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Tag Archives: Solar power

Renewable Power versus Powerful….


If the Nation and the rest of the World wants to come out of the slump of slow economy. It really needs to heed the thoughts of WBSCD and CIICESD at home.

Assessing the Investment Climate for Climate Investments in South Asia

  • As demand for energy grows in South Asia, so do greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising at about 3.3% per year in the region since 1990.
  • A new World Bank study evaluates the environment for private sector investment in climate mitigation or low-carbon technologies.
  • The study finds that the impact of government frameworks on clean energy investments has been mixed, and there is considerable variation in the approach to low-carbon and clean energy investments.

Recently the Indian  Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, was in Mumbai to launch the Solar Mini-Grids for Rural Electrification, a road map to 100% Energy access for India by its 75th Independence anniversary.  The research work is a stellar task by Ms. Shruti Mahajan Deorah & Ms. Leena Chandran – Wadia both fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

While it is true that the amount of energy we need can not come from the roof-tops, another research paper launched at the same meet was the Mumbai Solar Mission, which talks out using every usable roof-top in Mumbai to power the city. A paper compiled by Rishi Aggarwal & Aditya Khandekar of the ORF. As a conceptual proposal it holds the promise of changing the energy map of India.

While what is said in it, is not something new to those who have perused this field for sometime but, as a paper it needs to be made public. Distributed if need be on the news-paper stands for the public to read and debate on it.

With a resounding and passionate speech Dr. Faroukh Abdullah, minister MNRE almost made the dream of achieving perennial solar energy achievable and hope was rekindled. To be quickly lost when the opposition from the officials running the conventional power sector made it amply clear that they would in no way support this fledging industry to prosper and take wings. At least not with its infrastructure support at present.

An aware world supports Renewable Energy, the governments seem to making the right moves. Yet the future of renewable energy looks to be far away from the golden era it should have basked in by now.

So where is it that we are getting this wrong ? Let’s analyse some thoughts..

It is the approach… it has nothing to do with economics. It is the way the Mathematics of it is presented and believed. Pit it against cross-subsidy and subsidised kerosene distributed over a flawed PDS system, it would be a winner!  More on these thoughts can be found under –

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

2.Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry

We still have not come out of the conventional thinking to make this great promise of Solar Power accessible in a way it should.

For starters, to whom does one go in order to understand the dynamics of power distribution and generation ? Obviously to those who have experience in this matter. And they usually are fellows who have devoted their lives in understanding the ways of fossil fuel based energy source. It would be highly unlikely that these experts can give a consistent and coherent advice on Solar.

Further, those who are in active service in the power sector have also the added responsibility to book profits from their area of responsibility. Thus a Coal secretary, or a Managing Director of thermal power plant would not want to waste his/her time in promoting something which is hostile to its business.

Neither would the Power Grid Boss want to give up the transmission lines to host of small players who would want to wheel power from one point to another. It is a tedious task to keep check on what is happening at any given time with the conventional supply, to add the task of evacuating electricity from mini-grids. It requires a certain kind of mindset to do so, and changing mind-set is an all-time barrier challenge.

Thus we keep hearing about Net Metering is about to start and the wait till now has been long drawn. That it would happen is for sure, but we have to wait for that to become a practice Pan India.

For Solar Power to be more powerful than the powerful fossil fuel lobby, it needs the support of the 49% of the India’s electorate – Women! If they want it, no economist can deny them…for in most Indian homes she is the finance minister…and she knows her math! And she is the most powerful.

The tought is beautifully highlighted in this advertisement by Tata Tea. While I endorse the idea of women empowerment, what I want to highlight is the stove on which the protagonist brews the tea..what if the fuel in it came from solar power…an induction stove / hot-plate directly connected to a small solar panel just outside the kitchen window, acting as its window shade, while powering a small UPS to give enough power for day/night operation ! (more on this idea)

 

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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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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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Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry


Solar Resource Map

Solar Resource Map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Distributed Generation” – my long-lost in touch friend and teacher, heading one of India‘s largest state power transmission, told me when I finally traced him. ” You are spot on when you say Solar P.V is the solution, but for the prohibitive cost.” “And if you say you have the solution, bring it on I am sure the State Government of India as well as investor world-wide would like to understand it.” said he.

“I don’t have the numbers, but the idea is good I am sure of that much”, said I.

“Speak your idea. There are enough intelligent people in this world who can figure out the maths much better than you can ever imagine” – he said.

Well, as of today the Indian Rupee is in free fall.While it could have been good news for the export industry, it is not so because of policy paralysis and international investors lack confidence in the Governance system of India. With the Euro-zone in trouble, US$ gaining traction and rampant corruption, which the once efficient Indian Government can no longer control; having given leeway for so long to the  perpetrators of this systemic rot due to political compulsions that it has become a normal life-style for all and sundry.

Corruption in India has become so endemic that with the inflationary pressure and International monetary crisis, compounded with Climate change which brings its own bouquet of trouble that the Country which remained more or less insular in 2008, is gasping for breath. Its leaders, those which are truly concerned about the Country and Governance need all the help it can to save the Country from a “Greek” tragedy.

One of those solution is staring them at their face. Made by them but its implementation still weak. The beautiful NAPCC. A fantastic tool to at once infuse life to business while at the same time stay true to the abatement of Global Warming & Climate Change.

National Solar Mission for increasing share of...

National Solar Mission for increasing share of solar energy in India’s energy portfolio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While each of the Eight National Action Plan on Climate Change are super ideas, combining the three – 1. The National Solar Mission; 2. The National Action Plan for Enhanced Energy Efficiency; 3. The National Action Plan for Green India, in my opinion would cover almost another 3 programs Buildings, Agriculture and the Water mission.

The Green Solution I propose is to go Solar. Today, India provides a huge rebate in Kerosene which gnaws away the innards of any fiscal policy. Stuck between the commitment to its poor and at the same time wanting to make its presence felt as a Global power, India needs to carry out which it already knows as a sure-fire way to stability.

Once we are able to offer through a program Solar Power for rural electrification we would be immediately save Kerosene subsidy which is huge, with Solar Water Pumps, Diesel which is also subsidized can be brought into rational level of costing. The positive effect on the exchequer would be huge even if we give the REC (renewable energy certificate) to the RESCO’s (Renewable Energy Service Company).

In my earlier article I had already mentioned about a model of OPEX Solar solution, it would really take-off in a Giga Watt scale should the Government, and by that I mean the Parliament makes a National commitment.

It is a win-win situation for the People – Parliament – Planet.

Money can also be pooled from the various housing missions for rural poor, Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) modules come in standard fitting of metal sheet & glass. It has and can be created as a roofing material. Imagine, if with combining the program of Rural electrification; Rural roofing by eliminating asbestos sheet, and Empowering Women & Saving forest,* by giving them CFL bulbs under the “Bachat Lamp Yojna” and using the forestry fund to provide with a twin hob induction stove the sea change it would bring to the climate and the National exchequer. How connecting induction stove to solar is far better than using LPG is given in my earlier article provided with the *link.

What is more, World over there are programs conducted to control pests from destroying thatch/ wooden roof. The process itself gets eliminated, saving money and the environment in the process. Solar Pumps are not new, but a sustained policy is required, to be carried out by corporates in a super transparent manner to modify the diesel power gensets and pumps to work with solar. The SPV modules can also be made portable which can be towed by tractor, to various small plot owners, who can rent the same instead of having to install it, which they could not have due to lack of ample space.

Climate Change Top Election Search Topic

Climate Change Top Election Search Topic (Photo credit: neeravbhatt)

Renewable Energy is a singular Business Idea which can be the messiah for many malaise hobbling the Countries growth, its time think tanks like the CAN, WRI, TERI make their presence felt and make it popular via advertisement.

The power of the media is immense. The Pen shall always remain mightier than the Sword. This must be utilized and the faster the better. Because once public perception changes, laws get made and most importantly get implemented.

 

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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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Green Business Idea : How to build a Mercedes at the price of a Nano!


The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...Cadmium in the China river, who could have imagined that such a thing would be ever reported? This let me think as how can we really make people and businesses responsible?

Whether we like it or not, we are born Human a species just like any other in this Ecosystem called Earth. And just like any other Species we are programmed in a certain way.  That is discarding what we don’t need.

It is perfectly natural. Birds do it. Bees do it. We do it too !  But here we have a small problem. We are “Civilized” and the rest are ..well “animals”! We have down the evolution chain “evolved” into “intelligent animals” and we no more can be called “animals”. So in time, we divorced ourselves from the laws of Ecosystem,of sustainable living; in the quest to be “Civilized Humans of the World”. And in the process created one big unholy mess for Earth.

Whatever the animals discard is 100% Biodegradable. We stopped doing that since the Industrial Revolution. Most of it.

Therefore when  we –

Soar like a bird” we have the biggest scrap-yard of old airplanes.

Sprint like a cheetah” we have heaps of scrapped motorcycles collected by the Police from the Highways, as the rider is long dead and gone…

“Sing like a Nightingale” we have discarded vinyl, creating a nightmare for environment in landfills.

India is growing, which makes me happy indeed. However are we growing the right way or are we going to do what the west has been doing ? How will India make  sustainable  progress a part of  it’s every day existence, thus keep at bay the pressure it would surely meet, to conform to norms set by the developing world in its agenda to set right the Climate mess we all are in today?As more and more cars, airplanes and other modern life-style starts percolating into the vast and opening and still to open markets of the Tier I,II & III towns and centers, where aspirations are more than that of a city dweller in Mumbai or New Delhi. Would we have in place to handle the waste that it would be generating? Or can we partner today with the western developed Nations and create a market which can be beneficial to both, while truly bringing in the near perfect model of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse ?

I could have gone on and make a fine prose of this article, but I need to propose a  Green Business Idea. That is the only sure way to save Earth. The Economics of Ecology.

Let us then begin at the scrap yards for Air planes. I’m sure all of us love the nice comfortable airline seats, the clear oval windows, the carpet, the superbly functional over-head storage, the air conditioner nozzle and LED lights the neat steel toilets, wash basin and fixtures. While almost all the aircraft parts are salvaged and used, this process could be accelerated if the salvaged parts like the luxurious chairs, overhead bins etc are shipped to India to be fitted in Interiors of trains, buses and even homes. Imagine an intercity super-fast train running in India which has the look and feel of an air-plane? And I always wish I could have the overhead bins used for cabin luggage for my office interior projects. Would look really nice, plus the A/c and Light control would be right over the head of the user, who can then turn it off when not in use. And those neat wash basins and water-closets, super for the super small office spaces in Mumbai. I could also use the windows. Clubbing them together in interesting fashion in interior projects, compact and double glazed it can also make a perfect building façade. Letting light in yet keeping heat out.

Next are Automobiles. It is very painful to see how the cars are salvaged in the west. In this video you can actually see how the mind set of the public still needs to be refined further to actually understand the word – RECYCLE & REUSE. Of course the last word REDUCE has been utilized but in a very …lets say scope for improvement is definitely there.

One can always remove the glass panes from the doors, and perhaps the windscreen too could be removed. While the door glass panes could be reused, the windscreen more often than not would break at the edges and can be sent to glass recycling units separately. If you notice there would be perfect headlamps and tail lights and rear view mirrors, which can be dismantled along with the wipers, locks and handles. If you hear the video again, there is a point where the person at the desk says -” people could care less for doors, moldings…” which is so difficult to comprehend form a reuse point of view.

English: Daytime Running Lights implemented wi...

Many times people scrap cars because a door got damaged and no amount of repairs can bring it back to perfection. In that case if the company can lead a person to a reused car part company, where s/he could get a fix and the car could probably run for a few more years! Same goes for the trimming, seats, and lamps.  And to crush a perfect car, a 2011 Lexus..when so many parts could have been salvaged, defies logic. Can anyone explain why the lights and rear-view mirrors and the logo could not be salvaged ?In Mumbai, India all top line cars face the menace of having there logo or car rims stolen. It fetches good money. And trust me, it costs an arm to buy a headlamp should you shatter it while parking the car or just driving it and following all the traffic rules! Because driving rules are alien to most Indians in India. In Indian roads and driving sense, one could laugh all the way to the Bank by just selling head and tail lamp fixtures. With more and more imported cars models arriving in India, this would be perhaps a perfect Green Business Idea, to get the parts from the West and sell them here.

Moreover if the automobile companies take the perfect parts back and reuse them they would do a lot of good for themselves and the Environment. They could perhaps make a new line of refurbished cars. And no it would not be called “cheap” in a demeaning way but a Green Business Idea of producing lets say “pert” models of the same car model. Which can then be sold in a market where cheaper cars have a demand and perhaps they could be surprised within the existing market, where I’m sure buyers who would any-day prefer a refurbished car from the automaker over the used car selling companies.

We could then perhaps then have a Mercedes at the price of a Nano! Wow, I am buying just make it run on CNG ( compressed natural gas ) !

And no, it would not mean competition and end of both the new part manufacturing vendors or the used car seller. In fact with the economy in such a flux as it is now, both of them can be symbiotic to each other and probably benefit even the Original car maker should it puts its stamp of approval.

 
 

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Green Business Ideas – Using Solar Panels as Glass Facade can reduce Heat Island Effect in Cities and earn LEED credits


glass facade

In the past week I was interviewed by two News media both electronic & print which were very excited about a report by scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) India,  on Glass Façade Buildings in the City of Mumbai, India  and how it is raising the overall temperature by more than 17° C in the surrounding area of the building. Although it could be true, one must explore about how this problem be addressed without making ‘glass’ a bad building material. Things are not always black or white, therefore I would use this as an opportunity to once more showcase how Sustainable Cities  could be planned.

Glass has been a tradition building material for eons now. Colored glass was found from the Babylonian era and some of the most beautiful Churches and Cathedrals draw their prime beauty from the Stained Glass murals. Glass is the only single medium which allows the external environment into the room in a controlled fashion. Which means one can enjoy rain, snow or bellowing wind swaying the tree tops without getting wet or cold and having that curly lock of hair firmly in place.

Yet uncontrolled use of glass can create problems, such as raising the ambient temperature of the city/town and making it warmer. While extensive use of glass in building façade may be considered a good thing to counter the harsh winter experienced in the temperate regions of the World, it is foolish in Hot climes.

The reasons are simple. The word ‘Green House‘ originally meant ( before Global warming became popular) a glass house which kept the temperature warmer than the freezing  European cold and let some plants & vegetables grow. This happens because the heat from the Sunlight gets trapped within the space by the default property of glass.

While this is good for designing a building in say Norway or Alaska, where every drop of Sunlight would bring in the warmth and perhaps help save in reduction of energy consumption required for district heating, the same principle would require enormous amount of  district cooling which otherwise would have been normal in case of a hot and humid city like Mumbai or any other city with similar climatic conditions. And those large  water-cooled Air-conditioning plants placed on the roof tops to cool the buildings do so by pumping cool air inside the buildings while sucking the hot air away and out into the surrounding atmosphere. So a total glass building would not only throw more hot air out into the cityscape it would also use more water to cool itself. Yes, there is air cooled A/c plants too and high-efficiency COP’s have the ‘Green’ label attached but it too consumes energy and heats the sorrounding it however saves on water. Only the most well designed and high-end commercial glass façade buildings conform to all Sustainability criteria. But it does not hold true for all.

Therefore while the building may look swanky and very western, I would caution the tenant in buying space there as their energy bills could shoot up. Moreover by default of design constrains, its cheaper to make the Glass Facade buildings near hermetically sealed. Further no one would want the Air conditioned space to get warm because of a leak in the window casing.

Now the above observations lead to some unique problems for India or for any Emerging Economy in the Third World with similar climatic conditions.

First is the heat & dust. Not only does glass buildings get warmer inside it turns ugly on the outside too because of the perpetual dust. And once the commercial buildings are sold it becomes the building owner association responsibility to take care of maintenance. Maintaining tall glass façade building does not come cheap. It requires a whole new engineering solution, such as façade cleaning lifts and trained people to do it.

Second, we are a ’emerging economy’. Which means only a few rich & super rich have the luxury of having uninterrupted power. Rest are routinely treated with planned load shedding / power cuts and have to generate their own power through fossil fuel smoke belching  Diesel generators. In case of longer duration of power failure, rationing is done to cut cost and even the generators are shut down. And in this case one has no choice but to sit in airless rooms breathing Carbon –Di– Oxide exhaled by the neighboring colleague and hoping to survive the day.

Third, in smaller Tier -II & III towns and even the cheaper business districts within the megalopolis  the buildings only ape the Glass Facade exterior with no  Fire Safety Norms as a priority, and are built by unscrupulous Builder developers who themselves are an ignorant lot along with little or no understanding of EHS ( Environment – Health – Safety ) nor it is understood by the general public. ( the whole of India has only 2-3 dedicated burns center, one in Mumbai. New Delhi has none. However thousands die each year through burn related accidents) . So Glass buildings which are not designed well may lead to catastrophe in case of fire. Further as some are built right upon the road-side in high density areas, during Earthquake or other calamities, it may only compound the problems further with razor-sharp glass falling all over. True the glass have built-in safety feature to shatter into small bits but bad fixing and poor quality glass do not perform as intended.

Business and Scientific report do not go hand in hand. But  Science must be heeded if Business is to thrive. Global warming and its associated risks are too well documented to be ignored.  ( read my article for details:  Climate change – the most significant emerging risks facing the world today ) If the City of Mumbai or any city with similar climatic conditions continues to grow in this fashion and Glass façade buildings become norm and not exception, we are looking at a serious problem.

So we come to the question of what would the Developers and the Public do post reading the NEERI report ? Will tall glass façade building vanish from the cityscape? No chance.

But saving Mumbai ( and other cities ) is a must. Therefore here I will present an alternate thought which the Glass manufactures like ASAI, MODI etc along with the Solar PV manufacturers would I hope discuss over cocktail & dinner and come back with great Eco Ideas which would at least help reduce the problem of Heat Island Effect. And for this we must look at BIPV.

CIS Tower, Manchester

Image via Wikipedia

Building Integrated Photo voltaic (BIPV) has been around for sometime. It produces electricity and can also act as a Glass Facade. (As the image to the right shows, the dark blue glazing with a logo on top )  Now this is an option which has not been explored to its full potential in India and the rest of the World because of the cost verses production of electricity. It is generally understood that BIPV which is still in its nascent stage needs to develop further to truly become the choice for Architects and Builders to consider using it as an alternative to Glazed Building. This can happen only when the cost of the product becomes near equal to that of conventional Double Glazing Unit ( DGU ) which we see all around the city of Mumbai. However we can speed up this process by simply bringing in the economy of scale.

So how does one bring about this economy of scale? Simple, by introducing the Green building concepts which require the use of Solar Power or Green Energy. Both in the TERI – GRIHA  and IGBC -LEED certification process require  to bring energy efficiency of about 14% to the Building Envelope ( skin of the building; the outermost wall /glass surface ) which  at times design constrain and economic factors make  very difficult to deliver. Further Green Building Norms also ask for 10% of the total building energy be drawn from Solar Power. This too, is difficult due to unavailability of required roof-top space in certain cases.

BIPV

Now BIPV  are SPV  (solar photo voltaic) patches of  modules which is sandwiched  between glass.  It not only produces electricity but also reduces the amount of Sunlight from entering the building which is known as the SHG factor for glass ( Solar Heat Gain). So this can act like ceramic frit-glass, which too is an architectural favorite as it has lower SHG factor  and yet have dual function. Further in the Green Building rating system one looks for high SRI  (surface reflective index) content to reduce the heat island effect. Glass has high SRI index. So it reflects more sunlight away and what could have entered the building unhindered gets caught and converted into energy by the SPV cells. So another LEED credit point, credit interpretation could be sought jointly by the SPV as well as the Glass manufacturers.

Now as more and more buildings all around the world are opting for LEED Certification ( Leadership in Energy and Environment Design ), the above two credit points would fit well into the scheme of things. But this may not be enough to reduce the cost of  BIPV. Therefore we can adapt the idea which I have explained (in the article – Green Business Ideas : Cheap Solar Power is possible  ) earlier to manufacture cheaper BIPV’s  and yet creating space for newer research & development. Therefore what NEERI published as a problem can be solved by scientific ways and high-end engineering which follows the basic principles of Sustainable Building Design. And who knows one day we may have enough BIPV clad Green Buildings just as the above French building ( click on image ) which would help further reduce the enormous Carbon Footprint each City has, to make a safer Earth with better business ideas.

 

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Green Business Ideas : Cheap Solar Power is possible


Most Small Companies who are installing roof top Solar Panels are doing so to get the Tax rebate in India. They are also doing it to “earn” Carbon Credits. For the lay business person “earning” carbon credits means “profit”. While it can not be true because the system of Carbon Credit fund is just to improve your IRR, and can’t be found under BUA ; I do not like to discourage this trend. Why? Simple – to earn Carbon Credits one has to do a CDM project. And I love that. Then if it can be proven to be a valid project worthy of Carbon Credit funds, great! By that time they understand that, they do a good job and can see the benefits all around to bother much for the “profit” through CER’s. If they get it its nice but the life-cycle benefits of a Green Building is consolation enough.

But Carbon Credit can become profitable, at least with due diligence and revised thought by the CDM authority. And be given as an incentive to those who would be able to do rural electrification or as in the case of India, provide electricity in tier III towns for a decent time with the help of the wires and cables the Government of the day may have installed during the election years, but forget to insure supply of power on a regular basis once chosen to govern. Not because they chose not too, but during the heat of elections most forget that there is a term – technical and/ or economic feasibility. But when did full truth ever help win an election in the World?

Let us discuss an idea, about how we can make Solar Power at a cheaper cost.

The life of a Solar panel is 25 years, but it is assumed that the efficiency drops to 80% in the 10th year. And by the first five years the RoI is achieved. Now as newer and more efficient panels are being produced, there could be a cause for worry that it would be more and more difficult to sell them, as the traditional first enterprises to take up the challenge and having installed Solar Parks would still be holding on to the “old” SPV for its 25 year life span.

English: On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis...

So how does one make the Solar PV industries grow? How would the cost be covered and  more efficient panels generating more power and consuming less space and lighter in weight too come into the market?

One idea could be by selling old solar panels !   It is a great eco-idea and to encourage this, we need participation from all stake holders.

Second sale is popular in automobile, mobile phone and many products, the market system is mature. All it needs is to tweak it to conform to the SPV industry.

Imagine villages in India, Africa, Brazil and other developing nations who have a huge socio-economic gap among its Peoples and yet are emerging economies of the future; could create a Program of Activities where in a Public -Private partnership can be mooted and a viable business plan developed.

From Village roofing; thus eliminating traditional  thatch roof which is becoming more dearer as communities shift away from agrarian life-style and there is land use change; to community shelters for the destitute sleeping in the cold & rain; to roofing alternatives for very small-scale or cottage industries; to providing power to their electric stoves, thus eliminating the GHG from Gobar Gas plants ( read my article – Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests ) the ideas can be many and each more practical and wonderful than the earlier.

Now add to this the Green Climate Fund and let the project proponents recoup some of their investment ( which is lower to start with in second sale product ) through Carbon Credit.

Hope someone would develop on this idea and present it at the Rio+20.

 

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