuels during the mid-seventies, the phenomenal demand growth since then has resulted in the country importing a whopping 80 per cent of its energy needs as domestic production has declined to 20 per cent of the total demand, he observed.
He said India’s ability to sustain high growth rate would be determined by the pace of infrastructure development and stability in the country.
“Infrastructure development pace and social-political stability in the country will be key to sustain the high growth rate,” Sharma said.
If the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had to grow over nine per cent per annum, infrastructure bottlenecks should be removed forthwith.
“Our infrastructure growth has been tardy and rumbling on for years. Like an elephant, it can stumble also. Unless we fix the inherent problems such as land acquisition and time-consuming procedures, early execution of various projects will remain a challenge,” Sharma said in his address at the opening plenary of the three-day annual Quality Summit.
In this context, he recalled the negative publicity India had across the world over the inordinate delays in completing the infrastructure facilities for the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG 2010) in New Delhi last month.
“Similarly, the Taj Expressway between New Delhi and Dehradun where our company is headquartered, is congested all the time, taking seven hours to travel 250km by road,” Sharma lamented.
Referring to the theme of the session: ‘India: An emerging brand in the world’, the ONGC chairman said though India emerged as an economy, a lot had to be done for the nation to emerge as a developed country in the world.
“As US President Barack Obama recently said, India has indeed emerged during the past decade to be a part of the G20, an expanded form of the G-8 and to have a greater say in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the world’s fourth largest economy with about $300 billion in foreign exchange and gold reserves,” Sharma asserted.