Energy utilisation in rural industries in Karnataka
Ramachandra T.V.
Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore - 560 012.


Energy is a vital component in rural industries such as the Agro processing industries and the brick and tile industries. In rural areas, population pressure and low agricultural productivity are among factors forcing people into marginal and ecologically fragile lands. Forests are being logged to meet the energy demand of a region in addition to clearing forests for agricultural purposes to meet the demand of food. Soil erosion, siltation and floods are a consequence of the destruction of forests. The low productivity in agricultural lands and the lack of alternative employment opportunities in rural areas has resulted in large-scale migration to urban areas in search of jobs. In this context, industries in rural areas would help in arresting rural migration to urban areas and help to improve the economic status of local people in the region. For the sustainable development of a region, industrialisation is to be supplemented with integrated energy planning approaches. It is therefore necessary to look for alternative sources of energy which are renewable in nature and which could be harnessed in a decentralised way. The energy efficiencies of end use devices could be improved and numerous opportunities exist for the development of industrial process with greater efficiencies.

Energy auditing carried out in sample rural industries has revealed a wide disparity in energy consumption to produce the same quantity of similar products. About 60% of the sample units have Percentage Production Capacity Utilisation (PPCU) less than 50% and higher Specific Energy Consumption (SEC) and Energy Intensity (EI). The wide variations in EI in the Cashew Industries from 4.49 kg of fuel wood per kg of kernel to 8.66 kg of fuel wood per kg of kernel reveals the scope for energy conservation to be in the order of 30 to 48%. It has been noticed that optimal utilisation of installed capacity (better PPCU) would help in energy conservation. The energy analyses carried out reveals that the relationship between SEC and Production (Pr) fits a power law with an exponent less than one. This indicates an improvement of SEC with increase in production, which, in turn, implies the optimal utilisation of installed production capacity.

An overview of the Small Scale Industries in Karnataka State, India, is also given in this paper from the point of their spatial distribution, investment costs, industrial growth rate and employment generation. Even though these aspects are not directly connected to the energy consumption patterns, they throw light on developmental aspects and hence indirectly influence energy and the environment.

Citation : Ramachandra T.V., 1998. Energy utilisation in rural industries in Karnataka. Ambient Energy, 19(2), : 75-92.

Corresponding Author :
  Dr. T.V. Ramachandra
Energy & Wetlands Research Group,
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560 012, INDIA.
  Tel : 91-80-23600985 / 22932506 / 22933099,
Fax : 91-80-23601428 / 23600085 / 23600683 [CES-TVR]
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