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Friday, 25 July 2014

Tata Power & Reliance Power bet big on renewable energy, to spend Rs 1,500 cr each

According to reports, two of the country’s largest power producers Tata Power and Reliance Power are betting big on renewable energy and will spend about Rs 1,500 crore each on clean energy projects this fiscal.
While Reliance Power has big plans in the renewable energy segment with a special focus on solar, Tata Power said that all the new capacity that it is planning to add over the next two years, close to 800 MW, comprises clean energy projects in the wind, hydro, solar and waste-gasses space.
“Renewable energy is absolutely key for us, in fact we are the only utility in India to voluntarily say that 20-25 per cent of our asset capacity base will always be in the clean energy space, also our entire new capacity addition of 800 MW that will come online over the next two years is in the renewable space,” said Anil Sardana, MD & CEO, Tata Power.
“We have already crossed the 500 MW milestone of renewable energy generation in India and our new projects are slated to come up in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bhutan, South Africa and Zambia over the next two years,” he added.
Tata Power also said that it’s the only private utility to voluntarily declare that 20-25 per cent of its total installed capacity will be in the green energy space. Reliance on the other hand said that it has already finalised renewable energy projects of about 200 MW for the current fiscal and is keenly looking at upcoming opportunities to enlarge its renewable portfolio.

“With an operating renewable portfolio capacity of close to 100 MW and 125 MW nearing completion, the company has laid out grand plans to play a dominant role in the renewable energy segment,” said Reliance Power in a statement to ET.
“As rightly indicated by the new Central Government, the renewable energy space will have to be developed, if issues such as ever increasing demand supply gap for power, limited sources of fossil fuel and dependency on imported fuel are to be addressed. Reliance Power is confident that environment is now ripe to provide a big thrust to the renewable energy space in particular to solar PV projects,” the company added.
This comes at a time when the the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE)plans to set up giant solar projects in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Ladakh and Kargil. This is a part of the government’s target of achieving 20,000 MW of solar capacity by 2020.
“Reliance Power is keen to be a part of the journey to position India as one of the world’s major solar power producers in the coming years. Given the exciting new opportunities such as the ultra mega solar PV projects and the shortfall in meeting the renewable purchase obligations by various state discoms,” said the company.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Budget proposes schemes to promote use of clean energy

According to reports, to promote use of clean energy, the government plans to launch multiple schemes including on solar pumps and solar energy parks near irrigation canals in the current financial year.
Besides, the government would provide assistance for developing around 3,770 MW of grid connected renewable energy capacity.
These proposals, spelt out in the union budget 2014-15, would be taken up by the New and Renewable Energy Ministry which has a plan outlay of Rs 5,519 crore for this fiscal.
This amount includes Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources (IEBR) of Rs 3,000 crore and Rs 1,578 crore from National Clean Energy Fund.
“It is also proposed to launch new schemes on solar pumps, solar energy parks and schemes on solar parks near irrigation canals. It also includes provision of central financial assistance for Scheduled Caste beneficiaries,” said the budget document.
The Ministry would provide assistance for developing wind, small hydro and solar projects among others.
Renewable energy initiatives for urban, industrial and commercial applications such as deployment of solar thermal systems, promotion of energy-efficient buildings and master plans for solar cities would be carried out by the Ministry.
Further, renewable energy would be utilized for “construction of 1.10 lakh family-type biogas plants and start of a new programme on cook stoves,” the document said.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Telangana to develop a 1,000 mw solar park

According to reports, the Telangana Government has zeroed in on the backward district of Mahbubnagar to set up an integrated 1,000 mw solar power generation park.
The project will to be taken up by Telangana Industrial Infrastructure Corporation in partnership with Solar Energy Corporation of India. The SECI has given in-principle approval for the park, K. Pradeep Chandra, Principal Chief Secretary, Industries, Government of Telangana, said.
Speaking on the sidelines of CII PaperTech conference, he said that typically one MW requires an investment of about Rs 6 crore. The developers of projects will bring in these investments. The Government role will be limited to facilitation and creation of necessary support infrastructure.
He said that the Government will soon come out with a new industrial policy for the period for the next five years outlining the areas of thrust and incentives. The industrial policy of the unified State is valid between 2010-2015.
Pradeep Chandra said that the Government is also in the process of encouraging companies engaged in renewable energy sector, green technologies and waste management to set up their projects in the State as a cluster.
Earlier, during the year Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited had announced its decision to set up a mega solar park in the State and five more such parks in other parts of the country.
Referring to the State Government moves to set up a National Institute of Packaging, the official wanted the paper sector players to partner in this initiative of the Government.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Airports Authority of India to build solar power plants at 30 airports

According to reports, in a bid to tap alternative sources of energy, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to build solar power plants at about 30 of its airports across the country.
AAI plans to install 50 MW capacity plants in the first phase, which would be enhanced to 150 MW over a period of time, an AAI spokesperson said today. The plants would be established on surplus land available with it at these identified airports or on the large roof tops of the airport structures.
In all about 30 airports have been identified by AAI for establishment of these solar power plants, which would not only meet its own requirements but also feed the surplus power to the local grid. An MoU for construction of these plants was signed between the state-run airports body and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) here earlier in the day.
Speaking on the occasion, Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa said the projects would have to be accomplished in a time-bound manner and airport-wise specific timelines should be worked out for effective implementation.
The AAI spokesperson said the solar plants would not only achieve significant savings in power bills over a period of time but also lead to significant saving in carbon emissions. The plants would also make airports self-sustainable so far as energy requirement is concerned, he said.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Chennai start-up Ather tools up premium e-bike

According to reports, Ather Energy is a start-up based in Chennai with a vision to design premium electric two-wheelers for the Indian market. Housed at IIT Madras Research Park, Ather’s young owners, alumni of the prestigious institute, want to change the lack-lustre image associated with the current crop of battery-operated scooters (e-bikes). They want to offer a bike that brings out all the positives of an electric vehicle and matches the performance of gasoline scooters, needs zero maintenance and is topped with premium features not yet available in any Indian scooter.
Emphasis is on in-house development as this allows Ather to implement quality and cost controls effectively. “We have outsourced fabrication of the design to a private garage in Ambattur. Everything else associated with the scooter is our responsibility,” says Mehta. The duo plans to launch the e-bike around 2015.
“Our scooter will have the capacity to out-accelerate normal petrol scooters while not compromising on comfort due to better suspension. We are using better technology with the battery, which will ensure its longer life,” he says.
These e-bikes will be much lighter than other e-bikes due to minimal ‘unsprung mass’. The weight of the wheels, tyres and brakes are considered to be the unsprung mass of a vehicle and Mehta says they have succeeded reducing its weight by as much as 70 per cent. This makes manoeuvring easier and suits city riding better.
Expected to cost around ₹85,000, Ather Energy has cast its eyes on the premium segment. “People who buy electric scooters aren’t necessarily looking at a low-cost alternative to the petrol scooter. They are looking for a green alternative, something that would make them stand out in a crowd,” he says. Besides, ownership costs on these bikes will be low due to the better battery life, lower charging time and the performance, he added.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Photovoltaic products’ dumping causing loss of Rs 3000 crore to India: Solar association

According to reports, dumping of photovoltaic products by China, Taiwan, Malyasia and the United States is causing losses to the tune of Rs 3000 crore to India and Rs 1000 crore to the domestic solar industry, according to their association which wants 30 per cent anti-dumping duty to be imposed.
“Thin-film, and silicon PV cells and modules imported into India from USA and other Asian countries are being sold at ridiculously low prices bleeding the local industry and violating international fair trade regulations.
“This has also led to losses of Rs 1000 crore to the Indian solar manufacturers and over Rs 3000 crore to Indian exchequer,” said H R Gupta, member of the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) and Managing Director of Indosolar Limited.
The association, which includes major domestic players, has said that in January 2013, Ministry of Commerce started investigating into anti-dumping cases and PV cells from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the US. The order on this should be out by late next month.
“The government is encouraging imports from China. This is being done despite the companies facing loses. On the other hand, the domestic players are also facing loses locally,” said another member of ISMA.
“We hope that the government imposes anti-dumping duty of around 30 per cent in this cases as these companies are selling the products at low price, he said.
The European Union has imposed anti-dumping duty of around 48 per cent on Chinese solar imports whereas the US too has imposed a similar duty ranging from 29.18 per cent to 254 per cent on solar energy cells imported from China.
Interestingly, in 2013-14, the Indian industry has exported PV products worth Rs 200 crore.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

DoT pushes green policy for telecom sector

According to reportsaiming to adopt green policy in the telecom sector, the Department of Telecom (DoT) set a 2019 deadline for service providers to reduce carbon emission from mobile networks by 17 per cent.
The roadmap to encourage green energy in the telecom sector, prepared by the DoT, says at present 80-90 per cent of power requirements for rural towers are met by diesel generator sets, each of which consumes 8,760 litres of diesel a year if it runs eight hours a day. It is estimated that 5.12 billion litres of diesel is consumed by telecom towers annually, and total emission due to this is around 10 million tonne of carbon dioxide.
Of the total 7.42 lakh mobile telecom towers in the country, around 3.5 lakh in rural areas run mostly on diesel generators. The DoT wants these towers converted to green energy sources like solar, biomass or wind.
To be precise, the green telecom policy requires mobile operators to migrate 75 per cent of all cell towers in rural areas and 33 per cent in urban areas to hybrid power by 2020.
However, many telecom companies have expressed their inability to adopt green energy technology due to huge expenses, and have been demanding viability gap funding (VGF) as a pre-condition to invest in green energy technologies.
In attempt to push telecom companies to invest more in green energy technology, now DoT plans to provide easy bank financing, by way of softer interest rates and longer loan tenures, since telecom towers enjoy infrastructure status. Telecom tower companies will also be eligible for higher overseas borrowing limits, lower import duties and excise exemptions on telecom infrastructure equipment, said a DoT note.
Apart from reducing carbon emission, the government also wants to reduce the consumption of diesel by telecom towers, which is companies purchase mostly from the open market, sources in the DoT told Deccan Herald.
The DoT last year engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Indian unit to examine the techno-commercial feasibility of powering some 3.5 lakh mobile towers with alternative energy sources. Once the DoT receives the report, it is likely to announce sops for telecom firms to reach the government target in adopting green energy standards.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

FICCI opposes move by states to curb open access in power sector

It has been reported that FICCI strongly opposes the recent move by States to curb competition in the power sector by invoking Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 and restricting open access.
These, of course, are not rare incidents and to a certain extent expected in view of the approaching elections. Once again, instead of provisioning for sufficient electricity to meet consumer power demands, States have decided not to pursue the spirit and provisions of the Act. What is unfortunate is that even after 11 years, the implementation of the Act continues to remain a challenge.
Dr A Didar Singh, Secretary General of FICCI, said that “Open Access to the transmission and distribution network is the cornerstone of the Act, which was meant to unshackle the power sector by fostering competition, transparency, efficiency for the ultimate good of the consumer as well as the sector.”

Today, over 2400 consumers and more than 200 captive generators across the various industry and commercial segments including steel, aluminium, textile, glass, automobile, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, commercial complexes, malls, educational institutions, group housing societies are leveraging open access to optimise their costs.
Competition in power supply is critical for commercial as well as social growth of the nation. FICCI would like to reiterate certain imperatives for bringing in competition in the real sense:

1. The States must realize that the open access is an opportunity and not a threat.

2. Segregation of content and carriage, both structurally as proposed in the most recent amendments to the Act initiated by the Ministry of Power, and operationally, will go a long way in implementing open access and ushering in the much-needed transparency.

3. Strengthening of Section 11, as also proposed in the most recent amendments to the Act, is vital in order to prevent its misuse by the States. The term ‘extraordinary circumstances’ mentioned inthe Statute must be defined and usual shortage of power should not qualify under this provision.

4. Implementation of a road map pertaining to the reduction of cross-subsidy surcharge as proposed under the Act must be pursued with alacrity.

5. On the operational front, there is need to streamline and expedite the process of securing clearances for open access. Instituting a centralized electronic open access registry is one of the possible solutions for reducing time taken.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Solar PV in India. Can it replace fossil fuels

Solar Photovoltaic technology is now a commercially matured technology. Skeptics still argue if it can be a game changer and drastically replace fossil fuels if not eliminate them completely.

Let us look at some interesting numbers

  • Crystalline Silicon Solar PV technology capital cost has reduced in price by 60% over the last 3 years. From a grid based incentive price of Rs. 18 per unit to the current rates of Rs. 7 per unit, this more than shows the trend in PV pricing with benefits of scale
  • Around 14 Lakh MW can be installed in an area less than half of Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. By standard numbers that  produce around 2000 TWh ie around twice of India's requirement.
  • The catch here ... sun is only during the day. And we still dont have enough economical tech to store so much energy. So the only thing that stops us from going completely solar more than anything else is lack of a safe, economical and proved storage technology for the grid.
Please write back your views ... we would like to discuss

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The EARTH HOUR effect

Gateway of India, Mumbai
(Before and during the Earth Hour)
Earth Hour 2014 was observed across the globe on 29 March 2014.
Millions of people worldwide switched of their lights during the Earth Hour, between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm local time, as part of an annual global environmental campaign to raise awareness about energy use and conservation.
Earth Hour, organised by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), originated in Australia in 2007, so as to create awareness about carbon pollution. Since then, several countries have taken part in the initiative and is observed every year on the last Saturday of March.
India joined the Earth Hour movement in 2009 when "5 million Indians across 56 cities showed their support by switching off non-essential lights and saving approximately 1,000 MW of power in one hour," according to the Earth Hour India's website.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Solar Power: Cost of Production diminishes by 60%, price to equal Thermal Power's in 3 years


Earlier this month, when Madhya Pradesh accepted the bid of Himgiri Energy Ventures to supply solar power to the state grid at Rs 6.5 a unit, it was a figure to note even by the industry's standards of smashing records by the season. This contract award shaved off 13 per cent from the lowest price at which Indian industry was willing to supply solar power; over three years, the drop is a steep 61 per cent.

More importantly, the MP tender brought the price of solar power closer to the price of thermal power — produced from coal or gas, and India's largest source. For 2012-13, Delhi's power utilities were projecting to buy conventional power at an average unit price of Rs 5.71.
In other words, at Rs 6.5, solar is just 14 per cent above thermal. Its price prognosis is also better. Even as coal and natural gas become costlier, solar plants bask in free and ample sunshine and falling equipment prices. All this is taking the energy sector towards a game-changing milestone: grid parity, or the situation where solar costs the same as conventional sources.
"Price bids in conventional power have been up to Rs 5 per unit," says Sanjay Chakrabarti, partner (clean energy), Ernst & Young. "Keeping that as the grid parity price, wind power has already achieved grid parity and solar is quite close." The ministry of new and renewable energy is projecting grid parity by 2017 -- five years ahead of its initial projection of 2022.
Cheaper solar power
Some countries are there. Like Germany, which has 36,000 MW of solar capacity, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. An early adopter, Germany started seeing a spike in solar capacity from 2001.
In India, the spike came only in 2012, since when its solar capacity has increased from 2.5 MW to 1,759 MW (See graphic). The Central government is looking to increase capacity through the National Solar Mission, which gives a certain set of incentives to companies and aims to put up 22,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022.
In its last round of bidding, held this January, the government received bids for 2,170 MW, three times the advertised requirement, from 53 companies. Among them were state power utilities, global renewable-energy players and fresh entrants with international funding, holding out an investment of Rs 5,000 crore.
Also active are select states. Madhya Pradesh leads, with Rs 30,000 crore in the pipeline for renewable power development. It is followed by Gujarat, an early mover that has 850 MW of solar capacity at an investment of—11,000 crore up and running. The jump in capacity is coming from the ongoing recalibration in tariffs.

The second phase of the National Solar Mission, from 2013 to 2017, set the tariff at Rs 5.5 per unit, with some financial support from the government in the form of 'viability gap funding'. According to Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at the ministry of new and renewable energy, viability gap funding was about Re 1 per unit. He sees this reducing with equipment becoming cheaper, particularly from China, and competing fuels becoming costlier.
"Our experiment with viability gap funding turned out to be successful, with foreign investment coming in," he says. "Looking at the current trend, this amount would gradually go down."
The latest tenders floated by states—which don't offer viability gap funding, but offer subsidised land or tax breaks —give a glimpse. Price bids stood at Rs 6.5 per unit in Madhya Pradesh, Rs 7 in Rajasthan and Rs 8 in Punjab.

IET India Solar Panel releases first whitepaper on Net-Metering in India

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) India Solar Panel, a volunteer-led visionary think tank in the solar energy sector providing unbiased recommendations in the areas of solar energy policy, regulations and technology, released its first whitepaper in India today. The whitepaper, titled Recent developments in Net-Metering in India and the Way Forward, presents the most recent developments in the net-metering scheme for small scale solar projects across India and also analyses the case when Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are availed by consumers owning roof-top solar systems.
A key insight of this whitepaper is that RECs availed by consumers under the current framework  will lower the market performance, which is already marred by the poor enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligation.
Net-Metering, a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid, allows consumers to directly contribute to enhancing the renewable energy capacity of the country by availing of state and government subsidies that are in force. Recently, the need for fostering small scale renewable energy projects in India has been on the rise and both the Centre as well as individual State governments have started putting concerted efforts to bring in relevant policy frameworks.
“With Net Metering, consumers can directly participate in the solar revolution in India and contribute to the capacity addition. Estimates indicate that rooftop solar holds a potential of about 3-4 GW over the next 3 years”, said Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, Chair, IET India Solar Panel.
In August 2013, the concept of net-metering in case of small scale/roof top solar projects was taken up for discussions by the Hon’ble Forum of Regulators (FOR), followed by which a draft of model regulations was rolled out which will facilitate and expedite the process of putting such regulations in place at state levels.
The whitepaper can be accessed here 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Urjas Multifuel Gasifier commissioning completed at IIT Bombay

Urjas Low maintenance Multi fuel gasifier in action

Urjas has completed commissioning of its multifuel based gasifier at IIT Bombay for production of jaggery. The gasifier will currently be used with bagasse as its feed.

The gasifier features a special design allowing it lower maintenance while keeping the costs low as well. It can produce over 35kW of electric power if used for electricity generation or replace around 10 litres of diesel consumption per hour when used for thermal applications

The system performed better than expectations with bagasse, a less common feed for gasifiers. This gasifier installation also marked the launch of Urjas vortex burners with a proprietary design  for better flame efficiency. 
Urjas Vortex Burners