Alternative Energy: The Source of Resources Ahead!

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The days are gone when Alternative Energy needs a definition to describe its potential and characteristics. The perimeter of Alternative Energy across the globe has seen some serious transformations may it be policies, companies and dialogues towards a green and sustainable future. Distinguishing between renewable and alternative energy may seem trivial but the terms are so frequently used that it is important to understand the difference. Generally, alternative energy sources are looked upon favourably because they do not directly emit greenhouse gases in their production but of course all forms of energy have their own costs, benefits and tradeoffs.

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Green Energy

Conserve fossil fuels: Renewable energy comes from virtually inexhaustible resources. Using these natural sources allows us to extend and conserve the lifespan of nonrenewable fossil fuels, which is dangerously close to depletion.

Slow and reverse climate change: The leading cause of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. is electricity generation from fossil fuel power plants. Carbon dioxide and additional greenhouse gas emissions are leading contributors to various forms of climate change, which include global warming. Renewable energy sources have a much lower carbon footprint than coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. Making the switch to renewable energy sources to produce electricity can help the planet by slowing and even reversing climate change.

Save lives: Making the switch to hydropower, wind energy, and solar energy can save up to seven million lives annually by reducing air pollutant emissions.

Reduce severe weather: By slowing and eventually reversing the effects of climate change, we can expect a reduction in severe weather like droughts, storms, and floods caused by global warming.

Minimize fuel dependency: Implementing the widespread use of large-scale renewable energy technologies diversifies our energy supply, minimizing our dependence on imported fuels.

Economic and job development: Producing more utility-scale energy systems will create economic growth and jobs in the manufacturing and installation industries as well as the sustainable energy industry.

There are INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS which are close watchdogs of the growing alternative energy sector. Here are as below:

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA): The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

The Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO): The Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO) was founded in 2008 on the initiative of the late Robson Mello who believed firmly that renewable energy and sustainable development could bring health and prosperity to the world’s most impoverished regions.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO): Founded by imaginative pragmatists, AERO is a community of social entrepreneurs dedicated to building the world in which we want to live. AERO have a producer-centric focus, helping communities build place-based, values-driven community food systems/webs with climate-smart solutions. It believes in partnerships and networks, and know that community is the future of sustainability. Grassroots and statewide, AERO cultivates sustainability by engaging community stakeholders and weaving networks that build lasting partnerships in the climate smart, sustainable agriculture and local food system sphere, creating spaces where leaders and inspired community models flourish.

American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE): Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization that unites finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. It is the focal point for collaborative advocacy across the renewable energy sector. Its members represent all facets of the renewable energy marketplace, including leading developers and manufacturers, institutional investors, major corporate offtakers, and the country’s most forward-leaning utilities.

EKOenergy: The goals include:

  • Speeding up the transition to 100% renewable energy.
  • Increasing knowledge and discourse around renewable energy and biodiversity, amongst the public in general and amongst decision-makers and large corporate consumers in particular.
  • Developing and promoting the EKOenergy label to encourage the sustainable generation of energy and to help consumers find such energy.
  • Protecting local ecosystems and restoring river habitats through our Environmental Fund.
  • Providing access to clean energy and alleviating energy poverty in developing countries through our Climate Fund.
  • Cooperating and forming partnerships with other environmental NGOs, so that our work complements each other’s efforts.
  • Helping to realise the Sustainable Development Goals.

EurObserv’ER: Since 1998, The EurObserv’ER barometer measures the progress made by renewable energies in each sector and in each member State of the European Union in an as up-to-date way as possible (with figures less than 12 months old). EurObserv’ER produces a series of figure-backed indicators covering energetic, technological and economic dimensions.

Alternative Energy

The World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE): During the Impulse Conference, Promoting Global Transfer Activities for Renewable Energy“ in Berlin on June 8-10 2001, participants from all continents founded the World Council for Renewable Energy. The conference was attended by 450 participants from different continents and mobilised support for IRENA. The World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) was established with Hermann Scheer as General Chairman. The WCRE’s initial aim was to work for the foundation of IRENA, which was finally established in 2009.

Modern Breakthrough in Alternative Energy

Algae as a Renewable Energy

Algae biofuel is regarded as one of the ultimate solutions for renewable energy, but its commercialization is hindered by growth limitations caused by mutual shading and high harvest costs.

“We overcome these challenges by advancing machine learning to inform the design of a semi-continuous algal cultivation (SAC) to sustain optimal cell growth and minimize mutual shading, said Joshua Yuan, Ph.D., AgriLife Research scientist, professor and chair of Synthetic Biology and Renewable Products in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.

Yuan said he is using an aggregation-based sedimentation strategy designed to achieve low-cost biomass harvesting and economical SAC.
“The aggregation-based sedimentation is achieved by engineering a fast-growing blue-green algae strain, Synechococcus elongatus UTEX2973, to produce limonene, which increases cyanobacterial cell surface hydrophobicity and enables efficient cell aggregation and sedimentation,” he said.

Making algae economical energy

Scaling-up the SAC with an outdoor pond system achieves a biomass yield of 43.3 grams per square meter per day, bringing the minimum biomass selling price down to approximately $281 per ton, according to the journal article. In comparison, the standard low-cost feedstock for biomass in ethanol is corn, which is currently approximately $6 per bushel or $260 per ton. However, Yuan’s process does not call for costly pre-treatment before fermentation. Corn must be ground and the mash must be cooked before fermentation.

India in Renewables

In November 2021, India had renewable energy capacity of 150 GW consisting solar (48.55GW), wind (40.03GW), small hydro power (4.83GW), bio-power (10.62GW) and large hydro (46.51GW), and the nuclear (6.78GW). India has committed for a goal of 450 GW renewable energy capacity by 2030.

As of October 2021, India’s renewable energy capacity stood at 1.49 GW representing ~38.27% of the overall installed power capacity and providing a great opportunity for the expansion of green data centres. In October 2021, India’s renewable energy capacity increased by 1,522.35 MW (megawatt).

As of September 2021, India had 101.53 GW of renewable energy capacity and represents ~38% of the overall installed power capacity. The country is targeting about 450 Gigawatt (GW) of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030 – about 280 GW (over 60%) is expected from solar. As of September 2021, India had 101.53 GW of renewable energy capacity and represents ~38% of the overall installed power capacity. By December 2019, 15,100 megawatts (MW) of wind power projects were issued, of which, projects of 12,162.50 MW capacity have already been awarded2. Power generation from renewable energy sources in India reached 127.01 billion units (BU) in FY20.

With a potential capacity of 363 GW and with policies focused on the renewable energy sector, Northern India is expected to become the hub for renewable energy in India.

Investments/ Developments

According to the data released by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), FDI inflow in the Indian non-conventional energy sector stood at US$ 10.28 billion between April 2000 and June 2021. More than US$ 42 billion has been invested in India’s renewable energy sector since 2014. New investment in clean energy in the country reached US$ 11.1 billion in 2018. According to the analytics firm British Business Energy, India ranked 3rd globally in terms of its renewable energy investments and plans in 2020.

Some major investments and developments in the Indian renewable energy sector are as follows:

  • In October 2021, Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd. (RNESL) announced two acquisitions to build more capabilities.
  • Both acquisitions – REC Solar Holdings AS (REC Group), a Norway-based firm, and Sterling & Wilson Solar, based in India – exceeded US$ 1 billion and are expected to contribute to Reliance’s target of achieving the capacity of 100 GW of solar energy at Jamnagar by 2030.
  • In October 2021, Adani Green Energy Ltd. (AGEL) acquired SB Energy India for US$ 3.5 billion to strengthen its position in the renewable energy sector in India.
  • In August 2021, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) signed an investment agreement with Amp Energy India Private Limited to facilitate joint equity investments of >US$ 200 million across Indian renewable energy projects.
  • In July 2021, National Thermal Power Corporation Renewable Energy Ltd. (NTPC REL), NTPC’s fully owned subsidiary, sent out a tender to domestic manufacturers to build India’s first green hydrogen fueling station in Leh, Ladakh.
  • In June 2021, the Reliance Industries announced to invest Rs. 750,00 crore (US$ 10.07 billion) the green energy segment.
  • In June 2021, Suzlon secured a contract for 252 MW wind power project from Apraava Energy (formerly CLP India). The project is expected to be commissioned in 2022.
  • In June 2021, Tata Power Solar secured a contract worth Rs. 686 crore (US$ 93.58 million) from the NTPC to build 210 MW projects in Gujarat.
  • In May 2021, Adani Green Energy Ltd. (AGEL), signed share purchase agreements for the acquisition of 100% interest in SB Energy India from SoftBank Group (SBG) and Bharti Group. The total renewable portfolio is 4,954 MW spread across four states in India.
  • In May 2021, Virescent Infrastructure, a renewable energy platform, acquired 76% of India’s solar asset portfolio of Singapore-based Sindicatum Renewable Energy Company Pte Ltd.
  • In April 2021, Central Electricity Authority approved the uprating of JSW Energy Karcham Wangtoo hydro power plant to 1,091 megawatt (MW) from 1,000 MW.
  • In April 2021, GE Power India’s approved the acquisition of 50% stake in NTPC GE Power Services Pvt. Ltd. for Rs 7.2 crore (US$ 0.96 million).
  • The NTPC is expected to commission India’s largest floating solar power plant in Ramagundam, Telangana by May-June 2022. The expected total installed capacity is 447MW.
  • In March 2021, Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus (EIYP), an alternative investment fund managed by Edelweiss Alternative Asset Advisors, acquired a 74% stake in the solar portfolio of Engie Group in India.
  • In March 2021, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) reported a loan guarantee programme worth US$ 41 million to support Indian SME investments in renewable energy.
  • In March 2021, Adani Green Energy announced plan to acquire a 250 MW solar power project in the northern state of Rajasthan (commissioned by Hero Future Energies). The expected deal value stands at ~Rs.10 billion (US$ 136.20 million).
  • In March 2021, Adani Green Energy Ltd. (AGEL) signed a contract to acquire a 100% stake in SkyPower Global’s 50 MW solar power project in Telangana. This would increase its operational renewable capacity to 3,395 MW, with a total renewable portfolio of 14,865 MW.
  • In March 2021, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) entered a loan agreement with Tata Cleantech Capital Limited (TCCL) for JPY 10 billion (US$ 90.31 million) to enable the firm provide loans to companies in India for renewable energy production, e-mobility solutions and energy conservation in order to help offset the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (in line with the Green Loan Principles).
  • In March 2021, the European Union joined the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), an India-led initiative aimed at ensuring long-term development while addressing the climate change’s adverse effects.
  • In March 2021, India and the US agreed to restructure their strategic energy partnership to concentrate on cleaner energy sectors including biofuels and hydrogen production.
  • The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) implemented large-scale central auctions for solar parks and has awarded contracts for 47 parks with over 25 GW of combined capacity.

It is expected that by 2040, around 49% of the total electricity will be generated by renewable energy as more efficient batteries will be used to store electricity, which will further cut the solar energy cost by 66% as compared to the current cost. *Use of renewables in place of coal will save India Rs. 54,000 crore (US$ 8.43 billion) annually3. Renewable energy will account for 55% of the total installed power capacity by 2030.

As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) estimates, by 2029-30, the share of renewable energy generation would increase from 18% to 44%, while that of thermal is expected to reduce from 78% to 52%.