MHS Energy Pvt Ltd, a newly launched infrastructure company offering outdoor power solutions for telecom industry, announced its joint venture with Germany-based b+w Electronics Systems to provide outdoor power solutions with low maintenance costs in India. It would invest Rs 150 crore in the initial stage to set up a manufacturing unit and to supply solar power solutions.
Plans are to install and run six systems in the first three months of operation and to increase installation to 500 units per month for the next 12 months, said Sajjan M Sharma, managing director, MHS Energy Pvt Ltd.
“We will install a total of 6,000 units of the solar power products in 12 months after the pilot project of six units. A combination of one solar power cube and a solar energy cube makes a unit,” he said. The first 6,000 units would be imported and assembled in India, while the company would later set up a manufacturing facility with a capacity of 6,000 units per month.
As per the agreement, b+w Electronics would provide the technology while MHS Energy would facilitate manpower, manufacturing capacity and investment.
Heinrich Walterfang, chairman and CEO, b+w Electronic Systems, said that the solar power units are tested and verified for proper functioning in Indian conditions and could replace the existing power sources including diesel power generators to cut down energy consumption by around 77 per cent.
It could bring down the operational expenditure from 28,032 kilowatt per hour per annum in a conventional shelter to 52,580 kilowatt per hour per annum, in a solar power solution unit. Out of the total 3.3 million towers in the country, around 166,129 towers are running on assisted power, said Sharma.
MHS Energy, launched today, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tenstar Infratech Pvt Ltd, which focuses on clothing, infrastructure and energy industries.
A recent report titled ‘The Rising Sun’, published by KPMG, indicates that the solar power in India is anticipated to fulfill around 5% to 7% of its power needs by 2021-2022 and will enable the country to cut down its coal imports by more than 30%.
However, the government regulatory structure in the country is yet to acquire a solid shape. The report indicates that governments and utility companies are finding it a challenge to buy expensive solar power at nearly Rs.12 a unit when the normal power is available for Rs.3 or Rs.4.
The report indicates that clean energy producers were earlier encouraged by the 15% clean energy mix spelled out by the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), but the ministry had subsequently brought it down to 6% and the current production hovers around 3.5% to 4%. This has created mixed opinions and confusion among solar stake holders. The new proposed plan has set an overall target of achieving 21,700 MW in the ensuing six years, thus making the total share of renewables to 41,400 MW.
The government estimates that the solar power generation will ultimately go up in India due to the anticipated reduction in power production costs. The government expects that solar power will come down to Rs.11.80 per unit in 2013-2014 and ultimately reach a level of Rs.9 per unit in 2016-2017.
The report estimates that the solar power production will cut down carbon dioxide emissions in India by 2.5%, which is only a tenth of the 20%-25% reduction the country has agreed at the international summit on climate change held at Copenhagen. The report indicates that solar power producers in India are concerned about the slow implementation of a scheme that makes it compulsory for utility firms to buy certain amount of renewable power.
India‘s federal cabinet Thursday approved the allocation of 4.86 billion rupees ($108 million) toward a scheme to guarantee payments for electricity bought from solar power producers, as part of the government’s efforts to encourage development of renewable energy.
The funds will be used as guarantee in case state-run power utilities and distribution companies default on payments for solar power, which currently costs much more than coal-based electricity.
The payment security scheme aims to help solar power producers arrange finances for their projects, the government said in a statement issued after a cabinet meeting.
The scheme will help the federal government meet targets under its National Solar Mission, which aims to build 1,000 megawatt of solar power capacity by 2013 in the first phase. India aims to add 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022 under the solar mission.
The scheme will be implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. will be able to draw funds from the account as per the scheme’s provisions, the statement said.
NTPC Vidyut, a unit of India’s largest power generator NTPC Ltd., buys solar power from the producers and sells it to utilities bundled with coal-based power.
But most state-run distribution companies are cash-strapped with weak finances. This has elevated the risk of solar power producers not being paid for the electricity produced. That has affected solar companies building these new plants as lenders aren’t willing to give loans to projects where returns are risky.
Solar companies that have been awarded projects under the mission’s first phase in particular are facing hurdles in arranging finances. For the projects awarded so far, companies have to raise funds by the end of June.
India currently has 20,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, constituting more than 11% of the country’s total power generation capacity of around 174 gigawatts.
|The Energy and Wetland Research Group (EWRG), Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have jointly mapped the solar hotspots of the country.|
|Investment in solar power generation will now be less risky and eco-friendly as scientists from IISc have come out with priority regions to deploy solar energy devices across the country.
“By mapping the solar hotspots, we hope to facilitate commercial exploitation of energy with favourable techno-economic prospects and organisational infrastructure support to augment solar power generation in the country,” said Dr T V Ramachandra, senior scientist, EWRG, CES, IISc.
The detailed, three-month-long study provides access to solar potentiality by documenting the solar insolation, the much required parameter to generate solar energy. Trans-gangetic and Gujarat plains are among regions deemed to hold high potential.
The solar hotspots, found based on the exploitable potential using high resolution global isolation data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has found that the country’s favourable geographical location has made it one of the best locations for solar energy. However, the nation suffers in installation of solar applications with just 66 megawatt peak (mwp). This includes 12.28 mwp grid-connected solar power and 2.92 mwp off-grid solar power plants (SPP).
Though the national solar mission (NSM) launched in January 2010 has boosted the solar power scenario in the country, investment has suffered due to lack of details on the energy potential.
The researchers had collected data for more than 900 grids covering the entire topography of India and found that the nation has a vast potential for solar power generation – about 58 per cent of total land area (1.89 million km sq). “It receives an annual average global insolation above 5 kWh per metre sq per day (m sq),” Ramachandra said.
The study, conducted along with two more researchers, Rishabh Jain and Gautham Krishnadas, has also documented the data of insolation for every month.
According to the monthwise data findings, during January, major parts of the southern peninsula receive insolation above 4.5 kWh per metre sq per day, while western coastal plains and ghats region receive 5.5 kWh per m sq and western Himalayas and North India receive the minimum of 2.5 kWh m sq.
During February, a major expanse of the Indian landscape receives above 5 kWh per m sq, while states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern region receive an insolation in the range of 3-4 kWh m per sq.
During April and May, more than 90 per cent of the country receives minimum insolation up to 5 kWh m sq which rises up to 7.5 kWh m sq, while the eastern Himalayas receive 4.7 kWh m per sq.
During the monsoon, the global insolation drops drastically in the south (with the exception of Tamil Nadu) and north-eastern regions to about 3.9 kWh m sq and it continues until September.
“The country receives annual sunshine of 2,600- 3,200 hours. Direct insolation with a minimum threshold value of 1,800 kWh m sq per year or 5 kWh m sq per day is reccomended to achieve levelised electricity costs (LEC),” the report said.
CSP and barren land
Suggesting that the concentrated solar power (CSP) – the technology that use lenses or mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight – is best suited for arid and semi arid regions, Ramachandra said that the transgangetic, western dry, plateau and Gujarat plains were best suited for this purpose.
The study said 4.89 million ha of barren and uncultivable land is available in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Even a small fraction of this land can support 1,222 MW capacity.
Despite being densely populated several states have barren and dry land with great power generation potential. Rajasthan has the most barren land with 2,595 ha, followed by Gujarat with 2,295 ha and Andhra Pradesh (2,056 ha). Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have 1,718 ha, 1,351 ha and 788 ha respectively.