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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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IFC Helps Expand Solar Power Generation Infrastructure in India’s Rajasthan State

IFC / World Bank

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is working with India’s Rajasthan state to explore the state’s prospects as a solar manufacturing and power generation hub, establish research facilities, and help bring down energy costs.

IFC and Rajasthan state government are co-hosting a conference today titled, Rajasthan as a Solar Component Manufacturing Hub, that brings together policy makers, sector experts, international investors, and global and local solar manufacturing companies to share the latest insights on solar manufacturing opportunities in the state.

“Through interactions and in-depth discussions with major players, we hope to draw on their experience and network to help Rajasthan emerge as an attractive investment destination for solar manufacturing. This event is vital to understanding the needs of the private sector,” said Purushottam Agarwal, Commissioner, Bureau of Investment Promotion in Rajasthan.

Participants shared their views on incentive packages, support for infrastructure needs, identification of suitable zones for solar manufacturers, and exploring public-private partnerships to encourage solar sector development in the state.

“Rajasthan is one of the highest daily solar insulation recipients worldwide. A growing pipeline of generation projects, broad mineral base, relatively low labor cost, and a significant allied industry base are contributing to the state emerging as one of the leading markets for solar manufacturing,” said Hemant Mandal, IFC’s Senior Energy Specialist in South Asia.

Clean energy is a global strategic priority for IFC and it has led many innovative renewable energy investments in South Asia in recent years.

The conference is part of a three-year knowledge partnership between IFC and the state government to develop Rajasthan as a preferred investment location across key infrastructure sectors, helping increase employment and overall development. Ernst & Young also supports the knowledge partnership.

Rajasthan accounts for 80 percent of the total allocation made so far under India’s National Solar Mission plan. The state has assigned top priority to stepping up private investment in solar power and has already taken several steps in this direction. India announced the National Solar Mission in January 2010, with a phased implementation approach of working with state governments, policy makers, regulators, and power utilities to help establish solar energy leadership.

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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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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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Johnson Controls May Seek to Build Solar-Power Plants in India

Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), a U.S. developer of energy-saving technology and hybrid car batteries, may seek to enter India’s solar industry as a plant contractor.

“We think there’s a tremendous opportunity” to engineer, build and operate plants for project developers, Pramoda Karkal, managing director at Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company’s Indian unit, said in an interview in Mumbai.

India has awarded licenses to build at least 1,100 megawatts of solar capacity by next January, roughly equivalent to one new nuclear power plant and about 30 times what exists today. Companies are racing to line up financing and contractors for projects to meet their deadlines.

Within 20 years, India’s solar sector could create a $50 billion market and rival China’s, Karkal estimated.

“There are thousands and thousands of remote villages in India without a connection to the electricity grid,” he said. “Rather than laying miles of copper lines, it’s cheaper to build a solar plant. That’s why solar will take off quickly here.”

Johnson Controls had global sales of $12.8 billion last year installing equipment and controls for air-conditioning, heating, refrigeration and other processes that allow buildings to reduce energy consumption. The systems it has installed since 2000 have saved $7.5 billion in operating costs, the company estimates.

India is trying to pass legislation that would restrict the energy consumed by commercial buildings. If successful, that could create a $500 million market within five years for services in Asia’s third-largest energy consumer, Karkal said.

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10 Strange Solar Powered Gadgets

Solar powered gadgets are everywhere now, and the ways solar power is incorporated into gizmos is fun to follow. Oh sure we’ve seen the double-take items like solar bras, and the cooler devices like cell phones. But so many are just down right strange. We’ve gathered up a handful of the odder solar powered devices that have made their way on to the scene. Click through to check them out.

solar desk gadget photo
Photo via 724deal

Starting with the silly, here is a desktop gadget that it meant entirely to entertain. The little head and body bobble back and forth, thanks to the tiny solar panel on the base. The point? Perhaps it’s just the very last life line to cling to if you’re dying of boredom.
solar bonzai tree photo
Photo via Toys and Gadgets

This one is certainly strange, though actually serves a purpose. You can build your own bonsai tree with branches sporting various solar panels. The panels charge up a battery that you can connect your gadgets to. The battery, gadgets, and wires can all be stored inside the base, er, pot. It will lend a very sci-fi look to any home, and if you get bored with the look, just rearrange the branches. It’s one house plant you’ll have a hard time killing, but works just as hard converting sunlight to energy as its greener neighbors.

solar toy spider photo
Photo via Select Solar

This…is a spider. We know it’s so because that’s what the company says it is…and that’s about the only way we’d guess it to be a spider. It does kind of resemble those little jumping spiders that hop on you when you’re laying in the grass at a picnic. Kind of. At any rate, it’s a 21-piece DIY kit that you, or anyone over the age of 8, can put together. If you’re itching to have it, most of the solar powered plasticrap stores sell it.
solar-monkey-climbing-rope.jpg
Photo via Technabob

What solar toy collection is complete without a solar powered rope-climbing monkey?! There’s nothing quite like slapping a solar cell on a piece of plasticrap and calling it educational. This little guy is intended to help kids “appreciate the power of alternative energy.” More likely, they’ll put it together, watch it climb the rope a few times and then it’ll end up at the bottom of the toy chest. If a parent really wants to make a toy educational, they’d grab one that is already at the bottom of the toy chest and teach their kids a cool hack, powering it with solar cells ripped off of the neighbor kid’s solar powered toy monkey that got used twice and tossed aside.
aurora odysseus flier photo
Photo via Gizmag

This is the Odysseus from Aurora. It is basically a low-flying satellite. It can fly in sustained uninterrupted flight for over five years, hanging around altitudes between 60,000-90,000 feet. And, it’s solar powered. It’s a concept device created by Aurora for military use, intended for surveillance and reconnaissance, communications relay and environmental monitoring. Useful, but still definitely a stranger bit of flying solar powered technology than we’re used to.

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solar tire gauge image Photo via Chinavasion

It’s not too often you think about your tire gauge. Tire pressure, yes; tire gauge, no. Especially the power source for your gauge. In fact, it’s easy to find one that doesn’t require a power source at all. But if you’re concerned that you have to have a digital tire gauge and it has to be reliably powered, well by golly there’s a solar powered one out there for you. So if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you just have to check your tire pressure, have no fear…the solar cells on your trusty tire gauge won’t let you down.
solar  powered plant pot photo
Photo via Pocket Lint

If you’re looking for a way to line your walkway other than using solar luminaries, this could be a solution. But it looks a little too similar to a radioactive waste bin. We haven’t seen a yard-bound solar gadget light up quite like this, and in fact, one version will glow in an array of colors. The solar cell is on a spike that you set elsewhere, and a wire runs back to the battery in the pot. The makers say you can get as much as 8 hours of glow time in the summer, and as much as 4 in the winter.
solar parked car ventilator image
Photo via Sunshine Solar

If you don’t want to return to a hot stuffy car, you could try out this solar powered ventilator. Somehow, with the window closed, it manages to clip on to your window and circulate fresh air into the car. Riiight. We’re guessing it actually just clips to your car window and whirrs away, pushing air around the car…nothing special, especially since the price tag is a relatively cheap $38. You might be better off sparing the plastic and just opening you car door and fanning your arms over the driver’s seat a few times before hopping in.

solar visor fan photo
Photo via Gadget.Brando.com

If you want to look strange while walking around with a strange solar gadget, stick this one on the brim of your hat and consider yourself a success. The hefty-looking solar powered fan clips on to your visor and blows air directly into your face. Makes sense for a really hot day, but it might be a little less dorky to use a hand-held solar powered fan. Or, how about just…a fan.
weird solar bug photo
Photo via Dvice

This little “Bugbut” named Nigel takes the cake for strange. Basically it’s a bunch of gadget pieces duct tapped together and powered by a solar cell. It climbs slowly around your desk, creeping out anyone who passes by. You can get one from Jenny, a.k.a. Tinyminds at Etsy. Definitely. Strange. Just keep it and the solar bug zapper a good distance apart.

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Pune entrepreneur’s solar cap to keep you cool

This unusual cap uses the sun’s scorching heat to keep you cool. Improvising on a Chinese design, Pune-based entrepreneur Vivek Bhatia has successfully manufactured a solar energy-powered mini fan, which actually provides comfort on a hot day.

The fan with plastic blades is fitted on the cap’s bill. A miniature solar panel, fixed on the crown, generates a five-volt supply to power the fan as soon as one steps out into the sun.

Bhatia who created the fan this April said that although similar solar fan caps are made by some Chinese manufacturers, his device has a solar panel that covers a larger area and thus generates more power for a better fan.

“The blades are made of plastic and are completely safe for the person wearing it. We have added a tiny switch that can be used to turn the fan on or off,” he said.

A materials manager with various firms for nearly three decades, the fact that Bhatia has sold nearly 1,000 of his ‘Solar fan caps’ at Rs400 each suggests that it’s more than a novelty.

According to the innovator, the fan generates enough air to keep one’s face and forehead cool when out in the sun.

“Since there is no question of batteries, the fan doesn’t need any charging. The cap is functional even on partly cloudy days. We’ve been receiving a lot of orders from humid cities like Kolkata where we’ve created an entire customer base out of word-of-mouth publicity,” he said.

Bhatia first got into product development with ‘No Nap’, an anti-drowsiness device meant to prevent accidents caused by sleepy drivers.

His fledgling firm Fuel Saver India, based in Sanewadi in Aundh, is dedicated to creating gadgets that run on renewable energy, mainly solar energy. He is assisted by his wife in packaging, dispatching and following up orders.

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India’s solar power capacity to surge

If all goes according to plan, India’s solar power capacity will grow six-fold to touch 300 MW by the end of this year, even as several enthusiastic states are commissioning solar power plants. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra are among states where solar projects are set to be commissi

oned in the latter half of 2011.

NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power from independent producers, had last October signed MoUs with 16 developers to set up 84 MW capacity solar projects under the migration scheme to Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

This January, it signed MoUs with another 30 developers to set up 620 MW capacity solar projects under the first batch of the phase 1 of JNNSM. Besides this, states such as Gujarat and Karnataka are pursuing solar projects on their own.

“There could be approximately 200-300 MW of solar capacity installed, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on whethera companies can get financing and execute,” said Ameet Shah, co-chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.

Wind power has added 2,000 MW to the National Grid, but solar power has added a measly 40MW till now. The Centre expects 250MW to be added in the current year.

Major business houses such as Mahindra, Videocon and MoserBaer have already entered the solar sector. Shah felt there will be half a dozen companies with 50-100 MW capacity by the end of 2012. The Centre aims to build 1,000 MW solar power capacity by 2013 while; 22,000 MW is the target for 2022 under JNNSM.

“India’s solar market is still in a nascent stage with both national and state policies only recently beginning to take shape,” said Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy consulting firm.

“The second and third quarters of 2011 will be significant as financial and project deadlines become due,” he said.

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