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In a move that aims to boost the renewable energy sector, the Indian government will be setting up four ultra mega solar power projects in 2014-15. This was announced by Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, during his speech while presenting the interim budget.
Chidambaram said that government proposes to take up four large size solar power projects, each with a capacity of over 500 MW. All these four projects will be a part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) which has a target of installing 20,000 MW of solar power capacity in the country by 2022.
According to Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Rajasthan and Gujarat will have one solar PV plant each, while the remaining two power plants will be built in Jammu and Kashmir.
India has plans of taking its economic growth to the next level, but for that to happen, access to quality, reliable and aff ordable energy is of utmost importance. Today, the country is seen as a potent market for renewable energy and this has been possible due to consistent support from the policy makers and other stakeholders. As the impact and role of renewable energy continues to grow, a plethora of new opportunities have come to the fore and the country has embarked upon numerous initiatives.
Renewable energy therefore, not only promises to be a good source of generating clean electricity by setting up power plants, but it also has its employability in various other sectors as well. Right from providing clean cooking systems to back-up power through rooft op solar panels, the role of renewable energy technologies (RETs) is making its presence felt in various energy-intensive sectors, viz- transport, agriculture, telecom, industrial heating, internal security environment and wildlife conservation to name a few. Th e advantage of negligible fuel expenses, very low operation and maintenance costs usually off set the initial capital costs of the RETs. Energy Next takes a look at the prospective use of RETs in diff erent aspects of life and the impact that it would have in the long run— both from the point of view of economic benefi t and climate change issues.
ComSolar, GIZ and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) joint project under Indo-German Energy Programme on commercialisation of Solar Energy in Urban and Industrial areas, carried out a study to identify promising industrial sectors for solar energy technologies.
The study resulted with the identification of five sectors as the most promising for solar intervention, including the textile sector, wherein it was found that if the energy replacement potential (ktoe/ annum) was 403, the estimated monetary savings would be ` 8,432 million per annum. It concluded that the textile (finishing) sector is one of the most promising, with regard to the use of primarily solar thermal technologies for various applications which are commercially attractive in terms of internal rate of returns (IRR) and payback-times. The commercial viability of solar technologies is much higher for industries using fuel sources such as furnace oil, coke or diesel.
Stating how the use of solar energy can help, the study added, “Textile processing requires a lot of hot water in the range of 40-110°C at various stages of the production process. The requisite heat can easily be generated through solar energy. Around 383 ktoe/annum of conventional energy consumption can potentially be substituted, resulting in monetary savings of about ` 7.7 Mio per annum. Textile spinning and weaving is also very important in terms of output, investment and employment. ASI statistics show that this sector consumed 3.34 Mtoe of primary energy in 2007-08. One of the processes involved in weaving, called sizing, requires hot water at a temperature between 80-85°C. Hence, it is estimated that solar thermal interventions are possible in this process throughout the industry in a range of 27ktoe/annum, saving ` 740 Mio per annum.”
INDIAN TEXTILE INDUSTRY
The Indian textile industry is believed to be the second largest in the world, also the oldest and largest sectors of the country, accounting for around 30 per cent of exports. Moreover, it is also the second largest employment generator after agriculture. At the same time, it is also one of the highest energy consuming sectors in India. About 23 per cent energy is consumed in weaving, 34 per cent in spinning, 38 per cent in chemical processing and another 5 per cent for miscellaneous purposes.
Across the country, some textile companies are opting for renewable energies such as solar. One such instance is that of Jharcraft, which has found a visible change in production, by opting for solar power.
Dr B C Prasad, general manager, operation, Jharcraft, reveals, “Earlier, the weaving was done manually, so the production was less. As we work in villages, where there is no power, we had little choice. But after 2010, ever since we began using solar power on a large scale, things have been streamlined.”
The textile industry in Tamil Nadu is among the largest investors in wind energy and accounts for over 3,000 MW of captive wind power capacity out of the total 7000 MW in the state. Estimates of the capacity being backed down, (the wind mill power is not being utilised), range from 30 per cent of the capacity, according to the South Indian Mills Association (SIMA), to over 40 per cent as per wind energy associations.
The textile sector has also been identified as a designated consumer by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). As per statistics provided by the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), the primary energy consumption in the sector was 4.46 Mtoe in 2007-08. Textile processing steps range from singeing (removal of protruding fiber) to finishing and printing of the fabric and manufacturing, polyester, polyester filament yarn, acrylic, nylon, viscose, cotton, etc. Competition is fierce, hence reliable and affordable energy supply is crucial for this industry.
In India, semi-urban and rural areas that contribute to a majority of the landscape, are often impacted by the lack of power and non-availability of ATM fit notes. Since normal ATMs consume high power, require air-conditioners and ATM fit currencies, banks find it difficult to deploy ATMs in such places.
In order to address this problem, Vortex developed a solar ATM that not only consumes less power, but is also operational without air-conditioners. Moreover, it takes care of soiled teller grade notes as well.
According to the CEO of Vortex, Vijay Babu, more and more banks are now coming forward to deploy these ATMs. In the initial stage, at least 400 solar ATMs called gramatellers, were installed in 17 states of the country. The State Bank of India, owing to its exemplary performance and substantial energy savings, played a pioneering role in promoting it.
IndusInd Bank was the first private bank in India to launch the solar-powered ATM at their Opera House branch in Mumbai. While the Catholic Syrian Bank has placed an order for 50 gramatellers, Bank of Maharashtra and City Union Bank are adopting solar ATMs too. From 2010 to 2013, the number of such ATMs has increased to 100 and now, they are present in different parts of the country.
Vortex, which is looking to venture into Asia, is likely to install 5,000 solar ATMs in India by 2015. Elaborating on the measures that need to be taken to reduce the cost of deploying ATM machines, Babu adds that there is a need for technological advancements to address such issues.
In order to function smoothly, all that the gramateller requires is merely five hours of good sunshine per day, as it uses solar panels to convert sun rays into electrical energy. During the day, the facility uses solar power and in the same time, spare batteries are also charged. These batteries provide power to the ATM in the absence of sunlight, while the extra power generated during the day is exported to an internal grid for other uses. It is the solar inverter and charge controller which manages the switch between solar, battery and grid power. The complete functioning of the system is monitored from a distant area. A single gramateller unit saves over ninety per cent of the annual expenditure of maintaining a traditional ATM, half of whose annual bill of ` 1,44,000 (US$2,530) goes in air-conditioning, electricity and generator running prices.
The ATMs survive power fluctuations too since there is a built-in battery back-up for four hours. They can also function in temperatures ranging from 0 to 50 degree centigrade and without air-conditioning.
According to reports, the government is now planning to start a mini-banking facility in each of India’s 600,000 villages, with an aim of opening about 25 million savings accounts in villages.
Meanwhile, Washington-based World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has predicted that by 2015, the ATM market in India is expected to grow three-fold.
Su-Kam Power Systems, India’s leading power backup solutions provider, has launched easy finance schemes for solar installations in residences to customers in Tamil Nadu (TN). This move is aimed at making solar installations at residences highly affordable to customers by doing away with high initial cost of installation of these systems.
This pilot project in TN aims to make solar systems affordable to residential customers in the state, and this programme will be extended to other parts of India soon.
Su-Kam has tied up with Shriram City Union Finance Ltd. which shall be providing easy finance schemes to all customers keen to install a solar system at their residences under the ‘Green EMI product scheme.’ All customers approaching Su-Kam’s channel partners in TN can avail these schemes depending upon the capacity of the solar system installed.
Speaking on the occasion, Dhananjay Sharma, GM-Global Solar, Su-Kam Power Systems said, “To cite an example, by availing this scheme, a household can get a 1 KW solar Grid system installed at a mere monthly installment of Rs 2800 thereby reducing the initial cost of solar installation in a household substantially and making it highly affordable. By introducing this easy financing scheme, we are trying to address the initial apprehensions of customers who think that solar is not within their reach due to initial cost factors. ”
He added that besides providing easy finance and removing their initial apprehensions, the target of the programme is to educate customers about the long term benefits of installing a solar system at one’s household. “A solar system installation in a household is like an investment that shall only reap benefits for the customers in the long run. ROI on a solar system is easily achievable within 2 years of the system’s installation thereby enabling a customer to in-turn earn revenue from the free electricity generated by the solar system for the next 25 years!.” Sharma noted.
Under the finance scheme offered by Shriram, customers can avail a maximum of five lakh at an interest of 5.5% per annum for a 12 month EMI (equated monthly installment) scheme and an interest of 5.99% per annum for an 18 month EMI scheme.
Come 2015, India and rest of the world can see the first aircraft that is powered by solar energy and can fly non-stop.
The aircraft, to be unveiled in a few months from now, will make a round-the-globe trip next year, showcasing the latest technology in various countries where it will have stopovers, according to Switzerland-based company Solar Impulse, which is manufacturing it.
The plane, weighing around 2,740 kg, will be powered by 12,000 solar cells and can fly at the speed of 70 kms per hour.
It can fly day and night continuously, collecting energy from the Sun, the company’s CEO Andre Borshberg told PTI here.
Maintaining that the plane will have only one pilot as of now, he said that while the aircraft can fly continuously day and night, “the limiting factor is the pilot. He cannot sustain endlessly and has to take rest.”
The around-the-world sojourn will be for three months, with the total flight time being 20-25 days and nights.
The journey will begin somewhere in the Middle East and the flight’s first destination will be India.
“We hope to make two stops in India – one on west coast and another in the east – before the aircraft goes to Myanmar,” said the CEO, who is here in connection with preparations for making the India-part of the sojourn a high-profile event.
The longest non-stop flight of five days and five nights will be across the Pacific Ocean, he said.
“The goal is to make an aircraft which has unlimited endurance. It is a human challenge also….besides making the aircraft which is very efficient in energy and energy savings,” he said, adding it should “become an ambassador of what we can do with this technology.”
Explaining the motive behind the initiative which is being supported by the Swiss government, the CEO of Solar Impulse said, “The goal is to inspire people, the young generation about what is possible, about the potential of technology.”
Borschberg said the experiment is to show how renewable energy can be used and energy consumption reduced.
“If we can use renewable energy on an airplane, we can certainly use it on the ground, where it is much more simple,” he said.
He said the aircraft has such technology which makes it efficient with reduced energy consumption that enables it to fly day and night continuously. The same technology can be used on buildings and cars, he said.
“We hope to showcase the technology in India to attract young generation which could help young generation to realise their own dreams,” he said.
Borschberg said the company would gauge the interest of the Government of India and is looking for big industrial houses to host it.
“We hope to do communication in India. We want students to see the pioneering technology,” he added. Pitching for greater use of solar energy, which is clean and renewable form of energy, Borschberg said it can be more useful in remote and hot areas.
It can be used in providing electricity to buildings and power to cars. Solar panels used on this plane can also be used on satellites, he said. “The potential of this technology is immense,” he added.
On why the usage of solar energy is not spreading, the company’s chief said cost of power could be factor. At the same time, he said the high cost of power could be during the initial period and in the long run, it will be worth investing.
He said some Chinese companies have already started pulling down the prices by producing energy at low cost.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday approved a Rs.46,000-crore scheme to improve and increase India’s diminishing forest cover, a day after the environment ministry was rapped for failing to properly implement a decade-old afforestation programme.
The new scheme, known as the National Mission for a Green India, envisages an expenditure of Rs.13,000 crore in the 12th five-year plan period ending in March 2017, and a total cost of Rs.46,000 crore over the next 10 years.
“We will be spending Rs.46,000 crore for the gradual increase of forest year by year. It is a targeted project which will be very effectively monitored,” environment minister M. Veerappa Moily had said on Wednesday.
The Green India Mission is one of eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. It aims to increase forest cover on 5 million hectares (ha) of forest/non-forest land and improve the quality of forest cover on another 5 million ha.
Funding for the scheme will come from the Plan outlay and convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee Act, the compensatory afforestation management and planning authority, and the national afforestation programme.
The Union government will provide 90% of the funds for implementing the scheme in the north-eastern states, and 75% of the funds for other states. State governments will meet the balance requirement.
The environment ministry faced flak from a parliamentary panel on Wednesday for failing to effectively implement the Rs.3,044 crore national afforestation programme that was launched in 2002. The panel found India’s forest cover had decreased by 367 sq.km. between 2009 and 2011.
The new mission will involve grassroots-level organizations including gram sabhas (village councils) and joint forest management committees (JFMCs). A governing council chaired by the environment minister and a national executive council chaired by the environment secretary at the national level will facilitate implementation of the mission.
“There will be an effective Central-level monitoring system. There will be third party monitoring system also,” Moily said.
Apart from afforestation, the mission will also focus on adaptation of forest-dependent communities. It aims to improve the livelihoods of about 3 million households living in and around forest areas.
Forest rights activist Tushar Dash said the mission goes against the Forest Rights’ Act (FRA) by seeking to empower the JFMCs instead of the gram sabhas. “In many areas, JFMC are conflicting with FRA. It appears that there are two sets of framework coming from the Central government—on one hand, they want to empower gram sabhas through FRA, and on other hand, it continues with the status quo on JFMCs and forest bureaucracy,” said Dash, a researcher with an Odisha-based non-governmental organisation, Vasundhara.
Another likely problem is that plantation of trees under the new mission might encroach over land cultivated by tribals, Dash said. “Restoration of ecosystem is one thing and plantation is another. The same land that is used by adivasis (tribals) to cultivate food crops might be taken over if the focus is on plantations by the forest department,” he said.
P.J. Dilip Kumar, chairman, Sustainable Forestry Association, a non-governmental organization based in Bangalore, said the solution to this would be to demarcate clear boundaries.
“As far as the FRA is concerned, it is important that land which was under cultivation needs to be identified and allocated to cultivator and boundary must be demarcated urgently,” said Kumar, a former director general of forests in the environment ministry.
Large-scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisha since 1994-95
Press Trust of India
Top firms such as SAIL, Tata Steel, Aditya Birla group’s Essel Mining and Odisha Mining Corp are among 70 firms that have violated environment and forest laws, the Justice M B Shah Commission on illegal mining in Odisha has held.
Large scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisha since 1994-95 and most of the mining lease holders violated them in some form or other, it said.
The Commission has estimated that iron ore worth over Rs 45,453 crore and manganese worth over Rs 3,089 crore have been extracted by miners “illegally and without lawful authority” by violating conditions of Environment Clearance (EC) alone.
It further said that the value of illegal production will increase considerably if other factors including consent to operate, production without mining plan/scheme are considered.
Out of the 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, 94 do not have EC. Of the 94 mines, which do not have EC, 78 extracted iron and manganese ores between 1994-95 and 2011-12, worth several thousand crores.
Moreover, 96 leases obtained delayed EC approval and carried out mining during the period.
“Totally 130 lessees are/were noted of doing production without lawful authority of iron and manganese ores (which includes 109 leases running under deemed extension also) in violation of EIA notification, 1994 and 2006,” it said.
The Commission added: “All such production is to be considered as illegal and without lawful authority. The market value for iron and manganese ores is required to be recovered under the provisions of Section 21(5) of the MM(DR) Act, 1957.”
SAIL’s Bolani and Barsua iron ore mines; Tata Steel’s 7 mines – Joda East, Joda West, Manmora, Guruda-Tiring Pahar, Malda, Khandbandh and Bamebari; Jindal Steel and Power’s TRB mines and Adhunik Metaliks’ Kulum mine are among the list of 96 firms that obtained delayed EC while carried out production.
Essel Mining and Industries’ Unchabali mine is among the list of 94 mines which did not have EC but carried out iron ore extraction. Its 3 other mines – Kasia, Jilling-Longalota and Koira are in the list of obtaining delayed EC approval.
The Odisha government-owned Odisha Mining Corporation’s (OMC) 8 mines are also in the list of 94 mines, which did not have EC approval. Of this, 2 mines – Sakradihi and Balda- Palsa-Jajang carried out extraction without EC.
Moreover, OMC obtained delayed EC approval for 14 of its mines and most of them carried out mining during the period.
Orissa Mineral Development Corporation (now part of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam), Rungta Mines Group, BPMEL, Kalinga Mining Corporation, Sarda Mines, Tarini Minerals, B D Patnaik, Aryan Mining and Trading Corporation Pvt Ltd are also on the list of violating or not taking approvals.