Friday, November 30, 2007

India becoming a Wind Super Power


India might be painted as a pollution-spewing, global-warming economy of 1 billion people but it is also one of the world's biggest wind power users, part of a focus on renewable energy mostly unnoticed in the West.

Years of tax incentives have helped make India one of the fastest-growing markets for wind power, a major component of renewable energy that will be high on the agenda of the Dec. 3-14 UN climate change meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

The Bali conference comes as international pressure mounts on India to ensure its growth gets cleaner. The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned this month of the climatic dangers of "unfettered" energy demand growth in India.

"When it comes to renewable energy and wind power, India can look the West in the eye and say -- look at our years of progressive policies," said Santosh Kamath, a wind power specialist and associate director at KPMG consultants.

Wind power in India is still a minority sector compared with the Asian giant's overall energy needs that are dependent on coal and oil.

With its reliance on dirty fuels, India will become the world's number three carbon emitter by 2015, the IEA says.

But renewable energy, of which the vast majority is wind power, accounts for more than 7 percent of India's installed generation capacity -- a rate that compares favourably with much of the rest of the world.

India is the world's fourth largest wind-power market. "Wind power is growing tremendously. If you want a wind plant you'll have to book a year in advance," said Chandra Bhushan, associate director at the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

"There's been years of progressive policies and recognition for a long time that India will face a shortage of fossil fuels."

India, with its thousands of miles of coastline, is suited to wind power. Its wind power potential is estimated at 45,000 megawatts (MW) -- about a third of total energy consumption.
There is also little of the concern in India seen in the West over wind turbines ruining scenic vistas -- scores can be seen, for example, outside Jaisalmer's ancient fort in Rajasthan, one of India's most popular tourist sites.

BECOMING A WIND SUPERPOWER

The boom brings in profits, the kind of virtuous circle experts say is needed for renewable energy to really work.

At Vestas RBB India Ltd, one of India's largest wind-power firms, sales rose 30 percent in 2006 and the company forecasts growth of about 40 percent this year, company officials say.
India's rise to what supporters call a "wind superpower" is due to tax breaks in the 1990s and to Tulsi Tanti, chairman of Suzlon Energy, India's biggest wind energy company.

Troubled by power shortages in the 1990s for his textile business in western India, he bought some wind turbines and soon realised it could be a good business. His company quickly became the pioneer in the sector.

Wind power has also been helped by some states setting targets that 10 percent of their power should come from renewable energy.

As oil reaches $100 a barrel, and with India suffering shortages that see factories often relying on diesel generators, firms are increasingly looking at wind.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

India fast emerging as a solar hub



After IT and pharma, India is on course to emerge as a solar hub. The Centre’s move to offer fiscal incentives to solar cell and photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers coupled with surge in global demand for renewable energy sources has triggered domestic and multi-national companies to set up shop here. Leading the pack is home-grown Moser Baer, followed by US-based Signet Solar and Solar Semiconductor. More are set to join.
Moser Baer, a leading optical storage manufacturer, is in talks with the Andhra Pradesh government to acquire 100 acres in the Fab City — the chip-making hub. The company was among the first to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary - Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Limited — in 2005 to focus on the high-growth solar energy segment. It also plans to build an Rs 330 crore silicon PV manufacturing facility (near Delhi) and has tied up with Applied Materials Inc for technology transfer.
US-based Signet Solar, on its part, has drawn up an ambitious $2 billion investment plan to set up three photovoltaic production facilities in the country. It is also looking at an R&D base here. The company is already in talks with the Andhra government to set up two manufacturing facilities here.
Solar semiconductor — another photovoltaic manufacturing company — has lined up an initial $40 million investment to set up two production units. The company has already started building a 30MW per annum plant near Pochampalli. The second one — with a capacity of 40 MW — is being readied in the Fab city. ”We are looking at garnering another $330 million from private equity firms,” said Solar Semiconductor CEO Hari Surapaneni. The company has also signed supply agreements with two European companies.
Global demand for solar PV products and services is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2006 to over $100 billion by 2015. Political and environmental concerns have triggered many countries to shift to solar energy. Globally, solar energy panels come with a capacity of 1.7 giga watt. Nearly 70% of it is in Europe.
The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) fellow (renewable energy technology application) Shirish S Garud attributes the new found rush for solar PV facilities to the semiconductor policy announced by the Centre in February this year. The incentive for these units is in the form of a 20% capital subsidy and an exemption from countervailing duty on imports. Over the last few years, developed countries are also encouraging the use of solar energy. The PV market worldwide is growing at about 40% and solar energy production is set to top 1,000 MW per year. “However, these companies may find it tough to sell it in the domestic market as the cost of producing solar energy is high. The cost of production ranges from Rs 15 to Rs 30 per unit compared to around Rs 2 to Rs 6 per unit for thermal energy

Monsoons displaced 14 million people in India, seven million in Bangladesh and three million in China which has seen the heaviest rainfall – and second highest death toll – since records began. Cyclones blasted Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Hurricanes devastated the Caribbean and Central America, killing more than 1,600 Mayan people in Guatemala. Droughts have afflicted Africa, driving 14 million people from their homes.

In the rich world, insurers report a fivefold increase in climate-related insurance claims. In the poor world the cost is counted in terms of hidden human suffering, for most disasters are under-reported.

Based on new climate modelling, the UN report has a number of strong messages. It is highly critical of US, EU and British policies on global warming – it says the measures in Gordon Brown's Climate Change Bill are "not consistent with the objective of avoiding dangerous climate change".

However, its top-line message is that the fixation of campaigners like Al Gore with a long-term "we're all doomed" vision of global warming has diverted attention from more immediate threats.

Already, its new research shows, children born in Ethiopia in years of drought are 41 per cent more likely to be stunted from malnutrition than those born in a time of rains. That has already created two million more malnourished children – and this is not an affliction that is shaken off when the rains return. It creates cycles of life-long disadvantage.

The report shows how climate shocks force the poor to adopt emergency coping strategies – reduced nutrition, withdrawal of children from school, cuts in health spending – which damage the long-term health of entire societies.

After 150 years in which human well-being has steadily improved, the world is now facing the prospect that progress on indicators such as poverty, nutrition, literacy and infant mortality will be arrested. "It may even be reversed," said the report's lead author, Kevin Watkins, who was formerly head of research at Oxfam.

The report says George Bush's home-state of Texas (population 23 million) has a bigger carbon footprint than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa (population 720 million).

The report also criticises Britain's policy on climate change. The UK is the world leader on rhetoric, it says, yet "if the rest of the developed world followed the pathway envisaged in the UK's Climate Change Bill, dangerous climate change would be inevitable".

The report says two things need to be done. Rich nations need to massively cut emissions (by at least 80 per cent) and developing and emerging nations need to make modest cuts (of around 20 per cent). Also, large amounts of money are needed to adapt to the consequences of climate change. Hardly anything is being spent in the poor world, where people were least responsible for global warming but suffer most. The amounts donated to the UN's climate change mitigation fund have been equivalent to only one week's worth of spending under the UK's flood defence programme.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

70 % of the share predicted for Renewable Energy Sources in 2100


By 2100, 15% of world energy consumption will come from oil, gas, coal and nuclear, while solar thermal and photovoltaic will supply 70%, according to the World Energy Council.

“Key elements of the long-term scenario are the energy efficiency and energy intensity policies that will make the contribution of renewable and solar energy a substantial factor,” it explains in the 2007 Survey of Energy Resources. “Those policies will deeply transform the building and construction, industry and transport sectors, increasing their reliance on renewable energy resources.”

The transition towards renewables has already started, and the report reviews status and rate of growth of the major solar energy technologies, their technical and market maturity as well as institutional and governmental policies and approaches to promote their integration into the world’s energy systems. The document complements the BP Statistical Review and IEA’s World Energy Outlook, and details 16 energy resources with the latest data provided by 94 WEC member committees.

Coal is plentiful and economically recoverable in 70 countries, and demand is expected to continue to grow with strongest growth in developing countries. The proved recoverable reserves for oil are 117 billion barrels higher than 2002 and “oil will not run out for many years,” it explains.

The proved reserves of natural gas grew 3.5% by 2005 over 2002 estimates, and present production levels equal 56 year of supply from proved resources. Reasonably assured resources for uranium have grown 4% over the past three years and there has been a ten-fold price increase since 2000.Renewables provide one-fifth of power generation, of which hydro contributes 87% of all renewables with only one-third of its potential developed. Wind has grown rapidly, with capacity doubling every 3.5 years, while solar thermal, PV and passive solar have “great potential,” although marine energies have yet to be developed fully although wave resource alone are estimated to be 10 TW of capacity.

“Energy demand will grow significantly over the coming years and is foreseen to double by 2050,” explains Gerald Doucet of WEC. “This recent update on available energy resources proves that there is sufficient amount in place to meet the demand if all energy options are kept open.”

“Less-energy-intensive economies, stringent pressures to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels, and political and fiscal measures to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, have gradually combined to alter the growth prospects of each of the primary energies, and, consequently, their respective weight in the energy balance,” the report explains. “In the longer run (beyond 2020), nuclear power remains in the forefront ... renewable sources will also undoubtedly draw increasing attention, as shown by the political and fiscal measures implemented in a large number of OECD countries.”

“Wave energy is currently an immature technology, without a clear consensus on which are eventually likely to prove the successful devices,” the report explains. “Bioenergy is arguably the one truly renewable energy resource” and “although geothermal energy is conventionally classed as a renewable energy resource, and even as a ‘new renewable’, it is not such a clearcut example of a perpetual source of energy as are solar, wind and marine energy.”

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