Energising the industry

Energising the industry

The year 2012 definitely will be the one where the effort to develop alternate sources of energy took a new meaning. At present renewable energy contributes only 11 per cent to our primary energy globally. It is expected that 60 per cent of all global energy will come from renewable energy by the year 2070. The World Solar Summit, World Solar Decade and the World Bank have allocated over four billion dollars to projects dealing with renewable energy demonstrating its importance. Recently, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment company, struck a deal with SunPower to acquire and build two solar projects in California. The deal, which will see an investment of between $2 to $2.5bn, marks the third time in little over a year that Buffett has ploughed cash into solar energy. Knowing Buffett's keen eye, the validation of solar has seen prices of solar stocks zoom.
Another wonderful discovery changing the energyscape is shale gas. US shale production has leaped to over 13 billion cubic feet/day - about 30 per cent of the country's natural-gas supply, heading toward 50 per cent in the next few years. This increased production has been the primary driver for renewed profitability and growth in several North American industry sectors. Armed with massive and lasting advantage in energy costs over global rivals, companies are now considering major capacity expansions in the United States for the first time in decades. America produced over 80 per cent of its total energy needs in first half of 2012, the highest since 1991.
In India, around 25 tonne of coal is used to make 100 tonne of cement. Coal forms about 20 per cent of the total operating cost. Cement industry is power intensive and about 120 kwh of power is required to produce one tonne of cement. The consumption is lower at around 90-100 kwh in new and more efficient units but accounts for 16 per cent of total operating costs. One development inching up in terms of popularity is "Green" cement. A new product on the anvil, made in US, is made from widely available post-industrial waste and naturally occurring aluminosilicate materials. Although, obviously, the production process has not been publicised, the company has indicated that it is much less energy intensive, and close to carbon zero. The new product, developed by the company's team of scientists, contains no limestone, meaning there is no need for the energy-intensive calcination process. The result is an eco-friendly cementitious material that qualifies for international carbon credits. It has been independently tested by laboratories in the US and abroad. It meets ASTM standards for compressive strengths that are ideal for use in non-structural and structural constructions such as sidewalks, driveways, roads, bridges, dams, ports, marinas, and commercial and residential building constructions. The company is also working to make the manufacturing process portable, so that it can be produced on site, where needed. With no limestone the cement manufacturing process would undergo a drastic change and the establishment of plants across the country. It may also correct the imbalance in supply caused due to limestone clusters. This year promises to be full of surprises and excitement for the industry.
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