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Lanco Infra to invest Rs 1,700 cr in solar unit

Lanco Solar Energy, a subsidiary of Lanco Infratech, plans to infuse Rs 1,700 crore for the second phase of India’s first integrated Solar PV manufacturing special economic zone (SEZ) project in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. “We will inject over R1,700 crore for the second phase for manufact

uring polysilicon, ingots, wafers, photovoltaic cells and modules with capacities equivalent to 250 MW (megawatt) per year,” said V Saibaba, CEO, Lanco Solar Energy.

The SEZ project, which commenced four months ago, is being developed in phases to put Chhattisgarh in the global map of polysilicon production bases. “We have estimated the fund requirement but the mode of financing is yet to be decided, which could be a mix of debt and equity both,” said Saibaba.

The first phase of the project, which involved an investment of Rs 1,340 crore, will be fully operational in a couple of months.https://i2.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/29_06_11_biz27a.jpg

Moreover, the company is also strengthening its global market and plans to build solar farms in Germany, France, Italy, the US and the UK where it is already offering engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) solutions. “Alongside, in global solar markets, we have started participating in the bidding process of power purchase agreements,” said Saibaba.

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Ushdev May Seek India Wind Farm Acquisitions to Boost Capacity

The clean-energy unit of Ushdev International Ltd. (UTF), India’s third-largest non-state metal trader, may seek to acquire wind farms to boost its capacity 10- fold by 2014.

Ushdev Power Holdings Pvt. plans to invest 18 billion rupees ($400 million) to add 100 megawatts of wind energy capacity annually over the next three years, Arvind Prasad, managing director of the unit, said in an interview in Mumbai.

By 2018, Ushdev Power may seek to build as much as 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, roughly equivalent to one nuclear plant, which could also include solar, hydropower and biomass plants, he said.

“We’re open to both greenfield projects and also looking at existing wind farms,” Prasad said.

India’s fragmented wind sector may undergo some consolidation as companies look to build scale, Adam Forsyth, a partner at London-based investment bank Matrix Group Ltd., said on June 1. Indian Energy Ltd. (IEL), a London-listed operator of wind farms backed by Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY), said on June 1 it would sell its projects in the South Asian nation if talks with a potential investor fell through.

Mumbai-based Ushdev Power currently owns 30.5 megawatts of wind farms in six different states that use turbines made by Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S, as well as Germany’s Enercon GmbH and Kenersys GmbH, Prasad said.

The parent company is India’s largest, private trader of metals by revenue after Surana Corp. and Adani Enterprises Ltd., according to data from Capital Market magazine. It incorporated its wind unit last year, Prasad said.

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City heritage sites tap sun’s power, electricity bill dips

Ram Yantras at Jantar Mantar, Delhi.

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The solar panels at Jantar Mantar and Safdarjung’s Tomb have helped slash the electricity bill of these Centrally protected monuments almost by half. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now thinking of expanding the initiative and installing solar panels at 11 other heritage sites in the Capital.

The panels at these two heritage sites were installed around six months ago, following an initiative of the ASI and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The power bill for Jantar Mantar has seen a dip of Rs 5,000 per month — from monthly Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000. At Safdarjung’s Tomb, where ASI also has an office, the bill was reduced from Rs 34,000 to Rs 25,000 per month.

The daytime load at all heritage sites includes indoor lighting and fans, ventilation, solar photovoltaic pumps for irrigation, information kiosks and supply at the ticketing counters. The night load includes LED-based flood lights, garden and outdoor lights.

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Banking on solar power

Nice ATM

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Vortex Engineering, a company focused on developing sustainable products for rural India, decides to develop an ATM to meet this segment’s banking demands. The ATM is powered by solar energy consumes just 4 per cent of the total energy that is required by a conventional ATM to function. It has the capability to serve Indian villages — indicating an opportunity for over half a million ATMs across the country. Read how Vortex Engineering’s unique ATM can help deal with the problem of low banking penetration in the third of the five-part series from India Brand Equity Foundation’s Innovations from India: Harbingers of Change.

The delivery of financial services to all sections of society at an affordable cost has been an area of concern for governments around the world. Financial services include services such as credit, savings, and insurance. To date, banks have been considered the most preferred channel for providing financial services. However, the banking channel has its own limitations, especially in nations that have a large rural population and diverse geographical conditions. This results in a low concentration of banking systems in rural areas. Rural locations account for around 70 per cent of the total population of India, but have access to only 30 per cent of the total bank branches of the country. Read the rest of this entry

Sunny India needs German solar technology

During her day’s sojourn in India earlier this month on the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, held inter-governmental consultations, quite unusually, at the cabinet level. Such cabinet-level discussions are held with very few countries. India is the first Asian country with which such discussions have been held. About half a dozen ministers accompanied her with the intentions of further expanding and intensifying economic cooperation between the two countries. Germany is the largest trading partner of India in the European Union.

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India’s largest solar power to go live in a fortnight

India’s largest solar power project will be commissioned in a fortnight. Moser Baer’s 30-MW project in Patan in Gujarat is likely to be commissioned by the end of this month or in the following week. The twin solar projects at Patan of 15 MW each have entailed an investment of around R450 crore.

“The combined capacity of our projects in Patan makes it by far the largest solar project. Many projects with similar size and slightly larger ones are coming up, but they make take time,” KN Subramanium, CEO, Moser Baer Solar Systems .

“The Photovoltaic project using thin film technology is expected to give better yield. This requires 7-8 acres for generating one megawatt depending on technology of thin film  and land profile available at a specific site,” he said. According to him, the Patan project will remain the largest in solar sector in the country at least till the end of this year.

Recently, major electricity distribution company Torrent Power Ltd, entered the solar sector and is building a 50 MW project in Gujarat.

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IEEE sees solar as the winner among renewables in 10 years

IEEE Logo

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the organization behind standards such as WiFi, Wimax and hundreds of others, sees Solar energy as becoming the cheapest power source in ten years.

The organization, which is increasing its focus on Solar this year through the setting up of a journal and experts groups, is one of the few international bodies to throw its weight behind a single source of energy and hold it up as the definite candidate to bet on. Most other experts and bodies tend to see a combination of sources, such as Wind, geothermal and nuclear as the solution to getting out of the hydrocarbon problem.

The IEEE, after which many standards are named, is considered the world’s largest association of professionals — encompassing experts in nearly all fields from electronics to aviation.

The forecast, if it comes true, will also pose a challenge to countries such as Saudi Arabia which derive a lot of its income from its deposits of fossil fuel. Many such countries actively limit their production so that that the reserves last for 20-40 years more. If Solar is sure to become cheaper than fossil fuels, such countries would be better of producing as much as possible when there is still demand for such products.

IEEE says Solar has the potential to more than meet the entire energy requirement of the planet.

“The rate of energy from sunlight hitting the earth is of the order of 100,000 terawatts. Just a fraction is needed to meet the power needs of the entire globe, as it takes approximately 15 terawatts to power the earth,” it pointed out. “No other alternative source has the same potential,” says James Prendergast IEEE’s Executive Director

Currently, power produced from solar photovoltaic plants costs around 4 US cents (Rs 18) per unit, while coal powered plants produce a unit of power at around Rs 3 or 4, without including cost of pollution. Many governments, such as India’s, provide purchase guarantees for solar powered electricity production. India, for example, is offering around Rs 17 per unit of such electricity, under its massive Solar Mission.

However, global solar PV production is still minuscule — around 20-30 Gigawatt per year, not enough to even meet the incremental power demand for a country like India. India has a total of around 155 GW of capacity most of which is able to run 24-hours a day, compared to solar which runs effectively only for around 6 hours.

The production capacity, however, has been increasing at an average annual growth rate of more than 40 percent since 2000. At current trends, by 2050, it is expected that solar PV will provide 11 percent of global electricity production, corresponding to 3,000 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity.

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India set to produce 700 MW solar power in 2011

India is on track to produce 700 megawatts of solar power at a cost of $2.2 billion by December, ahead of an initial target for an ambitious plan that seeks to boost green power generation from near zero to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.

Under India’s Solar Mission , investors bid to build solar power plants and the winning bids are determined by the electricity tariff that they accept as viable. Such has been the interest that the government has been flooded with investment pledges for the first batch of projects rolling out in December.

India’s 20 GW solar plan is likely to attract overall investment of about $70 billion, the government has estimates. Issued in 2009, the plan envisages India producing 1,300 megawatts (MW) by 2013, another up to 10 GW by 2017 and the rest by 2022.

“The entire solar industry is no longer worried about the upheavals that are taking place in the European markets because they find a very new and very promising market is developing in India,” said Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director of Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency.

IREDA, a state-run agency, is the leader in the country’s solar energy financing.

“So far, every year the general mood was that nobody knew what would happen to the German policy or what would happen to Spanish policy,” said Majumdar, who attended a global summit on clean technologies in Munich last week.

Germany , the world’s top solar power producer with about 17 GW installed by end-2010, is considering cutting incentives for photovoltaic energy by an additional six percentage points in another step on March 1, 2012.

Germany, Spain , Italy, Japan and the United States are the leading producers of solar power in the world. While India’s solar sector remains a risky venture because of a shortage of data and trained manpower, such deficiencies also open up a huge market for expertise and technology such as Colorado-based Juwi Solar, Schneider , Schott Solar.

“The (Solar Mission’s) second phase would create a very large market for service providers, especially EPC contractors and people who can analyse data to ascertain how much resources like sunlight are available and how much (solar energy) is going to be produced,” Majumdar said.

“These agencies would get lots of business,” he told the Reuters Global Energy and Climate Summit in New Delhi, adding it was still not possible to determine the size of such a market.

EPC contractors handle the engineering, procurement and construction of solar power plants.

SUNSHINE POLICIES

If everything goes to plan, and the rollout of the first projects in December should be an indicator, solar would contribute the equivalent to one-eighth of India’s current installed power base by 2022.

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Govt approves scheme to fast-track National Solar Mission

NEW DELHI: In an effort to fast-track the National Solar Mission, the Government on Thursday approved a scheme which will help in availability of funds for carrying out projects under the mission.

The Union Cabinet cleared the Payment Security Scheme to enable financial closure of projects under the mission by extending Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) amounting to Rs 486 crore to the New and Renewable Energy Ministry (MNRE), an official spokesperson said here.

The scheme will help MNRE in the event of defaults in payment by the state utilities to NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the Central Agency which will purchase solar power from the developers and sell it to the utilities bundled with unallocated thermal power available from NTPC utilities.

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Why’s Maharashtra shy of opening the rooftop sun tap?

The Maharashtra government remains uncomfortable with the idea of harnessing solar power from residential rooftops even as Delhi is raring to go.

The Delhi government on June 5 announced that it would unveil a detailed plan in 3-4 months for harnessing solar power from residential rooftops, in partnership with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Under the proposed policy, residents can get solar power plants installed on their rooftops by signing a power purchase agreement with the company supplying power to their area. For a rooftop of around 200 square metres, the cost is estimated to be Rs8-9 lakh. Residents can either lease out their roofs to a developer, who will then set up the unit, or pay 30% of the cost of installation. The remaining 70% will be financed through banks. The price payable per unit of such power will be Rs17.50, which the owner of the rooftop can sell to any power supply company. Details on the manner in which connectivity will take place are not yet available.

So what explains Maharashtra’s hesitation?
Part of it has to do with the reimbursement limit set under the otherwise-laudable Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Mission requires the states to generate 0.25% of the power purchased by them to come from solar power by 2012. The price fixed by the Mission is Rs17.90 per kWh, which is slated to come down to Rs15 per kWh next year. This is the price reimbursed to the states under the JNNSM —- anything over the 0.25% limit will not be reimbursed.

Somewhat expectedly, Maharashtra identified degraded government-owned land, lying idle around places like Dhule and Osmanabad, and got them transferred to its power generation company. It then floated a reverse bidding tender and aggressively brought down the purchase of solar price to under Rs14 per kWh and identified two players — Lanco Solar and Megaprojects — who would collectively supply the state 125 mw of solar power.

“We now have a problem,” said Ajoy Mehta, managing director of Mahavitaran (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd). We would like to generate more solar power, but with the sanctioning of this 125 mw capacity, we have more than met the requirement of 0.25% of our total power purchase through the solar route. This is the power for which we are reimbursed Rs17.90 per kWh costs by the JNNSM (the difference between Rs14 per kWh and Rs17.90 will be kept aside to subsidise additional power generation).

If we now announce a rooftop solar policy today, who will pay for the additional high cost solar power?”

This is because the basket cost for Maharashtra’ power purchase is around Rs2.93/kWh, though the system marginal cost is a lot higher at Rs4.10. Solar power, Mehta believes, is unlikely to cost less than Rs13 per unit, which means the additional power costs will have to be pooled in the basket, pushing up its costs further. Since the JNNSM has added an incentive tariff of Re1 per unit for rooftop solar, the cost of purchase will go up further.

“Already, thanks to cross subsidisation of cheap power to agriculture and marginal users, commercial users are paying a price of around Rs9 a unit. Purchasing more solar power that cannot be subsidised by the Centre will require us to load commercial tariffs even beyond this unbearable level,” said another government official.

But couldn’t there be another way out? After all, the central government has mandated that all states increase solar power purchase from 0.25 to 0.5% of total power purchased by 2013. Shouldn’t the states then plan their future procurement in a way that all solar power is via rooftops?

This is precise what Germany did when it decided to popularise solar power. In ten years, it has seen solar power production swell to over 17,000 mw and counting.

To its credit, the rooftop route encourages every resident to participate in solar power production. Power generation is thus distributed, rather than a privilege enjoyed by a few producers.

By announcing a fixed purchase tariff, which would be constant for say 25 years, and by allowing agents to set up rooftop panels on the one hand, and act as power aggregators on the other, Germany saw most agents introducing innovations to bring down their cost of production and increase profits.

Increased volumes caused the solar panel costs to crash from $5 a watt to just around $1 a watt a month ago. And they continue to fall at least 10-20% a year, says a senior official at Wipro, which has just embarked on promoting solar power installations.

Maharashtra government officials are uncomfortable about this strategy.

“What if we announce a solar rooftop policy and the total offerings through this route go beyond 300-500 mw (which could be the case)? Who will bear the higher cost of solar power procurement?” asked an official.

But one area where the state is willing to look at solar power quite aggressively is rural communities where the cost of supplying power is very high, subsidies even higher, and collections quite poor.

For instance, the average cost of electricity supply comes to around Rs4.34 a unit, whereas it is supplied to agriculture at Rs1.50 a unit. Even so, the farmer pays just around 20 paise, while the remaining Rs1.30 is subsidised by the state government.

Thus, the total agriculture subsidy on account of power is in excess of Rs5,000 crore annually. More unfortunately, even at 20 paise per unit, only 20-30% of the farmers pay their bills, leaving some Rs500 crore uncollected.

That is why Maharashtra is looking quite favourably at providing a subsidy to solar powered pumps (manufactured primarily by Kirloskar) so that this subsidy can be reduced.

Another way could be to identify small villages where the cost of transmission causes the cost of supplying power to exceed Rs14 per unit. There, rooftop solar power could be extremely attractive and viable, reducing the pressure (and cost) on transmission grids and the temptation to steal power.

But will Maharashtra bite the bullet and announce such a policy? That remains to be seen.

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