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The Forum > Article Comments > India embraces solar power > Comments

India embraces solar power : Comments

By John Daly, published 20/12/2011

Economic South Asian superpower India has firmly embraced solar power, advancing the target date by five years for selling solar-generated electricity at the same rate as electricity generated by fossil fuel plants, from 2022 to 2017.

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Indian government policy to promote renewable energy sources should be welcomed by the international community concerned by the rapid increase in CO2 emissions. No less importantly, it is a shrewd economic move aimed at reducing dependence on import of fossil fuels. The cost of these fuels is continually rising, eating away at foreign exchange reserves and resulting in the cost of solar energy becoming relatively cheaper.

Although nanotechnology has produced some advances in the efficiency of PVCs, a lot more innovation is needed to make them a commercially viable means of producing electricity. That time will come but meanwhile India would be well advised to look at building and improving the performance of solar-thermal power stations. These can generate base load electricity and do so at a unit cost which is far more attractive than PVCs.
Posted by Agnostic of Mittagong, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 9:17:45 AM
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Solar energy and its wind and wave derivatives(the Sun creates the weather that creates wind and waves) can only ever be a FRONT-END for big fossil fuel industries. It is a huge CON perpetrated on the world and the poor people of India.

From fossil-fuel intensive manufacture of silicon, glass, plastics and metals like steel and aluminium to huge installation, maintenance, transport, power distribution, loss of agricultural land, fossil fuel pollution costs and administration costs, Solar energy can never be a NET producer of baseload energy.

In small region applications it can SEEM to be effective but that is ONLY because the above costs are being passed on to other regions and their people. If everyone, as is democratic, were to use Solar energy, the passing on hidden costs would cause epidemic social frictions and ultimately WARS.

The Second law of thermodynamics(2LT) predicts that ONLY HOT ROCK GEOTHERMAL power is sufficient to replace fossil fuels. It is also NECESSARY unless Thermonuclear fusion can be successfully implemented before OIL runs out in around 2030.

India needs to wake up and so do other countries who are being conned by the global solar energy industrial partners.

The 2LT is NOT that hard to understand: YOU CANNOT MAKE WATER FLOW UP A HILL, COLD SURFACES TO BECOME HOT OR LOW GRADE SOLAR ENERGY TO BECOME BASELOAD UNLESS YOU FORCE THOSE THINGS to occur WITH THE CURRENT ENERGY REGIME OF FOSSIL FUELS.

Nuclear energy is similarly problematic as the mining costs of such a rarefied dearth of uranium atoms on the planet are truly enormous. Mining company subsidies for uranium mines and reactor construction, demolition and waste disposal are hidden costs always passed on to poorer communities. Such costs must be counted in order to see that nuclear power is also just a FRONT-END to continued fossil fuel use.

India and the world have an energy choice: continue with fossil fuels and their cheeky front end solar and nuclear proxies and end up fighting WARS when oil dries up

OR

Go GEOTHERMAL HOT ROCKS and SURVIVE the coming nexus.
Posted by KAEP, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 9:49:24 AM
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Daly's article highlights the vast problems that confront India or anyone else who tries to produce more than a tiny fraction of their power from renewables. The projects he specifically mentions as being slow to get off the ground are for 2 megawatts and 4 megawatts respectively. In other words they are tiny, pilot projects. Photvoltaic capacity installed in house rooftops in any of, say, Melbourne's inner city suburbs would collectively be more than that.

At another point he mentions a 2,000 megawatt project. Right! A very large wind farm is about 1,000 MW although that's just installed capacity, which is different from the effective capacity of about 300 MW. If the Indians really have a 2,000 MW project anywhere near reality then lets hear about it.

As for the claim of parity with grid prices Daly is leaving out a lot of information. The small projects he mentions are never going to achieve parity, no matter what the source of energy (and the 2,000 MW project is in fantasy land). So what are the subsidies and concessions requires to make the projects work? All this really tells us is that the Indians are not using feed-in tariffs, as everyone else does, to subsidise their green energy projects.
Posted by Curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 10:04:27 AM
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This solar energy seems to be photovoltaics that require battery electrical storage, not solar thermal with heat reservoirs that can drive steam generators at night, assuming there hasn't been a week of rain. Since batteries generally treble the unsubsidised cost of PV it is not competitive with coal, even after moderate carbon taxes.

Thus daytime PV might help run some air conditioners provided the heat doesn't linger til sunset. It won't power heavy industry nor millions of people making breakfast. For 1.3 bn people to each get say 3 kw peak solar at $2 a watt unsubsidised would cost $7.8 trillion and several times that with household battery packs. It's not gonna happen. If anything it offers false hope. Even nuclear would be hard pressed to offer anything approaching Western levels of energy consumption with so many people. We can therefore conclude most Indians will remain in energy poverty by our standards.
Posted by Taswegian, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 12:20:40 PM
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Any time someone tries to apply Moore's Law to anything other than IT (as here, with "solar has the same potential as personal computers had in 1970s") sets off big honking klaxon BS detectors with me. If it were otherwise, something like Moore's Law would have been identified during the Industrial Revolution, not the computer age. Just because PVs also involve the movement of electrons doesn't mean Moore's Law has anything to do with the production of industrial-scale electricity. I've not seen any reason for believing that solar has that sort of improvement left in it.
Posted by Mark Duffett, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 9:08:00 PM
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