[In continuation with our coverage on Solar Energy in India, here is an interview with Vinod Nair, Director, Enzen, a global player in Energy and Utilities market.]
1) Tell us more about Enzen.
At Enzen, we strongly believe that Energy Equity is necessary for ensuring Social Equity in India. Today more than 412 million Indians don’t have access to electricity and Peak Gap has risen to an all time high of 16.7%. We firmly believe the answer lies in partnering with The Sun and developing Grid Scale Solar Power Plants.
In line with the goals of the National Solar Mission, Enzen is now foraying in to the solar energy business and plans to set up large scale Grid Connected Solar Parks across India on Build, Own & Operate (BOO) basis.
To achieve its objectives, Enzen has formed relationships with top-tier engineering, finance, and project partners to implement prominent, world-class solar projects across India. In the role of an unbiased sponsor, Enzen has the capability to select the best partners for a specific endeavor, bringing them together in a manner that gives primary consideration to the public interest. Enzen aims not only to fulfill its commitments, but also to provide an example for the world community to follow.
2) What would be the technology that you are using? How is your technology better than competitors who make PV cells – what research has gone into this?
We intend to use CONCENTRATION SOLAR POWER and CONCENTRATION PHOTOVOLTAICS based technologies. Our technologies are better because they guarantee higher efficiency while minimizing the land area requirements significantly.
3) What are your primary obstacles and challenges in setting up your venture?
Key challenges include:
- Tariff levels that are attractive to investors
- Overcoming natural utility reluctance to distributed generation
- Procurement of large land tracts in high solar insolation areas for grid connected solar plants
- Current levels of fuel subsidy that solar power competes against – example: Kerosene subsidy. (Rs. 40/litre)
4) Are you hampered by generation / setting up costs being so high? How do you think the government can help?
The benefits of solar power are tremendous. Just the environment related savings are sufficient to justify large scale usage of solar power. Price of solar cells is showing a downward trend. We expect that Solar Power will hit Grid Parity with most thermal fuel sources within the next 8-10 years. However till this happens, state governments should provide higher state tariffs in addition to existing central subsidies to encourage wide spread deployment of solar power generation.
5) How do you intend to address storage issues?
We have advanced solutions that ensure storage issues are managed effectively.
6) How do you overcome distribution challenges?
Distributed generation of power is the future!
Today most of our electricity we use comes from someplace far away. Currently, industrial countries generate most of their electricity in large centralized facilities, such as coal, nuclear, hydropower or gas powered plants. These plants have excellent economies of scale, but usually transmit electricity long distances. Most plants are built this way due to a number of economic, health & safety, logistical, environmental, geographical and geological factors. For example, coal power plants are built away from cities to prevent their heavy air pollution from affecting the populace; in addition such plants are often built near collieries to minimize the cost of transporting coal. Hydroelectric plants are by their nature limited to operating at sites with sufficient water-flow.
Distributed generation using solar energy removes the major problems associated with transmission and distribution of electricity over long distances.
7) Can you give some examples of how this has benefitted the common man?
78 million households (44%) in the country do not have access to electricity…
At Enzen, we strongly believe that Energy equity is path to social equity. The opportunity cost of waiting means majority of our population will continue to live without electricity for 5 years or more. Big problems like these require big solutions. Enzen plans to help India achieve ‘power equity’ by developing and delivering 500 MW of Clean Power based on Solar Energy to Indian homes by 2014.
8 ) Any statistics please? – KW energy produced, people employed, regions covered, people reached, revenue?
Enzen plans to establish a network of Grid Connected Solar Parks across India together producing up to 500 MW of clean and affordable solar energy in India. This project would provide several benefits to the citizens of India. The power generated from these projects would help in reducing the peak demand mismatch that exists today. The project will also provide a much needed boost to the voltage of grid electricity and prevent voltage drops when large power is consumed by induction loads.
In remote rural areas, at the end of the distribution networks where voltages are known to be very low, these projects would provide voltage support by providing power during peak day time. In addition these projects will help significantly in reduction of green house gas emissions. It is estimated that this project will help Carbon Dioxide reduction to the tune of 794,647,800 kg per year. There will also be significant reductions in NOx, SOx, suspended particles and other volatile organic components.
Finally, what do you think is the future of solar in India and globally in the next 5-10 year horizon?
India’s solar potential is among highest in the world. India receives solar energy equivalent to over 5000 trillion KWh/ year, which is far more than the total energy consumption of the country. Recently India unveiled a $20 billion plan to produce 20 GW of solar power by 2020.
Enzen believes that this is a step in the right direction. Solar power is one of the best solutions for our environment and our future.