Varied interests in the energy and power sector viz., CDM, carbon rating, Monitoring & Evaluation, Energy Management, Rural Development; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related matters; Demand Side Management (DSM), Energy Audits, Distributed Power Generation (Biomass, Wind,Solar and Small Hydro), Participatory Management.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A tiny country is planning to go carbon-neutral


Wisdom of the small

Mar 23rd 2009

A tiny country is planning to go carbon-neutral

ON MARCH 15th the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, announced that his country would try to stop using fossil fuels—and thus eliminate most of its greenhouse-gas emissions—by 2020. The Maldives is not wealthy but it leads richer nations in tackling climate change.

Mr Nasheed has good reason to be so conscientious. The Maldives, a collection of atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean, stands less than two metres above sea level. That means it will probably be the first country to disappear as sea levels continue to rise—and, in the meantime, growing storm surges will make life there parlous.


Yet the Maldives' contribution to climate change is minimal. Fewer than 400,000 people live there and most of those own neither a car nor many electrical appliances. Even the carbon emissions generated by newlyweds flying in for their honeymoons—the mainstay of the economy—are negligible compared with what those holiday-makers generate at home.

Mr Nasheed has recruited two British environmentalists, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall, to draft a plan for the Maldives to replace the oil that fuels the country's generators, cars and boats with power from solar panels, wind turbines and biofuels. This, they reckon, will cost $1.1 billion. It will, however, spare the place the expense of importing petrol, diesel and kerosene, and so pay for itself in 10 to 20 years, depending on the price of oil.

Mr Nasheed says mildly that he hopes other countries will follow the Maldives' example. He is too gracious to add that rich countries, which bear the lion's share of responsibility for climate change, should be ashamed that his, which bears almost none, is doing relatively more to fight it than they are. European politicians like to congratulate themselves for setting the goal of generating a mere 20% of power from renewable sources by 2020. Many of their American counterparts, meanwhile, are arguing against even that modest target, on the grounds that their states cannot afford it. Income per head in Mississippi, one of the places protesting most loudly, is seven times that of the Maldives.

Perhaps a few politicians in the rich world will focus on this injustice. But a more important point is that overhauling the Maldives' energy supply within a decade does not look impossible. The islands are famously sunny and also (though this is less widely advertised) quite windy, so there is plenty of raw material. And the falling price of wind turbines and solar panels makes turning that energy into electricity more affordable than it used to be—a trend that is likely to continue. Of course, the wind does not always blow and even the sunniest tropical paradise goes dark at night. But Messrs Lynas and Goodall reckon $315m-worth of batteries combined with a biomass-fuelled power plant should be enough to keep the lights on during windless hours of darkness.

In many ways, therefore, the archipelago is well suited to an energy makeover. But it is worse off in some others. The population is scattered across a chain of islands 900km long, which makes it expensive to connect everyone to a power source. It is also a bad time to be raising money for such a project. But even if rich countries do not have the decency to help pay for Mr Nasheed's plan, they should, at least, shamelessly plagiarise it.

Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
+91 99161 29728

Saturday, March 21, 2009


'Energy efficiency can help reduce fiscal deficit'

'Energy efficiency can help reduce fiscal deficit'

20 Mar 2009, 0000 hrs IST
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NEW DELHI: He's known as the 'founding father' of energy efficiency in the US. Arthur H Rosenfeld, 86, is commissioner of the California Energy
Commission (CEC) since 2000, He was a student (Physics) of Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi, at the University of Chicago. Rosenfeld's research on the miniaturization of electronic ballasts in fluorescent lamps led to the development of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) at Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory where he founded the Centre for Building Science in 1975. He created low emissivity windows that let in light, not heat in summer while retaining heat in winter. 'Art', as he's popularly known, Rosenfeld formulated the DOE-2 cod (now called Energy-plus) as a compliance tool for energy efficiency in buildings. Other contributions: The Rosenfeld Law (2001): "The amount of energy required to produce one dollar of GDP has decreased by about one per cent per year since 1845. The Rosenfeld Effect: California's low electricity consumption per capita growth since 1973 has been dubbed the Rosenfeld Effect. His autobiography is titled: The Art of Energy Efficiency. He won the 2006 Enrico Fermi award from the US government for his contribution to science and technology. California's low electricity consumption per capita growth since 1973 has been dubbed the Rosenfeld Effect. Today California leads the country (US) in energy efficiency with its experience in greening public utilities and distribution networks as well as implementing green building codes and encouraging the use of energy-saving appliances. California has made energy efficiency profitable for utilities and profitable for the people and the state. Rosenfeld and Dian M Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission that spends USD One million a year on energy efficiency (they work as a team) spoke to Narayani Ganesh in New Delhi recently:

What is unique about California's energy experience?

Rosenfeld: Today, California leads the country in energy efficiency with its experience in greening public utilities and distribution networks as well as implementing green building codes and encouraging the use of energy-saving appliances. California has made energy efficiency profitable for utilities and for the people and the state.

What were the challenges?

Rosenfeld: The most difficult challenge was the complete absence of any concept of energy efficiency. Before OPEC, the utilities took demand and supply to be exogenous. Demand went up by 6 per cent a year, doubling every 20 years and that demand had to be met. If only that had been considered unsustainable by some legislators, we would have reached in 1980 where we are today. In the US, energy was dirt cheap. And it was treated like dirt.
Dian M Grueneich: Every 50 miles we would have had to have a nuclear plant to meet that demand.

Where and how did you begin?

Rosenfeld: I was doing sub-atomic physics. I didn't know beans about energy. I organised a study in Princeton University in 1973 immediately after the (oil) embargo: How to institutionalise energy efficiency comparable to Western Europe and Japan. For them, energy was a security issue. Out of that effort came several technical ideas like the CFLs and low-emissivity windows that keep the heat out in summer and retain heat in winter while letting in the light.
The CEC had just been formed with the power to promulgate building and appliance standards. It started developing windows and power supplies for more efficient fluorescent lighting. The DOE-2 code ^ now called Energy-plus ^ a computer programme for energy efficiency compliance in buildings, has been in force for 35 years. The sooner you can get commercialisation of green products, the better off you are. We have knocked 20 per cent off our electricity use in the last 35 years with better appliances.

How do the CEC and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) work together?

Grueneich: Generally, we work closely. The CEC updates energy standards for buildings every three years. During those three years, we work together to identify new technologies and products for the next period. We subsidise utility companies, levy a charge (cess) that goes to the fund to subsidise new products. The fund is used to design programmes to pick out the top two or three technologies through cost-benefit study. We want architects, builders, and the public to get familiar with new technology. For example, from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. Utilities subsidise the cost of new technology and do studies of energy efficiency to save energy. The CEC funds research and development.

Money is set aside for public education. In schools, children learn about CFLs. They ask question and learn more in interactive sessions. The media is another channel in creating awareness, through television, magazines, newspapers...

Do you have energy efficiency star ratings for appliances and buildings?

Rosenfeld: Turkey has adopted the concept of Energy Star Ratings - where five star is at the top. Low emissivity windows, for instance have star ratings as well as rebates. We are scared of making the mistake of promoting faulty products. For example, low emissivity windows have seals to prevent moisture from leaking. And some of that sealing material was found to fall short of standards. It was only after six years of selling that the energy stars were given. The market has to be tested. A five star rating would mean that the product was 15 per cent above the accepted energy standard.

Grueneich: Maybe if we were doing it now, the CEC would have gone for that kind of gradation, rating energy efficiency with stars! What India is doing right now, encouraging the gradation rating to denote how energy efficient a product is, is a very good thing. The USAID Energy Management Centre, the BE and BIS are together evolving a star strategy in India for energy efficiency.

Californians save USD 200 per year on their electricity bill compared to the rest of the US. Our message is, when energy efficiency is followed at the individual level - when you save on your electricity bill - that is also a powerful tool for economic development. That's the big picture. In California, just on energy efficiency programmes, we are spending about USD One billion each year. But what is being saved by the state and all the people in California is USD Two billion a year. The USD One billion pays for the cost of the programme and the other USD One billion stays for use in the economy. This can be replicated in other places. So energy efficiency can be an important strategy for reducing fiscal deficit of the exchequer.

It's probably California's most important economic development programme. It is also hugely important for California to meet what we call our reliability needs. So, too, for India. You need to build more power plants but you also need to reduce shortages with energy efficiency. And energy efficiency can create more jobs.

The economic stimulus package that the US has passed recently (President Obama's plan) devotes a major portion to energy efficiency. If India were to do a programme the size of California's the cost would be three per cent of everyone's electricity bill.

A billion dollars invested in energy supply would give you more than 1,000 megawatts of power. But with energy efficiency India would generate 5,000 megawatts because energy efficiency is one-fifth to one-tenth the cost of energy supply. These figures are based on the analytical studies done in India.

Rosenfeld: In the US, in actuality, USD Three billion utility bills are saved with better windows but since those appliances cost more, the figure is a little less. For example if you have very good energy efficient refrigerators, you would save a whole lot more. Pacific Gas in their annual report said that their energy savings were in the ratio of 7:1.

What is your vision for a green city?

Grueneich: My vision of a green city? We have in California last year developed the long term California Energy Efficiency Plan that includes four "big bold" energy efficiency strategies for residential and commercial buildings, for zero net energy. This is a concept for a new city: Hi-rise apartment buildings (the concept would be important for China and India) and communities that are in areas where residential and commercial land use is mixed. So there would be a solar energy plant to reduce the need for electricity. Individual new buildings built fro scratch to use little electricity as possible from the grid that would also minimize water use.

In the UK, the BedZed complex is precisely this kind of community, where the goal is zero net energy, isn't it?

Grueneich: Yes indeed. In fact it was during a visit to the UK, that I first came across the concept of zero net energy. I was there at the DEFRA office in the year 2007, when they released the Zero Net Energy plan concept. I came back to California and put that concept in motion in 2008. It was formally adopted in September 2009.

Don't you have any distribution problems in California?

Grueneich: No, we don't.

Rosenfeld: We have knocked 20 per cent off of our electricity use in the last 35 years with better appliances. Half of that achievement comes from standards - for buildings and appliances for instance - and the other half comes from enforcing energy-saving programmes.

What is the simplest building standard that can be adopted in old or new structures anywhere?

Rosenfeld: It's a simple answer but was introduced only in 2005: White roofs, especially if the roof is flat. In India, most roofs are flat, so that's easy. If you notice, most roofs in the Meditteranean region are white. They not only reduce air-conditioning bills by keeping the building cool, the heat that the roof reflects helps reduce the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming. Israel law requires that all roofs are whitewashed every summer to keep down air conditioning.

White roofs save 10-20 per cent energy of the AC load. If it's a six-storey building, you would save 10-12 per cent of electricity of the top floor only. The very slight initial extra cost of having a white roof is recovered in one summer. (See TOI report January 17, 2009). In January this year three of us at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab published something on white roofs - because the heat is not trapped, because the heat is reflected back to the atmosphere, it offsets the heating effects of carbon di-oxide emissions. A typical roof offsets instantly ten tons of CO2 for every 100 sq m of white roof area. It's the equivalent of taking a car off the road for two years!

Let's think of a 20-year programme and we convince everyone in hot, tropical and temperate climates to paint their roofs white. We will offset 24 billion tons of CO2, the total output of CO2 in the world in 2008. Over 20 years I would do it at the rate of five per cent a year, but global warming does not increase by five per cent a year. So if you divide 24 billion tons of CO2 by 20 years, what you get is 1.2 billion tons or gigatons per year of CO2 reduction, the equivalent of taking 300 million cares off the roads for 20 years.

We think this is a cost-saving strategy and under the Clean Development Mechanism, can bring huge amount of funds to India. We hope the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency will publicise this. It's labour-intensive, so it will also help in job-creation, whether you opt to paint/ whitewash it or go in for white tiles.

How does a change of government affect environment programmes?

Grueneich: We have state laws - each agency has regulations so even if the government and heads of departments change the programmes continue.

Rosenfeld: The building standards have never been effectively challenged. Every architect in California knows that our bills are cheaper because of these programmes. We are very pleased that India has already got voluntary building standards and the utilities of at least seven states, through regulation, are talking about setting up utility programmes. Maharashtra is spending USD 20 million a year on energy efficiency programmes; it's a good start. It's important to build up the momentum.

Grueneich: It took California to get where it is today, running a very successful energy efficiency programme. There's no reason why India can't do this within a decade or even five years of comprehensive energy efficiency.

Are you collaborating with India?

Rosenfeld: We've signed an MoU with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and Forum of Regulators. We've been in the energy efficiency business since the oil embargo. Since then, for 35 years, California's per capita energy consumption has remained the same. Energy efficiency can help reduce fiscal deficit and create more jobs.

We are very pleased that India has already got voluntary building standards and the utilities of at least seven states, through regulation, are talking about setting up energy efficiency programmes. Maharashtra is spending $20 million a year on energy efficiency programmes; it's a good start. It's important to build up the momentum.

Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
+91 99161 29728

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Indian Wind Power Sector - A Hub of High Public and Private Activity


The gross installed capacity of grid-interactive renewable power in India currently is 11,273 MW, which accounts for 8% of the total installed generation capacity in the country. Total power capacity is expected to be 200,000 MW by the end of the 11th Plan (2012). Of this, the government has set a target of 24,000 MW to come from renewable energy. Wind power is planned to contribute 10,500 MW.

Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
+91 99161 29728

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Fully solar-powered UP village is India's first

Sunday March 01, 2009 19:18:25 EST

LUCKNOW, Mar 02, 2009 (Hindustan Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX News Network) --

The sun never sets on Rampura village in Jhansi anymore. The Bundlekhand village is the first in the country to get its solar power plant. It did not have any electricity at all. But now, the kerosene lamps, under which children used to study, have started gathering dust.

The children in the village now study or play under electric lamps in the nights, listen to the radio and watch TV -- all because of solar energy. It is an 8.7 kilowatt power plant. Installed at a cost of Rs 31.5 lakh, it provides electricity to all 69 houses in the village. Development Alternatives, a non-profit organisation, in collaboration with Scatec Solar of Norway, gave the village the Community-based Solar Power Plant. Rampura is 17 km from Jhansi.

"In this solar power plant, community partnership has ensured participation of the community from the beginning for their ownership. Use of renewable and clean energy for electricity generation will make Rampura self-sufficient in power supply. A Village Energy Committee has been established," said Manaoj Mahata, Programme Manager-Energy, Development Alternatives.

It is not just the light; the solar power would soon go into enhancing skills of the local people. A community-based profit oriented flour mill is soon going to start in the village, which will run on solar power. Anita Pal, a resident of the village who also is a member of the Village Energy Committee said: "I plan to begin a knitting enterprise to make money."

"The Community-based Solar Power Plant pilot project was initiated to test the techno-commercial viability of deploying solar energy for development in rural areas in India. Its aim is to establish a model that is easily replicable and can facilitate a rollout of CSPPs on a large-scale across India," said Mahata. More villages are keen to have similar power plants.

Norwegian Minister for Environment and International Development Erik Solheim inaugurated the project. Solheim, an Indologist, told the villagers: "Your village draw its name from Lord Rama. And you will fight the demon of darkness (neglect, underdevelopment and backwardness) with the sun." The plant was inaugurated on January 26.

Amit, a Class 5 student, said: "I am happy that the light has come to my school and home."

Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
+91 99161 29728