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The Future of Renewable Energy is secure


Past clean energy growth 1995-2007. Based on i...

Past clean energy growth 1995-2007. Based on information contained in REN21 (2007) Global Status Report. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As time passes by Renewable Energy is becoming common word among communities & business which till now were not much interested in it. The factors are many, proposed increase in grid tariff, uncertainty in coal supply especially in the State Maharashtra, India.
What was most interesting is that people are willing to listen and adapt to alternative energy source. If India wants to capture the full spectrum of alternate / renewable energy, it should explore the opportunities in Geo-thermal as well. I have been fortunate to understand the scope of geo-thermal from an authority in the field and who is also considered as one of the top 10 innovators, Dr. Ritesh Arya. Who earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for striking ground water and drilling the highest bore-well in the world in Ladakh.
In my opinion the desolate deserts of Ladakh are ideal for both Geo-thermal and Solar + Wind Hybrid plants. The power generated could well be used for development purpose of this remote region, which can bring in prosperity both to the people of the region as well as to the various companies who would want to set up their power plants there.
According to Dr. Arya places like Manikaran, Tatapani and Vashist (Himachal) and Chumathang, Panamic, Puga Sasoma, Marsmicla and Demchuk (Ladakh), had a history and also acquired religious sanctity which could be exploited to attract tourists. “By setting up of recreational facilities like swimming pools, spas and good hotels and using the green non-polluting geothermal energy, the state could take lead in promoting low-carbon footprint tourism,” he pointed out.

Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacitie...

Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his published paper he has, highlighted the importance of developing geothermal sites and has asserted that advanced countries, which has acquired expertise in the field, should provide technical and other required support to the developing countries where the geothermal resource planning and development is still in its infancy. “After all, benefits of geothermal and rock energy has to be shared by all irrespective of the place. Also Clean rock energy should be made available to all at a very low price. Investment opportunities to develop geothermal sources are many but because of lack of initiatives by the successive government and policy makers, geothermal resource is a badly neglected resource.”
Now coming to the Solar Photo Voltaic, although the Government of India has shown great promise in support and development of Renewable Energy, subsidy is not the way forward. What is more required is to make Business aware of the inherent quality of making business sustainable. It is been historically recorded that even those who enter the USA Fortune 500 companies, their life-span is not more than 40 years, in Japan and Europe between 12 -15 years. The reason for this has been many, but most could be attributed to Business Risk. Now, this business risk has become more acute because of the Climate Change that is induced by human activity.
Yet, there are many who do not believe that Human activity has any impact on climate change. My esteemed friend Dr. Arya who I’ve mentioned above has even published a well documented article backed with solid evidence that Climate Change ie; Global Cooling and Global Warming is Cyclic and human have very little role to play in it.
His paper which was showcased in the Lisbon Global Conference on Global Warming: – C – curves and the Global Warming phenomenon. In which he says that – “Climate change happens in a pattern of  four cycles of 1176 years and a half cycle of 588 years. The last Ice Age ended in 10,000 years ago. Presently we are in a half cycle and seeing these signatures at present it seems that we have entered into warming phenomenon and are yet to experience the global maxima in the present C curve which may be around from today. Global Cooling and Global Warming is a Natural phenomenon”
Although it is a phenomenal work, what I humbly suggest is that there is no evidence of Human interference between the last Ice Age which ended 10,000 years ago and the present half –cycle because exponential human induced Green House Gas activity actually began only in the last 100 years and only in the last 60 years it has taken up endemic proportion since Earth became a Global village. Therefore Humankind does not know what would be the effect on the Eco-system which has gone into accelerated mode of Global Warming because of the human induced activity.
So, if we read into what the IPCC presents as a report, we should naturally lean our economy towards a less Carbon emitting system. To do that alternate and renewable energy are the only options.
In alternate energy, we are looking at Methane Hydrates, Shale Gas, and Tar –Sands in one spectrum and bio-fuel in the other. While bio-fuel today is not an alternative which can cater to the humongous energy needs, extraction of methane hydrates to tar-sands have their own share of controversy. This again leads us to the Renewable Energy source like Wave, Geo-thermal, Micro-hydro, and Wind & Solar. The first 3 are let’s say, at the incubation stage, which leaves us with Wind & Solar as the only viable alternative.
The most important factor about Wind& Solar is that the technology does not need any form of extraction, which always will be finite (barring wave & geo-thermal but they have their own engineering challenges) and it can be scaled both at Macro & Micro level, providing ease of use even to the common person. Thus grass root penetration is possible.
While it is a no-brainer to say that Wind & Solar cannot cover the total spectrum of energy needs, a judicious balance between the fossil fuel technology and the RE can act as a bridge for now to takes us into the future, safely enough to devise the best energy source which would help Humankind without the catastrophic dangers associated to GHG induced Climate Change.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Solar,Wind power Ships while Geothermal beats recession away – Future RE


It is cold, freezing deadly cold in Europe. There is death. Both reported human deaths and others which go mostly unreported. Ask that to the farmer whose live-stock may have also suffered and the animal lovers, they too would have a story to tell. In a report, I read that some western European and former East block countries are not getting enough Gas from Russia. While we must honor business treaty and longterm business collaborations, we must also understand that traditional sources of Energy must be re-looked  and the potential for all types of alternate Energy must be vetted. Form this vetting the one that is the most practical must be given precedence over the rest, world wide. This is the only way to avoid the discomfort EU faces due to the shortage of energy in this harsh winter.

 I would like my readers to pause at the Alternate Energy  which may be different form Renewable Energy. To my mind man has yet to devise a system which can perfectly ape the Earth Ecosystem in Generating Energy in a T-ZED form. ( Total Zero Emission Design). For every activity we partake there would be some thing that needs to be – MINED – EXTRACTED – CUT  out form the Natural system. We have not yet become that “advanced” as the advanced Nations like people to believe.

Having said that, we must now see which among the alternate energy sources we can get the maximum, within the constrains of resources we have, be it – technological, social, political or combination of all. Solar, my beloved is yet a baby which needs to catch-up to its big brother wind, who is having the adolescent problems of its own in various countries. Micro – hydle although better than its father the large Hydle dams in mobility and not as cruel to devastate large Eco-systems by sinking them; is too weak to power cities. The logistics of Bio-gas is another story, therefore it can have regional success in mid-size generation. Wave technology has not yet caught on.

So while we wait for Solar to take its place under the Sun, which no doubt it would and even avoid eating up large swats of land by just floating on water, while keeping in mind to allow sunlight down below; and compliment Wind turbine which line the Oceans along the sea faring route, in large floats which allow ships to charge up their dynamos from one point to the next, thus limiting the use and carriage of bunker fuel; especially when they enter territorial waters form the Blue Seas. In fact these floating Wind turbines could act as buoys / light-houses too and being closer to shore more easy to maintain, while avoiding the socio-political problems it faces on land, we must at the UNFCCC level hail Geo-thermal as the Messiah for now.

Low temperature geothermal applications include space heating and in agricultural uses (greenhouse heating, the drying of fruits and vegetables, aquaculture and seawater desalination, and in spas), providing an ideal synergy with other widespread commercial ventures. As technological advances allow for the exploitation of lower temperature geothermal resources, found at just a few meters below the ground surface, the heating and cooling of water for domestic use, for instance, becomes highly viable and attractive. Such applications lessen reliance of non-RE resources, are highly reliable and cost effective, and emit far less carbon dioxide. Advantages of investing in Geothermal are many as there are a  wealth of geothermal resources around the World. This can provide emerging markets with substantial entry-stage opportunities due to wide variety of synergistic applications.

 And Messiah it could very well be for Greece. All the Greeks need to do is look towards  Santorini. It is the most famous volcano in Greece. The most recent volcanic eruption in Greece was Santorini in 1950. Greece has 752 hot springs which are popular tourist destinations.   Greece lies in a geographic position that is favorable to geothermal resources, both high temperature and low temperature. High temperature resources, suitable for power generation coupled with heating and cooling, are found at depths of 1-2 kilometres on the Aegean islands of Milos, Santorini, and Nisyros. Other locations that are promising at depths of 2-3 kilomteres are on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Samothraki as well as the basins of Central-Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.  Low temperature geothermal resources are found at the plains of Macedonia-Thrace and in the vicinity of each of the 56 hot springs found in Greece. These areas include Loutra-Samothrakis, Lesvos, Chios, Alexandroupolis, Serres, Thermopyles, Chalkidiki, and many others.

Geothermal power – the energy derived from stores of superheated water and steam in seismically-active areas – could, according to geologists, offer a realistic alternative to fossil fuels in the production of electricity and position the country as a regional leader in what is a growing global market.  According to an energy profile of Greece in a US Commercial Service report, there are up to 2,000MW of electrical output available from ‘high temperature fields’ across the country.

By the end of 2007 the installed thermal capacity of the direct geothermal uses in Greece amounted to roughly 75 MWt. Despite the large high-enthalpy resources in the active Aegean volcanic arc ,no electric power is produced from geothermal resources in Greece.  With  the existence of 30 geothermal fields in Greece – two of them sizable enough to produce at least 250MW of uninterrupted electrical power, Greece can not only pay its way out of the Economic crisis but also show the way to the EU Nations on how they could   meets its Kyoto Protocol and EU targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

The above story is also true for India, which does not even exploit its easily available recourses.  In fact Mumbai is practically sitting on it. Should the State Government of Maharashtra seriously consider the use and application of geothermal lying under utilized it could use the applications of geothermal energy, which  vary according to their temperature and include:

Power generation(θ>90 °C)

 Space heating (with radiators, θ>60 °C, fan-coils, θ>40 °C, floor heating systems, θ>25 °C)

 Refrigeration and air conditioning (using absorption heat pumps, θ>60 °C, or with water-cooled heat pumps, θ<30 °C)

 Heating greenhouses and soil because plants grow more quickly and become bigger with heat (θ>25 °C), and for protection from frost.

 Aquaculture (θ>15 °C) because fish need a specific temperature to grow.

 Industrial applications such as desalination of seawater (θ>60 °C), drying agricultural products, etc.

 Thermal spas (θ = 25-40 °C)

Besides geothermal fields, with today’s technology, heat from rock at a shallow depth, as well as low temperature underground or surface water can be used for heating and air conditioning.  Hot dry rock, which is found everywhere at depths between 3 and 5 kilometers, by artificial water circulation through it at a temperature of up to 150 °C . If the cost of energy is calculated over the life cycle of the system, geothermal heat pumps cost less than a system which consumes oil or natural gas.

Geothermal energy should be exploited in India where using Nuclear Energy is meeting with stiff social resistance, especially after the Fukushima daiichi incident in Japan . Moreover, it has been proved beyond doubt by the experts of Geo-thermal in India that setting up a plant would cost far less than that of Nuclear and produce more and safer energy.

The other advantage it could have over coal based thermal or large hydle generated power is its “portability”. The size of a Geo-thermal plant compared to the above two would be very small – generation capacity wise. Moreover it would neither flood vast areas causing socio-economic upheaval nor produce fly-ash a dangerous polluter. The only thing it emits is water vapor. However, in some certain trace gases are found which can be easily treated.

This portability has a very great business advantage, which perhaps power companies have overlooked. It is a fact that energy generation and distribution in India is far costly than the tariff applied.  Typically, domestic (24% of total power supply uptake) and agricultural (22%) enjoy cross subsidies from industrial (38%) and commercial (16%) users. Industrial and commercial users still pay 30-60% above average power price. Therefore if Geo-thermal plants are placed close to the industrial & commercial areas by the Private power companies, they would be able to evacuate and distribute power at a far cheaper cost, which would be beneficial to both.

 

 

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