All posts by repowerindia

We're all about sustainability, all the time. Follow for more India-centric content about the future of the planet, and how we can go about saving it.

Solar

MNRE Issues Testing Guidelines for Battery Storage

Author: Saumy Prateek

Guidelines to Facilitate Product Approval

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued draft guidelines for performance testing of batteries (lead-acid and nickel-based chemistry type) series approval for mandatory registration with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The draft guidelines for series approval (grouping) are open to comments which are due by 18th April. The draft copy was prepared with inputs from stakeholders, including experts from test labs, BIS, and the battery storage industry.

Battery energy storage system (BESS) was brought under the ambit of the Solar Photovoltaics, Systems, Devices, and Component Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration under the BIS Act Order 2017) which was implemented on April 16, 2018.

As the Indian renewable energy industry expands, the government is trying to catch up with quality issues and is setting up testing guidelines to ensure all products sold meet established standards. MNRE issued a new National Lab Policy in December 2017 to improve the quality and reliability of renewable energy projects in India.

Because batteries are of varying sizes, ratings, and types, each category of batteries is to be grouped when submitting samples to test labs and will be granted approval for the series (group) of products based on testing of representatives’ models.

Grouping by category for testing is a good move by the MNRE. Grouping had become an issue with testing inverters where labs had no clarity on this issue, and testing of individual models became cumbersome, expensive and delayed.

According to MNRE, the information regarding the material of the containers, the separator used, and the type of sealing adopted (in the case of sealed batteries) and the overall dimensions must be provided by the manufacturer while submitting the batteries for testing.

The manufacturer will need to recommend the procedure to be followed to charge the cells and batteries. If the information is not provided by the customer, the procedure described in applicable standards will be followed.

The short-term tests (capacity test, retention of charge, sulphation test and water loss test) will be performed on all ratings included in the series. In case any test samples fail any one of the short term tests, the particular rating will be resubmitted for the testing.

Among the product range of cells and batteries from a manufacturer, the representation model of that particular cell and battery will be tested. The highest rated capacity sample will be subjected to all tests (including endurance tests), and the qualifying product will be issued test reports to all samples covered in the series.

For cells and batteries to be considered in the same series, the manufacturer has to submit an assurance to the test lab that all the models have been manufactured with no change in the grid alloy composition, grid purity, grid thickness, ingredients used in the electrode preparation, method of preparation and the thickness of the electrodes and quality systems followed for manufacturing.

The government issued a proposal to set up a national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage initiatives last month. The Cabinet has also approved the creation of the Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) to support the development of large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing giga-scale projects in India. The Phased Manufacturing Program will be valid for five years until 2024 and help in localization of production across the entire electric vehicles value chain. The program is expected to be finalized by the national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage.

Unlike for solar components, battery testing guidelines are being established before the announcement of the national mission for battery storage.

Image credit: Central Power Research Institute

Educate YoSelfReal Talk

Go, Goa, Gone?

Photo credits: Kedar Marathe via goa.me

Ah, Goa. Land of sun, sea, and sand; the top spot on the Indian college kid’s bucket list. And indeed, tourism is one of the biggest revenue generators in the state.

But everything has a cost, and haphazard tourism infrastructure development has indeed made an ugly blot on the state’s landscape and livability.

According to stats revealed by the Department of Tourism, Goa, the number of tourists visiting the state has steadily increased from 3.1 million in 2013 to a whopping 6.33 million in 2016. Compare these numbers with the state’s population of just 1.8 million. At any time, the tourists in the state outnumber the residents.

This poses severe challenges to the administration – the need for adequate infrastructure for tourists, waste management, reducing the impact on the fragile eco-systems, and more.

Eco-Tourism- What and Why

What does the term “eco-tourism” mean? Very often, people assume that eco-tourism is just another term for going green. Building lodges in the middle of the forest, geothermal powered hotels, efforts by tourist operators to reduce their carbon footprint and more.

While all this is part of eco-tourism, it doesn’t present the complete picture. Eco-tourism has to be sustainable. When it comes to sustainable tourism, there are three pillars to consider – economic, environmental and socio-cultural.

The current approach of unregulated mass tourism, with no thought to the environment or the future, causes irreversible damage. Garbage piles dotting scenic beaches, loss of marine life (see reports on the impending death of the Great Barrier Reef), large luxury hotels and resorts that chew through power and other natural resources – stand as testimonies to the negative impacts of unsustainable tourism practices.

The state should take a leaf out of Portugal’s book: the country recently won the title of Europe’s leading tourism destination for 2018 at the World Travel Awards. Faced with mounting debt and financial crisis, Portugal has managed to revitalize its economy by focusing on travel and eco-tourism. The country today has emerged as one of the most sustainable tourist destinations in the world.

Goa, just like Portugal, is rich in both natural bounty and a downplayed but vibrant cultural history. The Department of Tourism of Goa should focus on converting existing tourist accommodations into eco-friendly and sustainable structures.

Getting B&Bs, hotels, lodges, beach shacks, and restaurants to install sewage treatment plans, waste management systems, and to switch over to renewable energy will not only benefit the state’s environmental landscape but also increase the revenue for tourism operators in the long run.

That said, a shift to a sustainable tourism model will require the involvement of several parties – the central and state governments, tech entrepreneurs, hotel and restaurant owners, green activists and above all, the local communities.

The Final Word

It’s time that Goa moved towards a sustainable and culturally relevant tourism experience by getting all stakeholders on board. The current exploitative model of ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ will not stand the test of time.

Either it goes, or Goa does.

 

Architecture and DesignGood News CentralReal TalkSolar

Future On Tap

Image via DNAIndia

You probably know that India is home to over 1 billion people. And you probably also know that nearly 50% of those practise open defecation.

Infectious diseases are a result of poor hygiene practices, often because of lack of access to clean water. In 2010, the United Nations announced that the right to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right. But millions of people all over the country lack access to clean, potable water.

Solving a nation’s water crisis in a single day isn’t possible. However, there are several steps we can take in that direction. Example: the introduction of Water ATMs in the capital city, New Delhi.

What are Water ATMs?

As the name implies, a water ATM dispenses water. Think of it as a vending machine for clean and safe drinking water 24×7. The best part – these units run on solar energy. Additionally, these machines are powered by ultra-filtration units and Reverse Osmosis filters that further reduce the operational costs.

The Delhi Jal Board piloted water ATMs in partnership with the Piramal Foundation in 2014. Today, you can spot several water ATMs in various parts of the capital city.

Withdrawal can be made by using either cash or a smart “Sarva Jal” digital card issued by the Board. The cost of water from these machines is low- 25 paise per litre. Metro stations are a popular installation point because of the constant stream of travellers.

Water ATMS provide Delhi’s economically weaker sections (and thirsty travellers) with access to safe, clean drinking water at affordable prices. Also, these machines encourage users to carry refillable bottles, cutting down on the dependence on single-use plastic water bottles.

Water ATMs are taking off all over the country, with public-private-NGO collaborations (in various permutations and combinations) germinating and throwing up projects in areas like Moradabad, Berhampur (Orissa), Bangalore, and many other places.

I’ve heard many a dire prediction that the Third World War will be fought over water; well, we might just avoid that yet.

 

Architecture and DesignEducate YoSelfGood News CentralReal Talk

Sacred Groves

Image via Facebook

Sacred Groves is a community in Auroville, India that aims to transform the toxic building processes employed in modern times. The project is an effort in an ecological development and a sustainable model of construction.

It is essentially an alternative housing solution for Auroville, which removes itself from the cement and concrete trap we call a house. It’s a completely off the grid housing system made with as many alternative materials as possible, ranging from construction debris to petrol hoses!

The chief construction materials at the Sacred Groves are Adobe and Lime. Organic materials such as straw and wood instead of cement and steel, make it possible to reduce carbon emissions.

Sacred Groves 4

Image via Facebook

Protection of wetlands

The project reuses construction waste with adobe, in an attempt to lessen the burden on wetlands. Construction waste is the largest in terms of volume in our country, and this waste is currently dumped in wetlands. Wetlands hold the highest ecological diversity and are essential to river water ecosystems. However, with the current trend of dumping in wetlands, the oxygenation of river water is under direct threat. Wetlands are neglected by the government because they hold no economic value. They are unfit to be built on or farmed on, and thus have become dump-yards.

All-Around Sustainability

A sustainable life is not achieved only by using green building techniques and materials; social and economical sustainability are key points as well. Social sustainability is about equality and sharing, and equal livelihood for everybody. By using materials like lime instead of cement, it benefits local producers instead of supporting a few who control the cement industry. It provides residents with shared facilities, like laundries, workshops, co-worker hubs and so on. It promotes a better social life and stimulate sharing of knowledge and resources among the residents.

Materials like earth or lime have no expiry date; on the contrary, cement-based constructions have a limited lifetime. When well maintained, the lifetime of the constructions at Sacred Groves will outlast cement-based buildings. At Sacred Groves, all basic needs are provided within the community and as such avoid the usage of money. Reusing or recycling of waste adds an additional economic value to waste.

Life at Sacred Groves – Community Building

The project is open to everyone who aspires to work towards a more sustainable world. Sacred Groves makes it possible to live in affordable houses which are healthy for the environment and its inhabitants.

The work at Sacred Groves is majorly powered by volunteers and some hired labour from the neighbouring villages. Volunteers are required to stay on site and build the houses along with managing resources such as food water and electricity themselves! If one is short on a chair or even a cup, they just go ahead and build one!

Image via Facebook

The morning routine starts with the sacred circle where everybody has breakfast together while collecting their heads about the tasks and team for the day. Volunteers are divided in teams for different roles in the construction process.

Sacred Groves aims to become an alternative to conventional construction. It wants to become a place for those who believe that creating unity in diversity is more than just words. A place that can proudly show the world that there is a better way to build and to live together.

Image via Facebook


Aviral Sinha is a Delhi-based architect with a deep interest in sustainable urban design. He was involved in the Sacred Groves project over the course of 2013. He holds an M.Arch from Milan’s DOMUS Academy. More from him here

Architecture and DesignEducate YoSelfReal Talk

City Of Dreams

Image via The Hindu Business Line

Capital cities worldwide have two sides: they offer the best of everything – restaurants, amenities, accommodations, public transport, education, employment opportunities and much more; on the other hand, you also spend endless hours waiting in traffic, cramped living quarters, noise, air, and water pollution, improper waste management… this list goes on.

Is it possible to create a world-class modern city in a developing country without the negative aspects? History rolls her eyes, but that’s what, Amaravathi, the upcoming capital of Andhra Pradesh, hopes to do. Yes, it’s a highly ambitious plan. But the plan is to build India’s first truly world-class city, a model for smart cities in the digital age.

The Do’s That Have Been Done

The Andhra Pradesh government has managed to rope in Norman Foster, one of the world’s leading contemporary architects, to design the futuristic city. Foster’s firm Foster + Partners is in charge of designing the city centre which includes the State High Court and Assembly, along with several buildings that will house the state administrative apparatus.

The design will incorporate the most cutting-edge research and methodologies on sustainable cities, adapted to suit Indian requirements as well as aesthetic and cultural sensibilities. The design takes into account Amaravathi’s Buddhist roots by designing the High Court building along the lines of a stupa. The cityscape inspirations range from Lutyens’ New Delhi, Cental Park in New York City, and London’s Trafalgar and Duke of York Squares- all culturally cosmopolitan cities in their own unique ways.

Expect lots of green spaces, large shaded walkways that get people to rely on their legs instead of their wheels, use of solar energy panels throughout the city, dedicated cycle tracks for intra-city transport, electric vehicles and a great deal more.

Foster’s team has got the initial plan right by focusing on sustainable development. The site is on the banks of the river Krishna, which ensures a reliable freshwater supply. 51 per cent of the cityscape is envisioned as green space and another 10 per cent as water bodies (including waterways paralleling the major roads to facilitate water transportation).

Additionally, the state government has brought in Surbana Jurong, a Singapore-based urban consultant team. They are focused on creating jobs and homes for all of the city’s citizens. Surbana Jurong is also a consultant in several smart projects across India.

The new capital builds on the ancient idea of Navratnas – nine different areas, with each denoting a specific functionality. Some of the areas include – education city, tourism city, health city, financial city, government city, knowledge city, and sports city. The city development will benefit six neighbouring towns like Vijayawada, Guntur, and others creating an urban—peri-urban landscape, emulating Delhi and the surrounding NCR region.

So…

In a nutshell, Amaravathi aims to emerge as India’s first fully-sustainable city, with world-class infrastructure and efficient resource management.

Will the Andhra Pradesh government be able to pull it off? That remains to be seen. But plans and funding are both there, so hopefully this will turn out to be just as magnificent (and smart!) as it sounds.