Thursday, April 27, 2017

Solar cheaper than coal in India

India’s solar power prices may be set to fall below those of thermal (coal) energy.
This is based on an expected cost of around Rs2.90 per unit for the solar power projects at Bhadla in Rajasthan that have received 51 bids. This price is less than the average rate of power generated by the coal-fuelled projects of India’s largest power generation utility, NTPC Ltd, at Rs3.20 per unit.

Read the article on livemint here

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nuclear Fusion?

So, I wrote about the case of nuclear energy in my last post. Right after posting that, I came across this article on Forbes which makes the case for Nuclear Fusion as the future of energy. There are some compelling arguments made:

1) Fossil fuels are pretty abundant as of today but they will not last forever. Based on which report you believe, there is a definite end date to those. We can not generate more coal, oil or natural gas. Once it is over, the party is over and we better have an alternative ready by then.

2) While the fossil fuels are not over and we are using them, they REALLY pollute the environment. And we are not just talking about global warming. There are other concerns too - like polluting the water table and other hazards to people by the dangerous nature of their processing.

3) That brings us to the alternative sources of energy like sun, wind etc. They are inconsistent at best. Imagine days when wind is not blowing enough to power the turbines and sun is shy as well. How do you get continuous energy to run your cities? Battery technology is not portable enough and the sheer size of the battery power required to run cities on these downtime (when alternative energy is playing hide and seek with you) is unimaginable. The infrastructure support to get a wind farm or a solar farm ready doesn't come without its own side effect as well.

4) We covered nuclear in the context of nuclear fission but there are NIMBY concerns with that (not in my backyard). Nuclear fission involves taking heavy and unstable radioactive material and splitting them into smaller (also radioactive) elements and the process release energy. However, nuclear fusion (that's what happens inside sun) doesn't involve any radioactive material at all. We are talking about light and stable elements like Hydrogen and Helium here.

5) It's not exactly been done before to have nuclear fusion in a controlled environment but some possibilities have emerged and we need to invest more in this field to make major advances which can make this a candidate for our future source of energy. 

Read the article for more details (LINK)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Coal Free in 10 Years

Friday (21 April, 2017) was the first ever working day without coal in UK since the industrial revolution. Now, that's an amazing feat! Who would have thought of that?

That has been the main driver of reduction in CO2 emissions in UK.

They are targeting to be totally coal free by 2025...

Catch the full report here:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Case for Nuclear

Nuclear Energy is probably the most least understood source of energy, marred with all sorts of saefty and political connotation.

Nuclear power provide 11% of world's power without any carbon dioxide emissions. This is coming from 440 commercial power nuclear reactors operable in 31 countries. About 60 more reactors are under construction. For the last 15 years or so, total capacity has stagnated, otherwise we would have been at 20% mix by now. Some countries have done really well like France which gets 75% of its energy from nuclear.  (SOURCE)

Some of the accidents reltaed to nuclear power has caught world's attention. The world has been host to three major nuclear power generation accidents: Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. The fatalities in these accidents are statistically insignificant compared to, let's say, driving. In US along, there were 32,000 traffic accident deaths in 2013 and everyone still is driving.

Read this article to learn more about the case for nuclear. Simply fascinating how it compares Nuclear with all sorts of things and makes a solid case.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

European Union on Track to Meet Energy Efficiency Targets by 2020

The Second Report on the State of the Energy Union states that the European Union as a whole has continued to make good progress on delivering the Energy Union objectives, in particular on the 2020 energy and climate targets. It has already achieved considerable reductions in energy consumption. If Member States' efforts continue, the European Union is on track to reach its 2020 energy efficiency targets.

See the report here:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Singapore's Approach to Alternative Energy

Singapore is a small country with a total area of about 720 sq km but it's quite a powerhouse when it comes to harnesing its resources. The way it has emerged from a third world country to an economic superpower in a short span of 40-50 years is commendable.

So, what is Singapore's plan for harnessing renewable energy?

A lot of renewable energy is not really available here.

As per this source,

  • Commercial wind turbines operate at wind speeds of around above 4.5m/s but the average wind speed in Singapore is only about 2m/s.
  • Singapore’s relatively narrow tidal range and calm seas limit opportunities for commercial tidal power generation. Much of our sea space is also used for ports, anchorage and shipping lanes, which limit the application of ocean energy technologies.
  • Hydroelectric power cannot be harnessed, as Singapore does not have a river system with fast flowing water throughout the year.
  • We do not have geothermal energy sources.
  • Our small physical size (715.8 sq km), high population density and land scarcity limits our potential for sustainably-grown domestic biomass. It also constraints the safe deployment of nuclear power in Singapore

  • Singapore's high average annual solar irradiation of about 1,500 kWh/m2 makes solar photovoltaic (PV) a potential renewable energy option for Singapore. However, we face challenges to the use of solar energy in Singapore. We have limited available land for the large scale deployment of solar panels. In addition, the presence of high cloud cover across Singapore and urban shading poses challenges such as intermittency.

    Read the rest of the article here

    The adoption of solar PV systems in Singapore continued to accelerate in 2015. Grid-connected installed capacity of solar PV systems sharply increased from 26 MWac in 2014 to 46 MWac in 2015. This increase was driven by 305 new installations in 2015.

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Clean affordable power for all - in India

    Solar power tariffs appear to be on a free fall in India, finding a new floor at a tariff of Rs 3.15 per unit quoted by Solairedirect in the auction for state-run generation utility NTPC's 250MW at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.

    This beats the previous low of Rs 3.30 per unit tariff, on a basic bid of Rs 2.97 a unit for the first year, quoted in February for the first unit of the 750MW Rewa solar park in Madhya Pradesh.  


    Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Which Countries Run On 100% Renewable Energy?

    Renewable Energy Explained in 2 1/2 Minutes

    Great Report by REN21

    A network for Renewable Energy was formed in 2004 as an outcome of the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, Germany (Source). REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, is a global renewable energy multi-stakeholder policy network that provides international leadership for the rapid transition to renewable energy. See their global status report here. They have a nice graphic on page 28 of the report which depicts the energy mix. Read the report if you get a chance

    Based on REN21's 2016 report, renewables contributed 19.2% to humans' global energy consumption and 23.7% to their generation of electricity in 2014 and 2015, respectively. This energy consumption is divided as follows:
    • 8.9% coming from traditional biomass
    • 4.2% as heat energy (modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat)
    • 3.9% hydro electricity
    • 2.2% is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.
    Worldwide investments in renewable technologies was at US$286 billion in 2015, with countries like China and the United States leading the charts with heavy investment in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels. The best part of the statistics was that more than half of all new electricity capacity installed was renewable. That's a good sign!

    As per REN21, there are 3 categories under which they put renewables:
    • Power: Hydro, Bio, Geothermal, Solar PV, Solar Concentrating, Wind 
    • Heat: Solar hot water
    • Transport: Ethanol, Biodiesel
    They also talk about Ocean energy (wind, tidal).

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Three Gorges Dam: It took 90 years but it's a marvel

    It was first proposed in 1919 by Sun Yat-Sen, a Chinese political leader and finally in 2009, the dam started to create hydroelectricity. Later, 6 new power generators were added in 2011 and in 2012, the project was deemed complete.

    It went through a lot of ups and downs, protests, ownership chnages etc over the years but eventually came through.

    It generates a massive 22 GW of hydroelectric power. To give an idea about how big that is, only 35 countries in the world have installed capacity bigger than that. Even a country like Singapore has installed capacity lower than that.

    It's a true engineering marvel...Take a look at one of the turbines.

    Image result for the three gorges dam

    Image Source:

    By Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation ( [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    How will this chart look like in 20 years?

    It's hard to believe that 150+ years ago, wood supplied most of the energy needs for US. Coal, then petroleum, then natural gas broke the dependence on wood for energy!

    Fast forward to 2015, 10% of energy needs for US are supplied by renewable sources of energy (In absolute terms, this much energy would have been enough to supply total energy needs and more back in 1850). This was hard to believe even 10 years ago. Some of it is driven by government incentive which might change under the new administration but the momentum will be the balancing factor. Hope the trend continues and we break our reliance on sources which are not good for environment. Advances in technology will drive the cost of reneawables lower but that would also require significant funds in research. This still needs some regulatory support and government funding before we can take the training wheels off.

    How do you think the chart below will look like in 2037? Projections are part of the chart but it can go either way.

    Also, see this chart for some positivity:

    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    Apple's floating solar island brings renewable energy to Japan

    On Wednesday, the iPad and iPhone maker said supplier Ibiden has committed to using 100 percent renewable energy to manufacture Apple components, the first partner to do so in Japan.

    In total, the Apple supplier says over 12 MW of solar power will be produced, which is more than enough to cover Apple manufacturing processes in Japan.

    Another article on macdailynews reported,

    Apple and its suppliers will be generating over 2.5 billion kilowatt hours per year of clean energy for the manufacturing of Apple products by the end of 2018 — equal to taking over 400,000 cars off the road for a year.

    Apple has taken significant steps to protect the environment by transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy. Today, the company is powering 100 percent of its operations in 23 countries, and more than 93 percent of its worldwide operations, with renewable energy.

    Sunday, March 5, 2017

    China’s world-beating solar farm visible from space!

    China’s world-beating solar farm is almost as big as Macau, Nasa satellite images reveal

    The US space agency Nasa has released spectacular satellite images of the world’s biggest solar farm, which sits on the Tibetan Plateau in China.....

    .......The images of the 27 square kilometre solar farm (4 million panels) – the world’s largest – were captured by Nasa’s Landsat 8 satellite in April 2013 and last month.

    Read the rest of the article and see the pictures here:

    Solar energy is definitely going places. If you look at the energy mix of China, Solar now constitutes 4.7% (77GW) [LINK]. This was less than 1 GW 6 years ago. They are now the world leader in installed capacity followed by Germany and Japan. Germany leads the chart when you look at per capita production.

    Total world capacity as of 2015 was 256 GW which is a mere ~3.5% of world capacity but is definitely moving up.

    Saturday, March 4, 2017