Posts tagged ‘Solar power’

04/01/2017

India’s double first in climate battle – BBC News

Two world-leading clean energy projects have opened in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

A £3m industrial plant is capturing the CO2 emissions from a coal boiler and using the CO2 to make valuable chemicals. It is a world first.

And just 100km away is the world’s biggest solar farm, making power for 150,000 homes on a 10 sq km site.

The industrial plant appears especially significant as it offers a breakthrough by capturing CO2 without subsidy.

Built at a chemical plant in the port city of Tuticorin, it is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by incorporating them into the recipes for baking soda and other chemicals.

Here’s how it works:

The plant operates a coal-fired boiler to make steam for its chemical operations.CO2 emissions from the boiler’s chimney are stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.

A stream of CO2 is fed into the chemicals plant as an ingredient for baking soda and other compounds with many uses, including the manufacturing of glass, detergents and sweeteners.

Zero emissions

The owner of the chemicals plant, Ramachadran Gopalan, told a BBC Radio 4 documentary: “I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.”

He says his operation has now almost zero emissions. He hopes soon to install a second coal boiler to make more CO2 to synthesise fertiliser.

The chemical used in stripping the CO2 from the flue gas was invented by two young Indian chemists. They failed to raise Indian finance to develop it, but their firm, Carbonclean Solutions, working with the Institute of Chemical Technology at Mumbai and Imperial College in London, got backing from the UK’s entrepreneur support scheme.

Their technique uses a form of salt to bond with CO2 molecules in the boiler chimney. The firm says it is more efficient than typical amine compounds used for the purpose.

The plant is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year

They say it also needs less energy, produces less alkaline waste and allows the use of a cheaper form of steel – all radically reducing the cost of the whole operation.

The firm admits its technology of Carbon Capture and Utilisation won’t cure climate change, but says it may provide a useful contribution by gobbling up perhaps 5-10% of the world’s emissions from coal.

Lord Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell, and now director and head of the UK government’s carbon capture advisory group, told the BBC: “We have to do everything we can to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels and it is great news that more ways are being found of turning at least some of the CO2 into useful products.”

Solar farm

Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India’s ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.

The world’s largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern IndiaIt is truly enormous; from the tall observation tower, the ranks of black panels stretch almost to the horizon.Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a “more of everything” approach to energy.

The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia’s biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India. Renewables, it says, can’t answer India’s vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.

Will India stick to its renewables promises with Donald Trump as US president?And questions have been raised recently as to whether India will stick to its renewables promises now President-elect Donald Trump may be about to scrap climate targets for the US.

At the recent Marrakech climate conference, China, the EU and many developing countries pledged to forge ahead with emissions-cutting plans regardless of US involvement. But India offered no such guarantee.

Some environmentalists are not too worried: they think economics may drive India’s clean energy revolution.

Source: India’s double first in climate battle – BBC News

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18/04/2015

Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Call it savvy public relations or plain good investing, but Apple is becoming a solar-power developer in China.

News Thursday that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is partnering with SunPower., a major U.S. solar-panel maker, to build two solar power plants in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, highlights Apple’s attempts to offset its growing carbon footprint in China, where it is expanding at a rapid pace.

Although financial terms weren’t disclosed, SunPower said Thursday that Apple will co-own the projects, which have the combined capacity of 40 megawatts.

Apple has previously said it wants to be carbon neutral everywhere it operates, but that admirable goal is considerably absent in China, where the bulk of its products are made. Until now, unhappiness over air pollution mainly has been directed at the Chinese government, but Apple — already under fire over labor and customer-support issues –could become a major target. Initiatives like these could go a long way toward making sure its image in China remains favorable.

Apple tends to be financially involved in clean-energy projects only when they provide electricity for its operations. Apple and SunPower, for example, have partnered together in the U.S. to develop six solar power plants, all of which provide at least some power to Apple’s facilities.

In this case, however, Apple’s solar plants are being built in Sichuan’s remote Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefectures, far from Apple’s corporate offices, retail stores or manufacturing partners. The region is known for its rolling grasslands, where herders take yaks and sheep to graze, and where multi-colored Tibetan prayer flags are strung up along the slopes of hills.

In an interview on Thursday with China’s official Xinhua news agency, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said the solar plants will be located in grasslands primarily used for raising yaks. Ms. Jackson, who was previously head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Apple will take care to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. An Apple spokeswoman said Friday in an email that Apple and its local partners won’t use cement to install solar panels or dig trenches for wires during construction.

Apple has been expanding quickly in China as it attempts to go after the country’s burgeoning middle class. The company currently has 21 retail stores in mainland China and hopes to double that number by the end of next year. Although Apple’s latest efforts to produce clean energy in China might be a drop in the bucket when compared with amount of fossil fuels consumed by its manufacturing partners, Ms. Jackson told Xinhua that the company hopes to lead by example for its more than 330 suppliers.

Apple’s latest projects join a wave of new solar farms under construction in western China. Solar-panel makers, Chinese policy banks and other clean-energy developers are all piling into the business after China revived its solar industry amid the country’s ambitious targets to add as much as 18 gigawatts of solar-power capacity by the end of this year.

via Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

15/02/2015

Modi calls for innovation in renewable energy – The Hindu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for innovation and research to develop renewable energy to provide affordable electricity to every household.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet meet in Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Ramesh Sharma

Inaugurating the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet (RE-Invest), Mr. Modi called for collaboration between the 50 nations with abundant solar power to develop technological solutions.

Stating that the role of energy in development was very important, he said, “We want to increase speed and at the same time scale new heights of development and one of the sectors is energy.”

“We are focussing on renewable energy not for laurels but to lighten homes of the poor and bring a change in their lives,” he said. “We have ponds, can we think of solar panels on top of these ponds? We need to think of innovative ideas.”

He said the cost of electricity from solar photovoltaic cells has come down from Rs. 20 per unit to Rs. 7.50 and research and innovation can help bring it down further.

Hybrid power generation involving solar and wind energy should be encouraged as it will help save on transmission and power evacuation infrastructure cost, he said.

Mr. Modi also called for developing domestic manufacturing of renewable energy equipment to create jobs.

Conserving energy, he said, is the need of the hour.

via Modi calls for innovation in renewable energy – The Hindu.

06/02/2015

Companies set to back huge India solar expansion | Reuters

India could start installing 20,000 megawatts of solar power capacity as early as April after companies pledged to support the government’s drive for clean energy, an official told Reuters.

A worker cleans photovoltaic solar panels inside a solar power plant at Raisan village near Gandhinagar, in Gujarat, February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Details of the plan, which has drawn commitments from U.S., German and Chinese companies, will be announced on Friday, said Upendra Tripathy, secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

“We have got commitments from very established industry, both foreign and domestic for next year,” he said in an interview at his office.

Foreign companies will be allowed to decide where they manufacture the required equipment, he said.

via Companies set to back huge India solar expansion | Reuters.

07/12/2014

India plans 5-fold increase in clean energy – Businessweek

India said Friday it was optimistic the world would reach an agreement to curb climate change, but said its actions would be focused on boosting its renewable power capacity five-fold rather than on cutting carbon emissions.

With hundreds of millions still mired in poverty and without access to electricity, India cannot afford to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of economic growth, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said before leaving this weekend for U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru.

“Our growth cannot be compromised,” Javadekar said. “Poverty needs to be eradicated immediately. Poor people have aspirations. We must fulfill them. We must give them energy access. We cannot and nobody can question on this.”

He said he was optimistic industrialized nations would agree to shoulder more of the burden to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, given that they had been polluting with fossil fuels for decades before developing nations.

“That is the just regime,” he said.

The recent U.S.-China pact announcing new targets for fossil fuel use marked a positive step toward establishing this sort of equality, he said. In that pact, the U.S. said it would aim to bring down its per-capita emissions from about 20 tons while allowing China to raise its 8-9 tons per capita so that both reach a level of about 12 tons by 2030.

“They have accepted the differentiated responsibility and the need of time for growth,” Javadekar said.

India had already pledged to reduce its emissions intensity — how much carbon dioxide it produces divided by its GDP — rather than promising to cut overall emissions. However, Indian officials and scientists say it could easily go beyond the target set in 2009 of cutting emissions intensity by 20-25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

India’s preference for the per-capita emissions calculation also ignores the fact that around 400 million Indians still have no access to electricity at all, while hundreds of millions more are lucky to get a couple of hours a day. Experts worry that as India’s population continues to grow beyond 1.2 billion and more people become wealthy, its share of global emissions will skyrocket.

via India plans 5-fold increase in clean energy – Businessweek.

25/11/2014

India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek

India plans to more than double the share of renewables in the mix of fuels it consumes, an effort to reduce the dominance of coal.

Renewables such as solar and wind may account for 15 percent of India’s energy supply in the next five years, up from 6 percent currently, said Piyush Goyal, a government minister in charge of power, said at a conference in New Delhi.

“While coal will continue to dominate our energy mix for sometime, we are taking steps to protect the environment,” Goyal said today. “Neither India nor the world has the luxury of time when it comes to protection of the environment.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to speed up clean energy deployment in India as it tries to attract more than $100 billion of investment for the industry in the next four years. At present, coal generates 60 percent electricity in a nation that suffers from chronic blackouts.

The minister reiterated his previously stated view that renewables can’t count on government subsidies for too long. He said the industry should focus on convincing banks to make funding for projects as easily available as loans for cars.

Modi’s administration reintroduced a tax break for the wind industry earlier this year. Goyal said he hopes those will help turbine installers add 8 gigawatts of capacity every year, a level that would make India one of the biggest wind markets in the world.

India plans to require power purchasers and generators to include renewable energy in their suppliers and will penalize those that don’t, he said.

India will host a renewables conference from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17 to encourage growth in the industry.

via India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek.

20/11/2014

Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek

The villagers of Dharnai in northern India had been living without electricity for more than 30 years when Greenpeace installed a microgrid to supply reliable, low-cost solar power.

Cooking By Candlelight

Then, within weeks of the lights flickering on in Dharnai’s mud huts, the government utility hooked up the grid — flooding the community with cheap power that undercut the fledgling solar network. While Greenpeace had come to Dharnai at Bihar’s invitation, the unannounced arrival of the state’s utility threatened to put it out of business.

“We wanted to set this up as a business model,” said Abhishek Pratap, a Greenpeace campaigner overseeing the project. “Now we’re in course correction.”

It’s a scenario playing out at dozens of ventures across India’s hinterlands. Competition from state utilities, with their erratic yet unbeatably cheap subsidized power, is scuppering efforts to supply clean, modern energy in a country where more people die from inhaling soot produced by indoor fires than from smoking.

About as many people in India are without electricity as there are residents of the U.S., and the number is growing by a Mumbai every year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to bring electricity to every home by 2019 by leapfrogging the nation’s ailing power-distribution infrastructure with solar-powered local networks — the same way mobile-phones have enabled people in poor, remote places to bypass landlines.

via Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek.

07/11/2014

China’s Solar Power Push – Businessweek

As the world’s largest emitter of carbon, China has decided that one of the best ways to clean up its polluted air is through solar power. The country has led the world in solar installations for the last two years and will likely do so again in 2015. It’s on pace to reach 33 gigawatts of solar power capacity by the end of 2014, 42 times more than it had in 2010 and more than exists in Spain, Italy, and the U.K. combined, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (The U.S. will have 20 gigawatts by the end of this year.)

Most of China’s solar power comes from sprawling utility-scale solar farms in the country’s rural west. Now the idea is to distribute solar panels in urban areas, putting them on top of office buildings and factories and connecting them to the grid without building miles of costly transmission lines. In 2015, BNEF estimates that China will add as much as 15 gigawatts of solar capacity, enough to power roughly 16 million homes. More than half of that increase will come from cheap panels installed on commercial buildings. If the 2015 projection holds, China will have installed twice as much solar power in factories and office towers in one year than currently exists in all of Australia, one of the world’s sunniest countries.

via China’s Solar Power Push – Businessweek.

26/10/2014

Electricity: Generational shift | The Economist

MUCH of what China has achieved in the past three decades—its impressive economic growth, the rise of its global stature and the considerable improvement of living standards for hundreds of millions of people—is attributable to one decision: ditching the Maoist model of central-planning that had shackled the economy. Yet some important industries have yet to embrace the market. Power generation is one. As China struggles to reconcile its soaring energy demand with its need to clean up an increasingly toxic environment, reform is becoming more urgent.

China knows it must reduce its reliance on dirty coal and increase its use of (more expensive) renewable energy. Of the new power-generating capacity that China built last year, renewables such as wind and solar power for the first time accounted for more than the share made up of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

China wants to satisfy the surging electricity demands of its increasingly urban population and to keep its industries running smoothly. It does both reasonably well and blackouts are rare. But officials fret about how grumpy—and vocal—people are becoming about the poisonous air that envelops so many Chinese cities. (An annual international marathon race, pictured above, took place in Beijing on October 19th in air that was nearly 14 times more polluted than the safety limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.) China is aware that its standing abroad will partly depend on its efforts to limit carbon emissions. This will involve weaning itself off coal, which supplies nearly 80% of its energy.

Progress is being hampered by a largely unreformed power industry dominated by large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which operate under a mix of rigid planning, secrecy and poor regulation. Power suppliers have too little incentive to compete on price, efficiency or greenness. Two international NGOs, the World Wildlife Fund and the Energy Transition Research Institute, describe the SOEs that control all transmission and distribution and most non-renewable generation as “unregulated corporate monopolies”. Their bosses are usually appointed by the central government, but they often ally with regional leaders to resist oversight by a variety of largely toothless regulators.

One problem is China’s system for “dispatch”; that is, determining which power sources will supply electricity to the grid at any given time. A report by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), an American NGO, notes that in most countries dispatch decisions are made in order to minimise costs (including environmental ones). In China regulations would appear to encourage a similar approach: grid-operators are supposed to give priority to electricity supplied by more efficient and greener producers. In practice, grid-operators are more inclined to help coal-fired plants recoup the cost of their investments. Both sides are members of a cosy club of energy-related SOEs. Even if the grid-operators were to try to stick to the rules, they would struggle. Coal plants can easily conceal how much they waste and pollute.

Generators of wind and solar energy thus find themselves handicapped by more than just the high cost of their technologies. Much of China’s most cleanly produced energy is wasted. For wind power, rates of “curtailment”, or energy generated but not taken up by the grid, have improved in recent years as grid systems have become better able to cope with the technical challenge of handling such unsteady sources of power. But the rate still stands at about 10% nationwide. In Britain it was less than 2% between 2011 and 2013.

The government launched pilot reforms in five provinces in 2007 to encourage more efficient dispatch, but they achieved little and have not been expanded. Max Dupuy of RAP’s Beijing office says the scheme met opposition because of its failure to compensate coal-fired plants for the revenue share lost to clean producers.

via Electricity: Generational shift | The Economist.

26/06/2014

CaptureSolar Raises $107 Million for India Solar Project – Businessweek

CaptureSolar Energy Ltd. raised $107 million for a solar park to supply Indian businesses suffering from rising costs for power generated mostly from coal.

The utility will get 86 percent of the $125 million for the project from Cyprus-based Concept Solutions & Innovations Ltd., CaptureSolar Chief Executive Officer Raju Bhosale said today by phone. Pune-based CaptureSolar will pay for the rest.

The 75-megawatt photovoltaic park will be completed in two phases by March 2015 and charge about 6 rupees (10 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour under a 25-year contract, Bhosale said. The price is about 8 percent below the level industrial and commercial businesses currently pay, he said.

via CaptureSolar Raises $107 Million for India Solar Project – Businessweek.

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