Biz Wiz

The surge of Solar Power

Rising energy demands and focus on renewable sources are increasing in tandem as the world runs out of fossil fuels and attempts to fill the supply gap created by a burgeoning global population.

The National Solar Mission’s 2010 announcement of its long-term targets fueled increased enthusiasm and year-on-year growth. Forecasts for 2016-2017 include targets totalling 18GW and additional capacity of 12 GW – to be achieved through various schemes like the development of solar parks and ultra mega power projects with the key players being public sector organisations, NTPC, and Solar Energy Corporation of India. 

Solar energy has come a long way from a solar lantern 25 years ago to mega-sized solar plants. The Indian solar market is growing at a breathtaking pace and, according to the India Solar Map 2016 in September, India’s installed solar capacity grew by 80 per cent to 8.1 GW from mid-2015 to mid-2016 with 75 per cent of the deployment taking place in four southern states. 

When all the projects currently under construction are added to the current installations, the result is a total photovoltaic capacity of 23 GW. Meeting growing energy needs is the need of the hour and solar power is working towards safe, speedy and durable energy production solutions.

These solutions were among various other cutting-edge technology including the latest being Photovoltaics in ribbons and films highlighted at the InterSolar Expo in Mumbai recently.

US President Barack Obama had a message for the US exhibitors at the Solar Expo with “By opening a new market and promoting trade, we are creating new sales channels for the US products and services. These business relationships will help increase economic growth and create jobs throughout the United States.”

Describing India as an emerging arena for clean energy, a US representative expressed commitment towards enhancing energy cooperation with India, government-to-government forum for such development and energy dialogue, USAID for technical assistance for Smart Grid and clean energy driving future growth. 

A Belgium representative said solar energy is often cheaper than fossil fuels and is becoming cost-competitive, even with onshore wind plants, and Asian dominance in this market the share will be above 50 per cent while yearly additions are expected to leave other generation sources behind by 2022.

Meanwhile, with the evolving solar industry, products and services offering Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities will play a large role in driving down costs and increasing productivity, states Dan Bigelow, Senior Director of Infiswift, a company in enterprise IoT solutions for solar companies.

“The Sun delivers almost four million ‘exajoules’ of energy to the Earth and solar photovoltaics (PV) harness the Sun’s power to generate electricity through sunlight hitting PV cells that free and stir up electrons which then collect on conductive plates to create electricity. 

The wind and solar - PV energy systems have the highest copper content of all renewable energy technologies – besides being the fastest-growing renewable-based markets, while significant growth is also expected in thermal concentrating solar power”, he said.

 The Kolkata-based company, TAMRA, is highlighting the use of copper in its ‘Photovoltaic Ribbon’ products for increasing solar module efficiencies in the solar power sector,” according to Kusum Sharma, DGM, Business Development, TAMRA in Gurgaon. 

From Korea to India comes its ‘Photovoltaic Backsheets’ - comprising ‘Tri-laminated ‘sandwich’ of polyester film between a special white PET and FPE layer called ‘SPE’ - that displays high performance of maximum permissible system voltage of over 1,500 VDC, high durability against outdoor conditions.

Trees highlight greenery and a solar photovoltaic system called ‘SMARTREE’ was showcased at the Expo to emphasize its uniqueness for malls, plazas, townships, hospitals, hotels and industries in having a small ground footprint for installation, durability with 5KW capacity, Grid Interactive and Off-Grid solar PV, besides also being used as a hub for street lighting, CCTV mounting, signboards and shades. 

“It’s a solution for urban India and costs Rs five lakhs with a single access tracker that tracks the sun’s movement”, said Siddharth Malik, managing director, Megawatt Solutions Pvt Ltd, Delhi.

Meanwhile, energy demands are set to double in next 40 years and CO2 emissions will have to be reduced by half to avoid irreversible damage to the planet, while the need for being three times more efficient will be driven by automation, said Rajat Kishore, MD and VP, Process Automation, Schneider Electric Systems India Pvt Ltd. 

“With India switching to renewable energy by 2030 where 40 per cent of it has to be from Green sources, we are ushering in related technology through our automation.”

“Barely one hour ago, we acquired US-based Applied Instrument Technology (AIT) for use in tracking automation efficiency in Power, Oil and Gas sectors. 

Besides, India’s first and largest Ultra-Mega Power Project in Mundra (Gujarat) is automated by us,” said David Orgaz D’Hollander, Senior VP, Process automation, Asia Pacific, while noting that, besides drawing revenues of Euro 25 billion in 2014,  the company has invested Euro 800 million over 25 years, and is putting in Rs 750 crores over next five years, in India. 

“Our main challenge is improving efficiency and keeping business moving amidst increased competition, while also digitizing all our plants,” he said .

On the Nuclear Energy front, a related Expo held recently in Mumbai was in the news. Highlighting India’s nuclear power programme and its efforts for Nuclear Suppliers Group, Dr R B Grover, Homi Bhabha Chair Member, Atomic Energy Commission, said that through CoP21, the Indian Government is committed to achieving 40 per cent (about 350 GW) of its cumulative electric installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources – including nuclear energy by 2030.

India’s recent nuclear energy efforts witnessed two 700 Mw projects under construction (two each in Rajasthan and Gujarat), besides five others planned in Haryana (four plants), Rajasthan (four), Karnataka (two) and Madhya Pradesh (two), he said.

“Our main issue is negotiations for mutually acceptable technical and commercial ties that enable a viable tariff regime. We (India) are trying to reach 63 GW power production by 2030 and this includes; 12 units with Russia’s help at two sites, six Westinghouse-designed units at two sites, six GE designed units at one site, and six France-designed units at one site.”

“The recent BRICS summit at Goa on October 16,  observed that nuclear energy plays a significant role in BRICS countries”, he said, “despite NSG membership not being given to India, it would continue its nuclear efforts alongside continuing to press for this membership.”

“Now an extraordinary meeting of NSG plenary is scheduled in November in Vienna to discuss the issue of India’s membership. India is a technology powerhouse and its recognition as participating Government by NSG will improve the legitimacy of the NSG.” 

Grover also mentioned that the Nuclear energy sector, despite being barely three per cent of the total industry at present and expected to reach 10 per cent in reasonable time (as we have all technology for heavy water but have to buy uranium from international markets) - did not see any competition but rather viewed them as complementary due to great electricity demand. 

To a query about abundant thorium availability in India, he said one thorium fast breeder reactor is coming up in Kalpakkam and will be going critical sometime next year, besides other such reactors coming up later.

France strongly supported sustainable development which was reflected in Indo-French ties by strongly contributing to India’s target of producing 63 GW power by 2032, Alexandra Ziegler, Ambassador of France in India, said while reiterating France’s commitment to India’s such projects and describing his country’s 58 reactors and supplying 350 nuclear reactors alongside its 2000 SMEs being very active in the nuclear industry.

Vakisasai Ramany, Senior Vice-President, said both India and France were among the top 10 nuclear countries that had developed their own nuclear systems independently and, to curb climate change, were working towards safe use of nuclear energy. “We are operating 73 nuclear reactors in France and the UK and are committed to making 60 nuclear units at Jaitapur in India,” he said.
Alexei Pimenov, CEO, Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), South Asia, said innovative Russian technologies-- including its VVER reactors and role of nuclear power in alleviating negative impact of global warming -- were highlighted at the Mumbai Nuclear Expo, which was attended by leading international experts in environmental protection and nuclear power including Ravi Shankar, head, Public Awareness Division, Atomic Energy of India.

India is poised to produce 63 GW by 2032 and using thorium in its nuclear reactors is a key part of its nuclear programme as nuclear energy is the fourth-largest source of electricity after thermal, hydroelectricity and others, according to Yogesh Mudras, MD, UBM India, which organized the two-day India Nuclear Energy 2016 Expo in Mumbai recently.

“Demand for nuclear energy is increasing while we are now producing around 6 GW nuclear power supply, and about 60 global exhibitors are attending the Mumbai Expo including from the USA, Russia, France, Korea etc alongside 2,000 nuclear experts,” he said, adding “Collaborations and insights on how to achieve the power production growth has become the need of the hour where -- in achieving the target – the aim is at supplying 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050. 

The Nuclear Expo addressed the very technologies preparing the launch-pad for catapulting India into a power surplus eco-system, while providing stakeholders an ideal platform to interact and network with the entire civil nuclear energy fraternity of India and comprehend other holistic ways through which the power generation capacity of 63 GW by 2032 becomes a reality as per the Expo theme: Exploring Infinity in an Atom: Vision 2032.” 

''With India switching to renewable energy by 2030, where 40 per cent of it has to be from green sources, we are ushering in related technology through our automation''
-Rajat Kishore

''Solar energy is often cheaper than fossil fuels and is becoming cost- competitive, even with onshore wind plants and Asian dominance in this market, yearly additions are expected to leave other generation sources behind by 2022'' -Dan Bigelow

''Both India and France are among the top 10 nuclear countries to have developed their own nuclear systems independently, and, to curb climate change, were working towards safe use of nuclear energy'' - Vakisasai Ramany

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