Punjab targets 1,000 MW solar power
April 3, 2010: Chandigarh
Faced with a severe power crunch, the Punjab government announced that it would set up a chain of solar power plants over the next 2 years to generate nearly 1,000 MW of electricity. The solar power plants will be set up in collaboration with US-based SunPower Corporation and Enterprise Business Solutions (EBS), a State government spokesman said. The Science and Technology department will to prepare a comprehensive plan to establish a network of solar power plants in the State through the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA). SunPower and EBS have been asked to set up a demonstration projects on rooftops of government buildings for tapping solar energy. These will be later on replicated in other government buildings such as district administrative complexes, warehousing and Markfed godowns, officials said. SunPower representative told officials at a meeting that the company would invest nearly Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore) for the project. EBS-SunPower had already started work for commissioning the first grid connected 5 MW solar power plant at Sahiba village in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district. It is likely to be operational by July.
India increases biofuel production
March 17, 2010: Bengaluru
With 135 million litres of ethanol being manufactured from six sugar factories in Karnataka it seems that the country’s production of biofuels is on the rise. The ethanol is blended with petrol in order to comply with India’s 10 per cent ethanol target by the end of 2011. According to the Karnataka’s Biofuel Task Force president Y B Ramakrishna, ‘There is a target of increasing the use of ethanol to 10 per cent by the end of next year.’ He says that 7.5 per cent of the ethanol is mixed with diesel which fuels around 2,000 buses. However India’s dependency on diesel is still high. In order to lessen its reliance on fossil fuels energy crops are being grown on land that is not being used to cultivate food crops. Karnataka has been growing these crops on 6,000 hectares on land since 2009 but it is hoped this will increase to 25,000 hectares between 2010 and 2011. Ramakrishna has asked the forest department officials to take advantage of the non-agricultural land across the Kodagu district and use it grow biofuel plants.
Indian-American professor turns chicken feathers into fuel
March 11, 2010: Washington
Manoranjan Misra, an Indian American professor known for turning coffee grounds and chicken feathers into fuel, is been honoured as the 2010 Regents’ Researcher by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. Misra, director of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Renewable Energy Centre, has published 183 technical papers in the areas of materials, nanotechnology and environmental and mineral process engineering, according to Nevada News. A faculty member since 1988, he has had 10 patents published and another 12 are pending. He has secured over $25 million dollars in grant funding.
Thermax in RE
March 1, 2010: Mumbai
Pune-based energy and environment solutions’ provider Thermax is gearing up to tap incentives offered in the Union Budget for renewable energy, water and wastewater treatment. The company is planning a strong foray into solar, biomass and geothermal sources of energy. The company had initiated a solar project at a village in Chakan near Pune, in association with the Department of Science and Technology. The Rs 13-crore investment is to electrify the village using an indigenously developed solar-cum-biomass fuelled technology, through which the Village will get electricity round the clock, even during the rainy season when sunlight is scarce. The Union Finance Minister, in his Budget speech had announced an increase in the plan outlay for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy by 61 per cent, from Rs 620 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 1,000 crore in 2010-11. He also provided a concessional customs duty of 5 per cent to machinery, instruments, equipment and appliances required for the initial setting up of photo-voltaic and solar thermal power generating units, and exempted all those items from central excise duty. At the moment, setting up a unit to generate one megawatt of solar energy costs double that for each megawatt of a coal-based thermal power unit. The Budget had exempted ground-source heat pumps used to tap geo-thermal energy from basic customs duty and special additional duty. The incentives will reduce the cost for initiating a project, as geothermal energy is relatively new to India. Thermax was also looking forward to big business from water, wastewater and sewage treatment, as the government had earmarked higher allocation for infrastructure projects.
Commonwealth Games Village gets ‘green grid’
April 4, 2010: New Delhi
The Commonwealth Games Village got a dedicated power sub-station, the first green grid in north India on the 3rd of April 2010. The Rs 40-crore Commonwealth Grid sub-station with a capacity of 66/11KV will distribute around 50MW electricity to the two lakh people residing in the Village as well as adjoining localities. There will be no power failure as this grid operates on a dual system and if it cannot draw power from Delhi, it will take electricity from the National Grid. The grid reflects the ‘green’ spirit of the Games as fly ash bricks were used for its construction; it has facilities for water harvesting and 30 per cent of its area has green cover.