Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – August 2


1. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy in India. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for maximizing the use of renewable energy resources.(GS 3)

Live Mint | Link

Advantages of using renewable energy :-

  • As it is renewable it is therefore sustainable and so will never run out.
  • Renewable energy facilities generally require less maintenance than traditional generators. Their fuel being derived from natural and available resources reduces the costs of operation.
  • Even more importantly, renewable energy produces little or no waste products such as carbon dioxide or other chemical pollutants, so has minimal impact on the environment.
  • Renewable energy projects can also bring economic benefits to many regional areas, as most projects are located away from large urban centres and suburbs of the capital cities..
  • If solar and wind plants are distributed over a large geographical location, there can be minimal electricity generation interruption because weather disruptions in one location cannot be the same in other locations.
  • Since the inception of renewable energy, new and stable jobs have been added to most world economies. For, instance, in Germany and UK, many jobs have already been created.
  • Change up to renewable sources of energy means stability of energy prices across the globe. 


  • Difficult to generate the quantities of electricity that are as large as those produced by traditional fossil fuel generators.
  • Another disadvantage of renewable energy sources is the reliability of supply.
  • The current cost of renewable energy technology is also far in excess of traditional fossil fuel generation.
  • Renewable energy technologies are still significantly new to the market, meaning, they still lack the much-needed efficiency. This poses forecast problems and investors may shy away from investing their money for fear of not getting returns pretty quick.

Challenges for maximising the use of renewable energy resources are:-

1.Increased uncertainty arising from power generation based on the natural elements

  • Private sector returns are affected by how public sector utilities operate, making it costlier to raise new capital.
  • Strategy :- 
    • India must turn to market reforms, automation, and new ways of organizing to manage this risk.

2.Managing uncertainty individually is expensive.

  • The current regulations do just that asking each operator to furnish a production schedule is neither cheap nor an improvement.
  • Strategy:-
    • Many developed power markets use a collaborative model. For example, Denmark sources about 40% of its power from wind farms by relying on Norwegian hydro to balance the variability.
    • India must create regional structures so that utilities are not limited by state borders in maximizing the use of national renewable energy resources.

3.Power plants with the required quick-response capability viz., gas and hydro power, are underused and facing insolvency.

  • Strategy:
    • They can be readily acquired for an affordable price, giving them a new life to serve as a provider of reliability services.

4.Current approach is not environmentally friendly.

  • Utilities keep coal-fired power plants on stand-by to meet inter-day variation, burning more coal and oil.

5.Transmission is the other weak link needing investment.

  • Natural solar and wind resources have low energy density i.e., are less concentrated per square metre than coal-fired power plants,
  • Strategy:
    • wider network is necessary to capture the same output.
    • In addition, utilities must also invest in a wide range of areas to maintain proper voltage (reactive power facilities), grid stability, visibility (instrumentation), and cyber security.

6.Too much solar and wind power in some parts of the country.

  • In July 2016 Tamil Nadu was unable to use all the solar power it generated.
  • grid’s ability to absorb these new power sources could be a major bottleneck for renewable energy growth in India
  • Strategy:-
    • speed up the construction of an inter-state green energy corridor that would allow renewable power to be transmitted and used in other states instead of being wasted.

7.Solar and wind power are not as easy to control as traditional fossil fuel plants

  • Strategy:
    • so power grids need to become flexible enough to handle last-minute changes in power generation. acquisition and permitting are still major roadblocks for private developers hoping to complete a project on schedule.

  • Strategy:
    • Reducing the time and cost of land acquisition will be essential to making infrastructure projects attractive to developers and unlocking the private capital needed to finance transmission lines.

9.Indian solar and wind generators are not compensated for curtailment:

  • Strategy:
    • India can look to other countries to find grid planning and operational solutions to help manage curtailment as renewable power scales up.
    • One such change, highlighted in a recent Paulson Institute report on curtailment, is to create financial incentives against curtailing renewables.

Other Strategies to maximize are :-

  • India needs a clear programme of investment in pumped storage.
  • Training for distribution utilities unaccustomed to having customers generate their own electricity
  • streamlining the application and approval process
  • creating certifications to ensure installer quality
  • allowing rooftop solar systems to serve as back up power  when the grid goes down.

Therefore any successful energy transition will require a broader change in the infrastructure and institutions that support renewables and India is significantly focused on it.

2. What are the benefits and disadvantages of using Methanol as a fuel? Why is government considering manufacturing methanol from coal? (GS 3)

The Hindu


  • Recently the government has asked NITI Aayog to study the automobile standards developed in China to use methanol as an alternative fuel.
  • Methanol is made from natural gas, coal, and biomass. It is also known as wood alcohol.

Benefits of methanol :-

  • Methanol is a promising fuel for waterways as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels.
  • Like Ethanol, Methanol is very good for blending with gasoline to replace the harmful octane enhancers
  • The benefits of using Methanol are that it reduces emissions, which has a significant effect on bettering the environment.
  • Methanol blended with gasoline significantly increases the performance of the automobile.
  • It also has a lower risk of flammability than normal gasoline.
  • it is made from domestically renewable sources.
  • it can be made into hydrogen, which could be used as a link for hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Methanol can be manufactured from a variety of carbon-based feedstocks, such as natural gas and coal.


  • Although its emissions are safer than that of gasoline, it has a high amount of formaldehyde emissions.
  • As with Ethanol, it gets less gas mileage, so it would require more frequent fueling. The cost of Methanol is also slightly higher than that of premium gasoline.

Reasons why India is comsidering manufacturing methanol from coal are:-

  • Methanol economy will help India use its vast reserves of coal while driving import substitution.
  • The need for clean fuel that can substitute fossil fuels, cut import cost and is cheap
  • Methanol is a promising fuel which is also being used in the West as well as China
  • To reduce pollution through alternative fuels
  • India presently spends upto Rs 5 lakh crore on oil alone. It also imports methanol. To avoid this.
  • Fossil fuel prices are highly volatile leading to inflationary or deflationary impact on India.
  • `Fossil fuels are damaging the environment.
  • Issue of coal seams accidents due to methane that can be lessened by methanol extraction
  • India has vast reserves of coal.
  • will also show India’s commitment to the SDG and Paris Climate accord.

So India is implementing a Pilot project for coal to methanol is in Talcher and with goverment’s effort and NITI Aayog’s planning the way ahead looks fruitful.Private sector companies like L&T and Volvo are being asked to make a road map to look into the feasibility and technical whereabouts involved.

3. India’s ‘Act East’ policy has been complemented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy in bringing the two countries closer. Comment. (GS 2)

Indian Express


  • India’s Act East policy is based on increasing economic and cultural links to the East Asian nations. This is seen through increased involvement of India with ASEAN nations including Thailand which pronounced its first “Look West Policy” aiming at India and the rest of South Asia in 1996

Yes,the two policies have brought the two countries closer:-


  • Both countries have historical and cultural relations
  • Both countries have strong tourism linkage as people and high-level diplomatic visits who visit India and Thailand have helped in changing the perspectives of the native people
  • Political relations have been warm and cordial. India got respect from Thailand’s people when PM of India paid condolences on demise of Thailand’s most loved King.
  • Regular delegations from both sides have kept the relations strong.


  • Eastern economic corridor provides opportunities for automative,aviation,smart electronics,digital economy etc.
  • India’s ‘Make in India’, similarly ‘Thailand 4.0’ and Sufficiency Economic Philosophy (SEPs) to cover the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show sharing of resources, ideas and reform experiences to establish a win-win partnership.
  • India can learn good practices in development of tourism from Thailand which has world class tourist cities like Bangkok and Pattaya.


  • With Thailand being a part of Golden triangle and India’s North east being vulnerable to narcotic trafficking, the close ties between the nations will help in solving the menace and will lead to overall development of north east region.

Geographical and connectivity:

  • Connectivity linkage is building up by projects like India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway

International cooperation:

  • Thailand is also part of BIMSTEC which will enhance cooperation with the country
  • Thailand is part of many regional initiatives like ASEAN, BIMSTEC, ADC, RCEP etc and can provide a link to India to other countries because of its geography.
  • Both have same stand when it comes to terrorism.


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