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Tag Archives: Wind power

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power generation(θ>90 °C)

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

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

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

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

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

 Thermal spas (θ = 25-40 °C)

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

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

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

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

 

 

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