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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