Energy systems are to be consistent with i) environmental, ii) economic and iii) social sustainability aspects to be conducive to sustainable development of a region.
The environmental sustainability includes criteria’s such as the pollutants related to energy should not exceed the absorptive capacity of environmental media (land, water and air), etc.
The economic sustainability includes aspects such as user costs of energy to be considered in determining the economic feasibility of projects.
The social sustainability includes aspects such as -the development and use of energy should not harm people’s health nor involve involuntary resettlement. The energy projects are required to contribute to poverty alleviation and social equity.
In view of these, sustainability has to be checked “traversally” on the ecological, economic, social, technological and cultural / political dimensions.
The energy sustainability criteria should address the whole energy life cycle, from extraction to the disposal of wastes. In order to assess the extent to which the energy supply is renewable, an indicator could be the share of solar + wind + renewable biomass + mini hydro in the regional energy budget.
Indicators with regard to environmental and developmental impacts are:
- The amount of land, water and non-renewable resources used;
- The pollutants emission - CO, SOx, NOx, HC, CO2;
- Liquid effluents including organic waste and heavy metals;
- Solid wastes generated;
- Risk assessment;
- Employment generation;
- Transfer of economic resources to the beneficiaries of government subsidies and soft loans for energy production (large, small, decentralised) and type of producers (small groups, private or public)
- Technological self reliance in the energy production
- Diversity of energy sources and technologies available and put to use;
Energy consumption / demand point of view
- Main energy consumers
- Enduse - for what energy is used.
These are strongly correlated to the income distribution, level of education on both personal and spatial basis.
Another crucial indicator is the efficiency of end-use of energy, in different economic sectors and income classes. The ratio of useful energy to the primary energy provides insight in to the degree of wastefulness of energy consumption patterns and of the opportunities for energy conservation..
Methodological approaches proposed in this regard are:
- Choice of indicators (based on selected criteria)
- Estimation of indicators in the region studied
- Comparative analyses of indicators (temporal and spatial analyses)
- Identification of factors responsible for changes
- Recommendations of measures to stop the decrease in sustainability
- Evaluation of factors explaining success stories.
- Supply side - renewability and diversity
- Demand side - amount of energy used in various sectors taking in to account geographical, climatic and cultural aspects and evolve energy intensity indicators.
Criteria of Sustainability:
Based on the suggested methodology and detailed investigations in two ecologically distinct zones, identified criteria’s of sustainability are:
- Energy sources, which satisfy basic human needs
- Increased energy efficiency and energy conservation
- Growing awareness about newer energy technologies
- Reduced forest exploitation
- Energy from waste
- Use of locally available bio-manure in agriculture sector and thereby reduced chemical use
- Integrated, decentralised energy system approach
- Reduction in pollution
- Clean and healthy lifestyle
- Energy system which ensures long term economic, social and environmental health of a region over generations
- People’s participation.
Indicators of Sustainability:
The above listed criteria were analysed and assessed for indicators of sustainability in the region. Each criterion considered for sustainability is explained in the following section with reference to Anthragange and Andarhalli villages: