Role of Plastics in Emerging Indian Renewable Energy Sector

India, now, has a golden opportunity to shape its Energy mix. Social and Economic Growth are at the top of the Government’s agenda, and new Energy sources to serve this demand are increasingly coming from Renewable Energy. The Indian Renewable Energy Sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world. As of October 2018, India ranked 5th in the installed Renewable Energy capacity. Installed Renewable Power Generation capacity has increased at a fast pace over the past few years, posting a CAGR of 19.78% between FY14–18.

The focus of GoI has shifted to Clean Energy after it ratified the Paris Agreement. With the increased support of Government and improved Economics, the sector has become attractive from investors perspective. The Government Policy has been supportive, and more recently, a wider set of actions—incentives, Infrastructure and Investment Promotions were taken up. Technology Development, larger-scale Projects and the learning effect has allowed the use of Efficient Designs and have pushed down costs. This makes Renewable Energy attractive to power utilities that are contracting new long-term capacity, and in addition, this avoids them the burden of take-or-pay contracts and fuel risk. As India looks to meet its energy demand on its own, which is expected to reach 15,820 TWh (Tera Watt Hour) by 2040, Renewable Energy is set to play an important role.

Currently, India is one of the countries with the largest production of energy from renewable sources. In the Electricity Sector, Renewable Energy (excluding large hydro) accounted for 20% of the total Installed Power Capacity (71.325 GW) as of 30 June 2018. Hydro-power currently adds up to more than 33% of the total Installed Power Capacity in India. Large Hydro Power Capacity was 45.29 GW as of 31 March 2018, contributing to 13% of the Total Power Capacity.  Looking at the Wind Energy, India is the fourth-largest Wind Power producer in the world with capacity of 34,046 MW as of 31 March 2018.

The Solar Energy in India is also running at high pace. The government target of installing 20 GW of Solar Power by 2022 was achieved four years ahead of schedule in January 2018, through both Solar Parks as well as Roof-top Solar Panels.  India has set a new target of achieving 100 GW of Solar Power by 2022. With the growing Renewable Energy Plants, them comes the need of large raw material for making proper equipments and machinery. Here, Plastic is one of the most important component in making of those Tools and Machinery to extract energy from the renewable sources. Today Plastic is used in every sphere including Automotive, Packaging, Construction, Infrastructure, Agriculture, Electronics and Electrical.

Plastic materials contributes in reducing the environmental degradation and is helping in producing renewable energy. India is amongst one of the developing countries which has the largest production of energy from renewable sources and the reason is the strong base of raw material and huge man power.

The Wind Turbine uses wind to produce Electricity. The blades of the turbine are made of light-weight plastic composites to create durable, aerodynamic blades in order to spin faster. Researchers and technicians are constantly experimenting with innovative plastic materials to lighten the blades. This will help in generating more energy in effective and efficient manner. Plastic-based Solar Cells are expected to enter the market in the near future. Plastic Solar Cells, based on blends of conducting Organic Polymers, are lightweight, cheap and are highly in demand.

Plastic recycling helps to turn, used plastics into materials for making new products. But with the technological advancement, Plastic can also be used as a large source of Renewable Energy.

Plastics are derived from materials found in nature that typically are used as sources of energy, such as Natural Gas, Oil, Coal, and Plants. Today, some facilities in the U.S. recover the Energy from waste, including the Energy Inherent in used plastics, to create electricity for communities. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discover, “Converting non-recyclable waste materials into electricity and heat generates renewable energy source and reduces carbon emissions".

With the help of new Technology, emerging companies can break down Plastics at the molecular level and recapture these Energy Sources to use again in various fuels. This technique can be used in India too to degrade the unused Plastic and use waste in efficient and productive way!

Engineered Plastic has been recently introduced to India's Market and has now been developed intensively because of the great potential benefits and have better mechanical and thermal properties. This Plastic Component is stronger and lighter than the regular Plastic. Besides equaling or surpassing them in weight/strength and other properties, Engineering Plastics are much easier to manufacture, especially in complicated shapes. It is light in weight and can reduce the weight of appliances by almost 50%. The Plastic Industry is increasingly looking at such cost effective alternative and innovative measures. This will result in an Organization profit but also give a huge contribution to the renewable energy market.  

Government has also introduced many initiatives in support of usage of Renewable Energy. The World Bank in its report titled 'Utility scale DSM opportunities and business models in India' has pegged India's Energy Efficiency market at Rs 1.6 lakh /- crore by considering the end use of energy efficiency opportunities, which is four times the Rs 44,000/- crore in 2010. The UJALA Scheme to distribute LED Bulbs (Bachhat Lamp Yojana) also contributes to the success. Till now, over 28 Crore LEDs have been sold across the country, which has resulted in Energy Savings to the tune of 36,545 MUs and avoided peak demand of 7317 MW. In monetary terms, savings of around Rs. 14,618/- crores have been achieved. This will also provide a very good market for Companies Manufacturing Energy Efficient Lighting and Appliances as well as Companies providing DSM solutions.

Private Cooperates are also competing to provide the best Plastic for making Energy Renewable Tools. Varun Gupta, Director, Calco Poly Technik has recently invested in his new plant. The Plant will produce products made of High-Engineered Plastics to help Industries which are into Renewable Power source. There are many other Private Industries, which look at Renewable Energy as their future. They are contributing directly or indirectly to this project with the single aim to make as much energy from renewable sources.

Last but not the least, in order to remain Energy positive and to make the most of renewable energy sources, we will have to simultaneously Focus on aggressive promotion of Energy Efficiency Practices.

| Article published on 25/04/2019 by Moulin

 
 
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