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BALAJI CS posted: As Wind & Solar market has become quite matured now don't you feel the need to focus more on promotion of storage technologies? I have a feeling especially from India's perspective having set 200GW of RE Tgt by 2020 the sector deserves more attention & focus and we are yet to initiate measurers so as to establish a firm foot print in this front 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Hi Balaji, a very valid question/suggestion indeed.

My only addition to this would be that the government should think beyond just battery storage tech. Battery storage is going to take time to get to economies that allow it to be used on a very large scale.

Besides, I really do not see battery breakthroughs coming from India in the next 10 years - so essentially, no point putting in R&D money into something where Eu or US is doing a far better job, it is better to wait for breakthroughs there and adapt/adopt them here.

We should probably do more work on stuff like pumped hydro in which India anyway has experience by way of running large hydro power plants (almost 40 GW of India's power capacity is from hydro). Perhaps some work on compressed air storage and the like could make sense too.

But overall, there's no denying what you suggest: To achieve 200 GW of RE by 2022 (in a total power capacity of perhaps of about 525 GW by then), we should look at energy storage as a key enabler. Else, having 40% of total capacity as infirm power source could be quite - insane.
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Andaluri SrinivasPMP Smart Infrastructure posted: Is there effort to standardize RE industry products and user specifications ? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Hi Srinivas - excellent question.

The question is all the more important as RE tries to become mainstream - which is possible only if there are clean standards and reliable specifications that users can depend on.

Currently, both solar and wind power plants have enough international standards and specifications that users and other stakeholders can use. I am not entirely sure about the small wind turbine market, but the MW scale wind turbine market surely has all the standards and specs, as it is a fairly mature industry now. Solar PV power plants today have reliable IEC standards for almost all the components - panels, inverters, junction boxes, and other DC and AC components.

The existence of standards and certifications start getting shaky once you start moving beyond solar PV and MW scale wind. Even in solar, Solar CSP (solar thermal based power generation) is still an industry with competing, technologies in a flux. Other RE sources such as biomass, geothermal etc., have standards and specifications to various degrees, but I doubt they are anywhere near as industry standard as they are for solar PV and wind.

The one another RE source that has all the standards and user specs in place is hydro power - both large and small hydro power plants. This is once again because hydro power is an old industry - over one hundred years to be exact!

Hope my answer was of help.
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Divya Prabha M.V . Hi Srinivas, I work mainly on Solar PV.Maybe I can try and throw some light on this with regard to the solar sector.
When it comes to electrical standards and certifications, there are several of them in place for each component in the solar sector. MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) has issued several guidelines on the standards, warranties and certifications required for solar power plant components. You may find more information on the same at
Link />
The installation should also be in compliance with the usual IS standards wherever applicable, i.e, in case of earthing, wiring and other standard procedures.
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Divya Prabha M.V . However, do note that the standardizations are pretty much non-existent in the solar PV off-grid segment. Like

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madhav chowdhary posted: Are you interested in Investing in Solar Power Projects to be deployed in rural parts of India to supply power to Cold Storage, Milk Cooling, EV Charging 1 year ago

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Aravind Venugopalan posted: Will car battery technology ever have a break-through like the one we currently see in renewable energy technology? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . I have not much work on batteries, so my answer is at best an intelligent guess. And it is: No.

Battery technology, whether it is for cars or for solar panels, has promised a lot more than delivered.

Specifically, in terms of cost ($/kWh), I don't think the costs of battery storage have fallen anywhere near the same rate at which the cost of power has.

Batteries are the Achilles Heel for renewable energy right now, and I'm afraid they will remain so for at least a decade, if not more.
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Narasimhan Santhanam . And Aravind, here's something from the MIT Technology Review:
"...(new, cost effective) batteries are not being commercialized at anywhere near the pace needed to hasten the shift from fossil fuels to renewables. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk, hardly one to underplay the promise of new technology, has been forced to admit that, for now, the electric-car maker is engaged in a gradual slog of enhancements to its existing lithium-ion batteries, not a big leap forward.

In fact, many researchers believe energy storage will have to take an entirely new chemistry and new physical form, beyond the lithium-ion batteries that over the last decade have shoved aside competing technologies in consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and grid-scale storage systems. In May the DOE held a symposium entitled “Beyond Lithium-Ion.” The fact that it was the ninth annual edition of the event underscored the technological challenges of making that step."

Link
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Shiv Vembadi . Mr. Santhanam, what you say about batteries being the Achilles Heel of renewable energy and the cost not falling fast enough for a decade might be on the pessimistic side. EV experts seem to have a consensus that the cell costs will in fact fall down the critical threshold of $100/kWh even before 2020: Link Like

BALAJI CS . Its all about economics of scale that matters.Ultimately the demand and volume for the product would drive towards technological innovation &cost reduction.
Unlike RE Projects , cost of the battery does not have significant role to play in the overall cost of the Car.Whereas RE is all about volume business and storage technology contributes quite a few % in the overall cost of the system and the competition is quite intense too and that itself would force the players to go for a cost effective innovative technology
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Narasimhan Santhanam . Aravind...it has been more than a year since I put in a first reply...in the duration, things have changed.

The latest update is that the Li-ion battery prices are close to $200/kWh. In 2010, it was $1000/kWh.

By 2025, the magic number of $100/kWh is expected to be reached. At $100/kWh, electric cars achieve cost parity with ICE cars!

Some good news, isn't it?
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Shiv Vembadi posted: How much of the world is currently powered by renewable energy? What would be the case in 2020? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Thanks for the question, Shiv. And a pretty important one too at that,

Before I answer, I would like to spell out what I mean by Renewable energy. In addition to solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and ocean based (tidal/wave), hydropower is also renewable energy, though many do not consider it while discussing renewables, owing to a confusion between alternative and renewable sources (hydro is not alternative energy as it has been a conventional source for long, but IS renewable).

If we agree on the above definition, the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources end of 2016 was around 2.3 TW (2300 GW), with hydro contributing about 60% in terms of installed capacity (about 1300 GW), and the rest of renewables contributing about 1 TW (1000 GW). Of the non-hydro renewable sources, solar and wind will claim a large share (about 900 GW).

Given that the total global installed capacity of electricity is about 6.4 TW, the total % share of renewable power capacity is about 35%, quite a substantial share. However, when it comes to power generation (and not just capacity), the share of renewable will be a shade under 20% - my best estimate is somewhere almost 20%, with hydro contributing about 16.5, wind about 2%, solar and biomass giving about 1.5% together.

So, currently, in terms of installed capacity, renewable sources of power has about 35%, and in terms of generation, about 20%.

But as you can see, the elephant in the room is hydro power. If you take hydro power from the equation, the % share of renewable energy sources to the world's electricity consumption comes crashing down to just 3.5%.
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Shiv Vembadi . Mr. Narasimhan, that's a lot of useful information. Thank you. So, if solar and wind are currently only about 3% to the total electricity demand, when do you think that could become 10% or 30%? Like

Narasimhan Santhanam . @Shiv - a difficult thing to predict. All I know in terms of formal estimate is that IEA thinks solar power will be the single largest generation source for electricity by 2050 - solar PV and CSP combined could contribute about 27% of total - Link />
Of course, 2050 is too far into the future to predict, or for that matter, bother about for the ordinary I and you.

If I were to take a guess, consider it a guess and no more, by 2020, renewables (excluding hydro) would be contributing about 4.5%-5%, and by 2025, possibly about 8%. A 10% contribution could take until close to 2030.

A 30% for solar and wind together would perhaps happen around 2040-2042, if we go with the above IEA estimates.

Prediction far into the future is a nice game isn't it? It's so far away, no one is gone to point fingers at you when I'm wrong - because it will take some 25 years to find out if if I am :-)
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Nikhil Vinay posted: Many do not consider hydro power as renewable energy. Why is it so? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Excellent question, Nikhil.

However, I might have to add a small rider - and it has to do with the term Renewable...because, this term and the term Alternative are sometimes used interchangeably...though technically they mean completely different things.

You see, most (if not all) industry professionals do not consider hydro power to be an alternative source of energy, and rightly so, because hydro power has been a conventional source of energy for very long - in fact, in many countries, the first units of electricity over a century back were generated from hydro power plants.

Thus, clearly, hydro power plants (small or large) are not alternative energy power plants.

But, are they renewable? Without a doubt, yes. Water is a renewable resource, and hence, it is a no-brainer that so is energy dependent on water.

So, folks are wrong when they do not include hydro power under Renewable Energy. They are however absolutely correct when they exclude it from Alternative Energy!

Here's a related post I put in the blog I run - Cleantech Guide. You might be interested in reading it when time permits.

Link
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Divya Prabha M.V . I have also heard about reservoirs associated with large hydro-electric projects being a major source of CO2 emissions. So hydel power is not exactly as green as we think it is. Please comment Like

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Gayathri Kumar posted: Why has biomass gasification based power generation not worked well for Indian villages even though IISc implemented many projects? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . @Gayathri - excellent and timely question. Thousands of Indian villages have little or no power, and the chances of the power grid reaching them anytime soon are remote.

So what are the quicker options to electrify these villages?

It necessarily has to be based on distributed energy sources.

Surely, solar can be thought of, and it is indeed being implemented in many villages. At the same time, solar is not a complete solution unless you include a lot of costly batteries as part of the package.

This is where biomass gasification comes in. Biomass power is firm power. And biomass gasification can work on small scales, using waste agro residues or forest residues available in the village. Looks like a perfect fit, doesn't it?

It indeed is.

But how come many of these small biomass gasifier based power generation projects in hundreds of Indian villages have failed?

Well, don't blame it on the biomass, and nor on the gasifier.

The failure of these projects have to do mainly with the poor maintenance of the system.

You see, biomass gasification based power generation works as follows: The biomass is fed to a gasifier, which gasifies the biomass and produces what is called as the Producer Gas, a low calorific value, organic gas. This gas can be fed to gas engines, power generators similar to diesel engines or natural gas engines. The producer gas engine generates power.

Simple. Or is it?

The gasifier in itself is a sturdy piece of equipment which requires little maintenance. But that is not the case with the gas engine.

The Producer Gas contains significant amounts of biomass tar. This can clog the filters of the gas engine - remember, the gas engines were originally built for natural gas and biomass, neither of which have biomass tar in them.

Anyway, the higher the amount of tar in the producer gas, the higher is the frequency with which the filters in the gas engine get clogged.

All these essentially imply that there needs be a regular cleaning of the filter of the gas engine. Now, while this is not a complex operation, it still needs a bit of training.

Such training, and subsequent maintenance, were what were lacking in the case of villages in India that were running the small scale gasifiers. Owing to their small size, it was difficult or impossible for a professional industrial team to visit hundreds of villages regularly just to clean the filters. The only way would have been to train the villages and form a self help group within the village who had the capability to undertake this maintenance work themselves.

Such a local training and sustainable maintenance has been attempted in a few villages, and I understand in these villages the gasifier based power generation programs have been successful. However, there are many villages that still depend on external experts to maintain the gasifiers, and in most of these villages the gasifier no longer operates.

Not a great story to write home about, but there it is.
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Divya Prabha M.V posted: Similar to solar panels, is there good scope to have small wind turbines on rooftops in India? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Well Divya, good question.

The short answer is: No.

Here's a longer answer.

While solar PV based power plants are truly modular in nature (they work as well in small sizes as they do in large sizes), the same cannot be said for the wind turbines. In most cases, I have seen that small scale wind turbines have very poor CUFs in Indian conditions. Besides, large parts of India are not exactly windy, while most regions of India get at least reasonable, if not very good, sunshine.

Finally, solar panels and solar power plants are a well established, global industry, with quality standards and warranties well in place, ensuring that the retail, distributed energy sector can reliably invest in them. Small scale wind turbine sector, on the other hand, is quite unorganized world over (even more unorganized in India), suffers from lack credible quality standards and benchmarks. All these hinder the small end user in residential or small commercial sector to invest in small wind turbines on rooftops.

While some technological advances such as vertical axis wind turbines are likely to accelerate adoption of small wind turbines on rooftops in India, I do not expect the rooftop wind power market in India to be even a small fraction of the rooftop solar panels market in the foreseeable future.
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Aravind Venugopalan . A technical limitation for wind turbines is that wind speed is much better the higher you go. Partly due to this reason, wind turbines are getting larger and larger. Like

Narasimhan Santhanam . @Aravind - yes, that too. The power generated by a wind turbine is proportional to the cube wind speed (Power = k.v^3). And as Aravind said, wind speeds are higher with altitudes, so you can see that you get a much higher bang for the buck if the blades are a higher altitude. In fact, some of today's largest MW scale wind turbines are 100+ meters high.

Unfortunately for small wind, the converse is true as well - lower the altitude, much lower is the overall generation.
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Manohar Namasivayam . @Divya @narsi

What about wind from coastal rural areas which can benefit from
such a low cost turbine,

I read about this some time ago.

Is it a viable option >?
Link
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Narasimhan Santhanam . Hi Manohar - Your idea can lend itself to a slightly different perspective...yes coastal rural areas could have more wind and hence could be more attractive for small wind turbines. Still, I doubt if rural households could afford to invest in small wind turbines (please note that the cost/kW for small wind is right now much higher than that for solar power plant, almost 1.5 times that of a solar power plant).

But as I mentioned, the fact that you have good wind even at low heights in the coastal rural areas could be used for community scale wind power plants, where perhaps with a good amount of government support, there can be perhaps 15 or 20 kW wind turbines for each village, set not on rooftops, but on some common community land. Such a community wind farm does away with rooftop structural issues, maintenance is less of an issue now that the community (and not just a single household) is involved in it, and finally another avenue in the government's Power for All mantra.

A tweak that government can try while implementing this is to have a solar/wind hybrid power plant, as we all know that solar and wind power generation are kind of complementary to each other, thus resulting in a relatively more uniform power generation over a day than solar or wind alone.

Of course, whatever I have mentioned comes under the broad scope of microgrids - though I doubt the government has considered your perspective in terms of use of small wind specifically for coastal rural areas as part of the microgrid energy source mix.
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Manohar Namasivayam . Link />
This is old news.

The product has not caught on.
@Divya will you be knowing its performance currently.
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Narasimhan Santhanam . @Manohar, I don't know what you do to your links, but they don't lead anywhere :-), I see a /> after the link which could be creating problems, so am removing it and giving your link that works - Link Like

Narasimhan Santhanam . Oh and by the way, on the YourStory link you had given @Manohar, one of the founders, Arun George had contacted me a few months before he launched his firm, as he wanted us to do a survey of the market. I really hope they are able to make some breakthrough here, but my questions and concerns on small wind turbines remain... Like

BALAJI CS . First of all Wind power is site specific whereas the solar power ,irrradince level and the expected output can be generalized to a greater extent say for a city/town.

large wind parks need a detailed Wind Resource assessment (WRA) and even for kw rated wind generators we need to have the historical wind speed pattern,elevation etcc so as to arrive the optimal design/feasibility-whereas solar PV System & modules are all standardized and one can source it from the market with ease to meet his power requirement.This factor plays a key role in limiting the spread of smaller wind turbines.However hybrid systems (wind +solar)would be much more effective provided we do the ground work thoroughly
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Divya Prabha M.V . Thanks for the answers. I also wanted some clarity on how much do these small-scale wind turbines cost. For e.g, a 1 kW solar power plant today costs about Rs.55-60 per Watt. Do wind turbines also cost around the same for such small capacities? Like

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Pruthiraj Swain posted: Is Hydrogen based fuel cells comes under renewable sources of energy ? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . Hi Pruthiraj. Thanks for your question.

Technically, hydrogen cannot be classified as a renewable energy source, but more as an energy storage medium.

Why?

Consider the key renewable energy sources - solar, wind, biomass, geothermal etc. These are all present in nature around us, and all we need to do is to recover useful energy out of these (electricity from solar & wind, heat & biofuels from biomass, heat & power from geothermal).

On the other hand, hydrogen is not present around us in pure form, and hence has to be generated using other forms of energy - which could be renewable energy or a fossil energy source!

So, it can easily deduced that hydrogen is neither a direct source of energy, nor can it be definitively called renewable.

However, as a storage medium, hydrogen is a great idea. Solar & wind are infirm sources, so an effective way to make them reliable is to use them to generate hydrogen and recover this energy on demand.

Hope I made sense. Thanks again for asking.
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Aravind Venugopalan posted: Can we use Solar power to replace Diesel Gensets during power cuts? 1 year ago

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Narasimhan Santhanam . The answer is: In select cases, yes. Solar power is infirm, so during power cuts you cannot completely rely on it, unless you combine batteries with it. Battery storage might not be economically viable for large scale rooftop solar, so you will need a hybrid of solar (without batteries) and diesel genset. So, for small scale, yes can replace DG sets. For large scale, usually a DG-Solar hybrid. Like

Narasimhan Santhanam . Arvind, you can also check out the following pages we have published on my company web sites Solar Mango & EAI, on this topic: 1. Diesel reduction using solar – what is the reality? - Link ; 2. Can Rooftop Solar PV Replace Diesel Entirely? - Link ; 3. Diesel to Solar – A Case Study On PV Plant Sizing - Link Like

Aravind Venugopalan . Thanks for the reply, sir Like

Narasimhan Santhanam . My pleasure, Aravind. Just to add to the points I had made earlier, in some of the cases we investigated for commercial units using solar/diesel hybrid, we inferred that they reduced about 15-20% of diesel use, and resulted in an overall cost reduction of about 12-15%. Not a massive replacement really, but perhaps not insignificant either. Like

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