Tag Archives: Kilowatt hour

World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?

By 2030, researchers estimate that the disparity between national water demand and reliable water supply will be nearly 50%. Currently, India has a total water demand of around 700 billion cubic metres, of which almost 85% is used for producing food. In another 17 years, India will have only half the water it needs, thanks to global warming and population explosion. On the World Water Day on March 22, the need to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources will be of pivotal importance. If we consider even the most cost-effective solution to reduce water scarcity, it will require an annual spend of nearly Rs35,000 crore by 2030, according to ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.The report stated that India would require investments to the tune of Rs8 lakh crore over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure services like water, waste water and solid waste management. In India, just about 64% of urban population is covered by individual water connections compared to 91% in China, 86% in South Africa and 80% in Brazil. Allocation of Rs15,260 crore has been made in the Budget towards clean drinking water and sanitation as against revised estimates of Rs13,000 crore. A DNA News report by Dilnaz Boga.

While reading this under my study light, I looked up and started thinking – how much water does my light drink? I found some interesting answer under Saving Electricity, on water consumption to produce electricity (more information can be found in EIA page ). While I would not be able to verify the facts noted as under, even believing them to be accurate to some extent, presents a very sombre scenario.

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

  • Solar plant with dry cooling:  80 gallons per  megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with closed-loop cooling):  700-1100 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with open-loop cooling):  25,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (closed-loop):  500-600 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (open-loop):  20,000-50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Biomass (crops grown for the purpose of fuel):  40,000 to 100,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Natural gas fracking:  2-10 million gallons per well

This information required some chilled soft-drink and potato chips and lowering the temperature of the A/c. After all I have attended so many conferences on climate change, I have by now got used to the habit of consuming good food & drinks in luxury. How else can one solve the pressing issues of water scarcity and its related fall-outs like war and riots? Hunger and malnutrition caused due to drought and famine too requires a chilled pineapple juice in a PET bottle to be addressed properly.

Now let’s do some simple maths – 1 gallon = 3.78 litres (US- liter). As on July 31, 2010, and as per the Central Electricity Authority the total installed capacity of Coal or Lignite based power plants in India are 87093.38 MW.

So the water required to produce this electricity  87093.38 x 2268 liters = 19,75,27,786 litres.(assuming all are closed loop consuming  600 gallons/MW) Presently we have around 111 Thermal power plants which are coal/lignite based.

While it can be argued that water is recycled most of the time. That the coal, nuclear, Bio-mass, Natural gas fracking power plants  require water can not be denied. And it is impossible to stop the leakages. Some of it will have to escape, thus requiring continuous replenishment. Even Solar thermal requires water, though it can be called a saint in comparison to the others.

Thus a huge amount of water is not reaching the fields of a drought hit farm, or recharging the wells to quench the thirst. So with every drop of electricity produced we are removing vast amounts of water from the natural water cycle. This must be clearly understood.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,10,950 megawatts of electricity, according to government figures. And as per various estimates, India’s power generation meets only 90% of total demand.

TableAs the demand for electricity for a resurgent India is bound to increase, the thermal power plants have to increase their capacity or new plants would be needed to be set up. Same would be the case for Nuclear, Natural Gas, Bio-mass and Natural Gas Fracking.

With the table given, it is easy to the calculate how much water is required to produce electricity, which most of us waste. The common person needs to understand that Energy & Water are interlinked. Just as it is inside the body of a human. Without water, one has to die. Similarly without water we shall have no electricity. Until Renewable Energy, especially Solar PV and Wind mature to cover the demand supply gap. But this is not happening any time soon.

It is a choice in front of the intelligent animal named “human” to decide which is more important. To quench its thirst or thirst for more power to light up the ugly, unsustainable city which it habitats. The situation soon would be a choice of one or the other, unless we change the way we live. Sustainable design and living is no more an option but a necessity.

In my opinion, to celebrate World Water Day, municipalities all over the World  should announce 1 day of no water supply. This would make each and every citizen sit up and take notice of the school children walking down the streets holding placards on how to conserve water. The Police should arrest water thieves, a common thing in India & many other Asian countries and parade them in front of the media before putting them in jail. It is only then the seriousness of the problem be understood by the people. If at all.

For as long as city dwellers get their share of fresh-food and water supply, they care a damn from whose mouth it has been snatched. Thus, we will find people continue to throng so-called Holy men doing the unholy act of wasting water in cities of states which are in grip of severe drought.It is the mindset of the people which needs to be changed with sustained practical approach towards sustainable practice.

And one such idea could be by educating the people in a more grass-roots approach. We all need a home to live. And most in India aspire to own a home.

This could start with the building industry. The building industry consumes 40% of the world’s energy needs and 60% of all waste stems from it.

The Indian Builders Association has been seeking the Infrastructure status from the Government for a very long time. The Government could moot a law that in exchange of giving into that demand, the top management of all big and small builder and related stake-holder companies must go for certified & comprehensive Green Building training.

India practices two wonderful Energy Efficient Building design certification program through IGBC & GRIHA. Since its inception in 2001 IGBC, which practices the Indian version of LEED has 1,972 registered buildings and 149 projects are with GRIHA which opened in 2007. (source: Click here).

It is too small a number to effect a reverse change in the Global Warming and Water & Energy conservation. But if developers are made to attend Orientation Workshops as is organised by Centre for Science and Environment along with those by TERI -GRIHA and CII-IGBC. And without whose valid certificate one would not be given the licence to build, we may still be able to make the desired change we want in our effort to conserve Water and Energy.

This would automatically percolate to the public, the home/office buyers who would be bombarded by the green information in every brochure the developers distribute. And when the public starts to use the facilities and notice the difference it makes to their lives, the mission would have achieved its target.

And for once I believe this not to be a wishful thinking but a doable project. All that is needed is support from those who can influence the decisions of Governments.


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Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night.

In the Indian Express Newspaper on the 19th October, a news caught the eye of one of my friend and client, for whom I’m designing a Green township. Rooftops as Energy FarmsGujarat has launched a pilot project where rooftops of homes and commercial establishments are being rented out to generate solar power that is fed into the state grid, translating into a source of income for property owners and greening electricity production.

The State of Gujrat, under CM Narendra Modi is quite tuned to the Climate change and understands the need to engage the common person in creating an energy surplus state. With each house-hold given the incentive of Rupee 3/- via the Grid interactive system. Starting with Gandhinagar, the program of giving ‘carbon credits’ to five more cities have been approved by the Gujrat government. One hopes the rest of India would follow this sensible way of boosting the energy issue, without courting controversy.

Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities (such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells) or V2G electric vehicles. “Net”, in this context, is used in the sense of meaning “what remains after deductions” — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate. (Source: Wikipedia)

In simpler words, When your home is equipped with a renewable energy source (such as wind or solar power), it sends the excess energy that’s generated back into the grid to power other homes. While you’re away, your house is generating energy but you’re not using it. Net metering ensures the energy you generate at home doesn’t go to waste. An electrical converter called an inverter turns the DC (direct current) power coming from your renewable energy source into AC (alternating current) power, which matches the voltage of the electricity flowing through the power line. If you’ve generated more energy than you’ve used at the end of the year, your electric company may pay you back for the extra power. Net metering can be measured over the month or year. Annualized net metering provides a more accurate measurement because it takes into account your changing energy usage and production over the four seasons. ( Source:How Stuff Works).

This week Tamil Nadu opened up the GBI –The scheme of generation-based incentive (GBI), essentially aimed at covering domestic consumers, will be administered jointly by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (Teda) and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco). Included in the recently unveiled Solar Energy Policy, the scheme envisages providing Rs. 2 per unit for the first two years; Re. 1 per unit for the next two years and 50 paise per unit for the subsequent two years.

While it is good to see that the state after state is awaking to the solar policy and even looking at giving a return, what they also need to look at is innovation. The most important factor is who would be the beneficiary of this GBI ? Will it actually elevate the suffering of the needy? Who guarantees that the surplus power thus created would eventually given back to the very locality which is providing the roof-tops? With states having shortfall in their generation, it would be easy to send the power for commercial use and thus encourage more commercial enterprises to set shop; having found assured power. This is most possible because commercial power brings in more profit to the electric company. The other profitable venture is from the rich residential area where the tariff is decent. However, the rich and the upper middle class in megalopolises, live in tall sky-scrapers where open roof-top is a premium. But they require system which is minimum 5KW. Here the price becomes steep even if space can be found even for most upper middle class consumers.

The roof-tops which is available & most need the power belong to the tier-II cities middle class and the rural poor, who are already finding hard to make ends meet. With, the cost per watt peak between INR 50/- to 120/-  which per Kilo Watt translates to One Lakh Twenty thousand, is not something every “Aam Admi” ( aam = common; it also denotes – Mangoes) can aspire to purchase and that is something our policy makers have not thought about. A person who uses only 5kwhr of power or 5units a day is not someone who could or need to spend Rupee 1.2 lakh or $ 2232. Therefore, it could be easy for the unscrupulous to capture vast rooftops, set up the solar and skim the poor roof-top owners. Imagine, the economically weaker section providing their collective roof-tops at the city fringes and receiving Paise Ten of every Rupee envisaged in the scheme, while the rest the “investor” pockets. It is not that such eventuality would not have been thought by the policy makers, but who would be monitoring? In the “scam a week” India of today, every utopian idea can get bastardized easily.

But, here is the way one may improve the concept and provide the power to one and all especially the middle class, who are a fairly large consumer as a group staying in class 1 cities like Pune, Bangalore and the likes where roofs; unlike Mumbai are still available in size large enough to cater to a decent solar power generation. One can also add New Delhi as the megalopolis which can afford and need the solar to stem the power outages in Summer.

There are already RESCO‘s who have been supporting my concept of OPEX Solar and the only thing they are interested is in banking the extra-generation and availing it when required from the DISCOM. Here they are wanting to put up the system which generate power during the day which is enough to cater to the needs of that very roof owner for a 24hour period.

The solution is simple. Say for example, a restaurant requires 100Kw and consumes 40KwHr during the daytime and 60KwHr in the night. As solar does not function in the night, ideally they would require a battery bank to store the power. However, if the surplus 60Kw is sent to the grid and in the evening the grid supplies that much power back to the establishment, then in effect the restaurant is running its operations on 100% Solar power. Same can be thought for residential areas which are large consumer of power.

The Grid can benefit in many ways –

1. It can charge a fee say between 2 to 5% ( similar to wheeling charges ) from the RESCO.

2. During the daytime when peak demand makes it difficult to manage, the extra solar power coming to it would ease the pressure and can be sold at commercial rate while eliminating the chance of a Grid collapse.

3. It would also help them not to short-change the rural and the urban poor, by being able to cut down on their load-shedding hours, which in certain places is 6 hours or more. Which would eventually help the countries growth.

What we require are policy which are driven from the Centre and applied equally by all states. The incentives which are envisaged are good. Let that be given to the RESCO’s who find it un-viable to provide the services to the rural and urban poor, whose tariff does not allow the companies to have a IRR which is acceptable. A decent  tariff is INR 7.50. Therefore if the state gives the extra INR 3.00 on the tariff of INR 4.50 which is the tariff in some places, almost all the roof of India would see a solar panel within 3 years.


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Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.(Redux)

During the recently concluded UNFCCC , COP 17 at Durban, that Climate change is a clear and present danger with Humankind pushing the limits of the Earth’s ability to cope with man-made pollution, was well documented by each Nation which spoke at the Plenary. And it was underscored with a grim report by the IPCC -4th assessment draft.

English: Adapted from a portion of Figure 1 in...

The year 2017 from where Human Economic progress will be trapped into a high carbon growth, which would compound and complicate the situation into a series of worst case situations year on year, each year causing great socio-economic suffering. The Stern Review details it for those who want to know more.

It is also mentioned, the worst of Climate change, caused due to unprecedented pollution the Human race produced in its quest to find a “safe – healthy – prosperous” life style; would affect those who neither had/has the means nor the thought process to live such life-styles; the indigenous people in the Brazilian rain-forest, the ethnic groups in wild and still  beautiful  and untouched Africa and the “poor” Nations and  economically weaker class of the societies.

While it is true that when one measures “development”  through the all-pervasive Capitalist Economic theory the World follows in its trade; the definition of poor would be a Man or Nation with no “money”, “cash” or whatever the experts like to call it. However today, one must pause and think on the terms “Rich” & “Poor” in the Climate change context.

Fresh Air, Clean & Sparkling Rivers, Beautiful Blue Sky, Lush Green Meadows, rich and varied Flora & Fauna are (strangely! – they don’t have the money to pay for such nice things, one might say ) with the POOR and UNDEVELOPED or UNDERDEVELOPED Nations, States, Provinces.

And what is most striking is that the RICH just don’t have it around them anymore. They need “treated & bottled”  Water, “filtered and air-conditioned” Air;  Zoos, which one needs to drive down ( provided one is in town/ else a planed tour itinerary during holiday season ) and an “all expenses paid” incentive ticket  to fly to these very underdeveloped/undeveloped  provinces & Countries to have a glimpse of the Blue Sky. Even virgin snow is hard to come by as by morning layer of sooth from Car exhaust ruins its colour.

It’s perhaps time that the UN & IMF, World Bank and those snooty Credit rating Companies, redefine which are the Bankable and Rich Nations.

Having said that, let the present so-called “Rich & Developed Nations“, be pressured by the right thinking citizens of those countries to save the very things they all want – Safe, Healthy & Prosperous life-style. And we just have SIX years  left to move the clock back-wards to meet that.

So what is it, in my opinion that needed to be done ? Simple, help the poor with their livelihood . Each day thousands of Women & Girl Child walk miles to fetch potable water & fire-wood. This happens in almost all South Asian & African Countries. It perhaps true for parts of South America too.

Many sea /river societies in Africa find sustenance through trade in Fish. The big and fresh catch is usually traded with the agents of Multi Nationals for pittance. The smaller catch is then sold in the local market, where it’s “smoked”  over burning wood. This practice over the years has decimated the forest around these societies. And many such examples have been documented across nations. Soon even these Least Developed Nations and societies would have no tree cover, being poor and economically weak finding the right solution would not be  easy. It would be next to impossible and the first of Climate Change Refugees would be getting ready for exodus, creating further aggravation.

But among all these gloom, there is hope. A ray of hope and a whiff of opportunity – Renewable Energy; namely Solar & Wind.

With the Green Climate Fund, a nascent reality; the LDC’s must create Program of Activities which is similar to what is now on going in India. TERI the think- tank institute headed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri himself, has a program called “lighting a billion lives”. Here Solar powered lanterns are given to villages across India.

Gaushala, Goshala run in Nabha and its attache...

Earlier on India has/had a program under which Bio-gas which is produced from cattle manure ( Gobar -gas ) and piped  into homes for cooking. Now this is a finite resource because it is quantity dependent. It is therefore successfully implemented in villages which have cattle rearing as their primary business. In the State of Gujrat, India; its a great success, as AMUL created a business revolution around dairy and animal husbandry is a roaring business there.  However not every village can have cattle which would be producing to fulfill the requirements of energy for the entire village. Therefore the use of RE mostly Solar, or a Wind + Solar Hybrid could be the solution for each and every village. Not only in India but in Africa &  other countries too. By devising a Solar Tree ( roof top if applicable or possible  ) and drawing cables to each and every house hold in the village, electricity could be provided. Add cheap yet sturdy induction stoves and you are giving these societies a chance.

Why induction stove one may ask. Simple, as per the report from the Department of Energy United States, an induction stove is nearly 90% efficient in sending the heat where it is required the most – to cook the food. Whereas in a butane / propane , the gas we find in LPG cylinders, only 40% is efficiently used for the purpose of cooking. The rest heats up the stove, pan and the air around the flame.

Now considering that 1 kiloliter of LPG = 7.4 KWHr ( kilo watt hour) of energy and 1 kilogram of LPG = 12.68KWHr. And BTU ( British Thermal Unit ) a measure to calculate heat. Lets look at an example given below to support my idea of a “Solar Stove”.

Domestic gas in India contains – 14.2 kilogram = 180.05 KWh of energy

BTU/Hr = 180.05 x 3412= 614330.60 BTU/Hr

Gas heating efficiency is 40% only. Therefore 40% of 614330.60  =  245732 BTU/hr is actual usage from one LPG cylinder.

Induction heating efficiency is 90%.

Say  a SPV of 2kWp x 5 solar hour  = 10kWh, of energy. ( In India we have an average of  5 hour of good Sun-shine ) which can be stored.

Now if we use an induction stove of 2.2Kw rating and draw the solar energy

Induction of 2.2 kW= to a gas burner rated at almost 16,000 BTU/hour; ( Refer:Induction Cooking:Selecting a Unit )

Therefore total energy received per hour = 10 /2.2 = 4.5455 x 16000 = 72,728 BTU / Hour is actual usage.

Now any expert would tell you 72,7288 BTU is a lot of cooking heat with a very nominal drawing of energy.

a 30-inch four-element induction unitThe rule of thumb from gas-energy values: induction-element kW times 7185 equals gas in BTU/hour.

This is just with a 2.2 Kw induction stove, naturally a higher rated induction hob would provide far more energy.

The least-expensive 30-inch (four-element) induction cooktop has:

  • a 1.3-kW small element (between 9,000 and 9,500 BTU/hour),
  • two elements of 1.85 kW each (well over 13,000 BTU/hour), and
  • one element of 2.4 kW (over 17,000 BTU/hour).

The least-expensive 36-inch (five-element) induction cooktop has:

  • a 1.2-kW small element (8,500 BTU/hour),
  • a medium element of 1.8 kW (13,000 BTU/hour),
  • a larger element of 2.2 kW (16,000 BTU/hour),
  • and two elements of 2.4 kW (over 17,000 BTU/hour).

The very highest-power gas burner to be found in the residential market is 22,000 BTU/hour, and that’s a sort of freak monster, whereas a 3.6-kW and 3.7-kW element–which is around 26,000 BTU/hour of gas!–is found in many induction cooktops.

From the above calculation one can see that at village level where food is only cooked for sustenance, the energy used by each house hold would be at a minimum. If the Solar panel & stove is sized properly as per the societal needs in each society  across Nations, two most important changes would perhaps take place.

1. The Girl child & Woman would no more need to chop down trees for fire-wood, thus help heal the immediate environment.

2. No smoke from fossil fuel would be emitted into the atmosphere.

So this concept if implemented rightly, might just begin to turn the tide as Worldwide some 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and 1.4 billion have no access to electricity.

So what’s with the electricity? Well if the 1.4 Billion were never introduced to the  oil and coal based electricity we would to Earth that much good. And now that we know the effective use of a new kind of Solar Stove; with cooking time reduced and need a minimum, may be some of that Solar power from the solar tree could light up a LED lamp in the village home.

And if we bring it to the cities, with the price of commercial LPG at Rupees 1600 / cylinder of 19kg. We may find some economics in this too, while reducing the subsidy burden for the Government.

Are the signatory of Kyoto  Protocol listening?


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