Category Archives: Energy

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Power Crisis in Kerala – Part 2

Category : Energy , Kerala , Solar energy

ONE EARTH ONE LIFE: Electricity Crisis in Kerala and Possible Options -2008:

‘via Blog this’

English: On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis...
English: On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., 70,000 solar panels are part of a solar photovoltaic array that will generate 15 megawatts of solar power for the base. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My ‘crazy’ post on power crisis in Kerala attracted some attention in terms of visitors. So I am attempting a followup post motivated by this blog (link above) by Harish that summarises the situation pretty much. The blog says “Possible Options -2008”, and it was actually posted last year and in all probability the situation and statistics have probably worsened since. It is interesting to note that our hunt for “possible solutions” started 5 years back with no sign of any possible solutions in the horizon. So let us continue our lateral exploration.

How can the government incentivise local power generation, whether it is solar, wind or mini-micro hydel projects? Is it possible for individual power producers to contribute directly to the grid? Apparently the model is being considered in Middle East to future-proof their energy requirements. Can we implement the model in God’s own country?

Here is how it might work: Usually individuals generate solar power when they cannot consume it, that is in the morning hours. So storage in the form of batteries is an expensive and cumbersome (to maintain) requirement for such systems. If we can give the power generated in the morning hours to industries that consume it and get compensated in the night we do not need storage/batteries! Avoiding the storage requirement would reduce the cost of solar power generation by more than half! The management of individual/group energy contributions to the grid can be managed and incentivised by government by adopting the Microfinance (Microenergy rather) paradigm that originated from the Indian subcontinent. I am curious to know what the domain experts think about this model.

In a ‘possible – 2014’ post I shall laterally explore the potential of biofilms and energy trapping surface paints for harvesting solar energy. On a lighter note, just planting a tree could also trap substantial solar energy!

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Potential Solutions to Kerala’s Power Crisis

To be mathematically correct, I have lived only 40% of my life in my home state of Kerala, often called the God’s own country. I was born in a village (villages in Kerala are not really villages any more) called Kombodinjamakkal in central Kerala. Our state (it is more important to be politically correct here than mathematically correct) is plagued by two impending disasters. A looming power crisis because of the angry rain gods scourging the bourgeois for exploiting its hydro electric power for such a long time. The second is the pathetic waste management, all because of the inefficiency of our neighbour and the government to remove the wastes from our backyard!

Kerala Temple Festival
Ayyappan Kavu Ulsavam (Photo credit: beapen)

Why am I getting into this quagmire? Because I am a winner of multiple innocentive challenges and I want to show off. Hey, I am entitled to some self promotion on my blog. This is an attempt to give some lateral thinking perspective (if you will) to these complicated problems. But needless to say that I have no prior experience in this.

OK, let us start with energy or power. I don’t know much about both except that both have the same unit for measurement. Political power has a different unit by the way! I also know that the two easily available, clean energy sources are the sun and the wind. Wind energy is proportional to the cube of wind velocity. (Hey, I seem to know more than I thought). So a wind turbine has to be mounted on a tower for effective functioning and may not be cost effective in Kerala. Besides we don’t have much free space with an exceptionally high population density in spite of being manpower suppliers of the world for well over a decade.

That leaves the energy from the sun. Solar energy is traditionally harvested with photovoltaic cells made out of silicon wafers. We do not produce enough silicon to harvest solar energy. If gold could trap sunlight we could have made use of the gold our housewives have accumulated over the years.

Solar water heaters are effectively being used in Kerala. In my house, we cover the panels of our solar heater to prevent excessive heating of water! Water is abundant enough to trap solar energy too. Is there any way to produce electricity from hot water? Do you think a modified steam turbine would be an answer to our energy woes? Feel free to post your ideas here. Maybe men of power (pun intended) would someday see this and experiment (and implement) with our ideas! When I get some fresh ideas for waste management, I will post it here. Well do you have any?

Watch the video posted below. (Credit: Timothy Sohacki – YouTube )