Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: Infrastructure: Energy

Is the green edging out the black?  

You should know:

  • As clean energy becomes cheap and its supply smooth, coal-based power plants may face dim future
  • In January, renewable energy capacity in India crossed the 50-GW mark, doubling in just five years.
  • And, solar power capacity reached 10 GW.
  • In February, in two separate capacity auctions, solar and wind tariffs fell to historic lows — ₹3.30 and ₹3.46 a kWhr, respectively.
  • The message is clear: the era of high prices of renewable energy is over.
  • Two factors were hindering the growth of renewable energy are now resolved. Factors were::
  • Reason one, the high cost of power generated by wind and solar. It has been solved.
  • 2nd factor that has gone against renewable energy is that of ‘intermittency’. Wind turbines and solar panels can generate power only when wind blows or the sun shines.
  • This can be solved by advancements in storage and with use of software to manage it. The problem of fickleness of renewable energy is also coming under control.
  • Storage’ comes in many forms, ranging from water pumped into reservoirs at a height for later release, to a plethora of battery technologies such as lithium-ion and flow batteries, but globally the costs of storage have been coming down.
  • The REMC, ‘renewable energy management centre’, is essentially a SCADA system designed specifically for wind and solar power, and will match the predicted supply of power with the demand elsewhere.
  • The first REMC will come in Chennai, but soon a dozen of them will be set up across the country.

What will happen to coal?

  • In the first 11 months of the current financial year, Indian power projects consumed 439.41 million tonnes of coal (including 60.66 million tonnes of imported coal.)
  • The country has 124,785 MW of power plants designed to run on Indian coals and another 18,580 MW on imported. As such, coal is today India’s energy mainstay.
  • In (say) fifteen years, the mainstay is very likely to comprise wind, solar and hydro power plants.
  • Tightening of emission norms is making coal plants costlier. Noting that recent investments have not been remunerative for the investors.
  • Tata Power Ltd., the country’s largest private sector power company, has not added one MW of coal-based capacity in the last six years.
  • Environmentalists have launched a war against coal. Resulting in fall of demand of coal.
  • True, coal will be still needed in the short run for energy security, but its need will diminish.

Source: The Hindu

‘’Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects

in everyday life

Superconducting at higher tempratures 

Know about resistance:

  • The constraints we face in transportation of electricity is the resistance of materials, such as the wires, that carry the current.
  • All materials offer some kind of resistance because of which transmission losses in electricity take place, the energy getting dissipated in the form of heat.
  • This resistance is quite useful in certain circumstances, especially in situations where the flow of electrical current needs to be regulated and controlled.
  • In some situations we like this resistance to be as low as possible. It is possible to have very low resistance, even zero resistance, in some materials in certain special conditions. These materials are called superconductors, but they exhibit this property only at very low temperatures, typically below -200°C.
  • One of the objectives in superconductivity research has been to induce superconductivity in materials at higher temperatures, preferably at room temperature.
  • So that they can be used for everyday applications such as transporting electricity through overhead wires without any transmission losses and more energy-saving electronic devices can be realised.
  • Elementary particles are distinguished in two broad classes — the bosons named after Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, and fermions named after Italian scientist Enrico Fermi.
  • Our earlier work had shown that in a different kind of very complex materials, so-called topological Dirac semi-metals, we were able to induce superconductivity in special situations.
  • After the discovery of Weyl semi-metals, we were interested in studying whether the Weyl fermions also have any bearing on superconductivity.
  • Recent research at IISER has shown that Weyl semi-metals offer a much better possibility of realising superconductivity at higher temperatures.
  • But there are more immediate exciting implications. The superconducting phases realised on Weyl semi-metals, in presence of a magnetic field, might also host another type of elusive particles called the Majorana fermions.
  • One of the major obstacles in quantum computing, the new-age computing that involves quantum data bits (called “qubits”) for processing and storing information, are fragile and easily perturbed by disorders or impurities in a material.
  • The Majorana fermions are known to be “fault tolerant” — they are almost insensitive to disorder. Thus, it is possible to use them in fault-tolerant quantum computing.

Source: Indian Express

‘’Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

Kathmandu Test

You should know:

  • Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat was conferred the rank of an honorary general of the Nepal Army last week, with the old-world pomp both countries pride themselves on.
  • The truth is that Kathmandu lies at the heart of India’s most important geopolitical challenge, with China testing what has been Indian near-hegemony over the direction of Nepal’s external policy.
  • Last month, Nepal’s Prime Minister, Pushpa Kumar Dahal, was in Beijing in an effort to address domestic criticism that he has tilted too far towards India.
  • Nepal’s media has suggested China used the opportunity to dish out some delicate diplomatic insults — declining to treat his March 27 visit to the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference as a state visit, citing lack of time for preparations, and choosing not to conclude any significant agreements.
  • The reports suggest Beijing was repaying Dahal’s decision not to sign bilateral agreements while at the BRICS summit in Goa last year.
  • Behind tensions between China and Nepal lie the latter’s ties to India. Beijing has been pressing Dahal to sign on its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, thus opening the way for expanded railway links between the two countries.
  • The Prime Minister’s (Dahal’s) concerns are none too opaque: Dramatically enhanced transport ties between Nepal and China would discomfit New Delhi.
  • Following the showdown between India and the government of Prime Minister K.P.
  • The Prime Minister has been careful not to irk the country’s most important strategic partner. Indeed, Dahal visited India just a month after taking office, but took seven months to travel Beijing.
  • In turn, Chinese premier Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh in October, but he skippeda scheduled visit to Nepal, media reported.

Highlights of test:

  • New Delhi has sought to cement its own economic relationship with Nepal, by expanding power trade and developing new gas pipelines that will feed much of the country.
  • Because Beijing’s raw economic muscle will make it hard for India to maintain the choke-hold it has long had over Nepal’s strategic destiny.
  • The Nepal-Tibet railroad, which China hopes to extend from the border town of Gyirong to Kathmandu by 2024, will transfigure economic realities on the ground, knocking off the 870 kilometre road journey for goods coming from China.
  • India will need to find new, adroit strategies to maintain its strategic leverage.

Source: Indian Express