Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY IN INDIA : SOLAR AND WIND POWER

Whenever one talks of solar and wind energy options for achieving energy security, a lot of fuss is created over the capital cost and power generation cost of these alternates. It is always implied that huge power producing hubs using these energy sources will be part of a large grid. For a meaningful comparison solar and wind energy has to be evaluated on the basis of a standalone onsite concept applied on a village level which is their forte. This concept does away with the requirements of a grid. 
By way of example let us take a village of about 1000 households with a population of 5000. For a per capita consumption of 2000 kwh annually purely for domestic usage, 10000000 kwh or 10000mwh are required which translates into a power generation requirement of less than 1mw assuming constant loads for 24 hours all 365 days of a year. Keeping in view the vagaries of demand within 24 hours of a day, 5mw generator of wind and solar power each will more than suffice for all kind of requirements.This will require a land area of about 50 acres which every village has in the form of SHAMLAT land ( A piece of land owned by a village collectively for common use of the village ).

  • The beauty of solar and wind power generators is that the power generation cost of 1mw is the same as that of 10mw or more in the same way as the traction cost of a vehicle remains the same whether we have one vehicle or more. The scale of production of vehicles lowers the cost of vehicle but cost of producing 1BHP of traction power remains the same.The scale of production will reduce the cost of solar panels or wind turbines but will not effect the cost of energy production.
  • Solar and wind power when used onsite standalone mode does away with the capital cost requirements of a grid as also the major amount of 35-40% transmission and distribution losses and the overall cost becomes close to all kinds of power generators in use.
Besides being an attractive power generation option because of versatility in terms of vagaries of on site requirements depending upon size of households conglomerate, ability to be upgraded with annual  demand  increases and incurring costs as per the availability of funds keeping smallest village as a viable unit, solar and wind power option offers following additional advantages of far reaching importance to the country.

  • As there is no requirement of hauling of fuels from mines to generation sites,  no additional load on road and rail transport infrastructure for production of power.
  • No additions to global warming
  • The nation will be free from any catastrophe through ever lingering possibility of nuclear plant accidents.
  • No chance of blackmail by fuel suppliers.

New industrial hubs and Special Economic Zones can also meet their power requirements through a combination of solar, wind and emergency switch-over diesel based power. An integrated corridor of land all round will accommodate a ring road, ring railway for to and fro logistics requirements of men and material and solar panels and wind turbines for electricity generation.