THE Answer IS renewable energy. Not the one that would require high capital and maintenance costs. This new one works and pays for itself along with making a novel difference of saving fuel and your taxes.
An innovative initiative by Aspirations
Energy (AE) in the field of harnessing solar thermal energy has surprised many participants of a workshop on ‘Solar-Oil Hybrid Systems for Industrial Heating Applications’ conducted by the company
Foremost, this type of solar thermal plant is designed for Industrial heat processing of less than 150 degree centigrade for manufacturing concerns that use fuels like LPG, furnace oil and diesel. It saves daytime consumption alone and does not have a system to store energy. A technical improvement by AE through evacuated tube collectors helps produce 70 deg C to 130 deg C while solar heaters traditionally could produce only upto 60 deg C. Adding to this is another advantage that this solar thermal system does not require any vast concrete or other surface. It can be set up on trussed rooftops too, the areas that normally stay unused.
Wonder whether this is real?
Following the workshop, a visit to the solar thermal plant at the world’s largest steel wheel manufacturing plant, Wheels India Ltd., was enriching. “It is a 630 KWth capacity plant that saves nearly 350 litres of fuel oil per day, providing 27.5 per cent fuel efficiency. It is Asia‘s biggest (solar thermal plant) on rooftop,” said Bhuma S., Executive – New Initiative, AE. The components before painting undergo a ‘seven stage’ washing process that requires heat for which AE has provided an alternative to the earlier used diesel. Spread over 3600 sq.ft with a life of 20-25 years, Wheels India’s solar thermal project is a success story with an annual savings on furnace oil estimated at Rs. 48.60 lakh. What’s more, the project spreads its benefits to the environment with annual carbon abatement of 2.8 lakh kg.
As viable as it gets…
“The payback period is usually 2-4 years. In the PAYS model, we ask the clients to pay us anywhere between 60 and 80 per cent of the energy savings. We take the entire performance risk and also provide after sale services for 10 years,” explains Bhoovarahan Thirumalai (Bhoo), CEO, AE. Bhoo added that the client gets tax benefits through subsidy and accelerated depreciation. In effect the investment can pay for itself.
In the investment model that AE offers, a customer is required to pay 10-15 per cent of the initial investment. There is a government subsidy of 25 to 30 per cent and the rest is funded by the company. Under the PAYS model, the annual payment for Wheels India project is Rs. 28 lakh (roughly 65 per cent of their savings).
Unbounded potential…but limited awareness
“Awareness and credibility are low,” Bhoo explains about the hurdles in his industry. He wants the government to promote solar industrial process heater as a financially viable model. He also suggests the new government to implement the transfer of subsidies with ease and transparency.
According to Bhoo, the solar power industry in India is valued Rs 50,000 crore. “In the next 10 years, we will be able to save roughly about 35- 40 per cent, ie Rs. 20,000 crore worth of oil at current market prices,” said the enthusiastic CEO. The total installed capacity of AE is 10 MWth valued at Rs 50 crore.