Sunday, 20 November 2011

Solar Energy - Today & Tomorrow !

Solar Energy - Today & Tomorrow !

Utilization of Solar Energy dates back to several decades when technology advancements proved utilization of Solar Energy could be done for heating purposes, power small devices (watches, calculators etc.) and certainly powering remote satellites during their long journey away from any power stations.

More popularly Solar Energy is presently used for water heating - both at domestic and industrial level, drying especially at Industrial level, use of PV Solar applications such as Street lighting, Signals, Lanterns etc. However PV Solar Power Plants - although not a new concept - is a relatively new and emerging concept in India. The technology is well-established globally with Germany (yes Germany) with not so good radiation and Sun availability is already a global leader with installations of about 17 GW.

Antagonist of Solar Energy argue that it is a developing technology, expensive, can only work during the daytime etc. Looking at it the other way - if not PV Solar for power then what? If not Solar Energy for India - then what? Coal is already facing an issue with respect to supply and pricing. With nearly 65% Power generation from Coal does it justify relying on it as a major power source for the long term? Is nuclear the answer? Well it would have been but after not after what happened in Japan in March 2011. The world is giving second thoughts to Nuclear Power Plants with several Countries planning to go Nuclear-free.

The writing on the wall is clear - the way forward for any Country is a Portfolio of Green Energy Sources for Power Generation to supplement the fossil fuels. Depending on the Geographical conditions and further detailing stress should be laid on a particular green technology and should be suitably combined with other green technologies. This does not mean that Renewtechs will completely replace Fossil Fuels - atleast not in the foreseeable future. What it definitely means is that Renewtechs can be and should suitably included as part of the power generation portfolio of a Country based on its geographics and technology viability. For instance Denmark has effectively utilized its Wind Power generation capacity and has pioneered the same. Today it boasts of leading Wind Turbine manufacturers and a well-established portfolio led by Wind power generation.

Similar to a Country a Company or a Plant should also look at developing an effective power portfolio to supplement grid power or fossil fuel captive power. The benefits of doing so are enormous in monetary terms as well as for long-term sustainability. In the Indian context PV Solar offers a Very Good Solution both in terms of Technical Feasibility and Commercial Viability.

In case of India it is no surprise that Solar Energy will prove to be the most utilized source of Green Power. Why? Well reasons are many but to list down the few important ones :
  • Excellent Solar Radiation across the Country 
  • Wind is found only in some pockets - yet India is among Top 5 Wind Power Generation. With the excellent potential in Solar Energy - the capacity installation or growth in this upcoming field is anyones guess.
  • One of the Best Incentive & Subsidy programme under JNNSM to encourage use of Solar Power. This is also to counter the argument that investing in Solar Energy does not result in sufficient payback. Not that Solar energy would need a subsidy scheme all along but any new technology (including Wind) needs an apt policy to support its entry and encourage its use among the masses.
  • Solar scores well above Wind Power (Solar vs Wind Comparison can be requested) and hence will prove beneficial at all levels - for residential use, industrial use, community use, utility use. In fact PV Solar also scores above other renewable technologies.
  • Peak deficit usually occurs in the day - time when most of the Commercial activities take place. Solar presents a very good answer to this problem.
  • It will prove to be the single-most important source of decentralized power system thereby overcoming issues related to infrastructure, rural electrification theft, T&D (or ATC Losses) etc.
  • It can be used closer to human habitat and is highly modular and scaleable - with ZERO maintenance - which no other Renewtech can offer.
The Government (both Central and various States) having realized the benefits of Photo Voltaic Solar have declared various commercial subsidies and incentives to encourage the use of Solar Power. At the National Level JNNSM ensures good subsidy and incentive at every level for small PV power generators, medium scale projects and utility scale projects. Additionally various States - Rajasthan, Gujarat, M.P., Karnataka, T.N.  have also declared their individual Solar policies.

For long Fossil Fuels especially Petrol, Diesel and Kerosene have been heavily subsidized as a populist approach. There is a tremendous shift now - due to Global Pressure and Internal Demand - that a greener approach is the way forward. Owing to this the Government will continue to reduce the subsidy on Fossil Fuels and divert the funds towards Green Solutions - especially Solar Energy. Further rising of fossil fuels is not ruled out and once Coal prices become market-driven then the already high power prices will sky-rocket.

Rather than reaching a point of no-return where Coal has reached exhaustion stage there is an urgent need to look at Alternative Sources of Energy. It is rightly mentioned that alternative sources of energy are no longer alternative. Perhaps Green Energy do have the potential of becoming the mainstream sources of energy if not in the near future then in the coming decades. What needs to be seen is  the best portfolio for India and Indian Industries and Solar Energy will most certainly play the most significant role in the capacity building.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Why Solar Energy will Play a Crucial Role in India Growth Story?

Why Solar Energy will play a Crucial role in India Growth Story?

The Sun is rightly worshipped as God across the Globe mainly in India, Egypt, China and parts of Africa. The Sun is the Supreme source of Energy. It is therefore no surprise that mankind had already been using Solar Energy but now seizing the Solar Opportunity for converting it into more useable form such as Electrical Energy.

India has been on consistent growth path especially after the reforms that began in early 1990s. Power plays a critical role for growth of any Nation. All the 5 year plans have put special thrust on Power Generation and the 12th 5 year plan (2012-2017) will lay a special emphasis on the same. With present installation of nearly 1.7 Lakh MW it is estimated that target addition would be of nearly 1 Lakh MW for the upcoming 5 year plan to sustain 8-10% growth. 

Coal has always been and will continue to be primary fuel for Power Generation. Hence conventional coal-fired Power Plants will have a significant portion of the slated power targets. However one point worth mentioning here is that so far open cast mining was carried out for Coal recovery – which was a cheaper and an easier option. Deep mining will now be carried out on a large-scale increasing the cost of Coal and at the same time resulting in availability issues. Ageing of older Power Plants and mushrooming of newer ones are other concerns. Rising concerns about Carbon emission, depleting reserves and quality of Indian Coal, price of imported Coal will be other concerns in this sector. Some interesting Energy related facts and figures can be found on our website.

Renewable Energy Sources such as The Sun, Wind, Biomass, Hydro offer a good solution in such a scenario. India is already among the top Global Wind power generators. However Wind does have associated problems of unpredictability and can only be installed in specific areas offering good wind. Biomass offers a good option for areas rich in agro waste such as Haryana, Punjab, M.P. etc. Hydroelectric power stations are good but are highly location specific and impact the environment caused by displacement. Wind-Solar hybrid solution could be worked out for smaller loads but may not be practical for Utility Scale Projects.

In such a scenario The Sun will prove to be Cleanest and most Practical source of Energy of today and tomorrow. The points in favor of Solar Energy in India are –
  • High Solar Insolation / Radiation across the Country (India Solar Radiation Map)
  • Perfect Answer to Peak Demand (day time)
  • Energy present in 2 forms – Heat & Light and can be simultaneously used for a variety of applications.
  • Available in huge quantity
  • Highly predictable and hence easier to tap
  • Truly green with no pollution or emissions
Heat Energy of The Sun could be used for heating purpose in a variety of Industrial processes and utilities. It can also be used for Electricity generation by generating superheated steam to run turbines.

On the other hand Light Energy of The Sun could be directly used for Electricity generation through Photo Voltaic (PV) Modules. PV offers several benefits over Thermal Systems in addition to the general benefits of Solar Energy mentioned above. They are :
  1. PV  can be used for smaller power generation (in Watt or kW) and upto Utility Scale (several MWs).
  2. Has an excellent trouble-free life of 20-25 years with appropriate manufacturer warranty on products and engineering companies performance warranty on output i.e. units generated.
  3. Absence of moving parts (except optional trackers) makes the system highly reliable and practically maintenance-free.
  4. Modularity ensures addressing various power needs and load types.
  5. Scaling up at any time is very convenient and can be customized to suit the power requirement and available budget in a phased manner.
  6. Is absolutely environment-friendly and non-hazardous and hence can be used around human habitats and on domestic rooftops as well.
  7. Ideal solution for decentralized power generation in remote areas as it does not need any expertise to run or maintain.
  8. For utility scale projects it can be installed on arid and barren lands and putting the land to good use.
  9. Water is another scarce resource. PV Operations (unlike Solar Thermal) do not need water to run its operations.
  10. Can replace DG Sets as cost of generation would be nearly the same – without causing pollution and without risking future price rise in fuel.
Antagonists of PV argue that the costs for PV are on the higher side. The technology cost is indeed high but has come down drastically (subscribe to our newsletter to keep yourself posted) in the recent past. It was earlier estimated that the Grid Parity (PV cost of generation equaling the price of grid power) would be achieved by 2017. However with rapid increase in cost of fossil fuels and significant drop in PV Module prices Grid parity would be achieved much earlier perhaps by 2013-14. Nearly 10% of power generation in India is by diesel and interestingly PV Power generation has already achieved parity with diesel power generation. The recent drop in PV Module prices has also resulted in shorter financial payback of 3-5 years.

Energy Payback is a term used by Green protagonists to estimate the “Greenness” of a system or a solution. It indicates time taken by a system or a solution or a product to operate and to recover the energy (and CO2 emissions) that was spent (or emitted) on manufacturing it. According to studies the Energy Payback for PV varies from 2-5 years and has expected life of 20-25 years thereby indicating feasible Energy Payback and hence justifying its use.

India faces a peculiar problem of fueling growth without causing harm to the environment – unlike Western Countries who developed without worrying about environmental effects. It is thus imperative for India Growth story to set an example of “Green Power Growth”. This would require lot of emphasis on use of Solar Energy by the Government bodies, Industrial Bodies, Individual Industries, Corporate Houses etc. Government has taken the first crucial step by announcing Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and announced various capital subsidies, preferential feed-in tariff, low interest loans, discounted rates for land procurement etc. Emergence of this sector would also see an emergence of good number of Entrepreneurs and skilled workforce for sustained growth.

Solar Energy can be considered infinite for all practical purposes. Its availability in India, Green Nature and Easy applicability makes it ideal for use at all levels of power requirements i.e from domestic level to community level to utility scale.

To know more about Solar Energy you can visit Section on Solar Energy on our website.

Enerco Energy Solutions LLP is a Green Energy Service & Solution Provider in Photo Voltaic Solar. The first critical exercise in PV Solar Power Project is PV Solar Site Assessment and the details about the same can be found on our Solar Photo Gallery

For PV Solar Power Projects we offer -
     (a) Technical Consultancy & Advisory
     (b) Project Execution on Turnkey or EPC basis
     (c) Engineering & Design of Complete System (AC & DC)
     (d) Site Assessment for Feasibility of PV Solar
     (e) Training on Solar Energy
     (f )  Project Management
     (g) Contracting & Sub-Contracting Services
     (i ) Miscellaneous Services - Project Funding / Govt. Liaison / DPR etc.

You can view our Video Presentation about Energy Optimization and Solar Energy on our Home Page.