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Solar thermal shines…

Tamil Nadu was among the earliest to unveil a policy for solar power. In 2012, the state announced plans to create 3000 MW of solar capacity by 2015.

The plan unfortunately has not been followed up by the formulation of a transparent, clear policy. Though liberal incentives have been announced, these are not made available with equal speed. There is no clarity or action on effective buy back of power produced, on the disbursal of incentives or on providing reversible meters that would give credit to the user for power generated in excess of his needs. Result: poor addition of just 17 MW so far. The state is nowhere near the ambitious target of 3000 MW set for 2015. Excepting for a few industrial units, who have been attracted by the tax incentive, the response has been lukewarm. As in the case of wind power, there has also been poor progress in regard to evacuation of power produced at remote, under-developed locations in districts like Ramanathapuram.

In this background it is welcome to find an enterprising company like Aspirations Energy Pvt. Ltd. (AE) to promote the concept on the strength of its viability (see pg. 34, IE July Issue).

In a dinner hosted by Bhoovarahan Thirumalai, CEO, several industry leaders discussed the prospects for accessing solar power and thermal energy. K Manoharan, Head – solar thermal, referred to the scope for increasing heat from present 120 degree C to around 160 degree C and the research work being done to increasing this further. S Ram, Chairman, Wheels India Ltd.(WIL), said it will be  good if it increases to 200 degree C; it can bring much larger benefits.

Limits to refurbish…

Srivats Ram, Managing Director, WIL, pointed to the continuous efforts made to get the best out of machine tools: “some of these were erected at WIL by the original co-promoter Dunlop and are still in working condition. However, in several cases excepting the frame, every other part had been replaced by sophisticated new ones!” he said.

Murali Shankar, Director, Super Auto Forge (SAF), who has rich experience with the state of machine tools in operation in Europe, pointed to limitation of such upgradation in the context of high precision and large volumes demanded today. He also referred to increase in labour costs that impacted the economics of operating a large number of stand-alone machines for different operations. SAF recently installed a sophisticated multi-purpose machine costing around Rs 20 crore. Murali said that this large investment has been justified by the very high productivity of the machine that performs multi tasks to high precision.


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