Book Review
Home / PDF
Energy Portfolios

* Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Centre for Sustainable Technologies,
Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning [CiSTUP],
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.
e-mail:, Web :
Tel : 91-80-23600985 / 22932506 / 22933099, Fax : 91-80-23601428 / 23600085 / 23600683 [CES-TVR]

Citation: Dr. T. V. Ramachandra, 2009. Energy Portfolios. U. Aswathanarayana & Rao S. Divi (eds). CRC Press, Balkema, AK Leiden, The Netherlands. 334 pp.

Energy is essential for economic and social development of a region or a nation. The availability of secure and affordable energy supplies decides the stability and prosperity of a nation. However, consumption of fossil fuels is the major cause of air pollution and climate change. Five countries (USA, China, Russia, Japan and India) account for 55% of the global energy related carbon emissions. The threat posed to sustainability by greenhouse gas emissions and deterioration of the natural resource base (for example oil crisis, fuelwood scarcity, etc.) has caused worldwide concern.  Improving energy efficiency and de-linking economic development from energy consumption (particularly of fossil fuels) is essential for sustainable development of a region. The energy sector, on one hand, is a part of the economy and on the other hand it itself consists of parts such as energy supply and energy demand interacting with each other. Both these interactions are of immense complexity. Energy is required for all the economic activities. Energy supplies are essential for both intermediate production as well as final consumption. So, economic development is dependent on the energy system of the country. In turn, the implementation of technologies or improvement of the energy system is dependent on economic factors such as capital costs, energy prices etc. Also, the demand supply balances involve the flow of energy from source as primary energy to service as useful energy. At each stage of the energy flow, technologies are involved with different conversion efficiencies and losses.

Energy has always been a major component in the day-to-day life of humans. More than a billion people in the industrialised countries (about 20% of the world’s population) consume nearly 60% of the total energy supply whereas about five billion people in developing countries consume the other 40% of the total energy supply. The two billion low income people ($ 1000 annual income per capita or less) scattered in rural areas and scanty towns use only 0.2 toe (tonne oil equivalent) of energy per capita annually, whereas about a billion rich people ($ 22000 annual income per capita or more) use nearly 25 times more, at 5 toe per capita annually.

Every country is striving for economic growth through energy intensive paths. Energy intensities are useful indicators in describing the energy used for entire production chains. The combination of sectoral energy intensities with the demands for sectoral outputs provides insight into total energy use in an economy. Changes in energy use reflect the combined effects of changes in energy intensities in various sectors and changes in the volume and structure of demand. Energy needed per unit of production (referred as energy intensity or specific energy consumption) shows the sensitivity of products or sectors to changes in energy prices. Temporal analyses or a historical study of energy intensities provides information about changes caused by energy-price changes and their effects on total energy use. The paradox when dealing with energy is that it is needed for man to live and develop, and at the same time, unplanned developmental activities focusing more on fossil fuels is affecting the environment he is living in. Moreover, the evolution of the societies, the economic growth and the way countries develop lead to an increasing demand for energy. Two problems arise with the increasing energy consumption: firstly, pollution associated with energy consumption increases leading to unknown changes in world climate that could have tremendous repercussions, and secondly, fossil fuels commonly used are not renewable. Even if people are concerned about the future of the planet, power of money and need for economic growth dominate the debate. Studies have been made on the different resources, nuclear power and the friendly environmental energies like solar, wind and others in order to replace the fossil fuels and more generally the non-renewable energies1.

The energy use per-capita has been used as an index of a nation/region’s development. Energy per-capita is quite small for developing countries and high for developed countries. However, this approach does not reveal any picture of development or efficiency of usage. To achieve this it is necessary to look at the energy intensity, which is energy/GDP. The energy consumption per GDP gives the efficiency for the energy sector. The energy intensity of a process (energy consumed per unit of output) is the inverse of the energy efficiency of the process (output per unit energy consumed).  The impact of more efficient energy use in reducing energy demand, and the overall prospects for restraining energy demand growth, are important issues in the context of environmental policy. Energy intensity is directly related to price signals whereas energy efficiency depends more on the diffusion of the most cost effective technologies. It is important to point out where the loss of energy is the highest in order to reduce them. It happens that some developed countries have lower or similar energy consumption per capita and a much higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than some developing countries. Energy services will be fulfilled only if GDP grows in a sustainable manner. Such economic growth will require the provision of corresponding energy related services at an affordable price with no reasonable expectation to break the linear relationship between GDP growth and the increase in the energy demand that has been experienced so far 2.

The publication under review provides a comprehensive knowledge base pertaining to energy sources and technologies to facilitate making informed choices in regard to energy sourcing and energy technologies. This would help planners to evolve appropriate strategies for achieving a job-led, low carbon economic growth. The publication becomes relevant in the context of initiatives to limit the global temperature increase to 2-2.4 ºC above the pre-industrial temperature. The global economy is projected to grow four-fold  between now and 2030 and countries such as India and China is expected to achieve ten-fold increase. This entails much greater use of energy. The continued dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation would impart unsustainable pressure on natural resources and has implications for climate change and the environment. The adverse effects could be avoided by decoupling economic growth from energy demand and reduction in the use of fossil fuels.  Green power, end use energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage are emerging as effective strategies in recent times to stabilize the carbon emissions.

This publication has five sections (on Coal, Oil and Natural Gas, Nuclear Power, Renewable Energy Sources and Quo Vadis?) focusing on the use of technologies to optimize the energy productivity, minimize carbon emissions and adverse environmental and health effects. These sections also include Country studies for principal energy sources apart from details on the optimal size, capital costs, operation and maintenance costs of power pants, adverse environmental and health consequences, ways of mitigating them, etc. in respect of low carbon energy options.

Section – I focuses on technologies for maximizing the efficient use of coal while minimizing the carbon emissions and related environmental implications. This section is mainly based on author’s work and publication of International Energy Agency 3. The section begins with the discussion on formation of coal, followed by coal bearing sedimentation sequences, emissions, coal mining technologies, environmental impact of coal mining, waste from coal industries and concludes with the discussion on  new power generation technologies.  Technologies that are presented include super critical and ultra-super critical pulverized coal combustion that can attain efficiencies > 50%, Circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) which allow in situ  capture of SO2, Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) from which CO2 can be captured and stored, and fuel cell-IGCC hybrid systems, etc. that are charcterised by higher thermal efficiencies with lower emissions NOX and SO2.

Section – II by Rao on energy from oil and natural gas is a compilation of information from United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), United States Geological Survey (USGS) and International Energy Agency (IEA).  Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) account for 88% of the global commercial primary energy. Burning of fossil fuels leads to the production of climate relevant emissions of CO2, CH4, NOX, CO and VOC (volatile organic compounds).  This section profiles the geographical distribution, reserves and resources.  Oil and natural gas are the products of the burial and subsequent transformation of biomass over millions of years is characterized for its intrinsic qualities of extractability, transportability, versatility and cost. The projection based on the analysis of the historical data of consumption and demand shows the continued dominance of oil in the future energy portfolio of the world. The projection shows that world consumption of petroleum product  growing to 118 million barrels per day by 2030 and oil will continue to be a major source of energy in the future. The contributions of oil and gas to the year 2030 emissions are 482 and 111 MMT (million metric tonnes) respectively.

Section – III by Aswathanarayana deliberates on energy from atom. Author’s affinity to the subject is evident from the discussions of factors driving so called “resurgence” of nuclear power.  Considering the issues such as safety, disposal of waste, etc. of public concern, this section focuses on technologies for vitrification of radioactive wastes, design of fail-safe reactors in which melt down is not possible, and nuclear fuel cycles which generates less waste.

Section – IV focuses on renewable energy sources that include renewable combustibles and waste (solid biomass, charcoal, renewable municipal waste, gas from biomass and liquid biomass), hydro, solar, wind and tide energy. As per the estimate the renewable energy sources account for 12.7% or 1493 Mtoe (millions of tonnes of oil equivalent) of the world’s total primary energy supply. Presently hydropower accounts for 90% of the renewable power generation and is estimated to go up by 1700 GW producing 5000-5500 TWh/year by 2050. Global installed capacity of wind power station is 94 GW producing 152 TWh of electricity which is less than 1% of the global electricity supply. Subsection on Bioenergy projects major share of Bioenergy: about 700 Mtoe/yr for transport biofuels, about 750 Mtoe/yr to generate electricity (2500 TWh/yr)  and 2200 Mtoe to produce biofuels, heating, cooking, etc.  This section also emphasizes the bright prospects for biofuel from algae, which has greater potential. Much research is being devoted at Indian Institute of Science to develop sustainable technologies and for cultivating specific diatom strains for gasoline production4.

Section – V provides the database, which individual countries can make use of to customize their energy portfolios by choosing the precise mix CCS (Carbon capture and storage), renewable and nuclear technology to decarbonise the power sector, to suit their resource position, and biophysical and socioeconomic environments. Considering that safe sequestration of carbon dioxide and radioactive wastes requires a good understanding of the complex interactions between the pressurized fluids and porous rock, author emphasizes the need for great deal of basic and applied research to underpin the new technologies.

Octogenarian author has done commendable job in bringing together a variety of techno-socio-economic considerations to focus on energy portfolios.  This is a good reference book for energy researchers, university students and policy makers across the globe. Consolidated references are provided at the end of each Section help researchers. Lucid presentation of these diverse concepts is the hallmark of author’s blend of vast knowledge and experience. I read this publication twice and I am sure many readers will experience the same temptation of referring this practical publication many times. Policy makers especially from developing countries should take serious note of author’s suggestion of the need for decoupling economic growth from energy demand, reduction in the use of fossil fuels and improvements in the energy economy through efficient use of end use energy, greater use of renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) on massive scale and development of carbon free transport.


  1. Ramachandra T.V. 2009. RIEP: Regional Integrated Energy Plan, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13 (2009) 285–317
  2. Ramachandra T V, 2010. Mapping of Fuelwood trees using Geoinformatics, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14 (2): 642-654
  3. World Energy Outlook, 2007, International Energy Agency, Paris
  4. Ramachandra, T.V., Mahapatra D.M., Karthick B. and Gordon R., 2009. Milking diatoms for sustainable energy: biochemical engineering vs gasoline secreting diatom solar panels [invited]. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 48(19, Complex Materials II special issue, October).
Top ^     

E-mail   |   Sahyadri   |   ENVIS   |   GRASS   |   Energy   |   CES   |   CST   |   CiSTUP   |   IISc   |   E-mail