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Solar South: B2B Solar Expo in Chennai

  • Friday, 18 July 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • Solar South is a B2B expo focused on Solar Energy that is being held at Chennai Trade Center, Nandambakkam (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) from July 18 - 20, 2014. According to their brochure, they expect manufacturers, suppliers, installers, integrators, project developers, consultants, architects, real estate developers, Govt. officials, policy makers, investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, to attend this expo. Since it's a Business targeted expo, I am not sure how much space will be allocated for consumer-based products (if any). 

    I am planning to go to this expo tomorrow (Sunday). I will update you all on interesting products and services I find there. I think manufacturers from abroad are also scheduled to attend this event, will check if anything new is available with them (for the benefit of solar industry in India).

    If you are a part of business, organization, manufacturing company, or an entrepreneur looking to start a business venture, you should definitely attend this expo. With the Govt. allocating huge funds for alternative energy implementations, solar module prices are going to come down shortly. Solar energy will be the most sought after due to ease/flexibility of implementation and availability of sunlight almost throughout the year. 

    Further Info: Solar South website

    Zayed Future Energy Prize (Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency & Sustainability)

  • Wednesday, 9 July 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • The Zayed Future Energy Prize is the annual award ceremony for excellence in renewable energy, sustainability & energy efficiency, awarded by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Today, I was invited to attend a virtual conference hosted by Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director, Zayed Future Energy Prize. They are giving away a total prize money in excess of four million dollars to companies, organizations and individuals who have contributed immensely to the development of clean energy technologies and sustainability in their field. 

    This award is given for the following categories: 
    • Large organization
    • SME
    • NGO
    • Individual (lifetime achievement award)
    • Global high schools
    The Global high school award consists of one hundred thousand dollar prize amount for one school, each, in the regions of: The Americas, Europe, Africa, Oceana and Asia. For the last year (awarded during January 2014), an Indian school - Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya from Karnataka (for Asia) won the prestigious award. Here's the reason why they won. If you know any any similar school that has done a lot of good work in these areas, you can nominate them for this year's award. The deadline for submitting this year's entry is July 14, 2014 and the awards will be announced during January 2015. 

    The criterion for selection will involve the following parameters (among others):

    Innovation, Impact, Leadership & Long-term Vision. 

    If you want to learn more about Zayed Future Energy Prize, do refer to their Frequently Asked Questions page.

    It's good to see renewable energy initiatives being encouraged by countries through awards. Do help them by nominating deserving candidates/organizations and spreading the word. Initiatives like this are required to encourage renewable energy adoption in our country, and the world. 

    Zbee: Electric Rickshaw from Sweden to be launched in India

  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • Zbee is a little and cute-looking electric rickshaw that will shortly be launched in India (initially only in Delhi). With a range of 50 KM per charge and a maximum speed of 45 KM/h, it may not replace auto-rickshaws immediately, but this vehicle is a nice option for last mile commuting. In Delhi, the Zbee will initially be used as a shuttle vehicle between the metro and mall - it will not be moving around the city. Similarly in Gurgoan, companies and apartment associations might want to use it to travel within and around their large campuses. 

    The vehicle is small and light. It weighs just 230 Kg. The manufacturers say that the fully electric drive-train is highly energy efficient - it costs just 6 cents per KM. Three people can travel comfortably within it, and they have included front/rear safety mechanisms. Most importantly, it will be available to buy in India. Until now, Mahindra e20 has been the only electric vehicle available - it's a car, not an auto. 

    This vehicle has been designed for urban areas, primarily for first and last mile connectivity. If your office is 10 KM from home, probably you can use this vehicle to travel to your office for two days with one charge. And then you need to charge it again. They say the vehicle will be fully charged within one hour - not sure if that is applicable in Indian conditions. If you want a small vehicle to go to movies during weekends and shopping during weekdays, this one might more than fit the bill. 

    Electric vehicles are, of course, emission free and environmentally friendly. They can be powered using solar energy and other renewable energy technologies. I hope the manufacturers will include solar panels on the roof or provide a solar parking lot. We need to power our vehicles through renewable energy to reduce our dependency on the grid - which is currently over taxed. 

    I am sure the modern and elegant design will catch the fancy of environmentally conscious citizens. Let's hope such vehicles will be used for regular commuting within the city, in the future. Here's wishing the Clean Motion team, manufacturer of this vehicle, all the very best. If you are in Delhi - look out: Zbee electric auto-rickshaw maybe launched anytime soon. 

    Electric Vehicles for Public Transportation?

  • Tuesday, 8 July 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • Electric vehicles make a lot of sense for public transportation - especially for autos, tuk-tuks, mini-vans, etc. In Delhi, electric rickshaws are already popular. The biggest advantage of electric vehicles, and the reason why they are featured on this site is: They can be powered through solar panels and renewable energy. Also. 

    I am sure all of us remember those little electric cars made by Reva (Mahindra bought the company and redesigned the car as Mahindra E20). A Company called d-ESPAT, specializing in Lithium Polymer batteries/energy solutions, based in Chennai, took the Reva car and made some enhancements to the car and the battery in order to extend its application and usage. 

    Their aim is to design a small electric vehicle that can carry around 8 people for public transportation. Right now, they have made a smaller prototype using an existing model of Reva. I met their representatives at the recently concluded RENREGY 2014 exhibition in Chennai and they explained the changes that they made in Reva and how it has proved to be beneficial. 

    They replaced the Lead-Acid battery in the Reva with a Lithium Polymer battery, which stores/discharges more energy with a smaller footprint. (Mahindra E20 also uses a Li-Ion battery - for your info.) The lead acid batteries were weighing 240 Kg, but the new Lithium Polymer batteries weigh only 68 Kg. They also found that 150 Ampere Hour battery was sufficient instead of the existing 200 Ampere Hour battery. Also, the new batteries could be charged within 4 hours and they offer 98 KM range per charge. They added an electronic module which offers features like safety disconnection, etc. for protecting the battery. 

    These changes brought down the weight of the vehicle drastically and they were able to add two more seats for kids. Their representatives say that they have tested the car (2400 KM). If you know Tamil, do have a look at this video where the technical details and benefits are explained by the company representative. 

    Probably their next step would be to apply these findings to design an electric vehicle that can be used for public transportation. It's a grand vision and I wish them all the very best in their endeavors. I just wish they could integrate solar panels along with this vehicle so that the battery can be charged as the vehicle is moving on the road and while it is parked. 

    Renewable energy and electric vehicles make a great combination. It's high time companies like this are encouraged both by the Government and people to create a change in our currently heavy-polluting transportation system. The number of cars and vehicles on the road are only going to increase and it's better if they are based on electric motors powered by solar panels (at least partially). 

    Is Diesel-PV (Solar) Hybrid tech, the Future? Chemtrols sets an Example!

  • Tuesday, 24 June 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • During the recent RENERGY 2014 renewable energy exhibition at Chennai Trade Center, representatives from Chemtrols Solar Pvt. Ltd. gave a presentation on their Diesel-PV (Solar) hybrid project commissioned at Alpine Knits, a textile mill in Tiruppur, near Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu, India. 

    A Diesel-PV (Solar) Hybrid system is a combination of solar energy and diesel generator, for generating electricity. In many areas around the country, especially the ones located away from major cities/outside SEZ parks, long power-cuts is a daily problem. To overcome this issue and continue production, they rely on electricity produced by diesel gensets. What many companies don't anticipate is the high costs of electricity that escalate quickly, due to ever increasing diesel prices, especially if the genset is used to generate any considerable energy on the long-term. 

    To offset this high cost of backup electricity, Chemtrols Solar, a popular EPC for Solar systems in India, has installed a Diesel-PV Hybrid system in Alpine Knits, Tamil Nadu. They say this installation is India's first Mega Watt sized PV-Diesel hybrid project. When installed, it was the largest hybrid system in Asia and second largest in the world. 

    There are three components that are available to the customer, based on what is the optimum/cost effective source at any given time, in this solution: Solar PV System + Diesel Generator + Grid Connectivity. 

    It seems, there is a single Diesel Generator (1.25 MW capacity) and 1 MW Solar power plant, in this set-up. As far as the solar PV system is concerned, they have installed both crystalline and thin-film panels. Since it is a textile unit, there is a sloping rooftop and the solar panels have been installed over it. They have also installed a water sprinkler system for automatic cleaning of solar PV modules. 

    On a particular day in June 2013, the following reading has been recorded onsite:

    Total Load: 889 KW; Diesel Genset: 253 KW; Solar PV System: 629 KW. 

    As you can see, solar PV can generate a considerable amount of electricity and that directly translates into energy savings on the long run, esp. considering the ever increasing prices of diesel. There is a considerable capital investment (for Solar PV), but it is possible to recoup this investment in as little as 3 years, depending on the site requirements/conditions, Chemtrols officials mentioned. 

    Chemtrols Solar has already set an example in bringing large-scale Diesel-PV (Solar) Hybrid Technology to India. Is this technology the future of our energy-starved nation? Might very well be! 

    Also read this article for further info on Solar-PV hybrid systems. 

    RENERGY 2014 Chennai - Renewable Energy Expo

  • Thursday, 12 June 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • RENERGY 2014 Chennai - the annual renewable energy exhibition held at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India is being held from June 12 - 14 (this year) at Chennai Trade Center, Nandambakkam. I went to this exhibition today and saw some innovative products and interesting companies who had displayed their products. In the coming days, I'll give you more details reg. individual products/companies, but in this post, I will summarize what I saw and will leave you with a few pictures clicked by me, in the venue.

    As usual, there were many companies highlighting their solar panels, EPC/Project management skills, wind energy installations, etc. But there were also companies that supplied raw materials for solar manufactures, converted existing UPS/Inverters into Solar UPS and helped industries create their biogas plants (from wood waste, etc.). 

    There were companies specializing in providing bio-gas plants, centralized data monitoring systems, surge protection systems, hybrid inverters (which could take input from solar, wind, grid, and other sources), solar water purification systems, solar thermal collectors/energy generators, central inverters, solar freezer/refrigerator, solar modules, wind turbines, solar water heater, process heating, solar pumps, grid-tied solar systems, mounting systems/trackers, Solar-Diesel hybrid systems, micro wind turbines, solar car parks, solar power for petrol pumps, solar battery systems, etc. 

    Here are some pics I took there - 


    Mahindra Rise Solar Challenge: Can you Design an inexpensive, small & DIY Solar Kit for Homes?

  • Monday, 2 June 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • Mahindra Rise has announced a Solar Challenge: Can you design a solar kit for homes that is,

    • 50% less expensive than current solutions.
    • Occupies 50% less space than current solutions.
    • DIY - people can buy it off the shelf and set it up on their own (or with minimum help).
    Then, you should consider participating in the competition. The prizes range from $30,000 USD to $140,000 USD (according to their site). 

    A detailed account of the competition and what is expected out of participants can be found in this document

    Surprisingly, they show a solar concentrator based system for the proposed solution - which I think is a great idea. Solar PV systems do have their own advantages and are the most commonly used solar system in the world, but in a HOT country like India, we should try and use the sun's heat to produce energy. Or, we can use both sun's heat and sun's light in a single solution. 

    Go ahead, put your thinking caps on, read all the guidelines mentioned on their site. Who knows, your idea could bring about a solar revolution in Indian homes! All the best :)

    My Novel (eBook) is now Published

  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • Disclaimer: This blog post is not about renewable energy, it's about a new novel that I have written and published recently. 

    I don't know how many of you have the habit of reading books/novels, but if any of you do, I request you to have a look at my first novel - The Archers Revenge (Published as an eBook on Amazon Kindle). 'Destination Infinity' is my pen-name (if I can call it that!). You can buy and read this novel in Amazon Kindle (highly recommended) or laptop/PC, tablet, smart phone (via free Amazon Kindle reading apps).

    I know, I have not been active on this blog recently - that's because I've been juggling with multiple blogs and this novel. But now since this novel has been published, you can expect me to post more regularly on this blog. Also, with the RENERGY 2014 Chennai expo coming up in a few days (June 12 - 14, 2014), I will be covering interesting happenings/renewable energy products that I find there.  People in Chennai, please find time to attend this (yearly) renewable energy expo - I am sure there will be a lot of interesting products lined up for us.

    With the new Government (that appreciates renewable energy) in place in India, let's hope things will be better for our sector. Cheers! :)

    Rajesh K
    Administrator & Blogger - http://www.solarwindhydroenergy.com


    The Story of Stuff

  • Wednesday, 7 May 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • This video 'Story of Stuff' (embedded above) went viral in the US and elsewhere for a good reason - it shows, how, by adopting the consumer goods driven lifestyle, we are doing more harm to ourselves and the nature, than good. 

    "The primary way in which our value is determined is by how much stuff we own." 

    Isn't this true nowadays? While some of that stuff is required, most of them is not. This video shows how people have been brainwashed into thinking that they need to own more stuff to feel valuable, hence work more to pay for it, hence watch TV for entertainment, hence get exposed to ads advertising more stuff, hence think that their happiness depends on buying even more, . . .  The vicious cycle just continues! 

    "The purpose of an ad is to make us unhappy with what we have."

    In a consumerist culture, we think we need more stuff, but the resources/raw materials available to make them are finite. The people who work in factories making stuff are often exploited and made to work for minimal wages/harmful conditions that spoils their health. Manufacturing companies contribute to pollution as harmful chemicals are released in the air, water and land. The consumers are ridden into debt and have to work more and more to pay for all those goods. All this stuff quickly gets discarded and is dumped into landfills creating even more problems. 

    "99% of the stuff we buy is discarded within six months of usage."

    It seems, there are two types of obsolescence of goods - planned obsolescence that involves stuff that is designed to be trashed quickly, and perceived obsolescence that involves us dumping perfectly working stuff because there is a newer model or latest design! This has been ingrained into the society consciously so that we buy even more stuff, that too frequently. 

    It's high-time we realize all this and change from a keep-buying-more-and-throw-away culture to a sustainable culture. Don't you think?

    Renewable energy is an important component of sustainable living. Solar panels, for example, are warrantied to work for 10 years and their expected lifetime is 25 years! 

    Switch to renewable energy and a sustainable lifestyle, today.

    Solar Stills - Obtaining Pure Water using Sun's Heat

  • Wednesday, 16 April 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • The above video shows a simple method to obtain pure (almost drinking-quality) water, from impure water, using just the sun's heat. The concept is quite simple: Water evaporates due to sun's heat, leaving all dust/debris below. Due to the plastic cover, the water vapour cannot escape into the atmosphere. So, it gets condensed back into water, slides towards the middle and then drops into the empty smaller container placed in the center of the larger bowl containing the impure water. 

    The plastic cover ensures that sun's heat gets trapped within the container (due to glasshouse effect) and heats up the water to form vapour. This principle is the same as pure water evaporating from the sea (leaving off all the salts), forming clouds, and falling back into the earth as rain. As you can see in the video, the set-up is simple and it could be very useful in places where water filtration is not possible. In countries closer to the equator, this should work for most months, not only during summer. This method of obtaining pure water using sun's heat is referred to as solar stills. 

    The solar still can also be used to make water, if there is no water available (emergency situations). The second video (embedded above) shows how you can do that using just a simple plastic cover, some edible plant leaves, a container, and some stones. Actually, our soil stores some moisture that evaporates into water vapour (if enough - sun's - heat is available) which evaporates & condenses back into water. This water can be trapped in a container placed at the center (just below the central stone on the plastic cover). So, next time you find yourselves stranded in an island or sea or forest or where ever, you know how to get pure drinking water! 

    Solar Impulse 2: An Airplane to Fly around the World using Solar Energy!

  • Thursday, 10 April 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • Certain inventions spark off a revolution - the Solar Impulse airplane, that is totally powered using solar energy, is one of them. Earlier, the Solar Impulse team had tested the Solar Impulse 1 airplane which successfully completed the first 24-hour non-stop journey & traveled across USA, Africa & Europe, using just solar energy.

    Now, the same team has announced the Solar Impulse 2 airplane, also powered exclusively using solar energy, that will circumnavigate the world (in 2015). This one is expected to come to/halt in India, as well. 

    Whether you admit it or not, the future is for such green technologies. We are in the brink of over-use and abuse of existing resources that if our 'development' spree continues in the same speed (or faster), there will be nothing left for anybody. Green technologies that use renewable energy are our only hope and the Solar Impulse 2, though symbolic, is a powerful indicator of the direction which future technologies will be forced to take. 

    The very idea that an airplane can circumnavigate the globe using just the solar energy, gives us a lot of hope. Solar Impulse is not about applying technology to create one airplane - it is more about being a testament to the point that if an airplane can be powered using solar energy, our homes, offices, cars, buses, trains, etc. can all be easily powered by solar power! 

    That is why an innovation like this is very important. It is path-breaking and revolutionary. I wish I could see this airplane directly, when it comes to India. I will definitely try my best to do that. 

    If you've not been taking renewable energy seriously until now, it's high-time you did. 

    Renewable energy is going to disrupt the way we live. 

    Solar Impulse 2 is the living proof. 

    More details: Solar Impulse website
    In this blog, I am taking baby steps to enable myself (and others) to adopt renewable energy technologies. Only if we know all the options available to us, we will be able to take informed and meaningful decisions, right?

    Let us learn what renewable energy technology options we have, who provides them and at what cost.

    Frankly, renewable energy in India (and perhaps the world) is still in its adolescence - Let us help it become a confident Man/Woman! And in the process, let us debate, analyze, form opinions and break them so that we can achieve the Utopian dream of Energy Security through Renewable Energy. Are you with me?

    Rajesh K - solarwindhydroenergy[at]gmail[dot]com

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