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8 Posts authored by: latikasharma

The recently released Union Budget tried hard to successfully incentivize the growth of renewable energy in the Indian energy sector. This article is a summarized report on the impact of this Budget on the renewable energy sector. 

Assessing obvious fiscal priorities, compared to last year (Rs 5,036 crore), this year the allocation to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy stands at Rs 5,473 crore. As much as 74% of the outlay is directed to grid-interactive renewables, specifically mentioning the second phase of solar park development for 20 GW of capacity. The total budget is further split between Rs 3,361 crore for solar and only Rs 408 crore for wind, a clear indication that the government will continue to prioritize solar. Additionally, the budget extends support to power 2,000 railway stations through solar, under the Indian Railways 1 GW solar mission. Smaller sums of Rs 135 crore and Rs 76 crore have been earmarked for small hydro and bio-power, respectively. Despite recent suggestions, large hydro remains outside the purview of renewable energy.

 

On the manufacturing front, the key takeaway from the 2017-18 budget is the reduction of basic customs duty to nil for tempered glass used in the manufacture of solar cells, panels and modules and the reduction of countervailing duty from 12.5 percent to 6 percent for parts used in the manufacture of tempered glass which is used in solar photo-voltaic cells, modules, etc. This, together with the incentive of reduction of income tax payable by companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 crores to 25 percent, could provide a minor impetus to the small domestic solar manufacturing sector. However, it is important to note that a manufacturing unit with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 crores, translates to a panel manufacturing capacity of only 20 MW, which may not create the required impact in the sector.

 

In a bid to incentivize domestic value addition under Make in India initiative of the Government, the Finance Minister has proposed to reduce Customs and Excise duties on several items related to the Renewable Energy Sector. This includes all items of machinery required for – fuel based power generating system to be set up in the country for demonstration purposes; systems operating on bio-gas/ bio-methane/ byproduct Hydrogen; LED lights or fixtures etc. The Finance Minister has proposed zero Customs and Excise duties on certain items related to cashless transaction devices to promote domestic manufacturing of these products. Foreign investment in the sector may also see a spurt of growth due to the extension of the applicability of the concessional withholding tax rate of 5% being charged on interest earned by foreign entities in external commercial borrowings or in bonds and Government securities to 2020 from 2017.

 

This might be something, but it is clearly not enough. Another aspect unexplored in the Budget is how the goods and services tax (GST) will impact renewables. Researchers at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) find that if solar components were categorized based on current levied tax rates (including exemptions and subsidies), GST would impact solar tariffs minimally. However, if preferential tax benefits to renewable energy were not accounted, then GST could raise utility scale solar tariffs by as much as 9.5%, hampering progress.

 

Interestingly, the Union government has made an endeavor in the 2017-18 Budget to stimulate the development of new clean energy technology, particularly fuel cell based power generating system, systems operating on bio-gas, bio-methane and by-product hydrogen by way of indirect tax incentives. However, the minuscule nature of the incentive, with no additional allocation for testing, R&D, or financing support, will be inadequate in driving the different kind of green revolution necessary in India for the growth and betterment of the nation as a whole.

 

Source: The data in this article is obtained from multiple sources, including www.firstpost.com, www.india.com, www.livemint.com and www.economictimes.indiatimes.com.

Oil For All, From All

One of the foremost environmental tech trends this past year has been the exploration of alternative oil extraction sources. Any carbon-based waste, from turkey guts to used tires, can now, by adding sufficient heat and pressure, be turned into oil through a process called thermo-depolymerization. This is very similar to how nature produces oil, but with this technology, the process is expedited by millions of years to achieve the same byproduct.

Shake Out The Salt

 

According to the United Nations, water supply shortages will affect billions of people by the middle of this century. Desalination, basically removing the salt and minerals out of seawater, is one way to provide potable water in parts of the world where supplies are limited. Working on improving the efficiency of this process can provide people with the opportunity of manufacturing clean water from natural sources.

Hydrogen The Hulk

Hydrogen fuel cell usage has been touted as a pollution-free alternative to using fossil fuels. They make water by combining hydrogen and oxygen. In the process, they generate electricity. The problem with fuel cells is obtaining the hydrogen. Most recently, scientists have come up with ways to power laptops and small devices with fuel cells, and some car companies are promising that soon we'll be seeing cars that emit nothing but clean water. The promise of a "hydrogen economy," however, is not one that all experts agree will ever be realized. If it is, though, it might just turn out to be the superhero that saves our world.

Sunny Side Up

The sun's energy, which hits Earth in the form of photons, can be converted into electricity or heat. Researchers are pushing the limits to more efficiently convert this energy by concentrating solar power by using mirrors and parabolic dishes, apart from the regular solar collectors. Present investment in this technology might lead to a sunnier future for all of us.

An Ocean of Opportunities

The biggest solar collector on Earth is our ocean mass. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the oceans absorb enough heat from the sun to equal the thermal energy contained in 250 billion barrels of oil each day. Ocean Thermal Energy Converter technologies convert the thermal energy contained in the oceans and turn it into electricity by using the temperature difference between the water's surface, which is heated, and the cold of the ocean's bottom. This difference in temperature can operate turbines that can drive generators.

Harness Waves and Tides

The oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface. Waves contain an abundance of energy that could be directed to turbines, which can then turn this mechanical power into electrical. The obstacle to using this energy source has been the difficulty in harnessing it. Sometimes the waves are too small to generate sufficient power. The trick is to be able to store the energy when enough mechanical power is generated. New York City's East River is now in the process of becoming the test bed for six tide-powered turbines, and Portugal's reliance on waves in a new project is expected to produce enough power for more than 1,500 homes. Here the Wavebob, a buoy system capable of capturing the ocean's power in the form of offshore swells is pictured.

Plant Your Roof

It's a wonder that this concept attributed to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of Seven Wonders of the World, didn't catch on sooner in the modern world. Roof gardens help absorb heat, reduce the carbon dioxide impact by taking up CO2 and giving off oxygen, absorb storm water, and reduce summer air conditioning usage. Ultimately, the technique could lessen the "heat island" effect that occurs in urban centers.

Humans’ Little Helpers

Bio-remediation uses microbes and plants to clean up contamination. Examples include the clean-up of nitrates from contaminated water with the help of microbes, and using plants to uptake arsenic from contaminated soil  in a process known as phytoremediation.

 

Bury The Hatchet

 

Carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. According to the Energy Information Administration, by the year 2030 we will be emitting close to 8,000 million metric tons of CO2. One suggested method of disposal of this gas is to inject it into the ground before it gets a chance to reach the atmosphere. After the CO2 is separated from other emission gases, it can be buried in abandoned oil wells, saline reservoirs, and rocks.


Paper Pioneering

Imagine curling up on the couch with the morning paper and then using the same sheet of paper to read the latest novel by your favorite author. That's one possibility of electronic paper, a flexible display that looks very much like real paper but can be reused over and over. The display contains many tiny micro-capsules filled with particles that carry electric charges bonded to a steel foil. Each micro-capsule has white and black particles that are associated with either a positive or negative charge. Depending on which charge is applied; the black or white particles surface displaying different patterns.

 

Source: www.livescience.com

We're All In 'Deepwater's

Posted by latikasharma Jan 14, 2017

Last night I finally took the time out to watch Deepwater Horizon, Peter Berg's "kinda cool" 2016 movie on the eponymous disaster that no one in the oil industry can ever forget. Some people have complained that the movie used too much jargon to be cinema comfortable, but in my opinion, it was all necessary to show how the real impact was not due to the blowout itself, but the destruction of the entire rig resulting from a failure in operation, activation and working of several integral safety and defense systems. Even that "techie talk", as it has been called on some platforms, could not fully explain the complete scenario, and with my techie antenna tingling, I decided to do some online research on the incident.

 

One of the prominent questions in my mind was why the 54 feet blowout preventer, installed for the express purpose of staving off the sudden, uncontrolled release of oil and gas from a well, failed to do its job. The New York Times article appearing immediately after the tragedy and telling the entire horrifying story with astounding detail shows us that there were mistakes (that, in lack of a disaster, would probably have been minor enough to go unnoticed) at every step of the way: from ignoring ominous negative pressure test results to well trained crew members failing to respond accurately and immediately due to no previous example of anything other than minor and major kicks from the well before, and hesitation in fear of overreaction. We also cannot forget that Macondo was known as the "well from hell" before it blew up, so the tricky geological puzzles of the region also made for one unprecedented situation.

 

They say if you asked 50 experts why the Deepwater oil rig blew up, you will get 50 different answers. Clearly, it was a confluence of events, and not one single thing; but the one area pretty much everyone agrees on was the issue with the cement pour at the bottom of the well, which often leads people to reprimand BP for cutting corners. But even when at least one crew member testified to pushing the emergency shut down button, why did the blind shear ram fail to close the well and prevent a large scale disaster? Was it instrumental damage? Was it lack of surveying with regards to proper maintenance? Was it human error? Or was it, by that time, simply too late?

 

Perhaps we shall never know who or what is truly at fault, but let the assignment of blame be the objective of courtrooms and settlement meetings. Even after extensive regeneration efforts, strategies and plans, experts predict that in several ecological and natural ways, the Gulf will never be the same again. The tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill serves as a reminder of their responsibility to all working and aspiring professionals of the oil and gas industry, and as an example of the enormous domino-like impact even slight mistakes can have in our chosen vocation. It is on our shoulders that the weight of this incident rests in the end, because it is upto each and every one of us to understand the paramount importance of safety and prudence "on the job" and ensure that such history is never repeated.

With the world standing on the brink of alternative energy exploration, the oil industry must brace for five energy “tsunamis” that threaten to drag prices as low as $10 a barrel in less than a decade, according to Engie SA’s innovation chief.

 

The falling cost of solar power and battery storage, rising sales of electric vehicles, increasingly “smart” buildings and cheap hydrogen will all weigh on crude, Thierry Lepercq, head of research, technology and innovation at the French energy company, said in an interview. Which leads us to believe that the industry must prepare for the eventuality that one or more of these trickles of energy sources might turn tsunami level feasible in the upcoming decade. With Tesla running an entire island on solar power, and France initiating the world's first solar panel road to power streetlights, that's not exactly a question of high faith.

 

“Even if oil demand continues to climb until 2025, its price could drop to $10 if markets anticipate a significant fall in demand,” Lepercq said at his office near Paris, which would be the case if a powerful alternate energy source comes into play. Crude last slumped to that level in 1998. “Solar, battery storage, electrical and hydrogen vehicles, and connected devices are in a ‘J’ curve,” he said. “Hydrogen is the missing link in a 100 percent renewable-energy system, but technological bricks already exist.”

 

The former French gas monopoly, which is now the world’s largest non-state power producer following a decade of acquisitions, is investing in renewables while selling coal-fired plants and exploration assets to shield itself from commodity-price swings. It plans to spend 1.5 billion euros ($1.57 billion) by 2018 on technologies including grid-scale battery storage, hydrogen output, “mini-grids” that serve small clusters of homes, and smart buildings that link up heating, lighting and IT systems to save energy and cut costs.

 

“In the months to come, we expect to announce the first major steps of projects, investments, partnerships and potential acquisitions in these areas", said Lepercq, a former banker and entrepreneur who in 2006 co-founded Solairedirect, a solar developer that was bought by Engie for about 200 million euros in 2015. “We’re talking about technology platforms in which massive value can be created from comparatively small investment.” This step will have the dual benefit of giving more than what goes in, and at the same time, providing a safe and eco-friendly energy production procedure.

 

The cost of solar power will probably drop below $10 a megawatt-hour before 2025 in the world’s sunniest places, according to Lepercq. “As carmakers offer more electrical vehicles with a range exceeding 500 kilometers, charging stations being progressively deployed and more cities banning gasoline and diesel cars, a shift will progressively take place,” Lepercq said. A stastic to support this claim indicates that the number of battery and plug-in vehicles around the world has surged in recent years to top 1 million, according to the International Energy Agency.

 

Tackling the hydrogen aspect, Lepercq said, “We’ll have the possibility to transport energy that’s produced very cheaply in remote places,” . He said he’s encouraged by the development of the first liquefied hydrogen carrier by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. as part of a Japanese plan to import hydrogen from Australia, and believes “hundreds” more will be launched in the coming decade.

 

In France, Engie recently conducted a “very deep modeling” of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of 5 million inhabitants, showing it could run entirely on renewables by 2030 for as much as 20 percent less cost than the current energy system, Lepercq said. Solar, wind, biogas, large-scale battery storage and hydrogen would be key elements. “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here,” he said.

 

Hence, the oil and gas industry must come to terms with the significant outreach of its up and coming competitors in the energy sector, and start effective planning on how to symbiotically progress in harmony with all of them for a more secure and much brighter energy sector of the future.

 

Source: Bloomberg

The quest for feasible oil hydrocarbon resources urges operators to be on the lookout for high-permeability and clastic reservoirs all over the world.

The use of irregular and twisting well trajectories in these fields increases the amount of reservoir contacted by the well bore, which improves productivity but increases the challenges of sand control.

Practical sand-control options for these wells include gravel packs, standalone screens, and slotted liners, out of which standalone screens are fast emerging as the preferred choice for engineers.

However, the choice of screen will depend on the particular application to ensure that the well completion can retain the sand, avoid plugging and erosion, and maintain mechanical integrity.

An effective sand screen is designed to allow the larger formation particles to bridge across the openings to offer maximum fluid flow area and reduce plugging. Smaller formation particles are then retained behind the larger “bridged” particles. In the worst case, an uneven distribution of the flow into the screen can create flow “hot spots” that cause erosive “burn-through” from the high velocities of fluids entering the well bore.

The selection of screen is highly dependent on the size and distribution of the formation solids produced. This can lead to sand-control failure and the excessive production of sand through the well. In the case of horizontal wells, greater reservoir contact and more production with a low drawdown pressure along the well bore reduces sand production and flux through the completion, which allows standalone screens to control solids across a wider range of sands.

In 2010, Tendeka commercialized the FloMax Ultra premium-mesh sand screen. Developed in response to the industry’s need for an ultra-rugged screen that was suited to the rigors of long horizontal, multilateral, or sub-sea well operations, the screen meets the International Safety Organization (ISO) standard 17824 and is used in some of the world’s harshest environments. More than 700,000 ft of the screens have been installed worldwide with no sand failures or production impairment recorded.

However, the company estimated that up to 85% of wells that need sand control do not experience the mechanical loads that require this type of screen. Thus, Tendeka has recently developed a technologically updated screen to meet the sand-control needs of this large group of wells in a cost-effective manner, which is especially suited to current market conditions.

The FloMax Elite screen is a strong screen that achieves the same level of sand-control performance in the wells for which it is designed as the original screen does in the wells that require its capabilities. Retaining the same construction technique across both designs has technical benefits and increases flexibility and consistency for manufacturers.

Sand control will be the Sand Man to any drilling operator’s Spider Man for as long as they keep drilling. Couple this with the ever present need to cut costs as low as possible, and we see that innovation has a heavy role to play in dealing with this problem. The development of this new screen illustrates that innovation is not just about new technology but about finding ways to deliver the same performance with existing technology at a lower cost to the operator, and thus, innovating in the ways to innovate as well.

 Source: Journal Of Petroleum Technlogy

The biggest oil field in the USA turns up new surprises everyday as explorers discover so many rich pockets of crude that make investors turn a blind eye to the current industry slump in favour of ambitious drilling and acquisition programs.

In the past four months itself, the field has seen $12 billion worth of action in terms of acquisition capital, even though field analysts are still at work. The Permian land rush reached a new crescendo last week when RSP Permian announced a $2.4-billion deal to buy Silver Hill Energy Partners’ fields in the Permian’s western wing, the Delaware basin.

 

“Capital moves to the lowest-cost plays and in today’s price environment, the Permian is the last man standing,” says Gabriele Sorbara, an analyst at Williams Capital Group Plc. “In some spots, people can break even at $20/bbl or $30/bbl.”

 

Oil producers crippled by the worst oil-market rout in decades have been shutting down exploration in marquee oil provinces from the Gulf of Mexico to Africa and flocking to West Texas, where the Permian’s deep layers of oil-soaked rocks present one of the few profitable drilling horizons in the world today. Dallas-based RSP, which went public less than three years ago, said some of the wells it’s acquiring are gushing so much crude that they’re posting 70% rates of return. Last month, Apache Corp. stunned the oil industry when it discovered the “immense” Alpine High field in a backwater area of the Permian long written off by other drillers as a bust.

 

The buying spree for Permian assets is expected to persist in coming months, Sorbara said. Deals are currently lucrative to the investors because the acquisitions are seen as ultimately worth the temporary pain. Pure-play Permian drillers are trading at a premium to rival companies that have only some or none of their exploration in the region, said the team of Barclays analysts.

 

 “The Permian basin has undergone a wave of consolidation over the past couple of years,” the Barclays analysts wrote in an Oct. 17 note to clients. “We expect this trend to continue, driven by bolt-on acquisitions in the Midland basin, and larger resource capture in the Delaware basin."

 

And as all the other fields struggle to maintain production, profit and prestige, Permian stands as strong as Atlas, the last of the titans, with perhaps the entire American O&G world on its shoulders. It would indeed be interesting to see how this matter concludes.

 

Source: Bloomberg

Kite Power Takes Flight

Posted by latikasharma Oct 8, 2016

Kite Power Solutions expects to open the UK’s first kite power plant in March 2017 at the Ministry of Defence’s West Freugh site in Stranraer, Scotland. If all goes well, huge kites could well be The Great Green Energy Miracle that we all have been hoping for, supplying clean energy without subsidies within a matter of years. The energy firm hopes to roll out the technology onshore as well as offshore, building systems with the capacity to produce “hundreds of megawatts” of power within the decade.


The company believes that the technology, developed by a handful of firms around the world, could significantly cut existing costs of conventional turbine based wind energy production plants. It could also, according to the designers, be so effective financially that it would soon become a major alternative to petrol and other highly polluting fossil fuels in developing countries, which face a critical problem in capital investment and maintenance expenditure when it comes to renewable energy.


The technology involves rigging two giant kites, each up to 70 square metres, to either side of a turbine. The first kite rises with the wind, up to a height of 450 metres, moving in a figure-of-eight pattern. The movement pulls a rope that turns a turbine, generating power. As one kite descends, the other rises in tandem, meaning that electricity can be generated almost constantly, as the kites rise and fall in altrernation.


A spokesman for Kite Power Solutions said the technology could halve the cost of offshore wind energy, dispensing with the need for governments subsidies. Ainsworth said the technology was easy to install and maintain, meaning it could be deployed in deep water, on floating structures far from shore. “If we do that, it opens up a whole new global deepwater offshore wind market,” he said. The technology could curb rising CO2 emissions in the developing world, where the need to save money forces people to resort to polluting technologies such as diesel, Ainsworth said.


The technology has been tested on a small scale in Essex and the company will move its headquarters to Glasgow in readiness for next year’s launch. It has won planning permission for a 500kW demonstration system but plans to build a 3MW power station after that and is identifying other sites to develop.


A 3MW system would be comparable in power to smaller wind turbines but will be able to generate 20% more energy, as claimed by the company. It will also be less than 20% of the weight of a conventional horizontal axis wind turbine, which is made partly out of steel. The kite can fly higher than the tip of a wind turbine, reaching heights where wind tends to be stronger and more consistent, hence becoming more profitable and reliable.


The UK’s green energy trade body, RenewableUK, welcomed the technology but warned that it was not a silver bullet. The deputy chief executive, Maf Smith, said: “This is an ambitious project to harness wind power at extraordinary heights and it shows the level of innovation within the renewables industry. Kite power is at an early stage of development and it will be interesting to see how the technology progresses. We will need a wide range of energy sources in the future to meet our needs in a sustainable way.”


Kite Power Solutions has received funding from the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund along with private backers. Its largest shareholders are Kite Power Solution’s chief executive, Bill Hampton, and chief operating officer, John Hardy.


Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has said that there is a 10% chance kite power could be the “magic solution” for global renewable energy needs. As for us, let’s wait and see which way the winds flow.


Source: The Guardian

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

 

It is only by continuously striving to excel and learn from experience, observation and introspection that we become better versions of ourselves each passing day, and in the process, do our little bit towards making the world a better place.

 

The world is in dire need of environmental recuperation and remediation. At an international level, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris last year (India was the 62nd country to sign the Paris agreement on 2nd October 2016) have delivered a clear objective to limit global warming due to human induced emissions to 2 degrees Celsius.The fear of climate change weighs heavily on our minds, and the world is doing all it can to reduce its carbon footprint and control excessive greenhouse effect and ozone depletion. The fore of our industries today is increasingly led by operations that allow us to design processes and products that are sustainable and naturally beneficially.

 

Question is, how might the Oil and Gas Industry take to this new carbon constrained world?

 

In the short term, I think every O&G Company will have to figure out how to produce oil competitively while reducing its carbon footprint as much as possible. OPEC reference case projections to 2030 show global energy demand increasing by around 1.7 per cent annually. It also highlights that fossil fuels will continue to provide more than 90 per cent of the world’s total commercial energy needs, with oil remaining the leading source in the global energy mix, although its share may decrease from 39 per cent to 36.5 per cent. This means that we need to concentrate more on improving the current energy industry and make it future-ready, rather than go for an all out shift to renewables entirely, which at this stage, is a pipe-dream anyway.

 

Technologies such as cogeneration, fluidized-bed combustion, integrated gas and gasification combined cycles, and supercritical steam cycle can help power stations achieve higher conversion efficiency. Combined-cycle generation units produce electricity and capture the waste heat energy, using it to generate more electricity or for process heat at a nearby facility. Improved traffic management and vehicle maintenance, modal shift and increasing vehicle efficiency, in addition to fuel switching, will also prove incredibly beneficial.

Concentrating more on conventional and unconventional gas over fuel oil also might be a good idea. Natural gas fired combined cycle generation units can be up to 60 - 90 percent energy efficient, whereas coal and oil generation units are typically only 30 to 35 percent efficient. In November 2015, Royal Dutch Shell’s purchase of BG Group made it the world’s largest liquefied natural gas trader. This deal and others reflect the fact that natural gas is a preferred fuel for power generation in the U.S. and many other parts of the world, especially as its price has dropped and made it more desirable than coal for cost and environmental reasons.

 

Another promising option is carbon capture and storage (CCS), applied to large stationary sources of CO2 emissions, such as power stations and industrial sites, which together account for over half the energy-related CO2 emissions. CCS is basically the idea that the fossil fuel industry could carry on forever because we can trap carbon dioxide first by capturing it with help of a wide range of technologies, then by compressing and transporting it and injecting it into deep underground stone rock formations. Currently over 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from 8,000 large-scale stationary sources, such as coal- and gas-fired power plants and industrial sites — all of which could be subjected to CCS. 

 

This is not to say that CCS has no negative aspects, but combined with the fact that CCS methods are anyhow already in use in a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which increases the amount of oil recovered in a field by 25 percent, I’d say it’s a promising technology to keep an eye on (and implement on large scale) in the future.

 

Hence, like it or not, change is coming. And though it might not come onto us all at once like a tsunami, the impact will be just as huge. Navigating change of this scale will require smart, strategic judgment on the part of O&G pioneers. They must tackle cost concerns in the short term, while preparing to respond to the future impact of inevitable external environmental pressures.

 

The focus should be on ensuring healthy economic growth, rapid social progress and environmental protection in a mutually-supportive manner. As we move from the capitalist, consumer-centred approach to a holistic development regime, we shall try all we can to redeem ourselves, and live a better, cleaner life in the new world.