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Thursday, Sep 23, 2004

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Energy problems

This is with reference to the editorial "Pumping up hydrogen" (Business Line, September 22). As rightly pointed out in the editorial, the spiralling costs of crude and the finite supply of fossil fuels will force developing countries, such as India, to look at alternative sources of renewable energy. Though various sources, such as solar, wind and hydro, have been identified, it is research in hydrogen that looks the most promising. The main advantage of having hydrogen as a fuel source is that it is available freely in nature and is not limited to a particular geographical area. In fact, it is possible to produce hydrogen by splitting the water molecule.

If hydrogen fuel is produced economically, it can solve the country's problem of dependence on oil imports, air pollution and balance of payment (BoP) concerns. The Indian economy will then not be at the mercy of organisations such as the Opec. The good news is that considerable progress has been made on the technology for producing hydrogen. Many countries, such as the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Belgium, and even China are taking steps to make hydrogen production affordable.

India needs to allocate more funds for research on hydrogen fuel. The preliminary successes of Indian scientists with technology are small but sure steps in the right direction. Also, as pointed out by the editorial, though hydrogen fuel looks the most promising research should be carried out in other energy sources too, as only then can the energy requirements of the country be efficiently met. If India were to successfully overcome its energy problems, then there will be no more hurdles to it becoming a developed nation.

K. P. Kannan


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