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There are two types of energy – renewable and nonrenewable. Under the category of renewable energy or non-conventional energy some of the sources are – sun, wind, water, agricultural residue, natural geysers, firewood, animal dung, etc. The nonrenewable sources are the fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, wood to some extent, etc.

The total potential of renewable energy is estimated to be 100,000 MW.

The developed countries have about 20% of the world’s population and use 60% of the world’s energy resources.

The energy generated from the sun is known as solar energy, that from water is hydel, from firewood, animal dung, city biodegradable waste and agro-residue known as biomass, is called biogas, and geothermal energy from hot dry rocks, magma, hot water springs, natural geysers, etc. All the renewable sources of energy are fairly non-polluting and considered clean.

India receives solar energy equivalent to over 5000 trillion kWh/year which is far more than total energy consumption in the country.

The Indian wind energy programme is one of the largest in the world, having an installed wind capacity of over 800MW.

India ranks fifth in the world with a total wind power capacity of 1080 MW out of which 1025 MW have been established in commercial projects.

Animal dung, firewood, and agricultural residue are all traditional fuels, which are renewable. When the collection of firewood exceeds the capacity of the forest to re-grow or renew, problems set in. Therefore, excessive use of firewood is not a very environment- friendly exercise and alternative fuels must be provided.

The traditional chulha, which is used in Indian villages, is an inefficient way of using energy. Ninety per cent of the energy in the fuel is lost into the atmosphere; only ten per cent of the energy goes to actually heat the pot.

Gasifiers which convert wood, charcoal and other biomass to a combustible gas, kept a million cars on the roads during World War 11. Among the various technologies based on biomass, gasification is promising and is a reliable and convenient technology to energise small engine driven irrigation pumps in the 5 to 10 horse power range.

India's energy resources are phenomenal but poorly organised. Depending on how much dung can be collected, biogas can meet the cooking energy needs of nearly 40 percent of the rural households of the country.

Out of the 232 million cattle in the country, if one-third of the dung produced annually from these is available for biogas production and for recycling as farm manure, 12 million biogas plants can be installed! Each plant could save about 1260 kg of fuelwood per year.

1000 MW of power can be generated from urban and municipal solid waste and upto 700 MW from Industrial waste in India.