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Tag Archives: Renewable

Business As Usual – a sure-fire guide to kill Sustainable Development Goals.


“Only Rupees Two ?. What about the rent of my roof ? With Mumbai realty prices starting at Rupees 6000/ feet square, I only get to save Rs.2 per KW on my electrical consumption and that too for a measly 20years ? A minimum of Rs 4 should be considered. After all it will be installed on my roof and it makes perfect business sense to bargain for more. After all the investor is doing this for profit and not for charity. It must be business as usual for him.”

With EPC for solar hovering at 8.5 Crore  shaving Rs. 4 out of 10 left us with a number which no investor who is not a buccaneer would touch and no banker would believe in. Especially when the user, does not have to pay a single Paise for the Engineering – Procurement – Construction (EPC) or pay for its Operation & Maintenance (O&M)  of the Solar power plant, but just consume the power produced for the full period of 20 years. And the Return on Investment comes via the tariff the user pays monthly, adjusted over the length of the contract.

In my effort to save the planet from global warming, I was pleasantly surprised when a few RESCO ( renewable energy service company ) approached me with the idea of applying Solar Photovoltaic as an alternate day-time energy source for large commercial establishments. It was like manna from heaven. What more could a practising LEED / GRIHA consultant want ? It would make all my buildings much more “greener” than the other green buildings. It was like a dream come true. Thus I ventured out to increase the ambition of my clients to go for Green Building certification, comforted by the fact that I would accrue more points on the certification scale with use of all that is possible with Solar Power.

Little did I know, that no one would be interested in utilizing such opportunity unless they could bargain for more. It is a typical tendency of all Human today. We always seek more. Even in death we seek more. While our ashes would hardly fill a small Urn, we like to have a few hectare of land as memorial. Everybody wants to build the Taj Mahal; the largest tomb-stone of this planet.

Capitalism and Greed ruled then. It rules now. The only difference is that the Emperor did not have to worry about Global Warming and sinking of the landmass under the sea !

It is therefore imperative that the Business As Usual model changes. Nations must act in unison to delete the present Capitalist meaning of Business as Usual. Simply because we are living in unusual times. This trend is evident even at the UNFCCC meets, which have now become more of a tour operators delight and the host country which wins the next round of meeting, prepares like one does after winning the Olympics, to rake in the moolah that would come from packed hotels; a sure-fire way to end the lean seasons of a city. And the repeated failure to come into concrete agreements since the Copenhagen Summit only lays credence to the alleged fact.

People follow the path shown by their leaders. When industry captains and world leaders apply the fundamentals of capitalism and have through that applications benefited self and the Nation in the past, it is hard for the common man not to practice it in one form or the other. In India, since Independence we have followed and still follow the L1 format. Everything has to be sasta-sunder-majboot ( cheap & best ). That we have a major scam a day and still considered 3rd world proves that we are wrong and horribly so. A few shiny glass buildings in 4 metropolis does not change the facts. All an unbeliever needs to do, is come to Mumbai and while staying in any tall-building wish not to spot slum & squalor. His/her prayers would not be answered.

It is therefore necessary for the leaders to take the responsibility of preaching the SREX Report and also the (IWR) Inclusive Wealth Report in our collective bid to forward the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG)

Millennium Development Goals Postcards

Millennium Development Goals Postcards (Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

The Eight paths towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. Achieving universal primary education,
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. Reducing child mortality rates,
  5. Improving maternal health,
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. Developing a global partnership for development

Which one can achieve by applying the SDG’s charter

  • Action-oriented
  • Concise
  • Easy to communicate
  • Limited in number
  • Aspirational
  • Global in nature
  • Universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

Till now MDG has hardly percolated to the leaves just below the bud, forget reaching the grass-root.

The way I understand it, the Goal – Ensuring Environmental Sustainability should be the first and foremost focus. It needs to be action oriented and not conference oriented. Because conference by default don’t help in communicating easily. It is meant for the class not mass. And the class already aware of the subject are achieving almost everything as envisioned as long as it serves their narrow interest . It is the pace which is hardly comforting even if one accounts for the narrow interest oriented improvements the agenda of the rich promote.

How difficult would it be for the United Nations, to communicate directly to millions of internet users on a sustained basis and engage them on an one-to-one conversation to partake in Sustainable practice? Which directly benefit them, and thus allow them to make informed choices. How difficult is it that the World leaders come together and de-link the process of sustainable living and its practical methods from the BAU model as practised in the present flawed market system ? Why should the IRR (internal rate of return) and RoI (return on investment) be calculated based on a flawed capitalist system where profit always means self aggrandisement?

Why cant the World Bank and Economists innovate the datum through which sustainable tools and its products get measured for its RoI against the IWR ?

The logic is as follows. Should say, the Government of India decide that following MDG goal # 7 – all Buildings, Factories and Commercial  establishments opt for Renewable energy, as viable depending on the location, these are perhaps a few things that is bound to happen.

A) As the power consumption through fossil fuel would reduce, the pressure on the exchequer too would reduce. This is because we can import less oil. Now with the saved petro-dollars the government can implement all the social up-liftment programmes namely MDG goal 1; 2; 4; 5 & 6.

B) Large Hydle-powered dams would not be needed to be built any more and the lush green ecosystem which along with a few hundred villages, and with it the future of villagers would not have to sink into oblivion. This would directly save many from abject poverty and migration to cities to increase the size of slums. In fact the villagers could benefit by having some electricity themselves and improve their lot as mentioned in my earlier article Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. while the government benefits further.

C) While promoting gender equality requires the discipline and sobriety fast disappearing from our political class, as evident from the comments they have given on media in recent and not so recent incidents of crime against women. Empowering women can also be possible through use of RE, a few ideas on them can be found in my article Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.And through this too, as explained in the article the government can save on cross-subsidy and full-fill its promises for uplifting its countrymen.

It is business as usual for one political party not to allow an individual politician form a competing party to implement a good idea, which has mass appeal. Simply because in the next round of election the statesman may win against the politician.

Perhaps at the end of 1000 days in 2015, we will know whether we really achieved what was envisaged in the MDG or we still have to look beyond for the Future We Want.

 

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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living


A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.

 

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When wind is owned by a Village : The barriers in RE


The district of Satara, Maharashtra, India has its skyline dotted with wind-turbines. It seems endless, as the train winds down the hilly tract, twisting and turning in its way. Every-time I saw them, a little smile use to creep up my lips, thinking how glorious is the renewable energy story in this state. The state at present is facing severe drought and the cause is attributed to the Wind turbines which is driving the clouds away! Reading the article in the DNA newspaper I could only wonder at the lackadaisical pace of the government in controlling such rumours from spreading. I had heard similar tales in the state of Rajasthan too.

And then there is a policy of wind tax! It is reported that each village council under whose land the installed wind turbine fall, demand Rupees 94,000 per MW annually ! The government has issued a notice that it must pay minimum Rs 15,000/ MW.  I wonder if Wind RE will never be able to supersede  thermal energy price any time soon with this type of barriers. What intrigues me most that I have never heard Government paying fishermen any tax, while extracting Oil from off-shore rigs. Because by that logic, and even more so the waters belong to the fishermen and oil/gas leaks actually kill and loss can be directly and scientifically measured.

English: Schematic diagram of a modern horizon...

English: Schematic diagram of a modern horizontal-axis, three-bladed wind turbine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What worries me most is, as people slowly recognise the potential of these as revenue earners for the rich investors, the lack of coherent policy from successive governments to uplift the poor, would manifest into misdirected anger towers these RE power plants. Compound that with unschooled workers in coal/oil agencies who wrongly think, due to lack of information, that very soon oil / coal would lose out to these clean energy  and fearing loss of job, vent their frustration. In a country where it is rumoured that an MLC was against a mini hydro-dam because once “electricity” is removed from the water, it would be useless for the paddy fields as its energy has already been sucked out; we may be staring at massive protest against any future RE projects. And this would be playing right into the hands of the coal/ oil lobby, who may exploit the situation to their advantage. With the World economy in doldrums, and people worried about their immediate needs, a spark of protest in any corner of any country against Wind power could have a domino effect, driving out a potential bridge solution for abatement of Climate change.

But, as the saying goes – “there is no smoke without fire”; it must be probed with complete transparency, if the farmers where compensated well for their land or duped into selling cheap by citing it as useless barren land. No land is useless, which is proven by the tall wind-mill standing on it and “barren” should not have been made a case, because one was not purchasing it for farming, so that argument should not have been put at all !The Government too should use its collective intellect (tall order at times) to define the word “barren” when it is to be used for installing Wind or Solar power. Because, sooner than later the people who are mostly poor villagers; and protecting their interest is supreme in every political parties manifesto; would become wise of the fact and then their protest would be legitimate, even if it takes the ludicrous form of asking a “solar tax” by the logic of the sun falling on their village area!

As for the present Wind technology is facing the heat and just because of the unscrupulous few, a wonderful RET should not be held hostage and the international RE community and especially the Wind RET industry should come up with credible and easy to understand,scientifically proven and approved by the UN messages which advertise the pros and cons of this technology.Else they will be accused  by more people of stealing their wind and driving the rain clouds away !

 

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Greening The HVAC Energy Supply


English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an offi...

English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an office building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The HVAC &R industry is transforming and morphing itself to the needs of the current Environmental scenario. They are packing more efficiency with less energy consumption and maintenance needs. The home versions too are coming with intelligent functions and sleeker smaller sizes which blend with the décor. Yet there is one thing which the industry requires to truly make it, what the environmentalist can call a GHG friendly product. And that is tie it to a power source which is a RE (renewable energy) source.
Imagine the advantage, a major revenue consumer like the HVAC & R, would have as an impact to the market if RE could be packaged to it. Let us examine the possibilities and potential of this concept.
Renewable Energy source such as Geo-thermal (rock-heat essentially) combined with a Gas based electric source would be the choice where the premise has the space but not the roof-top which can hold the other RE-source that is a Solar +Wind hybrid.
This is a solution which the HVAC&R industry should study closely, especially in light of the new BEE norms that have come into play from the year 2012. While compliance to the law is a must, with a weak Rupee and a fluctuating consumer market innovation can be the only solution.

CIX Diesel Generator

CIX Diesel Generator (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

While the roof-top AHU’s can be designed to have SPV panels on top, it would only increase the cost of the product, while making some energy generation green. However if the HVAC &R industry tie up with the nascent SPV industry which are offering Solar Solution in the Operation Expense Format, it can revolutionize the market dynamics.
Let’s first understand the OPEX-Solar model. In this model the certain SPV companies are offering solution in which the total EPC and O&M expense is being borne by the SPV Company for a minimum period of 15 years before handing over the ownership of the asset to the user. All that the Solar Co’s are asking is the tariff as generated. Although this model is already a success on individual roof-tops and can be provided for up to 1MW on connected load, this requires proper Government support to be able to increase the load to above 2MW and at nominal wheeling charges.
It would create a win-win situation for both the HVAC&R industry and the Solar Photo Voltaic industry and a revolution in India in the Clean Tech – HVAC & R space.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: 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)

Another area which the HVAC & R tied to RE can get advantage from is synchronizing their system to Diesel Generators. During Grid power failure, the captive power used to run the HVAC & R plants are large Diesel Generators and an expensive option. Diesel is used for various purposes. Trucks (37%), Passenger Cars (15%), Buses (12%), Agriculture (12%), Industry (10%) and Power generation (8%). If we add the last three we get 30% of the total diesel pie of which we can easily allocate 40% as to be utilized for use of HVAC & R, by these three industries, for the purpose of cold storage, shop –floor cooling & cooling administration offices. Therefore with HVAC equipments tied to RE, the industry create a space which has no parallel till date. And in the process opens up a funding line which was till now only given for Clean technology purposes.

 

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Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos.


Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. Simple process for creating affordable housing especially for the rural poor along with doing  village electrification.  With this thought in mind I spoke to one of my friends who is a Block Development Officer in the state of Orissa. The reception to my idea was instant. Rural electrification.

What if the Solar OPEX model which I helped devise and is working wonders for  the Indian cities be utilized for the villages? While taking off the load from Malls, Commercial centres and the rest which guzzle energy would free up plenty of energy for the state government to provide it to the rural poor, sadly the infrastructure to carry it is not there. We would require the large pylons to be installed first, then string the heavy duty cables then create sub-stations etc. All this network requires enormous amount of synergy between various stake holders and it is nothing but a nightmare in India.

So if I can convince an investor, who is already supportive of my Solar OPEX   concept and we are already having 2MW worth of commitments, for institutional and commercial establishment each, and work has already begun past the inception stage towards EPC; the same amount or perhaps more in Rural Electrification?

We have thousands of home in Rural India who have none or limited access to electricity. And also thousands of homes who have thatched /asbestos roof, which under various programs are being removed to give FRP or GI-Sheet roofing. Solar Panels by default come in metal trays which can also act in -parts as roof. Where that is not possible a Solar “trees” can be planted within the village at strategic locations and the power distributed within its periphery.

So if my B.D.O friend can devise an instrument where the various subsidies which are given to Kerosene, Diesel and roofing materials can be accumulated under one program and driven by say the MNRE & NREGA  missions combined,  which one can find by clicking on the link  and provide the subsidies to the investor of Solar, this idea of village electrification would become possible in the shortest possible period.

It is a Green Business Idea which corporates must think of coming around too, and frankly there would be no competition as the scale is so vast that even 10 large investors with an appetite of 100MW each can not consume it.

Moreover, as investors are more interested in their RoI, this is the right opportunity for them to invest. The subsidy on Diesel and Kerosene is breaking the back of the Indian economy. So if we can even implement a model of distributed generation for Malls, Cold Store Chains etc mandatory within the various city premise, to balance out the expense incurred for creating the rural electrification infrastructure, the total cost saved by the transmission agencies would be  enormous.

It is also a fact that most grid have massive under-recovery from many zones. It would serve well if States took the decision to limit transmission of power through the Grid to these areas, and implement the roof-top solar instead. Thus the defaulters would not be able to draw-in more power than what is generated in the day-time. And while the Grid would supply power into the night it can be timed such that it can be exploited the least.

 

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Green Business Ideas:The Next in Future RE – Lease to Own.


Renewable Energy as one understands has a very broad spectrum. From Wave technology, Geo-Thermal Energy, Micro-Hydro Energy, Wind Energy and Solar Energy.The developments of the first three are still at a nascent stage and there are lots of barriers to make it available to all. Mostly because they are tied down to certain geographical requirements. However when one looks at Wind and Solar technology, this barrier is minimized to a large extent.

In the Wind Energy Outlook 2011 Union Minister MNRE, Dr. Farooq Abdullah says – Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the country. With a cumulative deployment of over 13,000 MW capacities, it accounts for nearly 70% of the installed capacity in the renewable energy sector in the country. The sector is growing rapidly and we are likely to achieve, for the first time in the country, a capacity addition of 2000 MW in a year, this year.

Energy demand has continuously outstripped production, and a peak energy shortage of around 12.7% prevailed in the year 2009-10. To meet this shortfall as well as the National Electricity policy target of ‘Electricity for All by 2012’, the cleanest options available to India are Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs). Although it would be difficult for the government to meet its promise of electricity for all by 2012, renewable energy options including wind power & solar will have to play a crucial role in India’s emerging energy mix if this shortfall needs to be arrested in the near future. Not only are they environmentally sound but also their project gestation periods are much shorter than those for thermal or nuclear power plant.

For India to meet its Energy Challenges and meet its goal by 2020, along with capacity building it must encourage through policy adjustments level playing field for all innovation and ingenuity that can be brought into the field of RET. Already there is a company which is trying to provide electricity through gas in an OPEX format in Mumbai, India. The model offers power to the client at a lower tariff by certain percent than the grid and over the contractual period increases year on year the tariff per unit thus recovers its money. Though the IRR is not very good, the company is keeping its vision long term, as it knows that conventional energy would become more and dearer both in terms of supply and cost.

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

The same idea can be applied for Renewable Energy, especially in Micro-Wind and Roof-top Solar. Indian investors have the money and the ingenuity to come-up with solutions. The Government of India has been trying to encourage the Micro-grid especially for rural areas. However, much of Urban tire-II & III cities facing power shortage during peak demand, in Indian summer. Companies which can model its finance intelligently from the various subsidies in offer and factor in the increase in cost of generation of conventional power should be able to come out with a viable instrument.

Once OPEX RET becomes a viable alternative in small captive power model, towns and villages in India would make it their main frame power source. This is because there is abundance of sunlight available throughout the Country and in certain pockets it can be combined with a hybrid wind + solar model to make the RoI better. By offloading the cost of only the inverters to the user, it can become a win-win situation for both.

In bigger Metro too there is abundant scope, especially if one ties this to LEED / GRIHA norms where RE power is an inbuilt criteria to attempt higher credit rating.  It also opens up possibilities for building retrofit to become more energy efficient.

Energy efficient products in lighting, HVAC and other product too stand to gain if their parent company can also through association or otherwise bring in the RE – OPEX model to their end customers.

Wind & Solar both have a bright future; the idea is to look at roof-tops rather than creating only large power plants. This way it would be able to overcome the limitations it faces in transmission and distribution and also increase its share in the energy pie.

 

 

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Challenges of roof-top Solar: Can we have make them more non-reflective ?


Every new idea faces some challenges. Those which can rise up to them quickly and even before they become problems are the ones which have a future. Many articles speak of some opposition to Solar Power plants. Some don’t want it to cover large expanse of land, while others find that it changes the scenery around their habitat, thus an eye-sore. Wind power too has faced similar problems.

India  has through its National Action Plan for Climate Change, brought about 8 missions of which 3  look at the direction of energy efficiency with scope for renewable. As the power plant through Solar, which is comparatively new in implementation, in India matures, so would the problems. And the problems it would face would be unique to it.

English: Solar One power plant in Mojave Deser...

Large solar-plant in India, would not face much problems as long  as they are  installed in low density, arid to semi arid regions, for now. Although it would be better for the investors to do the Environmental Impact Assessment and have back up plans for adaptation. And those  close to rural habitation, must also think of innovation in case pressure in land due to population density increase. Which is a definite possibility in India.

However, Roof-top solar; which in my opinion is the real game changer in the immediate future; would be facing issues which the Indian Solar industry has not yet perhaps anticipated . The problem would be from the potential hazard of glint & glare of reflected sunlight, especially in high-density Urban settings. ( even the large rural SPV plants would have the problem if directly under flight path of the air-force / aviation industry )  The sooner the manufacturers and all related stake-holders wise up to it the better it would be for all.

In my earlier article on OPEX Solar I have already started receiving tremendous response. Therefore, I am able to anticipate the issues which could come up first hand. Buildings in any city are of varying hight. Tall buildings overlooking clusters of row-houses or commercial centre like malls, cinema halls and even hospitals and schools. Typical settings where one can seek business in roof -top solar. More often than not, these roof installation would be of a fixed type south-facing system angled in accordance to the latitude of the city. The reason to make them face south is for receiving the maximum  sunlight as the sun traverses the sky from dawn to dusk. While this would ensure maximum power-generation, it would also generate maximum ire from the poor souls who would be occupying the buildings which would be bouncing the reflected sunlight. And the Indian summer, well to put it mildly is very bright indeed. Not only would it add to the glare, in-fact the reflected heat if intense could also damage PVC pipes and other materials, if preventive steps are not taken before hand.

So what are the precautions one must take to avoid this situation ? Some article have already covered this issue. However I am for the solution and not flagging the problem and leaving it there.  While solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight to convert it into electricity, most commercially available PV panels today lose about 4 percent of their potential power output due to light reflection from the front surface of the cover glass. Solutions are already on the way, with Honeywell launching the SOLARC anti-reflective coating in February 2011. SOLARC materials are based on advanced materials used in semiconductor manufacturing. They are transparent coatings that improve the light transmittance through the glass that covers photovoltaic, or PV, panels, thus increasing the PV module efficiency and power output. These coatings also significantly reduce glare from the glass, allowing the PV panel to better blend with its surroundings.

Here one needs, especially in India to educate the potential investor to be ready to invest a little more on the prevention and precautions with respect to glint & glare. Especially to avoid the opposition, the type I have posted as links through out this article. India, needs the power through SPV. It is the only way to reduce the carbon emission, which is sure to increase as the Country grows. And as all know, carbon emission is a politically loaded subjected. It can bring intense pain or relief in terms of international relations in the years to come.

Should we lose out on the potential of the Sun, which India has in abundance due to wrong application, it would be a tragedy for the Nation.

 

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