Archive for December, 2015


Emissions cut treaties and the magical numbers

The 2 D, 4 D and 6 D scenarios are debated again and again and this will be revised in the forthcoming meeting in Paris by the global stalwarts, energy think tanks and the policy makers. Under INDCs countries are smartly prepared to show how committed they are in controlling emissions. Recently China published a paper on the amount of CO2 uptake by plants and calculated the amount of CO2 emissions that will be decreased if the number of such plants are grown in plenty. A new terminology thus was born….called the “afforestation engineering”. China has drafted the numbers for the meeting. The data shows that carbon savings has grown from 0.2 Pg in 1980 to 1.03 Pg of C in 2008. The total investment made by China in this “engineering” from 2001 to 2010 is 436 billion RMB. The total carbon sink value at the rate of US$ 30/t (Finland value) is about 190 billion RMB (about 43%). The total carbon sink amounts to 2% of the industrial emissions from 1981 to 2008. These numbers are documented and published in a peer reviewed international journals. India too played with numerology and jumped simply from MW to GW in a jiffy time with solar pv. It is easy to change the alphabets if one knows English. To generate 1 MW of power from solar pv the land required is about 7 acres. This number is published!! A smart kid in a school asked the teacher how many sq km of land is required to generate 1 GW of power from solar pv. Of course the kid did not wait for the answer and made a simple multiplication and came out with 29 sq km. figure to support 1 GW of power based on solar pv. If we are talking about 100 GW from solar pv, then we need several Mumbais, several Gandhinagars and alike. For example, the area of Mumbai is 603 sq km, Ahmadabad:464, Gandhinagar: 177, Jaipur: 112, Udaipur: 37, Thar Desert: 320 000 Solar pv is not simply spreading the panels and connect the bulbs. The panels need cleaning. Imagine cleaning the panels spread over an area of 2900 that is producing 100 GW of power! But then if we take these number to the Paris meeting, people will mock at us. Where is the water to clean the panels coming from. We have no numbers to support. As it was said earlier, we should be like cuckoos and not like pigeons. We should say that we will bring Ganga to clean instead of saying cleaning Ganga. Hope India will see several Bhagirathas in future to answer such questions in climate change meetings.

In a recent article, a well known scientist in Copenhagen Business School said, the outcome of the forthcoming meeting in Paris will be a reduction of global temperature only by 0.05 C by 2100. The truth lies in reports published by the International Energy Agency that monitors these numbers and claims globally. IEA documents that “the cost of wind and solar will remain higher than the average generation cost even in 2020” Solar energy is expected to produce only 7 % of electricity in India and provides only 1 % of primary energy supply to India. The article further states that at present India gets only 0.02 % of power from solar and even in 2020 this number will not go beyond 1.3 % . India’s energy demand is going to be 150 % in the next two decades. Can solar create GWs in the next two decades……a question to be answered by the energy pundits…..not in India but across the countries gathering in Paris in December 2015. India has to look into other option that are side tracked due to reasons unknown to a common man. Why gas fired power plants are kept in the cold storage and why geothermal energy is not figuring anywhere in renewable energy options? Such meetings are held at regular intervals only to change strategy of numbers and not to work out a serious solution that is viable and sensible. In this context it is very amusing to read a news item related to solar pv tender floated by the Andhra Pradesh Govt. One solar company signs a PPA for 500 MW with the Govt. to sell power at Rs 4.63. Within a week this company plans to sell 400 MWe. Very surprising. If the company is not able to sustain this unit cost, then why in the first place compete with others! If solar pv is so lucrative and the entire country is chanting solar pv mantra, then the bidder should not even dream of selling this lucrative stake!! Similar is the case with another major solar company which ran into debt of Rs 6500 cr and wants to sell the company. Even after 8 years of existence, this company is not able to break even. Something is fishy. Is solar all about land deals?

Developed countries talk big and impress the small countries with big numbers like how we talk in India. According to the article cited above, the United States of America “promises” to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 %, compared to 2005 levels, ( It is now known why this can not be 25-30%!!) by 2025. According to the Stanford Energy Modelling Forum, this will reduce the US GDP by US$ 154 to172 billion annually. Similarly the EU promises to cut the emissions by 40% below 1990 level by 2030. This will reduce its GDP 1.6 % in 2030. If this is so then there is nothing wrong in India changing its strategy from M to G in all the forthcoming climate meetings. The life of the common man never changes whether it is M or G. If he is able to buy a kilo of onions at 25 Rs today, then that is the time “his” climate changes. One cannot talk about CO2 emissions and climate change to a starving person…can we.