Solar Power vs Coal
#GS 03 Infrastructure, Renewable Energy
Why the focus on Solar power
- India is facing pressure from both environmental groups as well as foreign nations who are part of the Paris agreement to reduce its dependency on conventional energy sources.
- The perceived benefit is that the source of energy for solar power ie., the solar radiation is freely available and virtually inexhaustible.
- Another benefit of solar power is that the levelised cost of power is coming down and is close to that of coal.
The misconceptions about solar power
- The cost of solar power is compared with coal electricity at the load centre, instead of at the pithed, which costs about half that of the load centre.
- According to the Central Electricity Authority moving electricity through high voltage wires is cheaper than moving coal, which is the reason for starting the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited.
- Solar electricity is intermittent and coal electricity is continuous which means that one has to add the cost of storage by battery.
- True economic value of coal is even lower than its market price, since the cost of labour in mining carries a shadow price of zero as they are unskilled workers who would be unemployed otherwise.
The cost of coal
- The cost of carbon emission can be calculated in terms of deaths due to particle (PM2.5) pollution.
- We can ignore the greenhouse gases cost of coal, due to it being a global issue whereas the particulate emission cost of carbon is a local issue.
- The particulate emission cost of carbon is calculated by multiplying the number of deaths by a figure for the value of statistical life.
- This figure is calculated by asking potential victims “how much would you like to pay to avoid an increase in probability by 10% of your death due to pollution?”
- This calculation have resulted in the addition of ₹1.64 per kwh of electricity to the carbon cost alone.
- One field of renewable energy where we can do more is Hydroelectric power since India has utilised only about 15% of its hydro potential whereas the U.S. and Europe have respectively utilised 90% and 98% of their potential.
- However, in India, powerful environmentalists stop large hydro projects in their tracks.
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