Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Ever Since Indian government has taken a decision to introduce a bullet train ( High Speed Rail ) between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, all hell has been let loose by the opposition parties of India in decrying this decision om PM Modi which has the capacity to transform the Indian economy and the lives of common citizenry of India in a decade or so. The government is being touted as anti common man but India has a history of terming most of the progressive measures as repressive. Computerisation was supposed to be anti workers, so was industrialisation. This was generally the view of left parties but today even the centrist party like Congress which was the initiator of the computerisation and industrialisation has joined in the unholy alliance of decrying bullet train through its leaders and  large number of crumb getters who earned the title of intelligentsia through its patronage.
I will give three examples from railways which were outstanding efforts of the crumb givers of this intelligentsia and they rightly sang praises of the effort of the then Indian Government.But today their wisdom seems to have eluded them and they see everything wrong with this path breaking step by Mr. Modi.

a)  Rajdhani Express was introduced in 1969, for providing fast connections (up to 140 km/h or 87 mph, speed variation depending upon the particular track section) from New Delhi to the capital cities of various states in India.
b) Under the aegis of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Railways, Palace on Wheels was introduced on January 26, 1982. ... Thus, with a view to promote tourism in Rajasthan and to provide the world travelers a royal experience of traveling, Palace on Wheels was launched in the year 1982.

c) Rajdhani Express was introduced in 1969, for providing fast connections (up to 140 km/h or 87 mph, speed variation depending upon the particular track section) from New Delhi to the capital cities of various states in India.

But there are some sane voices also. The truth about bullet train has been reflected by Suresh Goel in The track to success: on the bullet train project There are three advantages from the HSR project: economic benefits, including infrastructure development and job creation; technological development, in which Indian companies imbibe the new technologies and potentially also become suppliers to HSR contracts worldwide; and cultural transformation through a demonstrated ability to implement large projects and improve safety.
Investment in infrastructure development has always acted as a catalyst in the economic growth of India. This project could provide an important boost to public investment. The soft funding of the project by the Japanese government is an additional advantage, which brings the two countries together and provides significant economic benefits. In addition to creating demand for local industry, the project would also generate significant employment for a large number of skilled and unskilled workers. The HSR system is more energy- and fuel-efficient. Studies show that HSR systems are around three times more fuel-efficient than aeroplanes and five times more fuel-efficient than cars. Given the traffic density in this corridor, this project could lead to a significant reduction in India’s carbon footprint.
Equally sane and eye opener is the article How Japan's bullet train can transform Indian Railways into a global leader in size, scale & skill. which lays stress on the spinoff benefits. it is a different level of technology and India can ill afford to ignore it at this stage of its national development. A network of HSR in the longer run would facilitate travelling with enhanced passenger comfort, safety and environmental benefits. An HSR system would also release capacity of existing rail lines, enabling faster movement of freight and passenger traffic on the existing lines. The HSR system also releases capacity of airports as short-haul flights get curtailed. This capacity in turn could be utilised for longer duration flights that improve economics of air transport. In addition, development of new cities, promotion of manufacturing to supply equipment and components for the HSR system would provide employment to a growing and better skilled workforce. Investment in HSR is a highly beneficial system because of its various spinoffs, including infusion of new technology in the country which in the long run would lead to improvement in the operations of the existing railway network also. The project is being structured in a manner that it leads to large-scale manufacturing of rolling stock, signalling systems and other electrical equipment and components under Make in India. Additionally The highs peed train will act as a huge social and psychological change act — it should change the mindset of Indians, particularly the Railways, and teach them the art of excellence, safety, punctuality and perfection. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Changing lives with solar microgrids

Haiti is the poorest the country in the western hemisphere. Only 25 per cent of the 10.3 million people in the country have access to electricity. One nonprofit organization is testing a solution that could not only change the lives of the unelectrified in Haiti, but could be a model of how to bring electricity to the 1.2 billion people in the world still living in the dark.
EarthSpark International has built a 93 kW solar-powered microgrid in the small town of Les Anglais (pop. 3,000 in the “downtown” area), which currently supplies clean reliable power to approximately 2,000 people.

Why a Microgrid?

Haiti has more than 30 existing municipal microgrids, but most of them don’t work. And even when they do function, they run on diesel and operate just a few hours a day, a few days a week. So EarthSpark’s goal was to provide people with 24-hour clean affordable electricity.
EarthSpark began working in Haiti providing people with small solar home systems and solar lanterns, products that are life-changing tools for people without access to grid electricity. But the organization soon realized that those aren’t the solutions to which everyone aspires. “To truly unlock economic opportunity, people need access to higher levels of electricity than what a solar home system can provide,” Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International, told RMI.
“With the right conditions minigrids can provide energy services in a low-cost sweet spot between small levels of energy consumption that can be effectively served by small stand-alone solar systems and traditional grid extension,” according to Eric Wanless, a principal in RMI’s international practice leading the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development initiative. EarthSpark isn’t the only group focusing on microgrids.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Wind power and solar power are ways to reduce carbon emissions, but these generation sources are dependent on the vagaries of the weather, which means neither wind nor solar can produce electricity on-demand at all hours of the day. This variability has led many to assume that greatly expanding wind and solar to reduce carbon emissions will cause electricity costs to skyrocket and require expensive energy storage.
My colleagues and I have just published a new study to show that this assumption is not correct. In fact, if the U.S. were to move to a national 48-state electric system, rather than the regional one in place now, the country would be able to transport more renewable energy around the country. That change could reduce CO2 by 78 percent at lower costs than today without using any storage technologies.

Using a computer model, we found that this larger electric system would utilize power more efficiently regardless of the generators within it. The cost reduction between the national style system we modeled and the current one, which is divided into about 130 regions, is US$47 billion per year. That translates into an electricity cost of between 8.5 and 10.2¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to the current national average of 12.7 cents per kWh.