Sunday, January 29, 2012

Texas's Electrical Power Predicament-Part 1

We have got 600 coal plants, the average age is 40 years old and we put 100 on the shelf.  We are building a few gas plants, thanks to the abundant gas supply, but not enough to even keep up with the decommissioning of coal plants.  We have got 104 nuclear plants, average age over 30 years old, design life 40 years, or, I should say permitted life 40.  Ten years from now, ladies and gentleman, those of you who buy electricity, those of you who use for electricity—GOOD LUCK, because that will determine your future.  GOOD LUCK, because the underlying system is not going to be there based on the path that we are currently on.
If we stay on the path we are on...we are not going to meet peak demand in summers and winters, in most parts of the nation.  We came close this August, didn't we, in Texas.  And with the draught, if it doesn't let up, and with the wind not doing much in August, because it just doesn't blow on hot summer days on the high plains, when we need it, we could face rolling blackouts, rolling brownouts, even in Texas, where I think ERCOT has done a reasonably good job predicting the future. But a statistic I heard last week really frighten me.  I read in a local paper in Texas, in which a person from ERCOT said that we had already reached 2014 expectations, in terms of demand, in 2011.  Which says the system may or may not fall short, in the very near future, in peak periods. 
As the nation stumbles into it politically driven future on energy with no plan, no idea, other than a few symbolic words "green jobs "green power" "wind" "solar" "biofuels"—nothing wrong with them, other than that there is very few of them producing electrons.  Ninety-eight percent of the base of our electrical system, ladies and gentleman, comes from coal, gas, oil, nuclear and hydropower.  Ninety-eight percent, and what are we doing in any of those five areas?  Almost nothing to renew the system other than holding it together with band-aids and paper clips.

The path to a 21st century energy system, John Hofmeister, former president of, Shell Oil Company, November 8, 2011  (excerpt from 12:40-16:20 min) 

The title of this article might seem strange given the recent nation-wide 50% drop in electricity prices, apparently due to the glut of natural gas being produced. 

However, I think that there is good evidence to suggest that a combination of growing electricity demand and decreasing ability to produce electricity will put Texas in a very tight position in 2012 and beyond.  It is not just that Texas could face rolling brownouts as intimated by Hofmeister—with as hot as a summer as last year, it is highly likely that Texas will have several days of rolling brown-outs.  The increased risk for brown-outs in the coming years is because of the combination of increased demand because of Texas’s growing populations and economy, and decreased production, because Texas will lose several coal-fired power generation plants.

First, some background on Texas’s growing demand for electrical power consumption, and, its present ability to produce power. 

Electrical Power Consumption in Texas and Likely Future Demand

To get a sense of what is driving Texas’s electrical power consumption, let’s look at its population and GDP growth.  Figure 1 shows Texas’s population and annual GDP (left and right axis respectively) from 1987-2010, 2011 as available (GDP from USA Government Spending; population from United States and Texas Populations). 

Texas’s population and economy are growing much faster than the USA’s. 

For instance, expressed as a yearly change from 1991 to 2010 Texas’s population grew by 2.0±0.6 %/yr and it’s GDP grew by 6.3±3.1 %/yr.  The comparable change in population and GDP for the entire USA over the same period are 1.1 ± 0.6 %/yr and 5.0 ± 2.0 %/yr, respectively.  In terms of population growth, Texas is closer to India's population growth, than the USA as a whole.

Expressed as percentage, Texas’s population and GDP (USD) are both about 8.2% of the corresponding amounts for the USA in 2010.  These percentages are up from 6.8% and 6.4% in 1987, from 1987 to present there has been a linear increase in Texas’s relative proportion of the USA’s population and GDP over this period, as illustrated in Figure 2.

To put the Lone Star State on a global scale, if Texas were an independent country (and some Texans believe this to be the case) it would be comparable to Australia in population (22 million, red triangle, Figure 1) and GDP (1.2 trillion, blue triangle, Figure 1, from: CIA World Fact Book).  According to the CIA, Australia has the world’s 18th largest national economy, so Texas would be above this. 

Given its robust population growth, you should not be surprised to see that Texas’s annual electrical generation capacity (Mega Watt Hours, MWH) has also increased at about the same rate over this period, as illustrated in Figure 3 (data from EIA State Electricity Profiles 2010). 

Expressed as a year-by-year percentage change, Texas’s growth rate in electrical generation capacity has averaged 1.9±2.1 %/yr.  The standard deviation is high because there have been four years in the 2000s (2001, 2003, 2008 and 2009) where power generation decreased relative to the year before.  These are likely some early signs of hitting peak power generation, in my opinion. 

One more global comparison: according to the CIA World Fact Book, in 2009, Australia produced 232,000,000 MWH of power, which made Australia the world’s 17th largest electrical power generator (green triangle, along the horizontal axis in Figure 3).  Texas in the same year generated 404,000,000 MWH or 1.75 times more electrical power than all of Australia.  That puts Texas somewhere around 12th place, slightly below South Korea, and above the United Kingdom (See, Country Comparison Electricity Production, CIA World Fact Book).  According to the CIA World Fact Book, the USA was the top electricity producer in the world, producing 3,953,000,000 MWH in 2009.  Therefore, Texas contributed about 10% to the USA’s electricity production; a little higher than its proportion of the population (8.2%).

Overall then, Texas is a major global electricity producer and consumer, with a growing population and economy.  It is reasonable to expect that power consumption should at least match the 2 percent increase per year population growth rate, perhaps up to matching the 6 percent per year growth rate in GDP.  The historical electrical power generation growth rate of 2 percent per year pretty well matches the former's growth rate. 

Texas can not export or import significant amounts of the electrical power it generates or consumes: it really is a “lone star” as far as electricity is concerned.  Here is how Warren Lasher, Manager of Long-Term Planning and Policy for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), puts it:

The ERCOT grid is unique in the United States in that it is wholly intra-state and essentially isolated from the two other U.S. grid interconnections (the Western and the Eastern Interconnections). The ERCOT grid is not synchronously connected outside of the state, and there is limited ability for the ERCOT region to import or export electricity. There are 5 asynchronous ties between ERCOT and other interconnections: two linking ERCOT and the Eastern Interconnection (with a combined capacity of 820 MW), and three linking ERCOT and the electrical grid in Mexico (with a combined capacity of 286 MW). Flows on these asynchronous ties are scheduled by market participants. ERCOT can request support from neighboring regions during grid emergency events. Aside from these limited asynchronous ties, from an electrical standpoint, the ERCOT region is an island that must independently ensure its own electric reliability.
Declaration of Warren P Lasher September 21, 2011 (my emphasis added)

As noted by Lasher, most of Texas essentially has its own grid (Figure 4, from Cp 27 of The Energy Report 2008). 

ERCOT, a nonprofit corporation subject to oversight by the State, is responsible for controlling the electric grid for about 85 percent of the state's electricity demand.  ERCOT does the scheduling and dispatching of electricity over the Texas grid, and, manages the money settlement for the sale of that power among wholesale providers and their customers. 

Hofmeister was very complementary to ERCOT, saying that they do a reasonably good job predicting the future.  However, the reality is that ERCOT has had problems predicting summer peak demand for the last few years. 

For instance, in April 2006 the combination of unseasonably hot weather for April, plus several power plants being down for maintenance, caused ERCOT to call an emergency and initiate rolling black out in the Austin area (see, The Blackouts/Brownouts Thread  Rolling Black Outs in Texas; Austin hits triple digits today, rolling blackouts; quoting a story from KVUE News, which is no longer available at the original source).

According to Andrew Elliott, Director of ERCOT Supply for GDF SUEZ Energy Resources (November 8, 2011 speech, ERCOT market fundamentals and indicators), in 2010 ERCOT  predicted a summer peak demand of 64 MW, whereas in reality it was 65.7 MW.  In 2011 ERCOT  again predicted a summer peak demand of about 64 MW, whereas in reality it was 68.3 MW.

As I wrote about in August 2011, (Revisiting Rolling Blackouts in Texas) record very hot weather took the grid within a few MW of causing ERCOT to start interrupting flows to industrial customers and a few thousand MW of instituting rolling blackouts.  Earlier in the year in February, ERCOT did institute rolling black outs after very cold weather knocked out over 50 electricity generating units, taking out about 7,000 MW of power generators.

Exploring The Future (prelude to Part 2)
In my opinion these are the signs of an electricity grid that is being pushed to its limits and doesn’t have much reserve margin for error, especially when plants go down, as they always must do, for repair and maintenance. 

However, it now looks like several new rules under the authority of the Clean Air Act will cause Texas's reserve margin to be even less, thereby increasing likelihood of rolling blackouts. 

If, in 2012 and beyond, several coal-fired power plants are closed down or have reduced capacity, and, Texas has just the same power demand as last summer, how many days with rolling blackouts are we talking about?  And, what if Texas’s power demand in 2012 goes up by 2 percent per year, as we should expect it to—then how many days with rolling blackouts?

Join me next time for Part 2, where I explore these scenarios in detail. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sam Penny's Was a Time When

Grandpa Hardy persisted in telling me how back at the beginning of the twenty-first century some people like him tried to warn the world of the coming bad times with resource depletion and climate change and a corrupt financial system, but no one would listen. “They called us Doomers,” he said. “Some scientists talked about peak oil, where the demand for liquid energy would outstrip the supply and the price of fuel would skyrocket, but big corporations and the government said such an idea was hogwash—it was all a big scare. Then we began to see fuel prices rise, and people finally realized there could be a problem, but a problem most thought they could overcome. They figured King Technology would save their collective asses.” I remember Dad’s face turned red when Grandpa made that statement. Dad still believed technology would find a way.

Grandpa continued, “They forgot three things. The first was that our financial system had been created as a house of cards built on debt, and it would not stand. Second, inventions couldn't be turned into products as fast as society needed them. And last was that with the rising price of energy, the U.S. kept turning its currency into worthless pieces of paper. Those countries with anything valuable tried to live high on the hog just like us guys in the industrial world. They increased their consumption and ate up most of the added production they said they could squeeze out of their oil and gas fields.

Today's post, a review of Sam Penny's fiction novel, Was a Time When, is a little bit different than my ongoing series on energy production, food production, and their confluence.  Sometimes it is good to step into the fictional realm to get a broader view of the predicament that humans are facing, and, what the world might look like on the other side of the bottleneck.  It is always interesting to compare and contrast scenario builders.   

I found Was a Time When (WATW) to be a fascinating read that held my interest right up to the end.  

WATW is set a millennium into the future, and centers around a troop neo-archeologists who are on an expedition to the uncivilized regions of the West Coast of North American (i.e., Oregon and California), looking for artifacts of a time when humankind was much more technologically advanced than the time setting of the story. 

That much more technologically advanced period is us in the near future. 

In the story, the world suffers a series of cascading calamities through the 21st Century, which eventually causes civilization to disintegrate, although not completely. 

A member of the troop happens upon a great find: a record of what happened during 21st Century, as narrated by someone who actually lived and survived through it: Sam, the great-grandson of "Grandpa Hardy," (who I suspect might bear some similarities to the author). 

While reading WATW, I couldn't help but make a number of comparisons and contrasts to another recent post-collapse fiction account that I read, James Howard Kunstler's, World Made by Hand (WMBH).    If you liked WMBH, you will probably also like WATW. 

Although WATW and WMBH have similar settings, they also some major style differences. 

In Kunstler's scenario, nobody has much of an idea of what is going on outside of a 100 mile radius around Union Grove, the story's setting, because all electrical power and telecommunications infrastructure have stopped.   Only oral renditions of the news from the rare visitor are what is left.

In Penny's scenario, global information and communication, in the form of satellite internet, still exists for a surprising length of time into the collapse.  The internet was invented to provide a robust "web" of communication that would be hard to put down during wartime, so perhaps this is not too far-fetched. Without the internet in Penny's world, it seems doubtful that Sam or any of his compatriots would have survived very long. 

Another difference is that Kunstler's WMBH was (intentionally) vague about what caused societal collapse, although it appears to involve nuclear explosions, presumably a terrorist attack, in two major cities in the USA and a major plague, presumably aggravated by global warming.  These two events quickly destroy the economy and decimate the USA's population, except in some of the more remote regions. 

Penny, in contrast, goes into quite a bit of detail about the climatic events, pandemics, other natural disasters and resource depletion, that cause collapse, not just in North America, but around the world, and over a much more extended time period than discussed in WMBH.

WMBH covers only one season in a year in the life of the inhabitants of Union Grove and spends a good amount of time discribing their personal interactions and backgrounds, while WATW covers Sam’s entire life-time.   Consequently, WATW spends more time presenting the problematic scenarios facing Sam and his tribe, and their responses, than developing individual characters in depth.

However, despite these differences, I think that both Kunstler and Penny would agree on one thing: without a continuing supply of energy in the form of fossil fuels, civilization will not able to recover from such disasters.  In the absence of enough energy to continuously put back together the infrastructure, the natural or manmade disasters constantly battering society win out, and civilization necessarily becomes less complex.  It's basic thermodynamics.

It's hard to argue against thermodynamics, that is, unless you don't understand thermodynamics, which unfortunately, seems to correspond to the vast majority of the people in denial and dying off in Penny's story. 

So, what kind of people would be fit to survive the kind of scenario outlined in WATW?  Penny suggests that the survivors would have some interesting mental capabilities, which allow them to rationally assess impending problems and take action before it's too late, regardless of what the "herd" is doing or what the-powers-that-be are saying. Oh, and the survivors also have some interesting co-dominant physical traits, which I will leave to the interested reader to discover on their own. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Indian food energy production and consumption: an export land model analysis

Past series (starting here and here) have defined the units and terms used here, explain how I derive food energy contents for the various food items reported by the FAO, and, how these aggregated data can be used to estimate overall food energy production, consumption and export/import rates for individual countries, regions, or the entire world. 

Although India’s food production and consumption trends bear similarities to China as you will see, unlike China, India is not presently, nor in the past, a large importer or exporter of food. 

Throughout, where pertinent, I will point out similarities and differences as compared to China’s or the USA’s food energy product, consumption and exports/imports, the details of which are presented previously here and  here, respectively.

Net Food Energy Production for India
Figure 1 shows the time course of the changes in total net food energy production (blue), and the two major subcategories of plant-derived (red) and animal (green) derived net food energy production.

India has not made up as much ground as China has, as compared to the USA’s food energy production. 

For instance, India’s total annual net food energy production rate (blue circles), has increased by 3.2 times, from about 1815 PJ/yr in 1961, to about 5770 PJ/yr in 2007.   This 3.2 times increase is larger than the 2.4 times increase in the USA's food production over the same period, but lower than China's 4.7 time increase over the same period. 

Similar to China, India’s scale of food production is small compared to the USA’s considering its much larger population (right axis; black Xs).  For example, in 1961, India's population was 457 million compared to the USA's population of 189 million—2.4 times larger.  But, India produced only 55% of the USA’s food energy (i.e., 3246 PJ/yr in 1961).  In 2007, India was still producing only 71% of the USA in 2007 (i.e., 7871 PJ/yr in 2007), even though its population of 1.16 billion was 3.9 times larger than the USA's 300 million population.  In contrast, China's food production increased 4.7 times, but its population increase only 2 times over this same period

Also similar to China, as illustrated in Figure 1, in the 1960s and 1970s, plant-derived food energy dominated India’s food energy production.  There was a subsequent 5 times increase in 2007 compared to 1961 in animal-derived food energy production.  But this is not nearly as dramatic as China's 22 times increase over the same period.  Animal-derived food energy in India is still only about 7% of the total food energy production in 2007.

My overall impression from Figure 1 is that India’s food production has kept up with the population increase from 1961 to 2007.  For instance, the average year-by-year population change from 1961 to 2007 equals 2.1±0.2 percent, while the average yearly change in net food energy production equals 2.6 ± 4.4 percent.

Figure 2 shows this trend more explicitly, presenting 5-year averages of the year-to-year percent changes in net food energy production (total, animal and plant), and the population change.     

Consistent with the USA’s and China’s analysis, the 5-year average of the year-to-year change in total net food production are quite variable, ranging from a 4.9%/yr increase in 1987-91 to only 0.18%/yr in 1962-66.  Animal-derived food production growth has been more stable ranging from 2.6%/yr in 1967-71 to 5.1%/yr in 1982-86. 

There are signs that the rate of population growth is declining from the high 5-year average of 2.3%/yr in 1977-81, to 1.6%/yr in 2002-07.  But, the latter population growth rate is still much higher than China's rate of 0.66%/yr in 2002-07.

Figure 3 presents the same data as in Figure 2, but as a scatter-plot of the 5-year averages of the year-to-year percent changes in population and food energy production as function of the mid-year of each 5-year averaging period.  The solid lines show the linear regression best fits.

Figure 3 shows a significant linear trend (r2=0.57) for a decrease in the growth rate of population but no significant trend (r2=0.02) for the rate of food energy production to be growing or declining.

Extrapolating the linear regression line for population growth suggests that a decline to zero growth will not occur until well beyond 2100. 

It remains to be seen if domestic food production can continue to keep pace with the expected continued population growth, or, not.

Contributors to Net Food Energy Production
Figures 4-7 presents major food items that contribute to the plant-derived and animal-derived net food energy production rates.
Figure 4 illustrates that, as noted above, as a percentage of the total food energy production, total plant-derived food energy dominated food production (e.g., 96% of total production in 1961, and staying about 95% until 1993), and still dominant at 93% in 2007. 

Similar to the USA or China, of the seven subcategories of plant-derived food energy depicted in Figure 4, cereals are the major food type produced in the India, ranging from 59% to 50% of total food energy in throughout 1961-2007.   The sugars are in a distant second at 15-17%.  All of the other food types make more minor contributions (less than 10%) to net food energy production.

Figure 5 focuses on relative contributions of the “big four” plant food items that were important in my previous post (starting here) analyzing the world-wide production trends: maize (corn), wheat and rice, and, soyabean plus oil from soyabean. 

The sum of these four food items has provided anywhere from 39% to 52% of total net food energy production in India from 1961 to 2007.  The most recent 2007 value 48% is in the upper end of this range, and less than the relative contributions of these four food item in the USA (75% in 2007) or China (56% in 2007).

Like China, rice is THE major food energy item produced in India, corresponding to about 30% of total food energy production from 1960 to 1990, and slightly less thereafter, (26% in 2007).

The relative contribution from wheat has gone up from 7% in 1961 to a peak of 20% in 2002 and then back down to 15% by 2007.

In contrast to the USA, or even China, corn makes a very small relative contribution to food energy production in India—only 3% in 2007. Soyabean and soyabean oil is similarly of minor importance at 4% of total food energy production. 

Figure 6 shows the relative contributions from all nine different cereal items separately identified by the FAO: Wheat, Rice, Barley, Maize, Rye, Oats Millet, Sorghum and “Other”

Very similar to China, Rice in India is the dominant cereal, providing about 53% of total cereal energy.  The relative contribution from wheat has roughly doubled to 30-37% over the past decades, while sorghum, millet and barley have all declined.

Figure 7 shows the rise in animal-derived food energy from about 4.5% of total food energy production in 1961 to about 7.2% in 2007. 

This is similar to China but not as large an increase (i.e., 3 to 12% from 1961 to 2007) and the opposite of the USA (i.e., decrease from 14% to 10% from 1961 to 2007).  Unlike China, where the rise in meat production accounts for much of the increase, in India, milk and animal fats are responsible for the increase. 

Consumption of Food Energy
Figure 8 shows the distribution of the Domestic Supply of food energy in India   

The food energy supply for humans is the major domestic consumptive use of domestic food energy, ranging from 70 to 78% of total food consumption though the entire data range.

This is even higher than in China (68% to 54% from 1961 to 2007) and much higher than in the USA (30%).  The low percentages of all the other categories illustrates that, after human food consumption, there is not much domestic food left over for anything else; only processed food is above 10%.

Net Production, Consumption and Net Imports/Exports
Figure 9 shows India’s annual food energy net production and consumption (domestic supply) and the difference—net exports/imports. 

I find this to be the most interesting part of this entire study because of contrasts with both the USA and China.  Whereas USA is a large net exporter and China is a growing net importer, India is neither.  Instead, India has been net neutral in terms of food imports or exports throughout the entire data period. 

As such, India has been, and still is, essentially food independent since 1961.  India nether relies on food exports to generate income or has a trade deficit with respect to food imports. 

This probably reflects India’s government’s plan long term goal to implement its own Green Revolution in the 60s and 70s and to be self-reliant in agricultural production (See Fourth Five-Year Plan and Fifth Five-Year Plan in Five-Year plans of India).  The data in Figure 9 suggests that this plan has largely succeeded, but with a few hic-ups along the way. 

On the greatly expanded relative scale shown in Figure 10, you can see that India's most substantial net food import year was 1967—still, the net food energy imported 136PJ) was only 7% of India's total domestic production.  Since 1970 India's net imports/exports have only ranged from -3 to +1% of total production, with no recent variation in this trend (unlike China).

Figure 11 show the absolute total food energy exports (red) and imports (blue), and net difference between these two (green), which corresponds to the same net exports shown in Figures 9 or 10.

Figure 11 illustrates that, although net import/exports remains relatively small compared to total domestic production, the absolute amount of food being imported and exported has been increasing over the last decade.  For instance, in 2007, absolute food energy imports and exports both equaled 278 PJ, giving rise to a net of zero.   That 278 PJ corresponds to about 4.8% of the total 5780 PJ of food energy production in that year. 

Details of net Food Imports into India
Figures 12 and 13 shows the net food energy imports derived from plants in total (blue circles), and for the different categories of plant food items. 

Figures 12-13 shows that that the maximum in net imports in 1967 was almost totally due to cereal imports, predominately wheat, and mostly from the USA, it turns out. 

That spike in imports in 1967 corresponds to the Bihar Famine of 1966-67 which was due to two extremes in weather: severe drought in 1966 mixed with periods of extensive flooding.  Perhaps, although as suggest by Brass in Bihar Famine of 1966-67, the poor planning and response of the central government worsened the effects of this bad weather. 

Although characterized as a “famine,” the number deaths attributed to the Bihar Famine was only a few thousand (see Famine in India).  This is trivial compared to the earlier Bengal famine of 1943 with deaths due to starvation, malnutrition and disease is the 1.5 to 4 million range.   Maybe the Bihar Famine helped spurred India's Green Revolution and 5-year plans towards agricultural self-sufficiency, which really took off in the 1960’ and 70's.

Subsequent increases in imports, mostly cereals, in the early 1970's, and again, in the early 1980 correspond to the Maharasharound and West Bengal droughts, respectively.  Another spike in imports in 1999 reflects imports of vegetable oils, still a major import item for India (see e.g., India to Cut Cooking Oil Imports by Boosting Local Supplies), but, which of late, has been offset by actual net cereal exports in the mid 2000s. 

Figure 14 shows the net food energy exports/imports derived from animal in total (blue circles), and for the different categories of animal-derived food items.  

Despite a steady increase in the total net animal-derived food energy exports in the last decade, the magnitude of this number is very small compared to India’s total food energy consumption.  For instance, in 2007 the total net animal-derived food energy exports (a combination of butter, meat, and seafood) of 8 PJ only amounts to 0.14 percent of the 5780 PJ of total food energy consumed in that year.  This amount is about 5-times less than China’s animal-derived food energy imports in 2007 (-41 PJ).

The periods in the 1960 and 70, when there was a significant increase in animal-derived food energy exports (mostly animal fats), corresponds to the previously discussed periods of famine and drought.

India’s Production, Consumption and Import/Exports on a Global Scale

Figure 15 shows India’s food energy net production, consumption, and net exports, as well as population, all as a percentage of their respective global counterpart amounts (which I derived in a previous series of posts). 

The black line and x’s show that since at least 1961, India’s population has steadily grown from 15% to 18% percent of the world’s population, with only slight signs of a declining growth rate as discussed above in the context of Figures 1 and 2. 

Since India’s population growth rate remains positive and is declining very slowly, I expect India’s population to exceed that of China’s by the early to mid 2020s, at which point, India will probably have about 20% of the world’s population, and still growing. 

In comparison, for the last 20 years, India’s food energy production and food energy consumption have stayed at about 10% of the world’s food energy production and consumption, and in earlier periods, stayed in a range of 8 to 10%.  India’s biggest drawing into the global food export market occurred in 1967, the time of the Bihar Famine, when it imported about 5% of the total amount of food energy exported world-wide in that year.

This contrasts with China’s steady increase in its proportion of global food energy, up to nearly about its same proportion of the global population (20% in 2007), and, China’s increasing reliance on food energy imports (8% of total food energy exports in 2007).

Components of China’s domestic food energy consumption compared to global counterparts

Figure 16 shows the major categories of the China’s food energy consumption, expressed as a percentage of their global counterparts. 

For reference, total domestic consumption (solid red circles and line “% global domestic supply”) is the same as the red line presented in Figure 15, and, I again show the population as percentage of global population (black line).

The relative amounts of food energy consumption directed to all of these items of domestic consumption: the human food supply, seed and feed, processed food and other uses of food, are all less than the proportion of India’s population relative to the world population.  Only human energy consumption, 13.5 to 14.7% of the global food energy consumption, comes close to equaling India’s 15% to 18% percent of the world’s population, throughout the data period.

In other words, relative to global trends, India has been a long time under-consumer of food energy in comparison to its population.

Figure 17 depicts India’s human food energy consumption of plant and animal food energy relative to the counterpart world human food energy consumption amounts. 

Again, for reference, I repeat the depictions of percentages of the total human food supply (same as the pink line presented in Figure 16), and population (black line and x’s), relative to their respective global counterparts. 

Throughout the data period, the relative amount plant-derived food (blue circles) for human consumption is at, or a few percent below, India’s proportion of the global population.  It is the animal-derived food for human consumption (green circles and line) that is far below India’s proportion of the global population, being less than 5% from 1961 to 1984, and only rising to 7.3% by 2007.

Summary and Conclusions

India’s annual food energy production rate has increased 3.2 times from 1961 to 2007 (Figure 1).  That’s larger than the USA’s 2.4 time increase in food production, but, lower than China’s 4.7 times increase in food production, over the same period. 

India’s food production increase is likely due to it own petroleum-driven green food revolution, instituted by its 5-year plans in the 1960s and 70s.  Accordingly, from 1965 to 2007, India’s per capita petroleum consumption has increased 5.4 times (see Trends in Indian Petroleum Production, Consumption and Imports, hereafter “Trends”). 

Unlike China, India depends very little on food imports: as of 2007, India’s food imports are very small relative to its domestic production and consumption (Figure 9).  This reflects India’s long term plan to have agricultural self-reliance.  Some might argue that just because India doesn’t import food, and therefore rely of foreign grown food, it has succeeded in it's goal of self-reliance.  This, however, would ignore the fact that India continues to have a very high Global Hunger Index, corresponding to a ranking of “extremely alarming” hunger (see “Trends”).  We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that while India may be self-sufficient in food, it is not self-sufficient in petroleum.

How long can India continue to remain self-reliant in the coming decades, as its population continues to increase at an estimated rate of 1.6 to 1.5% per year (Figure 3)?  I see no significant trend for India’s rate of increase in food production to be in decline (Figures 2-3), and indeed, there are reports that 2010-11 was a record year in food production, apparently after a down year in production in 2009-10 (Record food production in 2010-11). 

Still, I believe that continued long-term growth in food production in India will require on continued growth in petroleum consumption.  But, growth in petroleum consumption will depend on increasing rates of petroleum imports, which as I pointed out in “Trends”, this will likely be a problem for India and other petroleum importers, such as China.

Additionally, there are some recent signs that continued growth in food production maybe be facing limitations due to inadequate growth in electricity supplies. For instance, India’s heavy reliance on electricity, produced from coal-fired power plants that supply 50% of its total capacity, clearly can’t meet demand, due in part, to inadequate coal supplies (Power Problems Threaten Growth in India).  Low water reservoir levels have also caused a decrease in hydro-electric power generation (Government gropes in dark over power crisis).  The consequent periodic rolling blackouts have shut down irrigation systems, which in turn, will likely limit food production.  The possibility that electricity subsidies given to farmers by state-run electricity-distribution system will have to be reduced, will also limit food production.  The inadequate electricity supplies have contributed to a scarcity of diesel fuel (Diesel crunch cripples industry), which of course, is a key a fuel needed to support modern agricultural practices. 

So long as it can import increasing amounts of petroleum and grow its capacity to generate more electricity, it may be possible for India to continue to grow its food production.  However, food production increases will likely end if, or when, India starts to see petroleum and electricity consumption peaking due to inadequate imports or domestic supplies.