ARE DISTRIBUTED ENERGY SYSTEMS OPTIMAL IN INDIA? Narayanan Komerath Padma Komerath Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering Georgia Institu...
Author: Elinor Lynch
0 downloads 1 Views 1MB Size

Padma Komerath

Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 30332-0150 [email protected]

SCV Inc Alpharetta, GA 30022

ABSTRACT This paper explores the hypothesis that solutions based on distributed intelligence, investment and effort are more optimal for India than the textbook solutions that are based on the assumed economies of scale of centralized plants. Following general explorations of the reasons for today’s status, the paper summarizes prospects for different technological approaches. The particular case of wind energy is explored in detail, first showing why the traditional approach chooses massive turbines. An approach based on small turbines is then proposed. It is argued that such an approach will open doors to integrating the diverse technologies and resources into a comprehensive nation-wide solution. The net present value of national investment is used as a simple metric to compare approaches.


1. INTRODUCTION Dutch windmills of the 19th century (see Figure 1) were as small as a modern 3-storeyed building[1]. Despite their crude wooden blades, iron parts and abysmally low aerodynamic efficiency, their effectiveness as the elements of a national energy architecture is obvious. The point of this paper is that this humbling thought is worth thinking, as much of the world struggles for energy independence. 1.1 OBJECTIVES Each crisis brings out well-meaning but highly optimistic opinions on miracle cures, and this paper is no exception in its underlying motivation. The objectives are 2-fold. The first is to understand the key numbers and issues of the Indian primary energy market, the reasons and constraints driving past and present decisions, the dangers and the opportunities. As such the introduction is long. The second is to explore in simple terms, the prospects as well as the challenges for implementing one partial “miracle cure” that may be embraced by a large part of the Indian population.

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

1.2 SIZING THE PROBLEM The US Department of Energy[2] projects that year 2010 Indian energy consumption will be 13 to 15 Quadrillion BTUs. This compares with 97 for the US, 40 for China and 23 for Japan. India is far from President Kalam’s timeline of a developed India by 2020. The statistics in Table 1 point to the problem and the opportunity. India lags far behind in actually implementing the means to harness renewable sources on a national scale. Each of the “oil spikes” of the past 50 years has severely impacted Indian economic growth, and ability to deter enemies. It is happening again.

Figure 1: Picture of a Dutch windmill. Published by kind permission from Mr. Richard Neuman.

Today the government seeks massive foreign investment to build nuclear plants that provide reliable “baseload” power to Indian heavy industry and cities. However, with the power grid reaching less than half the population, and the most ambitious projections for nuclear power[3] meeting less than 25% of demand, unmet need is immense.

Table 1: Breakdown of Energy Sources India, 2001, Total 4,100,000 GWh Coal 2,090,000 GWh Petroleum 1,410,000 GWh Natural Gas 267,000 GWh Hydroelectric 258,000 GWh Nuclear 69,700 GWh Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal 8,200 GWh

India 2001 Global 1999 [4] 100% 110,000,000 GWh 50.9% 22.5% 34.4% 39.7% 6.5% 23.2% 6.3% 7.2% 1.7% 6.7% 0.2% 0.8%

Four barriers prevent India from reaching energy independence by today’s routes: 1. Coal resources are finite. Burning coal is bad for the environment. While “exempted” along with China from the stringent rules of the first stage of the Kyoto Protocol, India is certain to be subjected to stringent penalties down the line. 2. Demand for imported petroleum is growing fast, and costs are rising. 3. Domestic nuclear fuel production, and investment to build power plants, are too slow. Signing lopsided treaties on Non-Proliferation, Fissile Material Cutoff, Missile Technology Control, Comprehensive Test Ban etc., would invite nuclear blackmail. 4. Large dam projects are targets for various interest groups, besides the real problem of fair solutions for citizens displaced from fertile catchment areas. Large dams pose unknown seismic hazards. Dam projects have suffered major delays, cost overruns, and fallen short of power targets. On the other hand, their benefits in flood control, thirst and drought alleviation, irrigation and rural electrification are massive.


“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

1.3 EVOLUTION OF THE INDIAN ENERGY INDUSTRY Indian energy policy has been driven by the realities and constraints of the postindependence era. The economy of 1947 included a few industrial units and power plants, developed by the British to pour wealth into Britain. These highly centralized plants concentrated technical talent, capital and control in a small number of personnel. The hinterland was left to its own devices. Post-independence governments, short on capital and technology and stalked by famine, sought help from the West and the Soviet Union. Capital, technology and expertise came in packages that had worked in the respective domestic economies. Following several public-sector undertakings that placed large power plants at wellchosen locations, the 1980s effort to “fast-track” private foreign “high-tech” investment in large power plants led to the ENRON Dabhol debacle. While ENRON’s Return on Investment was guaranteed in dollars, the cost of power generated using imported naptha (petroleum), also paid in dollars, devastated rupee-paying customers. Years later, California State regulators exposed fraud in ENRON’s computerized power transactions. Today, the hype over “massive Foreign Direct Investment” surrounding the nuclear power deal with the Nuclear Suppliers’ cartel, is eerily reminiscent of ENRONDabhol. As cited above, this is far from solving fossil fuel dependency. Per the US DOE[5], “India is the only country that has a separate government ministry exclusively for non-conventional energy sources, and India has one of the largest national programs to promote the use of solar energy”. India seeks to leapfrog to rural electrification using renewable sources. In 2002-2007, the targets are 1500MW and 50,560MW of installed wind and hydroelectric power, respectively. 1.4 EFFECT OF OIL IMPORTS ON INDIAN RURAL POPULATION The Indian rupee plunges when the oil price spikes, going from $0.167 in 1978 to $0.083 in 1984 (Oil Crisis #1) and then below $0.02 by 2000. The rupee has remained relatively stable against other currencies, but not against the US dollar [6]. The effect on the rural population has been devastating. Land values have probably risen to keep up with inflation in the towns, but rural purchasing power has not. The concept of Peak Oil[7] is that the rate of increase of demand exceeds the rate of increase of new finds and production. Rising prices may collapse automobile demand for gasoline in automobiles as hybrids and fuel-cell cars come into use. Kerosene and diesel prices, subsidized by gasoline taxes, may rise steeply as gasoline production plunges, hurting India’s rural population and mass transport systems. Sud[8] estimates that India is currently paying $45B/yr to import crude oil. 2. SOLUTION: DOMESTIC RENEWABLES TO REPLACE OIL IMPORTS A comprehensive solution must at least plan to replace today’s imported fossil fuel – the equivalent of at least 1.41 million Gigawatt-hours per year. This is an immense undertaking, and will not be accomplished with any one technology or type of fuel. The standard approach is to construct many large plants and try to interconnect them with 3

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

the grid. The current focus appears to be 3-fold: a. boosting “baseload” generation using nuclear plants, b. pushing large irrigation / flood control / power generation using dams, and c. investing tentatively in alternative energy sources. This is slow and takes huge concentrations of capital. An alternative, in fact complementary, approach is a grassroots movement includes and empowers (no pun intended) hundreds of millions of people.. It is important to distinguish between “total energy use”, much of which is in transportation, cooking and other applications requiring intensive heating, and electricity generation, which is mostly for fixed industrial, business and home use. Globally, electricity generation is only about 20% of total “primary energy” use; in India it is much less. Petroleum imports will not be stopped just by increasing electricity generation. However, the other approaches which can cut petroleum imports and coal usage, require connection to the electricity generation enterprise in order to become viable. 2.1 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WESTERN AND INDIAN GROUND REALITIES Power-generation systems are optimized as large-scale, automated, centralized systems. The industrialized world's energy environment is compared to Indian realities in Table 2. We will first see why the large-utility solution makes conventional sense, before considering why the small-unit approach is vastly superior for India. Table 2: Differences Between the Ground Realities in Industrialized Economies vs. India re: Power System Issue Industrialized Economies Indian Realities Capital Large capital availability from public Shortage of private capital; and private sources urgent competing priorities. Capital Local. Actual cost goes down if Tied to foreign currency: costs currency inflation is above predictions. escalate with inflation Cost of Low. Utilities command prime rate. High. Money Labor Cost High labor cost; low unemployment. Low labor cost, high unemployment. Construction Specialized heavy machinery Mostly hand labor or imported Techniques available; high productivity for large machinery. Not much economy projects. Large economy of scale. of scale. Schedules Predictable with occasional delays Long delays common Transmission In place, efficient, paid for. Inefficient or non-existent. Infrastructure Fossil Centralized delivery of cheap fossil Fossil fuel shortage except for resources fuels. coal; high fossil fuel cost. Quality of Excellent stability and reliabilityPoor stability, frequent outages – delivered customers have little provision for customers own storage, grid power storage or conditioning of power. generators and regulators. Delivery of Gas pipelines in urban areas. Most Cooking gas via cylinders: public stored power people leery of gas cylinders. comfortable with usage. 4

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

2.2 THE VAITHEESWARAN POSTULATE The Grid is not indispensable The position taken in this paper is that a distributed energy system is technically, economically and culturally viable, and can take India to rural electrification and energy independence in the relatively short term. Major support for this position comes from the work of Vaitheeswaran[9] on the prospects for a worldwide revolution in energy generation. Vaitheeswaran points out that the large monopolistic power utility is not indispensable, and traces its origins to the market forces that existed when the electric power grid was established in the United States. The grid, that Vaitheeswaran calls the biggest monopoly utility of all, provided economies of scale that made it impossible for small entities to compete on costs. However, the centralized generation / radial distribution model entails large transmission losses – much more in the Indian system than in the American grid. With generously-planned land rights, high-capacity lines, and the use of very high voltage to minimize current (line losses are proportional to the square of the current), the U.S. electric grid achieves very high efficiency. While nuclear plants suffered a lot of bad press, today most are fully paid off, have fuel on hand for years to come, and are thus approaching the original ideal of “electric power too cheap to meter”. It is very hard for “green” power-generating technologies to compete, unless they can integrate themselves completely into the electric grid – or unless they are located in communities where the grid does not yet reach. Integration of Transportation, Generation and Storage There is another huge aspect to the revolution that Vaitheeswaran predicts. This is the integration of transportation needs and home power generation needs, through the use of fuel cells and other storage means. Vaitheeswaran cites models of a hydrogen economy, where hydrogen fuel cells convert energy efficiently. The fuel cells are charged using electricity provided locally from a variety of micro-power generation sources, in addition to power from the electric grid. In turn, the fuel cells can sell stored energy back into the power grid at times of peak demand when prices are higher. Thus Vaitheeswaran points to a time when the automobile (or, by extension, the twowheeler in India) will serve for transportation, as a power generator to make money by selling power, as a versatile storage device, smoothing out fluctuations in grid power and bringing reliable electric power to the home, and as a means of carrying stored energy and delivering it elsewhere. Fuel cells are expensive, and as yet far from becoming affordable and suitable for the Indian market. However, these points have implications for the Indian micro-energy generation market, There are other ways of achieving results with a far lower level of technological risk. 2.3 TECHNOLOGIES THAT CAN BE ASSIMILATED IN INDIA Below we consider 5 technologies that are being adopted and refined rapidly in the industrialized world, and are considered for India: 2.3.1 Photo-Voltaic Generation Sunlight photons falling on a semiconductor can induce electron movement and generate a current. Solar cells are built from silicon wafers of high purity, impregnated 5

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

with selected “impurities”. In the 1990s, India tried solar cells in streetlights and other devices. These suffered from the very high cost of silicon wafers, and the effects of dust, ultraviolet radiation and monsoon molds. The practical efficiency of solar cells is around 15 percent, though cells used in spacecraft solar panels have demonstrated over 45%, and the theoretical limit is nearly 60%. High-efficiency cells degrade rapidly. Other solar technologies may turn out to be much better for the Indian market. 2.3.2 Solar Thermal In India, solar concentrators are used to good effect. Solar ovens achieve very high temperatures and heating rates. Home solar water heaters are a natural extension of using the sun to dry grain and hay. Large solar plants in India (and California) use reflectors laid along east-west ditches (to maximize sunshine) with pipes running along the focal line of the mirrors. Pressurized oil mixed with salt reaches 400 deg. Celsius in the pipes. The oil generates steam in a heat exchanger, runnint turbine generators.

Figure 2: Retail Cooking Gas Delivery, Chromepet, Chennai, India. Published by permission from Suraj at

2.3.3 Biogas and Biodiesel “GOBAR GAS” plants in the 1970s generated combustible gases from decomposing waste vegetation. Lacking a transmission grid, these were limited to large farms. Ironically, the technology to compress gases is widely available, and retail transport and home use of gases is now widespread. Figure 2 shows a picture that would be very rare indeed in western nations. Recently, the idea of distilling diesel fuel (fuel that can be made to combust by means of pressure) from plants and vegetables is gaining acceptance in India.

2.3.4 Hybrid Cars A hybrid car is a step in the transition from the internal combustion engine automobile to a fully electric car. Electric cars today must use storage batteries, whose weight and bulk per unit storage limit their range and payload capacity. While fuel cells are still too new to replace the battery, the hybrid develops user experience with electric transmissions. The conventional engine eliminates the need to store all the energy needed for the car. It is the technology of power generation with fluctuating demand and supply, that is really being developed through the hybrid car. 2.3.5 Micro-hydel An important experiment in India has been that of installing micro-hydroelectric plants along with small dams on very small rivers. These are typically sized at the 2 to 10 MW level. They have brought electric power, flood control, bridges and irrigation to many mountain villages in India, along with technology and micro-grids, with their own unique challenges and opportunities. 6

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

3. WIND-DRIVEN ELECTRICITY GENERATION The rest of this paper focuses on the sixth type of power generation – using wind. Wind energy will not provide a comprehensive solution. However, it is a classic case where the traditional wisdom in the West is driving towards ever-larger size for the economies of scale, but where Indian realities may offer a unique optimum based on small units. The Dutch people, and their neighbors the Danes, have turned to wind energy in a big way. Denmark satisfies 20% of its needs using wind power, and Danish wind turbine manufacturers are dominant in the international marketplace. Unlike Figure 1, they have developed large wind turbines on wind farms tied into the national grid. The investment in wind energy in India appears to be following this model. This goes against Vaitheeswaran’s thesis, where small-unit generation replaces the large-plant grid. 3.1 Why modern windmills are huge A wind turbine is an electrical generator driven by long rotating wings, which generate lift when exposed to wind. The combination of their rotating speed and the oncoming wind, ensures that part of the lift force drives them in the direction of rotation. The drag that is also generated, counters this. Part of the drag is generated because the flow turns around the blade tip into rotating vortices. This lift-induced drag becomes less significant if the blade tips are far apart. Typically, wind turbine blades are over 40 times as long as they are wide. Lift increases as the square of the speed. Thus a large turbine will produce much more lift force for a given “swept area” than several small turbines.

Figure 3: One blade of a typical wind turbine. Published by permission from Indian Prairie School District 204, Aurora, IL, USA

Above the rooftops and treetops, the wind becomes stronger and smoother. Thus, turbine designers put their machines on tall towers. The 3 blades of a modern megawatt wind turbine such as the GE15 sweep[10] a diameter of roughly 80 meters, and rotate at upto 20 revolutions per minute. The hub is on a steel tower, 65 meters above the ground. Such blades push the frontiers of blade-making technology. The logistics demands of delivering parts and setting up large wind turbines in remote areas of India are daunting. Figure 3 may convey this better than pictures of installed turbines.

Official estimates [11] place the total wind power potential in India at 48GW. This is done by summing up “viable” sites for large wind farms, assuming that 1 percent of land area is available for wind-farming, and optimal spacing between turbines. Only areas with wind power density greater than 200 watts per square meter, at 50m above ground level, are considered. This criterion omits most of North India including the mountain slopes, the Rajasthan desert, and almost the entire coastline! Clearly it is not the only criterion to use. 7

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

3.2 THE CASE FOR THE INDIAN MICRO- WIND TURBINE CASE 1: TECHNICAL COMPARISON In the first case study, we look at the Net Present Value of investment in two types of wind energy enterprises. Data in Table 3 on costs of large-scale turbines are from Schleede[12]. In each case, we consider the costs to be paid by a national entity. Thus the central government buys large wind turbines from their foreign-based vendors at costs not lower than those paid by US-based customers. In the case of the microturbine suitable for small farmers, the government is imagined to use the money to buy and maintain the machines for the farmers – a pessimistic assumption, because if the machines work and mass production takes over, people will buy the machines themselves. In each case, generating capacity is installed quickly to reach the same total level: roughly 24,000 GWh per year of actual generation. Note that at a capacity factor of 0.3 for large machines (vs. 0.1 for small machines), this translates to roughly 10GW of “installed capacity”. Compare this to the potential for 48 GW of installed capacity cited by the government cited above, and we see that the goal is reasonable. Table 3: Parameters for Large and Small Wind Turbines Item Large Wind Farm Small Wind Turbine PRIMARY FEATURE COMPARISON Power generated 1MW per turbine 1KW per tubine Assumed capacity factor 0.3 0.1 Land cost 30 acres/MW 0 Cost of land use $1500 to $15000 / MW 0 Road cost[13] $0.4M / km 0 Road benefits Est. 1:1 with cost. 0 Cost of Money, PA 8% 8% Funding Delay 5 years 0 years Time to first power 5 years 0.25 year Installation Cost $1000 / KW $ 1000 / KW Ops. & Maintenance $26.10/KW/year $20/KW/yr Transmission efficiency 75% (Punjab, grid) 0.99 (local delivery) Grid Connection cost $157 to $457 per KW (2001) Variable from $0. Transmission capacity $45.70/KW (16KM range) to $8.74 to $15.23 (0 to 8KM addl. cost $91.40/KW (32KM range) range) per KW SECONDARY FEATURE COMPARISON Secondary markets 10% of cost spent on local 90% funds spent locally generated economy. Employment generated 13 per MW 1,000 per MW directly (local technicians, guards) (1 per 1KW turbine) Replacement parts local 0 $20 / kw /yr industry size (all O&M local) The large wind turbine is sized at 1MW rated power, but works at a realistic Capacity Factor of 30%. In other words, the machine is assumed to produce its rated power 30% of the time, and none the rest of the time. For the small machine, the capacity factor is a 8

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

dismal 10%, which is quite conservative. Many farmers report 15% for small turbines in the 1.5KW to 3KW range. The cost of money is assumed to be 8% per year for both market. This may require government assistance for the small machines. We will look at the business case for such help in Case 2. The cost of $1000 per MW of a large machine is known from the literature. The cost of the microturbine is set at $1000 per 1KW unit, based on present costs in the American retail market.

Figure 4: Net present value and total installed capacity for approaches based on large 1MW utility-sized wind turbines versus 1kw microturbines. Breakeven in 30 years comes at $0.088/KWh for the large turbines, versus $0.129 for the microturbine.

The question asked is what cost of power at the end-user will enable each system to break even in 30 years, and what is the level of total investment needed. In the case of the large system, the total investment needed is just over $11B, and the price of power needed is 8.8 cents per KWh (roughly Rs. 3.90 per Unit). For the smallturbine approach, the investment needed is over $22B. Breakeven in 30 years requires a power price of 12.9 cents per KWh, or Rs. 5.74 per Unit.

Figure 4 shows this conventional result, which reflects the poor aerodynamic efficiency of the small turbine, and the low wind speeds at the low heights where they must operate. The cost of land for the wind-farm, and the 5-year delay in setting up the large turbines, while the wind is blowing, are not enough to let the small turbine compete in cost of power. Further, we see why the Government is going after nuclear power as a better option. An investment of $22B in wind farms will bring only 24,000 GWh per year of irregular wind power. This would only be equivalent to 3,200 Megawatts of installed nuclear capacity (five 700MW reactors), at the 85% capacity factor that present nuclear plants offer. CASE 2: INCLUDING UNIQUE FEATURES Blade and generator technology The design of large wind turbines is highly refined. However, there are several options and approaches to building micro wind turbines to suit different needs. This paper will consider the most common design - a horizontal-axis, stall-limited machine with 3 blades, each of 2.5 meter radius. It has a rotor shaft ending in a gearbox or pulleys to 9

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

convert the slow (30 rpm) rotor speed to the necessary 1700 to 1800 rpm of the generator. The generator is a straightforward electrical machine, not unlike that in an automobile. A modern machine would also have a controller for the blade pitch setting and/or the conditioning of power. Of these, the blades and the microcircuit are the elements needing the most sophistication. The latter is today amenable to extremely cheap production.The blade is basically a wooden or composite construction, amenable to mass production in Indian villages. The shape and design are sophisticated, but for small blades, they can be translated to a finished product with the desired tolerances, quite easily. Small wind turbines operate at what is known as “Low” Reynolds number – a vastly different regime of fluid mechanics than the High Reynolds number regime where large wind turbines and most airplanes operate. Achieving high aerodynamic efficiency at low Reynolds number poses special challenges, and is currently a research area of intense interest. Hence the efficiency of small wind turbines has a long way to go – they are far from reaching the theoretical “Betz efficiency limit” of capturing 59% of the energy in the disc area swept by the Figure 5: Large and small-turbine approaches compared, with rotor blades. Thus the 10% secondary parameters included. Price per KWh is $0.11 for both. capacity factor assumed in the case study above (compared to the 30% for large turbines), is likely to improve substantially in the next few years. With the above considerations, we postulate that the cost of a 1KW wind turbine can be brought down by at least 5% per year as mass production and competition get underway. Grid Integration When integration into the grid is considered, the large turbine utility-scale technology becomes vastly more expensive. Even if road-building costs and delays are neglected on the argument that these have economic payoffs of their own to the local area, the connection to the grid, and transmission over the additional distance needed to the large wind farm, add a huge amount to the cost.


“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

With these assumptions factored in, the small turbine approach is seen to be vastly better, without any technical improvement in the efficiency of the turbines. Figure 5 shows the results. The cost of power of both approaches is now equalized at 11 cents per KWh for this comparison. The large turbine economy requires nearly $20B in investment and barely breaks even at 30 years. The small turbine economy requires just $8.5B, breaks even in 16 years and thereafter has a sharp positive slope. CASE 3: LONG-TERM RELEVANCE ISSUES The real advantage of the small turbine comes into play because it can be integrated into people’s lives in India, rather than being restricted to fenced-off remote wind-farms operated by foreign companies and their engineers and security personnel. Thus, blade manufacture will not only provide numerous jobs, but also bring the multiplier effect of a local economic activity with long-term relevance. The advanced engineering concepts of a wind turbine will become as familiar to Indian children as a bicycle or an electric fan are today. Every lamp post may have its own wind turbine. Every house and street corner will have a charging station, inverters, and perhaps pumps, for storing energy. Grid connection issues, and micro-power transactions, will become as natural as trading beedis or betel leaf packages. SANITY CHECKS The concept laid out above looks attractive, but do the numbers and arguments hold up to examination? Much more detailed consideration is required, but we can start by looking at some visible examples. Firstly, the retail costs and efficiency figures quoted for small turbines are current US retail figures. The cost per unit can, this author feels, be brought down under $300 even without the price collapse due to mass manufacture and competition, while the efficiency can be improved somewhat without a price jump. Small devices are in use on many US and Canadian farms and households, which manage to survive without grid connection. This paper deliberately stays away from comparing various types of small wind turbines – this is a subject for more technical papers, or for the ingenuity of individual entrepreneurs and researchers. The target parameters are established here. Given that they will be used by Indian villagers, the design constraints and opportunities need to be considered carefully by machine developers and businesspeople, in selecting and evaluating approaches. The only additional point made here is that the ten percent “capacity factor” assumed here for small turbines, can probably be changed to 15% without much effort. Also, the capital cost investment for 1KW-scale machines can be quickly improved to buy 3KW machines instead, as mass production advantages, storage means, and public acceptance rise. Thus the projections for the success of the small-unit approach described above, are in fact quite conservative. A very interesting feature of the Indian marketplace is that “fluctuating and intermittent power” – a killer objection in the West to “green” energy sources, is an accepted fact of life even in the cities of New Delhi and Bangalore. Indians have learned to live with this, and adapt to it. Most middle-class homes now have “inverters” and battery storage, to take them through power cuts. Nearly every home with a TV set has a “voltage 11

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

regulator” to cope with large fluctuations. The Indian market for power inverters[14] is on the order of Rs. 200 Crore ($45M) in 2001, and over 15 million lead acid batteries are sold per year[15]. Thus the Indian marketplace is uniquely ready to accept and cope with other fluctuating energy sources in the short term. Can mass production of such machines occur in India? The number three manufacturer of two-wheelers[16] (motorcycles, mopeds and scooters) in India last year built over 1.7 million units. Thus the production of motorized two-wheelers was at least 5.1 million in a year. A moped is considerably more complicated than a small wind turbine, thus the manufacturing target of a few million turbines a year is completely within reach. Also, the competition for the 2-wheeler market makes India a uniquely excellent place to show how 2-wheelers can be integrated with wind turbines for energy storage. 4. GETTING TO THE OTHER 99%: A GLIMPSE Integration of Several Technologies: The Cultural Advantage The small farm is the environment needed for a swift adaptation to the more advanced alternative energy technologies coming down the R&D pipeline, such as fuel cells, or different means of generating hydrogen and other fuel from waste matter. With the technology accessible at the individual family level, Indian initiative will bring a swarm of new ideas from all over the world, and adapt them in ways that no corporate R&D department can predict today. The land will be put to the most efficient use, integrating wind, solar, agricultural, commercial and living use, in a manner that no planned utility can do. In the longer term, ubiquitous small wind turbines (say on every lamp-post, and several in every village) will revolutionize India. The initial government investment may be to supply a few installed units to every village, perhaps as grants to military and police veterans, who are most likely to cooperate in data tracking and maintenance. Other units may be sold commercially, with some government and/or corporate assistance to small farmers and low-income families. Energy Cooperatives may then help the villagers transact and smooth out their power supplies. The integration of the transportation system with the primary power generation system will thus occur naturally, and within the reach of the village population. The concept of using vehicles as multi-purpose machinery, and using spare wind energy to charge up vehicles, will require some technical investment. Again, the total investment seen is on the order of $10B, with break-even in a few years, before the energy savings and trading business takes over the growth. Once the small energy unit is introduced at the ground level, other technologies will complement and supplement wind power. Co-location of solar panels, solar heaters, biogas pumps and storage, should result in multiplying the power derived from the alternative energy units. This is the solution to reach the other 99% of today’s petroleum imports, and move on ahead to a future with complete energy independence.


“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

5. THE VEDIC CONTEXT OF DISTRIBUTED ENERGY SYSTEMS With a preamble confessing the contrived nature of this section, let us quickly confirm that the above approach is quite consistent with the Vedic idea of harmony with nature. One could of course take the easy route and point to wind turbines as temples to the power of Vayu and, more to the point, to Garuda, calmly deflecting and absorbing the energy of Vayu with streamlined wings, but the relevance goes a lot deeper than that. Several authorities considering the rampant destruction of societal values accompanying large-scale industrialization, have pointed to the Vedic idea of a pastoral existence. This ideal finds resonance around the world among those who have the time and wealth to dwell upon deliberate alternatives to the treadmill of modern life. However, it poses grave difficulties for the vast majority of us who are constrained to earn a living in this life, and must thus follow the opportunities and suffer the constraints of technological solutions. A middle view acceptable to users and designers alike is that a well-integrated system must intrude as little as possible on people’s natural lives and aspirations. Beyond that, there is no objection to technology, and no need to return to Stone Age levels of existence. Village-scale permeation of micro-energy technology offers several crucial opportunities. Firstly, it provides independence, and values the initiative and effort of the individual. Ideally, spare energy now wasted on expensive exercise machines can be used to crank up a wind turbine and add energy to the storage system. Secondly, it brings relative independence from the large-utility grid, without reverting to pretechnological existence. Thirdly, micro-wind (and solar, biogas, micro-hydel and other renewable sources) are relatively non-intrusive, polluting neither the landscape nor the environment. Micro-wind turbines are quiet, compared to their behemoth counterparts. Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly for India at this time, such an approach brings state-of-the-art technology within the grasp and assimilation of every citizen. We can point with confidence to a time when the average Indian villager not only wields the omnipresent cellphone, but also transacts energy with the global grid, and adjusts a wind turbine with the confidence of an engineer – just as s(he) has been dealing with the beautiful and amazing technology of the bicycle for over a century. CONCLUSIONS This paper gives an example where even a concept such as the small wind turbine, that is known to be far less efficient than it’s mammoth counterpart, is seen to be much more viable and effective when set into the context of its user population. The efficiencies of scale usually argued for the large imported machine, are more than countered by the efficiencies of using the initiative and intelligence of a large population. Examples exist to validate several elements of the proposed system.


REFERENCES “Dutch Windmill Gristmill”. Painting by Richard Neumann 13

“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

[2] [3] [4] [5] [6]



[9] [10] [11]

[12] [13]

[14] [15]


United States Department of Energy, “India: Environmental Issues”. Country Briefs. Viewed April 25, 2006 Uranium Information Centre. Total Worldwide Energy Demand, 1999. Last viewed May 2, 2006 World Nuclear Association. United States Federal Reserve, “Nominal Broad Dollar Index”, monthly index values from September 1978 to May 2006., Summary Measures of the Foreign Exchange Value of the Dollar’ releases/h10/summary/indexb_m.txt Viewed May 9, 2006. Hubbert, M.K. (1956). “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels” Spring Meeting of the Southern District, American Petroleum Institute, San Antonio, Texas, March 7-9, 1956. Also “Hubbert Peak Theory”. At Wikipedia, http :// Viewed May 12, 2006. Sud, Hari, “Indo – US Nuclear Deal, Plan B if the Deal Fails”, IndiaCause, May 4, 2006. http// GE Energy, “1.5MW Series Wind Turbine”. General Electric Corporation. Last viewed May 13, 2006. Vaitheeswaran, V.V., “Power to the People: How The Coming Energy Revolution Will Transform An Industry, Change Our Lives, And Maybe Even Save Our Planet”. Farar, Stroux and Giroux, New York, First Edition, 2003 GE Energy, “1.5MW Series Wind Turbine”. General Electric Corporation. Last viewed May 13, 2006. ”Wind Power Density Map Based on Data From 11 States & 2 UTs At 50m AGL”. Wind Resources Assessment Unity, Centre for Wind Energy Technology, Chennai, Ministry of NonConventional Energy Sources, India. September 2005. Schleede, G.R., “The True Cost of Electricity from Wind Power And Windmill “Availability” Factors”. Minnesotans for Sustainability”, http://www.mnforsustain .org/windpower_schleede_costs_of_electricity.htm. Viewed May 11, 2006 Road cost is based on the published cost of Rs. 230 million for a 10m wide, 13km road in Kerala, associated with the Cochin International Airport project. “Cochin Airport-Seaport Highway, Phase 1” Last checked May 11, 2006 “Rains Cause 50% Drop in Inverter Sales”. Business Standard, Mumbai, 18th June 2001. http:// Last viewed May 15, 2006. Last viewed May 15, 2006 Srinivasan, G., “Dumping Duty on Lead Acid Batteries to be Discontinued”. BusinessLine, The HINDU group, Nov. 9, 2004. m Last Viewed May 15, 2006 News Report, “India TVS Motor: Likely To Sell 1.7M 2-Wheelers This FY-2” Tuesday April 18, 2006, Viewed May 30, 2006


“Are Distributed Energy Systems Optimal In India?”

Suggest Documents