Tata’s tenet: Renewable Watch

For more than nine decades, Tata Power has been guided by the founder Shri Jamshetji Tata’s vision of generating “Clean and affordable power” for the country. Fortifying this self-driven oath even further, the Company has laid down five principles that ensure that its focus remains riveted on ‘clean and green’ energy. It pledges that it would invest and implement eco-friendly technologies; focus on reducing its carbon footprint; participate in global initiatives to combat climate change; scout for clean power sources internationally; and proactively drive energy conservation and efficiency.

If Tata Power has been preparing itself meticulously to confront the challenge of Climate Change, why then, is almost 80 per cent of the electricity it generates, still sourced from coal? Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. When burned, it produces emissions that contribute to global warming, create acid rain and pollute water. Why then is grimy coal not on its way out? It is a difficult question that needs to be answered. Not only by Tata Power but every other Energy major in the world. In India, for instance coal accounts for a whopping 85 per cent of the total amount generated. It generates half of the electricity in the United States and will likely continue to do so as long as it’s cheap and plentiful.

The development seeks to source energy from carbon-based plants and this scenario is likely to remain almost the same in the near future as the country cannot meet all its needs from Non-GHG generating sources. Further, high price of gas, hydro and other renewable sources leads us to promote thermal power projects that have lower greenhouse gas emission and superior performance than the average in India, as a way to help the country meet its large need for more electricity. Leading this philosophy is Tata Power’s 4000MW Ultra Mega Power Project established at Mundra which employs supercritical technology resulting in efficient use of natural resources and significantly reduced GHG emission. Government of India should promote establishment of more such UMPP to effectively address the energy demand required to aid the economical growth of our country.

This, however, adds on a set of fresh responsibilities for the corporate partners. It is absolutely imperative that they make the right choices in selecting technologies that are environment friendly and are therefore sustainable. The Tata Group does not set any value on empty sermonising. In this case too, it is prepared to lead by example. The Company is one of the leading renewable energy players in India with a robust portfolio of 1170 MW generation capacity from clean energy sources, mostly focused on solar and wind. On the other hand, it has made significant investments in clean technology.

Tata has planned to add clean energy projects in the wind, hydro, solar and waste-gas space over the next two years, and aims to produce 800MW of power in the renewable energy sector.

Tata Power is experimenting with span of unique pilot projects across energy sources:

• Biomass gasification: A 250kW system using rice husk will be installed at the Tata hydro power plant near Karjat. If successful, this technology can be taken to hundreds of villages.

• Concentrated photovoltaic (C-PV): A 13.5kW pilot unit is being developed in which sunrays are concentrated on PV cells and the assembly floats on Walwhan lake (Maharashtra) in order to cool the cells. If successful, this technology can be scaled up across all the lakes that provide hydro power to Tata plants in West Maharashtra and thus generate about 1,000 MW.

• Solar powered telecom towers: More than 600,000 telecom towers in India use diesel generator sets to provide power to their antennas. Tata Power Solar is providing solar PV panels that can replace the gensets on 25 such installations. This technology can be upgraded to augment power to local grids.

• High altitude wind: Tata Power will test a 35kW turbine mounted on a blimp that will float 333m above the ground to catch winds that are more intense and sustained at that altitude.

• Micro wind turbine: The company will test a 2kW wind turbine that can be mounted on roof tops and provide power to homes.

“Options are many; some are amazingly innovative. We are tracking them all and will continue to scout for clean power sources internationally. We are excited to redefine the contours of Indian ‘Power’ Sector and committed to ‘lighting up lives’ for generations to come,” declares a Tata Power employee, brimming with confidence. May his words turn out to be prophetic!

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