Energy Resources - UPSC Notes - Indian Geography

Energy Resources – UPSC Notes – Indian Geography

Energy is critical for economic growth in every country, particularly in emerging nations where demand for energy is increasing rapidly. The energy sector plays a crucial role due to the massive expenditures required to meet these demands. Energy Resources, encompassing various fuels used for heating, electricity generation, and other energy conversion activities, are essential. This article delves into Energy Resources in India, pertinent for Geography preparation for the UPSC Civil Service Exam.

Energy Resources in India

  • Energy can be generated using various fuel materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, uranium, and electricity.
  • Two categories of energy resources exist: Conventional and Non-conventional.
    • Conventional sources include firewood, cattle dung cake, coal, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity.
    • Non-conventional energy sources comprise solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biogas, and atomic energy.
  • In rural India, firewood and animal dung cake are the most prevalent fuels.
  • Three fuelscoal, oil, and solid biomass—fulfill over 80% of India’s energy requirements.
  • Coal plays a central role in power generation and industry and remains the primary fuel in the energy mix.
  • Oil consumption and imports have surged with the growth of car ownership and road transport usage.
  • Biomass, particularly fuelwood, is diminishing in the energy mix but remains a common cooking fuel.
  • Despite increased LPG coverage in rural areas, 660 million Indians have yet to adopt contemporary, clean cooking fuels or technology fully.
Energy Resources in India

Conventional Energy

  • Conventional energy sources have been widely utilized throughout human history.
  • They are non-renewable, implying that once depleted, they cannot be reused.


  • Coal stands as India’s most abundant fossil fuel, satisfying a significant portion of the nation’s energy needs.
  • It serves in electricity generation and supplies energy to industry and households.
  • India heavily depends on coal to fulfill its commercial energy demands.
  • Coal forms over millions of years through the compression of plant material, resulting in various types based on compression degree, depth, and burial duration.
  • Peat, originating from decaying plants in marshes, possesses low carbon and moisture content and limited heating capacity.
  • India ranks as the world’s second-largest coal consumer, constituting approximately 84.8% of the global consumption of 1,139,471,430 tonnes.
  • The country imports 22% of the coal it consumes.


  • Petroleum occurrences in India are mainly associated with anticlines and fault traps within tertiary rock strata.
  • It is found in regions featuring folding, anticlines, or domes, where oil gets trapped at the crest of the upfold.
  • The oil-bearing layer typically consists of porous limestone or sandstone, facilitating oil flow, while non-porous layers prevent its movement.
  • Fault traps, formed by porous and non-porous rocks, can also contain petroleum, with gas often appearing above the oil due to its lighter nature.
  • Key petroleum-producing locations in India include Mumbai High, Gujarat, and Assam.
  • India ranks as the world’s third-largest oil consumer, accounting for around 4.6% of the global 97,103,871 barrels per day consumption.
  • 96% of India’s oil usage is imported.

Natural gas

  • Natural gas is hailed as an environmentally beneficial fuel due to its minimal carbon dioxide emissions, positioning it as the fuel of the twenty-first century.
  • Significant deposits of natural gas have been identified in the Krishna-Godavari basin.
  • Reserves in Mumbai High and related fields are augmented along the west coast by discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands also harbor significant natural gas deposits.
  • In the fiscal year 2021, the fertilizer industry emerged as the largest consumer of natural gas in India.
  • As of 2017, India’s annual consumption of natural gas stood at 1,957,546 million cubic feet.


  • Electricity is primarily generated through two methods: hydroelectricity utilizing flowing water and thermal power derived from burning fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas to drive turbines.
  • Fast-flowing water, a renewable resource, is harnessed to produce hydroelectricity.
  • India implements various multi-purpose projects for hydroelectric power generation, including Bhakra Nangal, Damodar Valley Corporation, and Kopili Hydel Project.
  • Thermal electricity relies on coal, petroleum, and natural gas to produce energy, sourced from nonrenewable fossil fuels.
  • In fiscal year (FY) 2019-20, utilities in India generated 1,383.5 TWh of gross electricity, with total power generation (utilities and non-utilities) reaching 1,598 TWh.
  • In FY2019, India’s per capita gross power usage averaged 1,208 kWh.
Conventional Energy Resources of India

Non-Conventional Sources of Energy

Renewable energy sources, also referred to as non-conventional energy, are constantly replenished through natural processes and do not contribute to pollution.

Solar Energy

  • Solar energy is generated from sunlight, with photovoltaic cells absorbing sunlight based on the required power type.
  • This energy is utilized for cooking and water distillation purposes.
  • Large solar power plants are being constructed across various regions in India to reduce rural communities’ reliance on firewood and dung cakes, thereby contributing to environmental conservation and ensuring a sufficient supply of manure for agriculture.
  • Over the past five years, solar power capacity in India has grown significantly, increasing by more than 11 times, from 2.6 GW in March 2014 to 30 GW in July 2019.
  • Solar tariffs in India have become highly competitive and have reached grid parity.

Wind Energy

  • Wind energy is harnessed by capturing the power of the wind and is primarily utilized for irrigation water pumps.
  • India stands as the second-largest country in terms of wind power generation.
  • Tamil Nadu hosts the largest wind farm cluster, extending from Nagercoil to Madurai.
  • Additionally, major wind farms are located in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Lakshadweep.
  • As per recent assessments, the country’s gross wind power potential stands at 302 GW at 100 metres and 695.50 GW at 120 metres above ground level.
  • India currently ranks fourth globally in wind installed capacity and generated approximately 60.149 billion units in 2020-21.

Geothermal Energy

  • Geothermal energy refers to the heat and electricity generated by tapping into the Earth’s interior heat.
  • This energy source stems from the Earth’s increasing heat as you descend deeper into its layers.
  • In such scenarios, groundwater absorbs heat from rocks, becoming hot in the process.
  • This heated groundwater, upon reaching the Earth’s surface, turns into steam due to its high temperature.
  • The steam is then utilized to power turbines, producing electricity.
  • In India, two pilot projects aimed at harnessing geothermal energy have been established: one in Himachal Pradesh’s Parvati Valley in Manikaran, and the other in Ladakh’s Puga Valley.
  • India boasts significant geothermal energy potential, with an estimated 10,000 MW capacity, suitable for various applications.

Nuclear or Atomic Energy

  • Nuclear energy is produced through atomic structure modifications, resulting in the release of significant heat energy utilized for electricity generation.
  • Uranium and Thorium, found in Jharkhand and Rajasthan’s Aravalli mountains, are utilized for atomic or nuclear power generation.
  • Kerala’s Monazite sands also contain abundant Thorium.
  • Nuclear power stands as India’s fifth-largest electricity source, with the nation ranked seventh globally in terms of nuclear reactors.
  • India operates over 23 nuclear reactors across seven power stations, contributing 6780 MW of nuclear energy.

Hydro Power Energy Sources

  • The process of converting energy from flowing water into electricity is known as hydropower or hydroelectricity.
  • Hydropower is a renewable energy form as it utilizes water without consuming it, preserving this vital resource for other uses.
  • It is hailed as the cheapest and cleanest form of electricity, but large dams pose environmental and social challenges, as evident in projects like Tehri and Narmada. Small hydropower avoids such issues.
  • India houses 197 hydropower plants.
  • Electricity began to gain traction in India towards the end of the nineteenth century, with Darjeeling receiving it in 1897 and the inauguration of a hydropower station at Shivasamudram, Karnataka in 1902.
  • As of March 31, 2020, India’s installed utility-scale hydroelectric capacity reached 46,000 MW, constituting 12.3% of the nation’s total utility power production capacity.

Tidal Energy

  • Tidal energy is derived from harnessing the power of sea’s tidal waves, yet to be fully tapped due to lack of cost-effective technologies.
  • Ocean tides present an opportunity for power generation, often utilizing floodgate dams constructed across inlets.
  • Regions such as the Gulf of Khambhat, Gulf of Kachchh in Gujarat, and the Gangetic delta in the Sunderban districts of West Bengal offer ideal conditions for tidal energy utilization in India.
  • India’s ocean energy potential is estimated to be around 54 gigawatts (GW), comprising tidal power (12.45 GW) and wave power (41.3 GW).
  • India targets 175 GW of installed capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.

Energy Consumption in India

  • India’s primary energy consumption is projected to quadruple by 2040, correlating with the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reaching $8.6 trillion.
  • Between 2019 and 2040, India experiences the fastest-growing global energy consumption, contributing to approximately a quarter of the global increase.
  • India ranks second globally in terms of renewable energy expansion, with China leading in this aspect.
  • By 2030, India is expected to surpass the EU in terms of its energy grid.
  • With a five-fold increase in per capita automobile ownership, India is poised to lead the world in oil demand growth by 2040.
  • India’s expanding energy needs will heighten its dependence on imported fossil fuels, given the stagnant local oil and gas output despite government initiatives to boost petroleum exploration and renewable energy production.
  • India’s oil demand is projected to surge by 74% to 8.7 million barrels per day by 2040.
  • By 2040, India will emerge as the fastest-growing natural gas market, with demand more than doubling.
  • Coal currently dominates India’s electricity industry, constituting over 70% of total generation.
  • Coal demand is anticipated to rise to 772 million tonnes by 2040, up from the current 590 million tonnes.

Energy Resources Conservation and Management

  • Energy stands as an integral component of economic progress, required across various sectors such as agriculture, industry, transportation, commerce, and households.
  • Economic growth plans implemented since Independence have demanded increasing energy inputs to sustain functionality.
  • Consequently, energy consumption across all forms has witnessed continuous growth nationwide, necessitating the formulation of a long-term energy development strategy.
  • The sustainable energy framework rests upon two pillars: energy conservation and expanded utilization of renewable energy sources.
  • The Energy Conservation (EC) Act was enacted in 2001 to reduce the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), established in 2002 as a statutory entity at the federal level, assists in implementing the Energy Conservation Act, reporting to the Ministry of Power.
  • Predictions indicate India’s energy consumption is set to quadruple by 2030, reaching nearly 1500 million tonnes of oil equivalent.
  • The Energy Conservation Act of 2001 (ECA) lays down regulatory requirements for equipment and appliance standards, labelling, commercial building energy conservation rules, and energy consumption standards for energy-intensive sectors.

India Energy Outlook 2021

  • The India Energy Outlook mirrors the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook, tailored specifically for India.
  • According to the analysis, India is projected to surpass the European Union and become the world’s third-largest energy user by 2030.
  • By 2040, India’s industrialization will be a significant driver, contributing to approximately 20% of global growth in industrial value-added and leading in industrial final energy consumption, notably in sectors like steelmaking.
  • By 2030, India’s oil import bill is anticipated to double, while natural gas consumption is forecasted to triple or even surpass this estimate by 2040.
  • Coal remains the predominant energy source in India, with consumption expected to rise from 590 MT to 772 MT by 2040.
  • India’s primary energy consumption is set to quadruple by 2040, aligning with the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to $8.6 trillion.
  • Between 2019 and 2040, India experiences the fastest-growing global energy consumption, contributing to approximately a quarter of the global increase.
  • India ranks second globally in terms of renewable energy expansion, with China leading in this aspect.
  • By 2030, India is expected to surpass the European Union in terms of its energy grid.
  • With a five-fold increase in per capita automobile ownership, India is poised to lead the world in oil demand growth by 2040.


Coal, petroleum, natural gas, uranium, and electricity serve as fuel materials for energy generation. Energy-saving methods are employed to reduce society’s environmental impact, as conserving energy directly benefits the environment. All fuel types utilized in modern society, whether for heating, electricity generation, or other energy conversion activities, are deemed energy resources.

FAQs on Energy Resources

Question: What is Energy Conservation?

Answer: Energy conservation refers to the practice of reducing energy consumption by utilizing energy more efficiently and minimizing waste. It involves adopting technologies, habits, and behaviors aimed at reducing energy usage while maintaining desired levels of service.

Question: Why is Energy Conservation Important?

Answer: Energy conservation is crucial for several reasons. It helps in mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production. It also promotes sustainability by preserving natural resources and reducing reliance on finite energy sources. Additionally, energy conservation can lead to cost savings for individuals, businesses, and governments by lowering energy bills and operational expenses.

Question: What do you mean by Natural Resources?

Answer: Natural resources are materials or substances found in the environment that are utilized by humans for economic gain or to satisfy their needs and wants. These resources can be categorized into renewable resources, such as sunlight and wind, which are replenished naturally, and non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels and minerals, which are finite and cannot be replaced on a human timescale.

Question: Why are Natural Resources Important?

Answer: Natural resources are essential for supporting human life and economic activities. They provide raw materials for manufacturing goods, food for consumption, water for drinking and irrigation, and energy for heating, transportation, and electricity generation. Additionally, natural resources contribute to biodiversity, ecosystem stability, and overall environmental health.

Question: How Can Natural Resources be Sustainably Managed?

Answer: Sustainable management of natural resources involves ensuring their responsible use and conservation to meet the needs of present and future generations. This includes implementing policies and practices that promote resource efficiency, minimize waste and pollution, protect ecosystems and biodiversity, and support equitable distribution and access to resources.


Name the minerals used in generating nuclear energy and the places where they are found in India. (UPSC 1989)

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