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Harness the Energy of the Sea Waves - It's possible!

  • Tuesday, 16 September 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • Think about it: Sea Waves are an endless source of energy available in all coastal areas! There are companies that manufacture equipment that can harness the energy of sea waves, now. I am not sure if any of them have operations in India, but it is useful to know what exists. 

    Even better than wave energy, maybe the offshore wind turbines. These are large wind turbines that are placed deep into the sea where the wind currents are very high. They are large-scale (MW(s)-sized) and efficient. However offshore wind turbines are very expensive to built and they need specialized ships, equipment and skills to mount and maintain. This technology is outside the purview of many countries, and India is just experimenting with a pilot project.

    Wave energy, on the other hand, though is less forceful, has more kinetic energy than wind. Hence it is possible to generate electricity in smaller scale using smaller/inexpensive devices, especially if they are designed and manufactured with local conditions in mind. Also, since waves are available throughout the day, even through their intensity might vary, electricity production can be achieved 24x7. 

    In this post, I want to highlight two manufacturers of wave energy harnessing devices (from Scotland, Israel), and one invention from India - IWAVE that converts wave/tidal energy into electricity. 

    Aquamarine Power: 

    Aquamarine Power, based in Scotland, UK, has devised an interesting technology to harness the energy of sea waves. They call it Oyster wave energy technology. See the above introductory video. 

    This device can be placed near the shore (500 meters) in ten-meter deep waters. It is attached to the sea bed and the large even surface plate bends forward and backward as the wave approaches and recedes. It pumps compressed water to an on-shore hydro electric power generating plant using under-sea pipelines, and the hydro plant generates electricity. This power is completely renewable. They say that the device has a life of 20 years and it is possible to maintain/repair/remove the unit whenever required. This is one company that is close to setting up megawatt-scale wave energy farms in the UK. 

    You can find more info about them from here: Aquamarine power

    Eco Wave Power: 

    Eco Wave Power, based in Israel, is another company specializing in manufacturing wave energy devices. See the above video for an introduction to their EWP wave energy devices. 

    They have two products: The Wave Clapper and Power Wing. They use a combination of uniquely-shaped buoys to convert the motion of waves into electricity. Their system also comes with storm protection and corrosion protection mechanisms. It can be arranged in a flexible modular structure, based on the required capacity. Here also, the energy of the motion of floats is delivered to an on-shore generator via undersea cables, which produces electricity. 

    You can find more info about them from here: Eco Wave Power


    IWAVE is a device that converts wave/tidal energy into electrical energy, designed by someone from our very own India. This is a floating structure attached to the seabed via cables, and can be positioned approximately 500 meters away from the coast. The energy of the rising wave drives a piston which in turn drives the crankshaft by half a turn. The receding wave helps complete the remaining half turn. This motion drives a generator which produces electricity. This generator can be placed next to the device. 

    Have a look at this page for more information about IWAVE. The contact details of the inventor is also available there. 

    India has tested two wave energy pilot projects earlier, but has not ventured into commercial wave energy generation. There is a lot of potential as we have 7500 KM of coastal area, but we need to overcome many limitations, including: Technical design that is efficient, cost effective & easily maintainable; ability to withstand high tides and forceful waves; ability to resist corrosion; nonavailability of specialized resources and manpower to design and manufacture, etc. However, wave energy is one renewable energy technology that we can start focusing on from now in order to supplement energy from other renewable/conventional sources. 

    If someone wants to design an effective wave energy device, but is finding it difficult to procure modelling software, etc., please have a look at the open source wave energy modeling initiative by the DoE and NASA of US. You can contribute to that project, as well as use it to design more efficient wave energy systems: Details here

    Data Monitoring System for Solar Plants: Innorel Systems

  • Wednesday, 3 September 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • During the recently concluded RENERGY 2014 expo at Chennai, I came across a company that makes Data Monitoring Systems for Solar Plants. The name of the company is Innorel Systems and they are based out of Bangalore, India. 

    According to their webpage, they say that their solution involves attaching a wireless sensor to each solar module that in turn creates a self-healing ISM Band wireless mesh local network. These sensors communicate important parameters of individual solar modules to a centralized gateway, which in turn communicates to the cloud-based data analytics system. They say that each gateway can handle data from up to 500 modules and hence the system is expandable. In addition to monitoring individual module status/performance, they also monitor Inverter & battery performance and present all that data using a central graphical interface for easy interpretation. 

    But what does one do with all this data? They say that their data analytics system will help predict energy generation, and will be a crucial part in operation and maintenance of the entire plant (including monitoring/notification during malfunction, faults, etc.). 

    It is possible to view reports/status using web-based or app-based remote monitoring systems like computers or mobiles. Customers can also get SMS/email reports during failures/regular intervals, respectively. 

    This article has been written to introduce this data monitoring system/concept for solar modules and is not a testimonial for their product/services. 

    Further Information: Innorel Systems

    Wind Projects: Training Program on EIA - Environmental Impact Assessment

  • Thursday, 21 August 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • I got a mail from Center for Science and Environment (CSE) informing me that they are conducting a free 3-day training program in Ahmedabad (3-5 September, 2014) on Environmental Impact Assessment for Wind Energy projects. I thought I should share it on this blog, for the benefit of readers. 

    This training program, according to their info, will help project managers reduce the environmental impact of wind energy projects and will help them make sound decisions at various stages of the project management. 

    During the course, they'll be discussing on applicable policy, guidelines, legal provisions for wind energy sector in India, importance/impact of EIA in wind power projects, importance of avian fauna assessment, technique and evaluation, how to prepare environmental management plan, best practices for wind power sector, and other related topics. 

    It seems, this free training program is open for industries, regulatory institutions, NGOs, consultants, students, among others. Prior registration is required. Lunch, course materials will be provided. 

    For further details on this training program on EIA, refer here

    SolarMobil Solar Car by Manipal Institute of Technology

  • Wednesday, 20 August 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K

  • Video Introduction:

    There are a very few students with a game-changing vision. Fewer still, execute their vision with concrete actions. Here are 32 students from from various departments of Manipal Institue of Technology who have designed (and are building) a commercial Solar Car - The SolarMobil SERVe (Solar Electric Road Vehicle). That's not just all - They are going to test the endurance of the vehicle in SASOL (South Africa), which is a tough global competition that requires solar vehicles to cover 3000 KM within 8 days. If their solar car completes that goal successfully, driving on normal roads will be a breeze! 

    Some facts about the SolarMobil SERVe Solar Car:

    1. Four wheeled two passenger solar electric car. 
    2. L x W x H = 4.4m x 1.75m x 1.28m. 
    3. Weight: 400 Kg.
    4. Solar panels: 1 KW rated 6 sq. m monocrystalline solar panels. 
    5. Solar panel efficiency: 20%.
    6. Battery: Li-Ion; 13 kWhr; 63 Kg; 250+ KM range. 
    7. Runs at (top speed): 120 Kmph.
    They have already tested the car with Direct Solar Drive Technology for 52 hours, which enables the vehicle to run directly with the energy received from solar panels (without batteries). They were able to achieve a top speed of 17 Kmph, with an average of 14 Kmph. 

    The best part of the project is, while most teams from across the world spend around 5-6 crores to design and build a car like this, they have been able to do it by spending twenty times less. Do have a look at the above embedded video to understand how much work has been done on the technical front, to make such an ambitious project feasible. 

    However, they are still short of funds. Both individuals and companies can help them reach their crowd-funding target (5 Lakhs) which is open for contribution until 14th September 2014. Here's the link: https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/solarmobil/ (Even if you don't contribute, please help spread the word by sharing it in your Facebook wall, Twitter, blog, etc.).

    I think this is an excellent initiative by an Indian college and hope more students will take up exciting and challenging projects in the renewable energy & cleantech sector. 

    Let's make the world greener, together :)

    Further info: SolarMobil Manipal WordPress blog;
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SolarmobilMIT

    Intersolar Awards for Solar Projects in India

  • Tuesday, 12 August 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • This year, Intersolar Global has created a new category of awards for Solar Projects in India. If your firm or company has implemented a solar photovoltaic or solar thermal project that stands out wrt. any/all of the following parameters, you can apply for the award. 
    • Pioneering character
    • Uniqueness
    • Economic benefit
    • Benefits for the environment and society
    • Degree of technological innovation
    • Proof of innovation
    • Presentation
    There are three award categories: Off Grid Solutions, Industrial and Commercial Use, Utility-scale Projects. 

    As you maybe aware, Intersolar conducts the popular Intersolar expo & conference around the world, and this year, it will be held from November 18 - 20, 2014 in Mumbai. More details on Intersolar India 2014 can be found here

    The registration form for the Solar Projects in India requires you to fill your exhibitor profile for Intersolar expo. Hence, I guess the awards are open to companies that exhibit in their exhibition. But, Intersolar India 2014 is also an option, hence you may still apply if you intend to exhibit during this year's exhibition (I guess). 

    The awards will be presented as a part of the official prize distribution ceremony function during the Intersolar 2014 expo, is what their website says. They also say that the award will give a lot of publicity to the finalists and winners (not sure if there is a monetary award - the site doesn't say anything about it). 

    The last date for application submission for Intersolar Solar Projects in India is September 12, 2014. Here is the registration form and here is where you can get more details about the award. 

    Can you design a Smaller Inverter? Participate in The Little Box Challenge

  • Tuesday, 29 July 2014
  • by
  • Rajesh K
  • An Inverter is a device that converts DC current output from solar modules, wind turbines, etc. into AC current, which is required for powering residential/commercial (electrical) devices. Google, along with IEEE, has recently announced The Little Box Challenge that requires you to design a smaller Inverter than what is currently available. 

    To be specific, they want you to design and build a KW-scale Inverter with the highest power density (50W per cubic inch). That means, the existing water cooler-sized Inverters need to be shrunk to the size of tablets! So, if you belong to a company or research institution that specializes in designing/building such complicated electrical power engineering components, you might want to participate in this contest. 

    Because, they are giving away one million dollars to the winner. And the winner can be from any country, across the world. Only, once your design is selected, you'll need to be able to build a working model and carry it to a testing facility in the United States. If your company/org. will support you with that, anyone can participate. 

    Google is looking to build such a small scale Inverter because they want it to run their data centers more efficiently, and perhaps use renewable energy also. But such an Inverter will have many applications in everyday life, especially in the field of renewable energy and electric mobility. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and participate if you can! Do remember: The last date for registering your team is September 30, 2014. There doesn't seem to be any entry costs. 

    Technical Details: The Little Box Challenge specifications & testing info (pdf document). 

    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. 
    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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