Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

India on the move

This article was written by me for Sify.com on the event of the 60th birth anniversary of our nation. 6 years later we seem to be worse off than ever. Some part of the blame lies on the world financial crisis, but a large portion lies within lack of political will and business apathy.

Here is hoping that the next 6 years will see a robust change

 

2007 has been a momentous year for India. We have seen the stock markets rising and the dollar falling. Consumer spending and salary levels are never before heights. Today’s young Indian is earning a start salary that his father barely managed to before retiring.

India achieved 8.5% GDP growth in 2006, significantly expanding manufacturing. India is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers. Economic expansion has helped New Delhi continue to make progress in reducing its federal fiscal deficit. However, strong growth – more than 8 percent growth in each of the last three years (and over 9% in parts of the last year) – combined with easy consumer credit and a real estate boom is fuelling inflation concerns. The huge and growing population is the fundamental social, economic, and environmental problem. Here is a comparative picture of the growth of India’s GDP.

india graph

The 11th Plan

Sector              Growth rate                 Share of GDP
                          2002-07   1997-02     2002-07  1997-02

   Communications   15.0     17.14             2.3        1.7
   Manufacturing       9.82      3.68            16.7      15.3
   Agriculture            3.97     2.06             20.5      24.7

India is moving from an agricultural economy to a service economy surely but steadily. In relative terms, the decline of agriculture in the share of GDP from 24.7 to 20.5. That decline implies that services and manufacturing are gaining share and that implies that we are moving away from a subsistence economy to one in which we may have some hope of improving our lot.
Of course, as a developing economy, agriculture is the core of the economy.  If India is to ever develop. It is only very severely underdeveloped economies have high agricultural sector share of GDP. For instance Albania, Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Ghana — economies with agriculture accounting for a large share of the GDP. Australia, France, Germany, US — agriculture accounts for low single-digit shares of the GDP.

The Indian economy on the eve of the 11th Plan is in a much stronger position than it was a few years ago. After slowing down to an average growth rate of about 5.5% in the Ninth Plan period (1997-98 to 2001-02), it has accelerated in recent years and the average growth rate in the Tenth Plan period (2002-03 to 2006-07) is likely to be about 7%. This is below the Tenth Plan target of 8%, but it is the highest growth rate achieved in any plan period. While this performance reflects the strength of the economy in many areas, it is also true that large parts of our population are still living below the poverty line. The percentage of the population below the poverty line is declining, but only at a modest pace.  These problems are more severe in some states than in others, and in general they are especially severe in rural areas.

 

Oil- The master of the future

Petrol has dominated world economics for long and will continue to do so for the years to come. Oil has formed a large part of India forex outflow. It is however earning refining business which has been offsetting its import bills. In fact, during 2006-07, refined petroleum products formed the largest chunk of total exports overtaking the Gems and Jewellery sector.

The cost effectiveness of refining in India is drawing many global players here. This is because India is logistically well placed for refineries. Besides being a major market for crude oil and petroleum products, it adjoins major demand centres such as China. Also, crude oil from West Asia can easily be brought to refineries in India.

Of late, a number of players have evinced a keen interest in laying pipelines in the domestic market to supply gas to the consumers. For example, Gujarat State Petronet Ltd, a group company of the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation, plans to connect all 25 districts of the state with 2,200-kilometre high pressure gas pipeline laid down across the state. Reliance will invest US$4 billion to lay a 1,386-kilometer pipeline from Andhra Pradesh to Gujarat. India is also one among the four countries which have the world’s richest gas hydrate reserves.

India ranks sixth in the world in terms of petroleum demand and by 2010, India is projected to replace South Korea and emerge as the fourth-largest consumer of energy, after the United States, China and Japan. The rising price of crude is of great concern to the growth of the Indian economy. India needs to step up its domestic exploration to produce substance instead of wisps of promise that it has been done till now.

The Forex concerns

In recent days the rupee-dollar exchange rate has been, on average, Rs 39.3 per dollar. A year ago it was 44.7. This means that the rupee has appreciated against the dollar by 13.7% in the last year. Put differently, for an Indian the average price of all American goods has fallen by 13.7% and, for Americans, goods from India have become more expensive.

Over the last year virtually all major currencies have been appreciating vis-à-vis the US dollar. The euro rose by 14.7%, the pound by 10.4%; the Canadian dollar by 23%, Sweden’s kroner by 13.7% – the same as the Indian rupee. Vis-a-vis all major currencies, outside of the US dollar, the rupee has changed very little. It is due to our high dollar exposure of our exports (especially software exports which has been driving the economy to a high) that the fall of the dollar has become a cause of concern.

The 3-D Advanage

As Mr Anand G Mahindra, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra, India said in a seminar, he reposed faith in the 3D advantages of India, Democracy, Demography and Durability. Democracy is a prerequisite to a healthy society, polity and economy. India’s demographic advantage is that it has the highest number of people in the working age group and this is going to continue for some time. Durability stems from the fact that India is a peaceful and stable nation despite many internal disturbances. He said that India has the second largest Muslim population in the world peacefully coexisting with the Hindu majority.

Some facts to chew on

  • India is the world’s fourth-largest economy.
  • By 2034, India will be the most populous country on Earth, with 1.6 billion people.
  • India’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States.
  • One out of three of the world’s malnourished children live in India.
  • India is home to the biggest youth population on earth: 600 million people are under the age of 25.
  • India just edged past the United States to become the second-most-preferred destination for foreign direct investment after China.
  • In 1991, Indians purchased 150,000 automobiles; in 2007, they are estimated to purchase 10 million.
  • By 2008, India’s total pool of qualified graduates will be more than twice as large as China’s.
  • By 2015, an estimated 3.5 million white-collar U.S. jobs will be offshored.
  • India is the largest arms importer in the developing world.
  • American corporations expect to earn $20 to $40 billion from the civilian nuclear agreement with India.
  • In 2007, there are 2.2 million Indian Americans, a number expected to double every decade.
  • Twenty-nine percent of India’s population speaks English – that’s 350 million people.
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Save money by cutting down your electric bills

Ever gasped at the huge electric bills that seem to climb up constantly. Your electricity bill is a recurring expense which could bring a substantial saving in your monthly budgeting.

Make a good choice in lighting

Lighting contributes to nearly 30% of the consumption of electricity and if we work at improving the lighting in our homes we can achieve a fair bit of energy efficiency.

Florescent light consumes much lower electricity than the bulb.  The newer innovation is Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) which looks like a white bulb. They are long lasting and about 5-6 times more energy efficient than the regular light bulbs. Thus, using them in place of bulbs can result in substantial energy savings.

According to Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) a 15-watt CFL produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt bulb.
BEE also rates CFLs with stars to show their energy efficiency. A 5 star rates CFL will gives out the best light per watt of electricity consumed.

Although a single CFL costs more initially, over the life of the bulb you actually save money. Here’s a comparison on the energy consumption to make you sit up and think before you buy a bulb again.

CFL Incandescent or Bulbs
Energy Input (watts) 13 60
Light Output (lumens) 810 830
Useful life (hours) 10,000 1,500
Electricity Used (kilowatt hours) 130 600

To make the most of the natural light available in your home, you need to know how to use it.

There are several ways to maximise your natural light. You can hang mirrors opposite windows. Take down unnecessary window dressings and replace with filmy materials, such as voile and muslin, to diffuse light. Trim trees or bushes that overshadow windows.

Cooling the bills

Cooling accounts for 11% of home energy usage, an Energy Star-rated cooling system can help reduce electric costs by hundreds of rupees. Don’t constantly move the thermostat up or down throughout the day because this wastes energy and money.

Consider setting the thermostat as high as comfortable in the summer.

Make sure your central air conditioning unit outside your home stays clean and free of debris.

Use ceiling fans to assist in cooling.  In the summer, blades should rotate counter-clockwise when viewed from below.

Make sure furniture and draperies are not blocking cooling outlets. Blocked outlets restrict air circulation, overwork the cooling equipment and increase operating costs.

The refrigerator

The refrigerator alone accounts for 7% of an average home’s total energy usage. What’s more, refrigeration efficiencies have come so far in recent years that anyone with a unit more than five years old should consider investing in a new refrigerator.

Defrost food in your refrigerator, this helps cool the refrigerator, easing energy requirements, and it is better for the food than defrosting in room temperature.  Keep refrigerator full so that it is cooling less open space (water jugs make good fillers).

This article has been written by me for MoneyLife magazine

Viable Solar Power

The Mckinsey Quarterly has an excellent article on  Economics of Solar power

The highlights are as follows

The solar sector includes a diverse set of players, including the manufacturers of the silicon wafers, panels, and components used to generate much of today’s solar power, as well as the installers who put small-scale units on individual roofs, utilities and other operators setting up enormous solar collection systems in deserts, and start-up companies striving for breakthroughs such as lower-cost thin-film technologies. All are operating in a dynamic environment in which long-held assumptions—subsidies, the primacy of incumbents, and the predominance of silicon-wafer-based technology—are being eroded.

But the sector’s economics are changing. Over the last two decades, the cost of manufacturing and installing a photovoltaic solar-power system has decreased by about 20 percent with every doubling of installed capacity. The cost of generating electricity from conventional sources, by contrast, has been rising along with the price of natural gas, which heavily influences electricity prices in regions that have large numbers of gas-fired power plants. These regions include California, the Northeast, and Texas (in the United States), as well as Italy, Japan, and Spain.

As a result, solar power has been creeping toward cost competitiveness in some areas. California, for example, combines abundant sunshine with retail electricity prices that, partly as a result of the state’s policies, are among the highest in the United States—up to 36 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential users.1 Unsubsidized solar power costs 36 cents per kilowatt-hour. Support from the California Solar Initiative2 cuts the price customers pay to 27 cents. Rising natural-gas prices, state regulations aiming to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and the need to build more power plants to keep up with growing demand could push the cost of conventional electricity higher.

The road ahead

The extent and speed of this emerging sector’s growth will depend on its ability to keep driving down the cost of solar power. No single player or set of players can make that happen on its own.

• The necessary technological breakthroughs will come from solar-component manufacturers, but rapid progress depends on robustly growing demand from end users, to whom many manufacturers have only limited access.

• Utilities have strong relationships with residential, commercial, and industrial customers and understand the economics of serving them. But these companies will have difficulty driving the penetration of solar power unless they have a much clearer sense of the cost potential of different solar technologies.

• In some regions, regulators can accelerate the move toward grid parity, as they did in California and Germany, but they can’t reduce the real cost of solar power. Poor regulation might even slow the fall in prices.

Although these considerations make it difficult to predict outcomes and to prescribe strategies, certain economic principles do apply.