New hydropower policy aims to boost project viability

A comprehensive policy to promote hydropower generation is set to be announced by September—with viability gap funding for projects, compulsory hydropower purchase obligations for distribution companies and a set of good practices that states have to follow.

The idea is to address factors that currently drive hydropower costs up way above those of other sources of power and give policy support in its market development, according to a government official, who asked not to be named.

The policy being prepared by the power ministry will have provisions for viability gap funding, which will help in meeting the shortfall in project costs and reducing hydroelectricity tariffs for consumers, said the official. Hydropower is expensive and in some cases more than double the cost of power from coal-based thermal plants, which is available at Rs.3-5 per unit.

The ministry will also expand the scope of power distribution companies’ renewable power purchase obligations to include hydropower from projects with a capacity greater than 25 megawatts (MW). At the moment only power from those with less than 25MW is considered renewable power.

Compulsory hydropower purchase from large projects will either be made part of the existing renewable power purchase obligation of distribution companies or a separate requirement, so that its inclusion does not affect the market for other renewable sources of energy like wind, solar or biomass, said the official cited earlier.

Power minister Piyush Goyal said on 18 June that the new hydropower policy will be comprehensive. “It will explore the possibility of providing to hydroelectric projects beyond 25MW the benefits that are at present available to renewable energy,” Goyal said. The power tariff policy announced by the ministry on 20 January included steps to promote clean energy, which at present is not available to large hydropower projects. It specified that 8% of total electricity consumption will be from solar power by March 2022 and exempted renewable energy from interstate transmission charges.

Since state governments have rule-making powers in the electricity sector, the central government has been offering incentives for the adoption of a uniform policy framework and signing binding agreements with states to implement reform measures. One example is the debt restructuring and efficiency improvement measures taken under the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). That helps in addressing state-level implementation hurdles when a national policy in the sector is framed. One of the factors that contribute to higher tariff for hydropower is the upfront project-acquisition charges that some states levy. Hydropower tariffs, determined through a “cost plus generating company’s margin” formula, are a disincentive for achieving efficiency in the sector, say industry players.

“The fact is that consumer is not prepared to buy electricity at any price. Therefore distribution companies are not able to sell hydropower. This needs to change,” said Awadh B. Giri, chief executive officer, hydropower, Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt. Ltd.

India’s unmet requirement for electricity offers a huge market for hydropower, which, unlike coal-based thermal power projects, does not require expensive fuel, said Giri, adding that the cost of hydropower generation declines over a period of time. What is needed is a price for hydropower for 25 years discovered through competitive bidding, its recognition as renewable energy and similar policies across states in awarding projects, said Giri.

Source: Mint; 27 June 2016



Global oil giants seek inroads into retail fuel market: Govt

Global oil majors including Saudi Aramco and Total plan to tap the retail fuel market in India, its oil minister said on Friday, reflecting the expanding role of the world’s fastest-growing large economy on the global crude landscape.

The country’s fuel markets could be a lucrative prize for the world’s oil majors as they seek outlets for their gasoline and diesel.

India posted the fastest oil demand growth in the world in the first quarter of 2016 and is replacing China as the driver of growth globally, the International Energy Agency said in its latest report.

“Saudi Aramco is eager to enter in Indian market, we are finding ways to help them,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in Hindi in a live telecast on a government website.

India, the world’s fourth-biggest oil consumer, recently offered Saudi Aramco a stake in refineries and petrochemical projects.

Saudi Aramco wants to expand globally and is looking at potential joint ventures in several countries, including Indonesia, India, the United States, Vietnam and China, chief executive Amin Nasser told Reuters in an interview in May.

Fuel marketing in India has turned profitable after the government ended decades-old control over the retail prices of gasoline and diesel.

Pradhan said local private oil refiners Reliance Industries and Essar Oil have started opening their mothballed fuel stations and are adding new ones to expand business.

French major Total and European major Royal Dutch Shell that have a limited presence in India are also keen to strengthen their presence in the fuel retailing business, Pradhan said.

“Shell officials recently met me and informed about their plan to expand the retail network in a big way in southern India,” he said.

He said his ministry has agreed to grant a licence to BP to market jet fuel in India. “There is a possibility they (BP) may expand into the Indian retail sector,” he said in Hindi.

Essar Oil is still working to complete a deal to a sell a 49 per cent stake in its 400,000 barrel per day Vadinar refinery in Gujarat to Russian giant Rosneft.

“Rosneft, rich with oil and gas wants to join Indian markets,” Pradhan said.

Source: Business Today; 03 June 2016


CIL’s coal price hike to push power tariff by 8-10 per cent

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.


You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Power tariff is likely to increase by 8-10 per cent in the country after Coal India decided to hike the commodity’s prices, Tata Power CEO and Managing Director Anil Sardana has said.

He also warned against early exuberance over the UDAY scheme and claims of electricity surplus by the government.

Coal price has increased from 13 per cent to 19 per cent.

So the minimum increase that will happen, will be 13 per cent for thermal. If the variable price will go up by 13 per cent, then the average price of power will go up by 8 to 10 per cent,” Sardana told PTI in an interview.

Last month Coal India had increased weighted average coal prices by 6.2 per cent over the current price to garner additional revenue of Rs 3,234 crore this fiscal.

Commenting on UDAY scheme, meant for the revival of debt ridden discoms, he said: “At this stage nothing has changed.

It is too early to assume they (discoms) will come out of their challenges and start to buy more power. They just got bonds. They are paying for arrears. You have to give them more time.”

“In past also we had many schemes, which always attempted and assumed that they will reduce their losses and improve their performance. If that does not happen then rest part of UDAY will sequentially has a challenge. One has to wait and see how actually they change their performance.”

On the recent Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) order setting aside compensatory tariff allowed by Central Electricity Authority (CERC), he explained, “CERC adjudicated under removal of difficulties. It is not the right way to do but force majeure is the right way to do.”

He further said, “They (APTEL) have reverted it back to CERC saying you please determine the compensation with force majeure. You cannot envisage impact under force majeure. What we could not envisage was change (increase) in coal prices.”

Sardana was also of the view that it is time to change gears and talk about consumers, which is not happening for last many years.

“Our per capita consumption has not changed in many years.

We are still at 1,000 Kwh per person in a year. Has consumer started to consume more. If that has not happened then scratching my back, saying I have improved, I am surplus… I think we should wait in making such claims.”

The Centre has planned to be power surplus nation by having overall energy surplus of 1.1 per cent with a target of generating 1,178 billion units during this fiscal.

On the plan to provide energy efficient air conditioners to consumers through state-run firm EESL, he said, “Good part is that they are bringing a lot of awareness. The bad part is, I always say that government should not be in business of business.”

Source: Business Today; 13 June 2016


Smartphone apps help bring reliable power to 1.3 billion people

New Delhi: At any given minute in India, you can find out how much electricity is for sale and at what price with a few swipes across a smartphone screen—a level of transparency in the nation’s power sector that’s increasing the odds of far-reaching change to end blackouts.

The unprecedented instant access, which shows untapped power supplies and comparatively cheap available electricity while millions go without reliable supplies, highlights deep flaws in the state-level distribution system. The picture painted by the data is increasing pressure on local officials to embrace Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to fix the woes of indebted state retailers so all of India’s 1.3 billion people have access to electricity by 2019.

“There is no escape route for states any more,” said S.K. Agarwal, a member of Uttar Pradesh electricity regulatory commission. “And that’s a good thing because it forces the distribution companies to become more efficient.”

Required to sell power below cost for years, India’s cash-strapped power distributors stacked up unpaid loans of almost $74 billion as of September. The losses have eroded their ability to purchase enough power to meet demands of customers and invest in infrastructure to support new connections and increase efficiency.

Transforming those distributors, operated by India’s states, to run more efficiently and ensure they have funds to purchase greater supplies is key to Modi’s promise of lighting up the $2 trillion economy. Eighteen of India’s 29 states, and one of its union territories, has agreed to join Modi’s debt plan for the state power distributors, according to a tally by the central government as of 20 May.

India failed to achieve a sustainable turnaround of the state utilities through at least two previous reform plans, which focused on financial bailouts while doing little to push the states or their utilities to improve efficiency.

Proponents of Modi’s plan say Vidyut Pravah, the smartphone app that updates every 15 minutes with regional power availability, shortages and prices, holds distributors accountable and improves the odds they’ll see through their side of the restructuring bargain.

“There is tremendous pressure on us to perform, to be able to meet the targets set by the central government,” said D.K. Sharma, a director at Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd., a power distributor in the northern state of Rajasthan, which is ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “We’re trying to ensure that every unit of electricity we supply is metered.”

Rajasthan’s three distribution companies had a combinedRs.85,000 crore of debt as of last year, the most among all states in India. Under the debt recast plan, the local government has taken over Rs.60,000 crore of loans, leaving distributors with debt of Rs.25,000 crore, according to Sharma.

“The central government’s efforts to take India towards self-sufficiency in power are trickling down to the states,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general at New Delhi-based Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group. “States realize if they don’t do their bit, they would be left behind.”

The central government’s debt recast plan has increased demand for electricity from the distribution companies, according to Gurdeep Singh, chairman of state-run generator NTPC Ltd., the country’s biggest power producer.

Buying more

“Some of the distribution companies who were finding it difficult to buy power are now buying more,” Singh told reporters in New Delhi on Monday. “The plan has reduced the cost of funding, giving the elbow room to absorb more power.”

The electricity deficit in Uttar Pradesh has nearly halved over the past year to 6.4% in April, even as demand rose. The state has taken on Rs.40,000 crore of debt held by distribution utilities, leading to monthly savings of Rs.400 crore on interest payments and spurring higher power purchases and distribution, according to the regulatory commission’s Agarwal.

Modi’s administration has linked 8,095 villages to power transmission lines as of Monday, and seeks to bring reliable supplies to about 9,900 more, according to Grameen Vidyutikaran, a separate app set up by his government. After promising 24×7 electricity and economic development to win a record political mandate in 2014, failure could damage his party’s chances in the next elections.

“We want to put everything out in the open for the people to see,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said at a press briefing last month. Bloomberg

Source: Mint; 07 June 2016


Greenko raises $230 million in fresh funds from Abu Dhabi fund, GIC

Hyderabad: Clean energy company Greenko Energy Holdings, an affiliate of the Singapore government’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, has raised $230 million in fresh funding from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the parent firm.

GIC, which acquired a majority stake in Hyderabad-based Greenko Group Plc’s Mauritius entity (Greenko Energy Holdings) for GBP 162.8 million in October is infusing $80 million into the company through one of its affiliates, the company said. GIC will continue to be the majority shareholder.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the government of Abu Dhabi’s investment arm, is investing the remaining $150 million.

Greenko, which has a diversified portfolio of more than 1,000 MW of wind and small hydro assets, also appointed former State Bank of India chairman Om Prakash Bhatt as the company’s non-executive chairman. Greenko Group Plc is listed on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market.

The investment in Greenko comes at a time when the union government has set a target of generating 175 GW through renewable energy by 2022. About 60 GW of this mix would come from wind energy and 100 GW from solar energy, according to the 2015-16 economic survey.

Funds raised from the private equity round will enable Greenko to develop new renewable energy projects, including low-risk expansions of existing wind farms the company said on Tuesday.

“With our attractive diversified renewable power portfolio, we will continue to execute on our vision to be the most admired independent power producer delivering multiple gigawatts of clean energy at grid parity to support the growth of the Indian economy,” Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty, chief executive officer (CEO) of Greenko said in a statement.

“We have created a strong and sustainable platform to take advantage of evolving energy market dynamics and strong sector fundamentals accelerated by new government initiatives, and look forward to Mr Bhatt’s guidance as we move forward.”

Apart from increasing installed capacity by developing and building new greenfield assets, Greenko also plans to make “selective” acquisitions. The company plans to increase capacity to 5,000 MW by 2020, Mint reported in March last year.

The country’s renewable energy sector is likely to generate business worth $160 billion over the next five years, a bulk of it from the private sector, according to last year’s economic survey.

Source: Mint; 07 June 2016


10 technologies shaping the future of solar power

1. Bio-solar cells

For the first time ever, researchers connected nine biological-solar (bio-solar) cells into a bio-solar panel and continuously produced electricity from the panel and generated the most wattage of any existing small-scale bio-solar cells.

Last year, the group took steps towards building a better bio-solar cell by changing the materials used in anodes and cathodes (positive and negative terminals) of the cell and also created a miniature microfluidic-based single-chambered device to house the bacteria instead of the conventional, dual-chambered bio-solar cells.

However, this time, the group connected nine identical bio-solar cells in a 3×3 pattern to make a scalable and stackable bio-solar panel. The panel continuously generated electricity from photosynthesis and respiratory activities of the bacteria in 12-hour day-night cycles over 60 total hours.

The current research is the latest step in using cyanobacteria—which can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat on earth—as a source of clean and sustainable energy.

Even with the breakthrough, a typical “traditional” solar panel on the roof of a residential house, made up of 60 cells in a 6×10 configuration, generates roughly 200 watts of electrical power at a given moment. The cells from this study, in a similar configuration, would generate about 0.00003726 watts. So, it isn’t efficient just yet, but the findings open the door to future research of the bacteria itself.

“Once a functional bio-solar panel becomes available, it could become a permanent power source for supplying long-term power for small, wireless telemetry systems as well as wireless sensors used at remote sites where frequent battery replacement is impractical,” said Seokheun ‘Sean’ Choi, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, and co-author of the paper, in a 11 April press statement.

The findings are currently available online and will be published in the June edition of the journal Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.

2. A new way for converting solar energy into electricity

Researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and the University of Bochum in Germany, reported a new paradigm for the development of photo-bioelectrochemical cells in Nature Energy this January, providing a means for the conversion of solar energy into electricity.

While photosynthesis is the process by which plants and other organisms make their own food using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, bioelectrochemical systems take advantage of biological capacities (microbes, enzymes, plants) for the catalysis of electrochemical reactions.

In a 19 January press statement, the researchers pointed out that although significant progress has been achieved in the integration of native photosystems with electrodes for light-to-electrical energy conversion, uniting photosystems with enzymes to yield photo-bioelectrocatalytic solar cells remains a challenge.

Hence, the researchers constructed photo-bioelectrochemical cells using the native photosynthetic reaction and the enzymes glucose oxidase, or glucose dehydrogenase. The system comprises modified integrated electrodes that include the natural photosynthetic reaction centre, known as photosystem I, along with the enzymes. The native proteins are electrically wired by means of chemical electron transfer mediators. Photo-irradiation of the electrodes leads to the generation of electrical power, while oxidizing the glucose substrate acts as a fuel.

The system provides a model to harness the native photosynthetic apparatus for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power, using biomass substrates as fuels. Itamar Willner, a professor at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Chemistry, said in a statement: “The study results provide a general approach to assemble photo-bioelectrochemical solar cells with wide implications for solar energy conversion, bioelectrocatalysis and sensing.”

3. Reshaping solar spectrum to turn light into electricity

Land and labour costs account for the bulk of the expense when installing solar panels since solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely account for more than 20% of the total cost. Hence, solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate the panels. This is best achieved if each solar cell generates more power, but it is not easy.

A team of chemists at the University of California says it has found a way to make this happen. In a paper that was published in Nano Letters, an American Chemical Society publication, the researchers said that by combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, they succeeded in “upconverting” (two low-energy photons into one high-energy photon) photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.

The infrared region of the solar spectrum passes right through the photovoltaic materials that make up today’s solar cells, explained Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry in a press release on 27 July 2015. This upconverted photon is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that normally would be wasted, according to Bardeen.

He added that these materials are essentially “reshaping the solar spectrum” so that it better matches the photovoltaic materials used today in solar cells. The ability to utilize the infrared portion of the solar spectrum could boost solar photovoltaic efficiencies by 30% or more.

Besides solar energy, the ability to upconvert two low-energy photons into one high-energy photon has potential applications in biological imaging, data storage and organic light-emitting diodes, says Bardeen.

4. WaterNest 100

Indian real estate developers can take a lesson or two from this project. EcoFloLife has developed the WaterNest 100 eco-friendly floating house, exclusively designed by renowned Italian architect Giancarlo Zema. It is an over 100 sq. m residential unit, 12 metres in diameter and 4 metres high, made entirely of recycled laminated timber and a recycled aluminium hull.

Balconies are conveniently located on the sides and thanks to the large windows, permit enjoyment of fascinating views over the water. Bathroom and kitchen skylights are located on the wooden roof, as well as 60 sq. m of amorphous photovoltaic panels capable of generating 4kWp, which are used for the internal needs of the floating house. The interior of WaterNest 100 floating house can include a living room, dining area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom or have other configurations according to the different housing or working needs.

The floating house can be positioned along river courses, lakes, bays, atolls and sea areas with calm waters. The use of materials and sustainable production systems make this unit recyclable up to as much as 98%. It has a hull that is made entirely of aluminium—a light alloy, highly resistant to impact, corrosion and 100% recyclable. Its photovoltaic panels installed on the wooden roof differ from conventional ones due to the low-energy consumption required for their production. From an aesthetic point of view, they can be curved to fit almost any type of roofing.

5. Floating panels, floating solar farms

In many countries, there is a lack of space to install large-scale ground-mount solar systems. As authorities wish to avoid taking away large farmlands for ground-mount solar systems, companies are introducing ecological alternative solutions.

One such firm is French company Ciel & Terre International, which has been developing large-scale floating solar solutions since 2011. Its Hydrelio Floating PV system allows standard PV panels to be installed on large bodies of water such as drinking water reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals, remediation and tailing ponds, and hydroelectric dam reservoirs.

This simple and affordable alternative to ground-mounted systems is particularly suitable for water-intensive industries that cannot afford to waste either land or water.

This is how it works. The main float is constructed of high-density thermoplastic (HDPE) and is set at a 12-degree angle to support a standard 60-cell PV solar module. A secondary non-slip HDPE float is then used to link the main floats together and provide a platform for maintenance and added buoyancy.

According to Ciel and Terre, the system is easy to install and dismantle, can be adapted to any electrical configuration, is scalable from low- to high-power generation and requires no tools or heavy equipment. It is also eco-friendly, fully recyclable, has low environmental impact and is cost-effective.

To date, the system has been installed in the UK. The company has also set up projects for floating solar farms in countries such as India, France and Japan.

6. Transmitting solar power wirelessly from space

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA)’s Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS) aims at transmitting energy from orbiting solar panels by 2030. On 12 March, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) successfully conducted a ground demonstration test of “wireless power transmission”, a technology that will serve as the basis for the SSPS. In the test, 10kW of electricity was successfully transmitted via a microwave unit. Power reception was confirmed at a receiver located 500 metres away. LED lights on the receiver confirmed the transmission. This marks a new milestone in transmission distance and power load (enough to power a set of conventional kitchen appliances).

Potentially, a solar battery in orbit (36,000km above earth) could generate power that would then be transmitted to earth via microwave/laser, without relying on cables. JAXA anticipates that this new technology could become a mainstay energy source that will simultaneously solve both environmental and energy issues on earth.

The estimated lifecycle carbon dioxide emission for the operational SSPS indicates that it is almost the same as from nuclear power system and much less than fossil fuel power system, JAXA claims on its website. Countries such as India, China and Japan are investing heavily in these technologies right now.

7. Solar energy harvesting trees

Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland have used solar and 3D printing technologies to develop prototypes of what they have christened as “energy harvesting trees”. The tiny leaves generate and store solar energy and can be used to power small appliances and mobile devices. They flourish indoors and outdoors and can also harvest kinetic energy from wind and temperature changes in the surrounding environment.

The tree’s leaves are actually flexible organic solar cells, printed using well-established mass-production techniques. Each leaf has a separate power converter, creating a multi-converter system that makes it possible to collect energy from a variety of sources such as solar, wind and heat temperature.

The more solar panels there are in a tree, the more energy it can harvest. The tree trunk is made with 3D technology by exploiting wood-based biomaterials VTT has developed. They are mass producible and can be infinitely replicated.

8. Squeezing more out of the sun

The sun is undoubtedly the greatest sustainable energy source for earth, but the problem is the low efficiency: 80% of installed PV panels worldwide have a performance of 15% or lower; if the panels are not tracked with the sun, the average of annual tilt losses add up to minus 70%.

German architect Andre Broessel believes he has a solution.

He says his company Rawlemon can “squeeze more juice out of the sun”, even during the night hours and in low-light regions. He has created a spherical sun power generator prototype called the beta.ray. His technology will combine spherical geometry principles with a dual axis tracking system, allowing twice the yield of a conventional solar panel in a much smaller surface area.

The futuristic design is fully rotational and is suitable for inclined surfaces, walls of buildings, and anywhere with access to the sky. It can even be used as an electric car charging station.

By using a high-efficiency multi-junction cell, Broessel’s company claims to have reduced the cell surface down to 1% compared to the same power output as a conventional silicon cell in optimal conditions.

“In combination with dual axis tracking, our system generates twice the yield of a conventional panel. In addition, our smaller cell area has a lower carbon footprint because its production requires fewer precious semiconductor or other building materials,” he says on the company website.

Rawlemon has also introduced a USB spherical sun charger called beta.ey.

9. Ways to boost solar power

A group of scientists at the University of Toronto have unveiled a new type of light-sensitive nanoparticles called colloidal quantum dots, which many believe will offer a less expensive and more flexible material for solar cells. Specifically, the new materials use n-type and p-type semiconductors, but ones that can actually function outdoors. This is possible because the new colloidal quantum dots don’t bind to air (unlike traditional n-type materials that bind to oxygen)—a quality that also helps increase radiant light absorption besides offering stability outdoors. The researchers claim that panels using this new technology were found to be up to 8% more efficient at converting sunlight.

Researchers at Imperial College University in London believe they have discovered a new material—gallium arsenide—that could make solar PV systems nearly three times more efficient than existing products on the market.

The solar cells are called “triple junction cells” and they are much more efficient because they can be chemically altered in a manner that optimizes sunlight capture. The model uses a sensor-driven window blind that can track sun light along with “light-pipes” that guide the light into the system.

A company called Novatec Solar recently commissioned an energy storage solution for solar PV systems using a molten salt storage technology. The process uses inorganic salts to transfer energy generated by solar PV systems into solar thermal using heat transfer fluid rather than oils as some storage systems have. The result is that solar plants can operate at temperatures over 500 degree Celsius, which would result in a much higher power output. This means that costs to store solar power would be lowered significantly and utility companies could finally use solar power plants as base load plants rather than to meet peak demand during prime daylight hours.

In a project funded by the US department of energy, Ohio State University researchers recently announced they created a battery that is 20% more efficient and 25% cheaper than anything on the market today. The secret to the design is that the rechargeable battery is built into the solar panel itself, rather than operating as two stand-alone systems. By conjoining the two into one system, scientists said they could lower costs by 25% compared to existing products.

Scientists are exploring ways to actually line up highways and roads with solar panels, which would then be used to deploy large amounts of electricity to the grid. Called solar roadways, they have already popped up in countries such as the Netherlands and promise to save on land space.

10. Concentrated PV cells

IBM researchers have found a way to make concentrated PV cells that are more efficient in converting the sun’s energy into electricity. The researchers have shown that it is possible to increase the concentration of light on photovoltaic cells by about 10 times without causing them to melt. This, they say, makes it possible to boost the amount of usable electrical energy produced by up to five times.

The principle behind concentrated PV cells is to use a large lens to focus light onto a relatively small piece of PV semiconductor material. The benefit is that only a fraction of the semiconductor material is used, thereby reducing costs. IBM’s solution is to place an ultrathin layer of liquid metal, a compound of gallium and indium, between the two surfaces. The metal has a very high thermal conductivity and because it’s a liquid, it is possible to make this layer extremely thin, typically around 10 micrometers.

IBM is in talks with solar-cell companies about licensing the technology. Last September, Swiss-based Airlight Energy said it has partnered with IBM to bring affordable solar technology to the market by 2017.

The system can concentrate the sun’s radiation 2,000 times and convert 80% of it into useful energy to generate 12kW of electrical power and 20kW of heat on a sunny day—enough to power several average homes.

5 things you may not know about solar

1. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth–173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.(

2. The first silicon solar cell was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954.

3. The space industry was an early adopter of solar technology, and began to use it in the 1960s to provide power aboard spacecraft. The Vanguard 1–the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells–remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit, logging more than 6 billion miles.

4. As prices continue to fall, solar energy is increasingly becoming an economical energy choice for homeowners and businesses. Still, the biggest hurdle to affordable solar energy remains the soft costs like permitting, zoning, and hooking a solar system up to the power grid.

5. In California’s Mojave Desert, the largest solar energy project in the world is currently under construction. The project relies on a technology known as solar thermal energy. Once the project is complete, 350,000 mirrors will reflect light onto boilers. When the water boils, the steam turns a turbine, creating electricity. The project is expected to provide clean, renewable energy for 140,000 homes and is supported by an Energy Department loan guarantee.

Source: Mint; 06 June 2016


Oil set for longest losing streak in 16 weeks as OPEC convenes

Tokyo: Oil dropped a fifth day as Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ministers prepare to convene in Vienna to discuss production policy and industry data showed US inventories rose.

Futures fell as much as 0.5% in New York, extending its run of losses to the longest since February. US stockpiles rose by 2.35 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Government data due Thursday is forecast to show a decline. Saudi Arabia is ready to consider a surprise deal with fellow OPEC members in an attempt to mend divisions, though no formal proposal has yet been made, according to delegates familiar with the situation.

Oil has surged about 85% from a 12-year low it touched earlier this year amid signs output from the US to China declined under pressure from OPEC’s strategy of sustaining production amid a global glut. Any new output agreement by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will depend on Iran, which has so far rejected any cap on its supplies.

“There is a general expectation that there will be no change to the strategy,’’ Ric Spooner, a chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “There seems to be no logical reason for the main players, such as Saudi, to change the course of action, particularly now that their strategy seems to be working.”

West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell as much 24 cents to $48.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $48.78 at 9:25am. Tokyo time. Total volume traded was about 80% below the 100-day average. The contract dropped 9 cents to close at $49.01 on Wednesday.

Brent for August settlement lost as much as 13 cents, or 0.3%, to $49.59 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a 34-cent premium to WTI for August delivery.

Source: Mint; 02 June 2016


CLP Plans India Solar Entry, Eyes Stake in Suzlon Project

Sunshine Deal Co likely to buy 49% in Telangana unit initially in line with PPA norms
Hong Kong’s CLP Group, the largest overseas investor in Indian power sector, wants a piece of the solar energy action now.CLP (formerly China Light & Power), is finalising its solar debut through an acquisition. It’s local arm is in advanced negotiations to buy stakes in a 100-MW solar park project in Telengana from Suzlon Energy, according to people aware of the talks. CLP India is diversifying its clean energy portfolio after establishing itself as leading wind power generator, with almost a gigawatt operating assets.

If the deal goes through–a formal announcement is expected in a few days, barring hiccups–it will give a big boost to the domestic industry , underscoring global interest in even secondary market brownfield or greenfield growth opportunities.

An estimated 10,000 MW of solar and wind projects are believed to be on the block, seeking equity investments of . 20,000 crore, according to sector ex` perts. India’s solar energy sector has seen record capacity additions while tariff bids for new projects have fallen to unprecedented lows as the government is pushing hard to achieve the ambitious target of 100,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022.

To comply with power purchase agre ement (PPA) norms, CLP India will initially acquire 49% of the project and, a year after its commissioning, take majority control. It may even buy Suzlon out entirely , said people cited above.

Suzlon will, however, remain involved with engineering, procurement and construction work. The ` . 800-crore project needs ` . 150 crore equity , with the rest being financed through debt.

Suzlon, India’s second-largest wind turbine manufacturer, made its solar entry in January by winning rights to set up 210 MW of solar plants in Telangana in this financial year across six projects. Suzlon declined to comment, saying it was in a `silent period’ ahead of its results on May 30.

CLP India said it wouldn’t comment on specific transactions but a spokesperson said the company is looking to increase the proportion of clean energy and non-carbon technologies in its portfolio as part of a global strategy and aims to add 250-300 MW of renewable energy in India every year. The company will continue to expand wind energy portfolio, currently at committed capacity of over 1,050 MW, he said.

“Solar power has experienced great thrust from the Indian government and the favourable policies make the sector attractive and create a conducive environment for us,“ said Mahesh Makhija, director, commercial, renewables, CLP India. “Our strategy is to build a balanced a portfolio by adding solar power to complement our wind capacities.“ He elaborated on the growth strategy for India. “We are focused on accessing various avenues in the market including bidding for projects, joint ventures, industrial markets and pre-bid agreements. However, I cannot comment on specifics at this stage and as a policy we do not comment on speculation.“

CLP entered the Indian power sector in 2002 with the acquisition of a 655 MW gas-fired power plant in Gujarat and is among the few foreign players that have a presence in conventional energy in the country .

It hasn’t participated in the highly competitive bidding that has seen solar tariffs fall to as low as ` . 4.34KW-hr but expects to join in as rates are seen to be stabilising above ` . 5 per unit following recent auctions in Jharkhand, Karnataka or Rajasthan.

Suzlon is using its engineering and project execution skills to duplicate its wind energy business model. “Several EPC players including Suzlon Mahindra Susten, Sterling & Wilson are getting into development with the purpose of bringing on board a generation partner who can develop the project,“ said a person with knowledge of the matter. “That way , both can focus on their core and leverage on each other’s strengths. This will be among the first of its kind JV experiment. If successful, it will offer a template for others.“

Source: Economic Times; 30 May 2016

Clean energy to take bigger share of electricity market by 2030

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Renewable energy will account for 40% of electricity output capacity by 2030, almost double today’s market share, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

The expansion will be due to lower technology costs, Adnan Amin, Irena’s director general, said in an interview onBloomberg TV in Dubai.

“We anticipate with the lower technology cost, by 2030 we’re going to have renewables capacity in the global power system at around 40%, which is quite remarkable growth.” That compares with 22% today, according to Irena.

The real challenge for renewables is capturing crude oil’s market share in heating, cooling and transportation products, Amin said. “As far as the power sector is concerned, oil plays a very little role in power generation worldwide” at about 5%, he said.

Electricity from solar energy is getting a boost as the price of solar power has declined. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, awarded a contract for a 200-megawatt solar plant in January 2015 at what was then a record-low price of 5.85 cents per kilowatt-hour. Last month, the emirate received a bid for an 800-megawatt plant at a power price of 2.99 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Falling crude prices have made alternative fuels less economically attractive, curbing investment in biofuels, according to Irena.

“There is a lot of momentum looking at electric mobility powered by renewables, but we’ve seen a real negative impact has been on biofuel investment,” he said. Bloomberg

Source: Mint; 29 May 2016


ONGC Q4 net profit jumps 12% to Rs 4,416 cr

Country’s biggest oil explorer ONCG on Thursday reported 12 per cent jump in the March quarter net profit as it reversed part of impairment losses and got back some of the fuel subsidy from the government.

At Rs 4,416 crore, Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s net profit in the January-March quarter was 12.2 per cent higher than Rs 3,935 crore net profit in the same period of the previous fiscal, Chairman and Managing Director D K Sarraf told reporters here.

The profit was mainly as it reversed Rs 800 crore of impairment taken earlier on drop in oil prices and got another Rs 633 crore from the government for excess fuel subsidy it had paid earlier. It also gained Rs 1,585 crore on dry well provisioning.

“We had in the third quarter of 2015-16 fiscal provided for an impairment loss of Rs 3,994 crore. This has now been brought down to Rs 3,142 crore after crude oil prices rebounded a bit,” he said.

Impairment is taken to reflect value of oil and gas reserves a company holds after prices have fallen.

ONGC had in the first quarter of 2015-16 paid Rs 1,133 crore to fuel retailers to subsidise LPG and kerosene and another Rs 596 crore in the July-September quarter.

The subsidy accounts have been adjusted in view of slump in oil prices to multi-year low. The April-June subsidy has been trimmed to Rs 1,096 crore and all of such payout of the second quarter has been returned, he said.

Profit rose despite crude oil production falling by 1.7 per cent to 6.34 million tons. Gas output also dropped by nearly 10 per cent to 5.24 billion cubic meters.

ONGC was exempted by the government from payment of any fuel subsidy last year, leading to the profit boost.

Sarraf said the company got $34.88 on every barrel of crude oil it sold in the January-March quarter of 2015-16 fiscal as against $55.63 a barrel in the year ago period.

The reduction in oil price realised meant that its turnover fell by 24.3 per cent to Rs 16,424 crore in Q4.

For the full fiscal 2015-16, ONGC posted a net profit of Rs 16,004 crore on a turnover of Rs 78,569 crore. This was as against Rs 17,733 crore net profit in 2014-15 on a turnover of Rs 83,094 crore.

The company has also taken an impairment of about Rs 3,000 crore on reserves of its overseas subsidiary, ONGC Videsh Ltd.

With the slump in oil prices, government exempted ONGC from paying any subsidy in the second half of 2015-16 fiscal.

Total subsidy payout in 2015-16 at Rs 1,096 crore compared with Rs 36,300 crore payout in the previous fiscal.

But for the subsidy payout, the net profit would have been higher by Rs 607 crore in April 2015 to March 2016 fiscal.

Source: Business Today; 26 May 2016