Solar PV in cement
Cement industry is one of the most energy intensive industries, and energy costs account for a significant percentage (approximately 30-40 per cent) of the total manufacturing cost. The annual energy consumption by cement industry contributes close to 10 per cent of the total energy consumed in entire industrial sector. Given this background, cement sector has been identified as one of the sectors where enormous energy savings is possible under the PAT (Perform, Achieve and Trade) mechanism of the National Mission of Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE).
Apart from PAT, most of the factories in the cement industry are also obligated entities (OE) under the renewable purchase obligations (RPOs), which means that a certain percentage of their energy consumption has to be from renewable energy sources.
While the major aim of PAT is to improve energy efficiency by replacing old equipment with more efficient machinery or retrofitting of the equipment, power consumption reduction using solar also has huge potential. The power consumption can be either through captive solar power generation using solar photovoltaic systems (electrical), or using solar thermal systems for water heating applications, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuel required for heating water (thermal).
Solar energy has several advantages. One, the solar prices have been falling, and in many parts of India, the cost of solar power is less than the tariff of power for the industrial sector. Second, since the solar plants have a lifetime of typically 25 years, the energy prices are locked in, unlike in the case of power from utility companies, which is only expected to increase every year.
Most cement plants in India are located in dry and hot areas with enormous solar radiation. Moreover, most of these plants also have huge amounts of unused, unshaded arid land. This makes cement sector very ideal for deployment of solar power generation plants. Rooftops of the factories can also be used for captive power generation.
On the thermal side, installation of solar water heating systems can help in reducing the consumption of fossil fuel since the hot water can be used for lot of pre-heating applications thereby replacing heating fuels.
By installing solar power plants and solar water heating systems, cement plants can not only meet the obligations under both RPO and PAT mechanisms, but also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Several cement manufacturers like Aditya Birla Group, Zuari Cement and Ambuja Cement have all ventured into solar power generation. Aditya Birla Group was one of the pioneers, having set up a 100 kW solar power plant in its Rajashree cement plant in Karnataka in 2012. Zuari Cement set up a solar power plant in Yerraguntla district in Andhra Pradesh in 2013.
The incredible drop of solar module prices and the growth of the solar ecosystem have created the ideal situation for more widespread adaption of solar PV systems. The highly energy intensive cement industry can benefit immensely by deploying solar PV and solar thermal systems.
To witness the latest solutions from the solar industry, please visit Intersolar India 2015, India´s largest exhibition and conference scheduled to be held at Bombay Exhibition Centre, from the 18-20 November 2015. Visit website: www.intersolar.in
On behalf of Intersolar India, Madhavan Nampoothiri
(Communication by the management of the company)