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Solar Energy Chemistry: Is This The Future?

People are looking for the next sustainable energy source. That energy source should not only be practical, but inexpensive as well. Many of today’s alternative sustainable energy sources aren’t exactly cheap. Scientists are now looking at solar energy chemistry, and wonder is this the future?

The study has been made by a group of European chemists that is led by Professor Joost Reek. He comes from the University of Amsterdam’s research priority area of Sustainable Chemistry. The concept being proposed is solar energy chemistry that can possibly be used in the future for fuel, chemicals and material.

Professor Reek is known for his involvement in solar-driven chemistry. For the study, he said that there is a need for breakthroughs in order to move solar-driven chemistry to reality. He envisions a movement that would involve a wide European solar-driven community that could do research as well as be more active in the industry.

Professor Reek cites examples of such recent work involving solar-driven chemistry, according to the University of Amsterdam’s site. One such example that he notes is the use of novel molecules for solar-driven hydrogen generation. This has been done by the French company PorphyChem. Another one that he notes is for the development of a photoelectrochemical cell that can convert carbon dioxide to methanol.

Two Dutch research institutes have joined the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in getting energy from the Sun through the use of photovoltaics, photocatalysis and photosynthesis, as Science Daily reports. These two institutes are ECN and FOM-AMOLF. This is the sort of European community for solar-driven chemistry that Professor Reek envisions.

Solar-driven energy is a long-term initiative for a much more sustainable energy future. The paper made by Professor Reek and his colleagues state that solar-driven chemical energy from the Sun is needed for the future. This will create a competitive European effort in the industry as well as in research. Solar energy chemistry then can answer the question: is this the future? Earlier also cheaper solar cells were reportedly being developed.

Source: http://www.itechpost.com/articles/52138/20161109/solar-energy-chemistry-future.htm

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India To Ramp Up Solar Investment In 2017

India is making the push to become greener through the use of solar panels. The nation is lagging behind other countries in terms of renewables and has finally begun taking the steps to change. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest mission is to increase manufacturing of solar panels and expand capacity across the country.

The Prayas initiative, the plan to accomplish such tasks, is still in development but will set a goal to create five gigawatts of solar capacity by 2019. The more long-term goal is to have raised capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022 from the current capacity level of 45 gigawatts. Modi’s vision is for India to be completely self-sufficient in mass production, hence the slogan Make in India. Less importing of solar panel parts from China could save India a significant amount and stimulate the economy. This initiative has sparked international interests in the country bringing investors to India’s doorstep. The government is also trying to get households involved, which would expand the industry domestically. Dozens of manufacturers are gearing themselves to provide solar panels to consumers who are looking to save and go green.

Most cells and modules used in manufacturing solar panels are imported from China. In the first half of 2016, India imported 18 percent of China’s production, equivalent to $1.1 billion. India’s businesses lack the economies of scale necessary to effectively produce their own panels and the country altogether spends too much money investing in China. Modi’s plan also allows for the allocation of roughly 9 million rupees per megawatt manufactured, monetarily motivating companies. The state aid will be awarded to those who get selected via tender. With funding from the state and outside investments from other companies pouring in, India hopes manufacturers will finally be able to raise the capital resources needed to compete on this larger scale. Government officials hope that if India is able to ramp up solar energy production, they too could be exporters like their neighboring competitor.

The exchange rate between the two countries is currently 9.91 rupees for every Chinese Yuan. By capitalizing on solar manufacturing, India has the opportunity to steal China’s market share and increase economic growth. Indian officials claim the Prayas initiative has the potential to create thousands of jobs. This combined with an international interest in the industry is also beneficial and directly challenges China’s stake. Investors should buy rupees against the Chinese Yuan now before the Prayas initiative is officially released. The plan is to be discussed at the next finance ministry meeting next month.

Japanese SoftBank Group Corp. may be one of the companies manufacturing solar panels in India through a joint venture. The company already holds a $10 billion joint venture to manufacture panels in India with Foxconn Technology Group and Bharti Enterprises Pvt. but is considering dropping them for this project. Foxconn is public in Taiwan and Bharti has a subsidiary which is public in India named Bharti Airtel Limited. Both companies could suffer losses if SoftBank advances without them.

Manufacturers will surely benefit from the government’s plan. Companies like Moser Baer, Indosolar, and Swelect Energy are all creating cells and modules that go into solar panels in India. With government funding and the increased opportunities for business, these firms are highly incentivized to help India in their endeavors. Its probable investors could stand to profit if they long shares in any of these companies.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/India-To-Ramp-Up-Solar-Investment-In-2017.html
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solar power

Here comes the sun!

Spirited government intervention is recharging the rooftop solar plant movement across India

India’s ratification of the Paris Climate Change Agreement commits it to sweeping cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and one of the pivotal channels for achieving those punishing targets is the instrument of solar power plants. India’s experience in this space illustrates how even vexing problems can be fixed with innovative thinking backed by political will.

India has a good track record in solar power installations – 8 GW in six years, with a promise of another 8 GW in a year – but its record of rooftop solar plant installations is relatively poor. Against the target of 40 GW of rooftop installations by 2022 (which is part of the overall target of 100 GW fixed by the Central Government) India today has just 1 GW of rooftop plants.

This is a serious failing. Since rooftop plants generate electricity right at the point of consumption, they do away with the need for transmission, which in turn cuts down on energy loss. Further, they give plant owners independence from utility companies and insulate them from tariff hikes.

India’s potential in this space is huge. Installing rooftop solar plants at educational institutions and factory buildings alone would help generate 40 GW. India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimates the ‘market potential’ at 124 GW, though it says the ‘technical potential’ is much higher, at 352 GW.

Electricity from rooftop plants will be cheaper than the power that educational institutions and factories procure from utility companies – and from the diesel-fired generators that come on during the frequent power outages. So why has rooftop solar not gained sufficient traction? The reason is the poor financial health of the utility companies.

In India, most electricity utility companies are owned by provincial (State) governments. Political and social imperatives have led governments to provide power cheap, or even free, to the poor and to farmers. These losses are cross-subsidised by higher tariffs on commercial and industrial establishments. Even so, most of the utilities are broke. To hold on to their paying customers, the utility companies effectively disincentivise these establishments from installing rooftop solar plants – by refusing to buy any surplus power from them.

In the southern State of Tamil Nadu, for instance, the distribution company (‘discom’) does not buy from rooftop solar plants of industries and educational institutions. Other States buy surplus power only up to a capacity cap, say, 1 MW.

Being stuck with unsellable surplus power skews the economics of rooftop solar plants for these colleges and factories.

“Discoms see rooftop solar plants as ‘competition’,” observes Ketan Mehta, CEO of Rays Power Infra, which owns solar power plants and builds plants for others.

‘Storage’ is an obvious answer, but it is still a costly proposition.

Solutions in sight

The Central Government acknowledges that without 40 GW from rooftops, it would be impossible to meet the target of 100 GW of solar power by 2022. India has committed at the Paris Climate Change Conference to ensuring that by 2030, 40 per cent of energy consumed in the country will come from non-fossil fuel sources. This would require some 320 GW of renewable energy capacity, so rooftop solar has a key role, even beyond 2022.

Upendra Tripathy, Secretary in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, says the government has promised to compensate discoms for any revenue loss. The bureaucrat did not specify this, but the funds for such compensations could come from the National Clean Energy Fund, which has been formed by collecting a tax on every tonne of coal mined or imported. There are also suggestions from the industry that rooftop plant owners could be asked to pay the utilities a fee.

Alongside all this, the federal government is also looking to provide funds to State governments and cheaper loans for discoms.

Given the manifest seriousness in the government’s intentions, hopes run high that the rooftop solar programme will see more dramatic growth. The cloud cover over the industry, and over India’s contribution to climate change mitigation, is lifting, and a sliver of sunlight is streaming through.

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/cities4climate/here-comes-the-sun/article9299996.ece

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ONGOING PROJECTS

India needs $100 billion more to meet Narendra Modi’s clean energy goal

Growth in the renewables business has helped India become the third-biggest power market in the world after China and the US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs at least $100 billion more to finance country’s goals for clean energy even after his government’s policies brought in record investment in wind and solar power stations.

That’s the conclusion of a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found $10.5 billion flew into renewables in India for the fiscal year ended 31 March, almost 60% more than the $6.6 billion invested two years ago. It also said 7.3 gigawatts of clean-energy projects were built for the latest fiscal year, which is 71% higher than the previous period.

The findings represent the broadest assessment yet of the money going into India’s clean-energy industry. Growth in the renewables business has helped India become the third-biggest power market in the world after China and the US, according to the BNEF report. Modi has set a goal of building 175 gigawatts of clean-energy capacity by 2022 to supply more of the 62 million households that lack access to reliable grids and feed demand for electricity that’s projected to rise fourfold by 2040.

“He’s taking the right steps, but the targets are quite ambitious,” said Shantanu Jaiswal, the lead author of the report at BNEF. “The question is where do people get the money—$100 billion is a lot of money for this industry, especially given where we’re starting from.”

An investment of $100 billion is equivalent to almost 5% of all the goods and services produced annually by the nation of 1.3 billion people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Diversified financing

The report, sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a US non-profit working to mitigate climate change with renewable energy, was released at BNEF’s conference in Shanghai on Tuesday. It also found that India has installed clean-energy capacity of 42.6 gigawatts. That accounts for 14% of the nation’s total generation capacity, up from 12.5% three years ago.

Jaiswal said the nation needs to diversify its sources of finances to reach the goal, bringing in big international banks to complement the lending done by India’s state-backed institutions and the development banks active in the country. It also needs to reduce the cost of debt financing for solar projects, which is more than double the rate charged in China and six times interest rates available in Japan, according to the report.

State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, along with Axis Bank Ltd and Yes Bank Ltd, have helped supply much of the finance along with non-bank lenders such as Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd and L&T Finance Ltd. Development institutions include the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., the Asian Development Bank and KFW of Germany.

The huge capital needed to meet the targets, as well as the high cost of capital, mean that fundraising from the public markets will be critically important, according to the report. Along with green bonds, India is turning to infrastructure investment trusts, which are used to free up and recycle developers’ capital stuck in operational projects by securitizing the revenue streams and offering the units on the public market.

The arrangement, expected to help the inflow of foreign capital and reduce the exposure of domestic financial institutions, was approved in September 2014 by the Securities and Exchange Board of India. Infrastructure investment trusts are similar to yieldcos in helping developers combine multiple projects.

To create safeguards for investors in infrastructure investment trusts, regulators have set a requirement for a minimum number of independent directors in the investment management firm and have also placed restrictions on transactions done between related parties, according to the report.

India also needs to improve on the management of power distribution companies, according to BNEF’s Jaiswal.

“Right now, India’s power distribution utilities are in huge debts, so they don’t buy power even when there’s demand,” Jaiswal said.

Retailers held total debt of almost Rs.4.1 trillion ($60 billion) at the end of March 2015, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in August. That leaves the country’s power plants running below capacity, while one in five people go without electricity.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Industry/MHue4akInnr6UJ2UnPoPBO/India-needs-100-billion-more-to-meet-Narendra-Modis-clean.html

 

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