Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Quick notes: Madhavan Nair, Media's war...

  • G Madhavan Nair: Isro ex-chief may head BJP-backed front in Kerala

  • Media Wants Riots: The media in India and the West has been in an aggravated and now near-permanent state of war about what is happening in India.

  • India’s Energy Crisis: Simply to keep up with rising demand for electricity, India must add around 15 gigawatts each year over the next 30 years.

    The practical job of dispensing power was made more difficult by the victory in February’s municipal election of the Aam Aadmi Party, which ran on a platform of steep discounts for water and power. Promising free water and electricity, without specifying a way to pay for it, is an old tradition in Indian state and local election campaigns. Under the Aam Aadmi Party’s platform, Delhi families will get 20,000 liters of free water a month, and those who use less than 400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month will get a 50 percent discount on their electric bills. Those subsidies will cost the government up to 16.7 billion rupees ($250 million) annually—and they will not help the discoms run profitable businesses.

  • Hindus don't count?:
  • Declining soda sales: Pepsi is starting to give up on soda.


non-carborundum said...

India has no power deficit. Coal based stations are operating at less than 60% capacity, when they should at over 90%. In addition, 80,000 MW is under construction. Gas based plants have just recently started touching something in the range of 40%. There is no need to add any additional capacity for the next 10 years.

India will pay for solar stupidity.

san said...

Yeah, I agree with you that solar is still way more expensive than hydrocarbon power, but the political costs of hydrocarbons are continuing to increase as time goes by. It may be better for us to hedge our bets by at least maintaining some outward commitments to solar, which is after all a technology of the future which we ourselves may end up exporting.

Musk's Powerwall thing has a lot of skeptics too, but he's pitched the idea to Modi on the grounds that a distributed grid may bypass the bottlenecks of centralized infrastructure which India traditionally has a poor track record on. Like it or not, we may have to factor in the costs of India's built-in political sand-traps which pose unique problems to common infrastructure. Because of the country's special political deficiencies, distributed infrastructure may be the most expedient way around these difficult political obstacles, even if it's not economically optimal. With India, the political factors can never be discounted in any calculation.

Pagan said...

An unexpected benefit of Solar PV is that power-factor-correction becomes relatively simple (from the solar-micro-inverter-modules supplying back to the grid), greatly improving power utilization. We might need smarter grids for that.

The other solar -- Solar-thermal -- can go a long way in reducing coal (solar-augmented-thermal). Unlike solar-PV, this is highly cost-effective even today.

san said...

Yeah, solar hot water heaters are supposed to be in wide use in India. But electricity is what's most fungible.

Anyway, beggars can't be choosers - the struggle to improve India's infrastructure has been dragging because the political competition in the country automatically results in any 'commons' (eg. infrastructure commons) being targeted by corrupt partisan political interests to turn it into a political football. These distributed-grid systems like Powerwall, etc may bypass the political sand-traps by directly empowering the people to get on with their basic lives. That way, even as long drawn-out cleansing of the dysfunctional political setup takes place, people can still at least experience some kind of economic improvement in their lives, without having to wait for it to happen after a political cleanup. People's lives can't be held in limbo forever, while political groups duke it out.

Pagan said...

@San, electricity is what I am talking about -- solar pre-heaters in thermal plants to bring down the usage of coal. Using parabolic reflectors would mean even more coal savings.

This can be done in other plants too, where heating is involved.

san said...

It seems to me that solar is too unreliable to be used for industrial applications, eg. boosting powerplant efficiencies. If it's night, if it's cloudy, etc then your solar power isn't happening.

Meanwhile, I'm having a change of heart on stuff like Powerwall, etc, because the more we can get energy-related consumer products into the hands of ordinary Indians, then the more we can bypass the moribund political system and its morass. If the political system was better, then we wouldn't need to resort to such band-aids, but because of the inherent predatory competition of Indian politics, large infrastructure inherently gets made a hostage of politics.

Pagan said...

Heating water is a form of energy storage... it lasts through cloudiness and even sunset. Since it is augmented by coal, reliability is not impacted. The only reason it hasn't caught on is that it is less viable in North America and Europe where most of the research happens. For tropical India, it can be a boon if we pursue it seriously.

Pagan said...

Powerwall makes sense only if you have solar. And it is too expensive for homes.

san said...

Groundloop water heating has been popularized in Scandinavia.

We could probably come up with a less capable but cheaper version of Powerwall for sale in India, and perhaps it could at least help to provide more reliable power at least for businesses in 2nd/3rd-tier towns, etc. There is some rational zone where it can be useful. Rural electrification was one of Roosevelt's fundamental transformation of quality of life in America. The main utility of approaches like Powerwall, is that it takes people's lives out of the control of ever-unreliable political masters. India's political system may take a long time to reform, and may thus be unreliable for quite some time to come. Therefore these end-consumer-empowering solutions may be the best compromise available for the near/medium term, until a more mature political culture can evolve.