Thursday, July 25, 2013

India’s Renewable Energy Potential Remains Untapped

India’s Renewable Energy Potential Remains Untapped

Darshan Goswami, Contributor
July 23, 2013

India has tremendous energy needs and an increasing difficulty in meeting those needs through traditional means of power generation. On July 30th and 31st, 2012 the world's largest blackout, The Great Indian Outage, stretching from New Delhi to Kolkata occurred. This blackout, due to failure of the northern power grid, caused nearly 700 million people — twice the population of the United States — to be without electricity.

A grid failure of such magnitude has thrown light onto India's massive demand for electricity, together with its struggle to generate as much power as it needs. India is aiming to expand its power-generation capacity by 44 percent over the next five years but recent problems indicate the scale of the challenge. Even before the blackout, in June of 2012, the country's power generation fell short by 5.8 percent when confronted with a peak-hour demand of 128 GW, according to Government data.

Electricity consumption in India has been increasing at one of the fastest rates in the world due to population growth and economic development. India’s economy faces increasing challenges because energy supply is struggling to keep pace with demand, and there are energy shortages (as much as 15 percent daily) almost everywhere in the country. Such chronic lack of energy and unreliable supplies threaten India’s economic growth.

So, what can India do to meet the future energy demands and help eliminate wide-ranging power outages in the future? The Government needs to make an assessment of how best to address the power needs to meet the future growth and prevent such massive power failures. India’s power blackout is an opportunity for developing sustainable energy solutions.

For economic as well as environmental reasons India needs to shift to non-polluting renewable sources of energy to meet future demand for electricity. Renewable energy is the most attractive investment because it will provide long-term economic growth for India. A favorable renewable energy policy could create millions of new jobs and an economic stimulus of at least US$1 trillion, and perhaps much more if all indirect economic (ripple) effects are included. "India is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and if properly utilized, India can realize its place in the world as a great power," Rifkin says.

Renewable energy also has the advantage of allowing decentralized distribution of energy — particularly for meeting rural energy needs, and thereby empowering people at the grass roots level. Solar electricity could also shift about 90 percent of daily trip mileage from petroleum to electricity by encouraging increased use of plug-in hybrid cars. For drivers in India this means that the cost per mile could be reduced by a quarter in today's prices.

India does not have an overarching energy strategy — instead it has a number of disparate policies. Rather than promoting an overarching energy strategy, to date India has developed a cluster of energy business models and policies that have not been productive. These policies are definitely affecting renewable energy expansion plans. The present business model needs to be changed from a centralized to a decentralized structure that allows all stakeholders including capital investment coming from state-owned investors, pension funds, and foreign countries.

For More:

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh


Gary Richardson
July 25, 2013
Unfortunately, the jobs created by coal/diesel have more sustainable jobs per GWhr than solar and more effectively distributes that wealth over more persons. Solar provides a short-term boost in installation jobs with risk of volatility due to demand fluctuations. This is why you see an increase in low quality solar panels with lifetimes as short as one year just to ensure a sustained business. Consequently, this economic model is not sustainable and drains wealth from those who need it most.
Perhaps if the panels were reduced to $0.10 per watt a case could be made to introduce quick swap panel repair/refurbishment while maintaining similar labor force as provided by coal. Locally produced panel repair supplies, tools and equipment further ensures sustainable employment and may need subsidies to ensure deterrence of black market/knock-off smuggling of refurb panels.
It may be possible to develop a chemical etch/wash, heat gun process under an inert chemical cloud or similar methods to do repairs from delamination, micro-cracking, etc...
Perhaps even introduce upgrade possibilities with new efficiencies, better thermal conductivity coatings, increased abrasion resistance, etc...
This also introduces opportunity to indirectly increase job skills at low cost when a do it yourself environment exists and instructions are readily available from sellers of repair tools and equipment.

Gary Richardson
July 24, 2013
I agree with Mr. Jagadeesh on many fronts here and his referral to the article:

Is spot on!
I still like the idea of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in the form of the Solar Power Tower and it's future for future revenue creations. Especially if the purported %60 efficiency via Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) pans out to work with consumable electrodes. If given freely to the communities surrounding it then another opportunity opens up where the community asks:
If I have x amount of free Btu's at 1800deg C what kind of product or services can I create with it?
With such availability to that resource for free, creativity to innovate and create markets can grow from it and possibly offer new unforeseen possibilities.

Stan Curlee
July 24, 2013
Dr. Jagadeesh,

Thank you for that outstanding discussion.

All the best,

Vasuki Nag
July 24, 2013
India has severe shortage of electricity which leads to power outage for many hours daily. Indian government is foolishly expanding coal and nuclear which are environmentally hazardous. Solar energy costs have come drastically in the recent years. Solar energy is already less expensive than nuclear energy. Advanced countries should stop promoting nuclear energy in India, since Indian regulations are lax and can lead to catastrophic disasters due to accidents or terrorism.

Solar provides distributed energy with the option to tie into the grid. India, being a tropical country with an average of 5-7KWh/M2/Day solar irradiation, is ideally suited for solar energy generation. Since both US and European governments have imposed tariff on Chinese made solar panels, it is a a great time to develop and expand solar manufacturing industry in India. Solar thermal water heaters are already quite inexpensive and can made mandatory as done in Bangalore, Mysore and other cities. Even solar PV would only add about 2- 3% to the cost of typical house or apartment in major cities which is affordable for most middle and upper income people in India. Many commercial shops currently rely on diesel generators during power outage, which can be replaced with solar which is less polluting and cheaper than diesel generators. If India implements nationwide Feed-in Tariff (FIT) system for residential and commercial buildings, it can usher in solar energy energy revolution in India. For remote rural places that rely on polluting kerosene oil lamps, India should promote low cost solar lanterns for lighting and bio-gas for cooking.

Current federal government in India is inept and mired in corruption scandals. Hopefully, environmentalists and industrialists would urge Indian government to promote solar and wind energy on a large scale on a urgent a basis.

Donald Campbell
July 24, 2013
My question has to do with the future of renewable energy mechanisms. Can these methods provide the continuous energy needed for big manufacturing industries such as cement, steel, and similar high-consumption plants?

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
July 24, 2013
Kenneth Aaron

Few plants thrive under shade.Plants need sunlight for photosynthesis. Plants grow in size. What is the height of the inclined solar panel? Ideas are OK. Practicality is the essence. Many a times it is COMMON SENSE that matters. Already the Efficiency of Solar PV at present is low and further complicating the method of extraction of power will be detrimental to the production of power. On the other hand growing plants around the wind turbine makes sense as Wind Turbine will be at height,provided water source is there nearby.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Kenneth Aaron
July 24, 2013
Has anyone thought of putting the solar panels upon stands that would allow shaded areas underneath that could be used for agriculture and this area could also be irrigated with electrical. The use of solar power for desalination and irrigation of shaded areas seems the best use of the land.

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
July 24, 2013

Yes. There are other factors which affect power scene in India.

In India, average T & D (Transmission & Distribution) losses, have been officially indicated as 23 percent of the electricity generated. However, as per sample studies carried out by independent agencies likeTERI, these losses have been estimated to be as high as 50 percent in some states.
Energy losses occur in the process of supplying electricity to consumers due to technical and commercial losses. The technical losses are due to energy dissipated in the conductors and equipment used for transmission, transformation, sub- transmission and distribution of power. These technical losses are inherent in a system and can be reduced to an optimum level. The losses can be further sub grouped depending upon the stage of power transformation & transmission system as Transmission Losses (400kV/220kV/132kV/66kV), as Sub transmission losses (33kV /11kV) and Distribution losses (11kV/0.4kv).
The commercial losses are caused by pilferage, defective meters, and errors in meter reading and in estimating unmetered supply of energy.
Theft and pilferage account for a substantial part of the high transmission and distribution losses in India. Theft / pilferage of energy is mainly committed by two categories of consumers i.e. non-consumers and bonafide consumers. Antisocial elements avail unauthorized/unrecorded supply by hooking or tapping the bare conductors of L.T. feeder or tampered service wires. Some of
the bonafide consumers willfully commit the pilferage by way of damaging and / or creating disturbances to measuring equipment installed at their premises. Some of the modes for illegal abstraction or consumption of electricity are given below:
1.Making unauthorized extensions of loads, especially those having “H.P.”
2.Tampering the meter readings by mechanical jerks, placement of powerful
magnets or disturbing the disc rotation with foreign matters.
3.Stopping the meters by remote control.

4.Willful burning of meters.
5.Changing the sequence of terminal wiring.
6.Bypassing the meter.
7. Changing C.T.ratio and reducing the recording.
8.Errors in meter reading and recording.
9.Improper testing and calibration of meters.

Please refer to the article:

How India's power sector is losing Rs. 55,000 crore per year
Associated Press | Updated On: August 05, 2012


On need for decentralised solar rural mini-grids,here is an interesting analysis(The top four challenges facing decentralised solar rural mini-grids , Rashi Agrawal on April 25, 2013,The Practitioner Hub FOR INCLUSIVE BUSINESS).
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Stan Curlee
July 23, 2013
Dr. Jagadeesh,

Greetings. It is my (relatively uninformed) opinion that there are considerably more structural and political issues regarding electric power in India than what many Greens are talking about, and indeed what the average Westerner even knows about. Isn't it true that vast numbers of loads and end users in India are utilizing vast amounts of energy off the meter? If so, that means the providers don’t even know what’s going on in much of their user areas in the grids they are feeding. No offense, but the pictures I have seen show the most ghastly images of overhead “Spaghetti” wiring in complete disorder and unsafe deployment along city streets.

Please critique those statements, and I would love for you to expand on that and any other issues that make India's grid intrinsically different from the Western grid architecture many of us may picture in our minds. I’m not sure how that would affect current or future integration of renewables, but something tells me it must be a major implication.

Thank you for informing us. Class is now in session :)

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
July 23, 2013
The author says:”India's present generation capacity is about 200,000 MW. The country could potentially increase grid-connected solar power generation capacity to over 200,000 MW and wind energy to over 100,000 MW by 2030 if the right resources (and more importantly, energy policies) were developed”.
This is an overstated statement far from reality. India ranks 5th in terms of installed capacity from wind energy projects globally. India has 18,522 MW of installed wind power capacity as on January 31, 2013. By the end of March 2013 the installed grid connected photovoltaics stood at 1686.44 MW, and India expects to install an additional 10,000 MW by 2017, and a total of 20,000 MW by 2022.These are official estimates.
How can the author thinks the Solar power generation capacity can be doubled than wind? Is it not funny?

The author seems to be biased towards Solar PV. All over the World Solar PV installations are nowhere when compared to Wind. This is a reality.

Efficiency and cost wise Solar PV is far below Wind Turbines. India has a long Coast and I have been advocating harnessing Offshore Wind Energy since a decade and it is a pity that not even a pilot project ids started. It is high time MNRE takes steps to start Offshore Wind Projects so that Private Industry follows suit.
Also in India most of these projects depend on the political will. If there is change of Government Priorities and policies may change. Such shift in policies occurred in the past with change of Government.
In projecting figures of power one should not be optimist nor pessimist but a REALIST.
Before talking of 100,000 and 200,000 MW let us realise why a 6 decade old simple Box Type solar cooker has not penetrated in India. There were 600,000 Box Type Solar Cookers sold(but not all used). What is needed in a vast country like India is rural Energy Policies involving wider usage of renewable energy gadgets like solar water heaters,solar cookers,solar driers,Small Wind Turbines,Mini and Micro hydro devices,energy conservation in Agricultural pumpsets,Energy saving in Lighting with wider use of CFL,Digital Lighting etc. 

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
Renewable Energy Expert

1 comment:

  1. Hi..
    Very nice blog posting I still like the idea of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in the form of the Solar Power Tower and it's future for future revenue creations. Especially if the purported %60 efficiency via Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) pans out to work with consumable electrodes. If given freely to the communities surrounding it then another opportunity opens up where the community asks: If I have x amount of free Btu's at 1800deg C what kind of product or services.It,s a very nice posting.
    AC Generator Price .