ON/OFF : The Micropower Blog.

QUARTZ : India’s rural mobile towers create new businesses—and light up homes

Henri Winand runs a fuel-cell company. Fuel cells run on hydrogen to produce energy. So why has Intelligent Energy, Winand’s firm, just agreed a deal to manage some 16,000 diesel-powered mobile network towers in India?

One reason is that the deal will bring in an estimated £1 billion ($1.5 billion) in revenue for the company over the next decade. For a business that posted a £48-million loss on revenue of £13.6 million for the last full year, the income certainly helps. But the larger reason is that Winand plans, over time, to replace the diesel generators that power rural mobile towers in India with fuel cells. Winand can become his own best customer.

Setting up a fuel cell in India.(Intelligent Energy)

Winand’s plan might just work. Intelligent Energy has been in India since 2009, and already manages 10,000 of the country’s mobile towers, many of which are off-grid for eight hours a day. As the diesel generators that keep them running the rest of the time begin to mature, Winand has started replacing the majority of them with fuel cells. Speaking with Quartz before news of the new deal, Winand characterized the tower agreement with gleeful confidence: “We have eight-year visibility,” he said, referring to the minimum length of the contract. “It’s like a pension fund.”



Global Calculator shows how the world can ‘prosper’ while tackling climate change

Written by Simon Evans for The Carbon Brief

The world’s population could live a prosperous, European-style lifestyle by 2050 at the same time as avoiding dangerous climate change, according to a new Global Calculator developed by the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The online tool shows how global prosperity can increase, even as emissions fall by 60 per cent from current levels in line with climate targets. This feat, according to the calculator, would require a series of  massive changes to how we use energy, such as a shift from fossil fuels towards nuclear and renewables, and much wider use of electric heat and transport.

DECC’s tool shows this transition might be slightly more, or slightly less expensive than the cost of doing nothing to tackle emissions. Either way, the difference in costs would be minimal, relative to expected growth in global wealth.

The new global tool has already been used by organisations, including DECC, Shell, the International Energy Agency and Friends of the Earth, to imagine the world in 2050. However, not all of these future scenarios are compatible with a safe climate.

Carbon Brief takes you through the nuts and bolts of the tool, DECC’s version of a prosperous two-degrees world and how the calculator can be used to compare competing visions of the future within a common frame of reference.

How the tool works

Anyone can use the web-based Global Calculator tool to model the world in 2050, by making a series of choices about lifestyle (such as diet and appliance use), transport, buildings, industry, land use and energy. The tool then shows whether these choices are consistent with meeting the internationally agreed target to limit warming to two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

The summary dashboard for DECC’s Global Calculator. Credit: globalcalculator.org



Economic Times on OMC: “Obama, PM Modi can work to develop power initiative”

WASHINGTON: More than a dozen organisations, businesses and clean energy venture capitalists have appealed to US President Barack Obama to collaborate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to develop a “Power India” initiative.

In a letter, the groups led by the Sierra Club outlined the goals of the initiative which, if agreed upon by both governments, would aid the Indian government in its quest to increase the scale of clean energy deployment aimed at helping the country meet its ambitious clean energy and energy access goals — including solar power for all by 2019.

“If President Obama and Prime Minister Modi are able to successfully develop this initiative, Power India stands to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are guaranteed safe, reliable access to electricity,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s International Climate program director.

“By investing in modern clean energy technology that bypasses the costly, inefficient grid extensions of India’s past and reduces deadly pollution, we’ll be on track to not only ensure a 100 per cent electrified world, but a healthier world for all,” he said.

In addition to the Sierra Club, other organisations, businesses, and clean energy venture capitalists who have signed the letter to Obama are OMC Power, Schneider Electric, Simpa Networks and SunFunder.

“India’s goals to deliver solar for all citizens by 2019 and deploy 100,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in the next five to seven years are ambitious and admirable,” the letter said.

The US is well positioned to partner with the Indian government in achieving these goals by leveraging the broad array of bilateral support provided by agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, US Export-Import Bank, and USAID in a coordinated manner, they wrote.

“Properly designed, such an initiative would unlock much needed support for clean energy projects and catalyse the expansion of beyond-the-grid solar markets to help alleviate energy poverty,” the letter said.

In creating such a programme, the US government can and should draw upon experience developed and lessons learned from the establishment of the renewable energy aspects of “Power Africa” initiative, including its off-grid-focused “Beyond the Grid” sub-initiative, they said.

“There is significant potential to replicate a ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative in India, which is home to 400 million people without access to the centralised grid and a wealth of entrepreneurial approaches to solving the problem.

“Coordination of finance from key bilateral agencies can help scale up proven approaches to financing energy access and clean energy deployment, such as de-risking investment through loan guarantees,” said the letter dated January 22.

The proposed Power India initiative comes on the heels of remarkable climate progress in 2014 — including contributions to the Green Climate Fund and the US-China deal — and could help set the stage for across-the-board international climate action in the months leading up to the COP21 this December, the media release said.

“If 2014 is any indication, 2015 will continue the momentum for clean energy technology investment — and Power India is the first step we need to take,” said Coequyt.



Business Today on OMC: Alternate current

Privately run microgrids provide power to large swathes of rural areas where electric supply is erratic or nonexistent. But they face formidable challenges.


The beginnings: Selecting a site for setting up a power plant is crucial for OMC Power’s business. It is done on the basis of the presence of at least two telecom towers in the vicinity, in order to make the business model sustainable (Photo: Kishan Kumar)

Pradeep Singh, 37, owns one of the two gas stations at Attrouli village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi district, 65 km north of Lucknow. Barely 30 per cent of the diesel he sells goes into vehicles; the rest is bought by village residents to run diesel generator (DG) sets for both household and agricultural needs. The village gets barely four to six hours of power on average a day from the grid, with 10 hours being the maximum it has ever got. “Yahaan bijli ka koi theek nahi hai (power supply here is very erratic),” he says. “We usually get power after 11 pm for a few hours, rarely during the day.”