From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Ocean Energy, RPO
Mains level : India's RE committment
- In a decision that would give boost to the ocean energy in India, Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy.
- Hereafter Ocean Energy will be considered as Renewable Energy and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
Renewable Purchase Obligations
- To provide a fillip to the ambitious renewable energy targets, obligations have been imposed on certain entitles to purchase energy from renewable sources by various state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs).
- Renewable Purchase Obligation refers to the obligation imposed by law on some entities to either buy electricity generated by specified ‘green’ sources, or buy, in lieu of that, ‘renewable energy certificates (RECs)’ from the market.
- The ‘obligated entities’ are mostly electricity distribution companies and large consumers of power.
- RECs are issued to companies that produce green power, who opt not to sell it at a preferable tariff to distribution companies.
- This is based on each state’s varying renewable energy potentials.
- Regrettably, most states have shown poor proclivity in enforcing their RPO targets. The success of the RPO regime depends on strict adherence, which, in turn, depends on enforcement.
Introduction to Ocean Energy
- Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and represent an enormous amount of energy in the form of wave, tidal, marine current and thermal gradient.
- A variety of different technologies are currently under development throughout the world to harness this energy in all its forms.
- India has a long coastline with the estuaries and gulfs. MNRE looks over the horizon at development of new technology and considers the various options available to support its deployment.
- Most types of technologies are currently at pre-R&D / demonstration stage or the initial stage of commercialization.
- Basic R&D is being looked after by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (example: National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai).
- Total identified potential of Tidal Energy is about 12455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used.
- The total theoretical potential of wave energy in India along the country’s coast is estimated to be about 40,000 MW – these are preliminary estimates.
- This energy is however less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes.
- OTEC has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India subject to suitable technological evolution.
Although currently under-utilized, Ocean energy is mostly exploited by just a few technologies: Wave, Tidal, Current Energy and Ocean Thermal Energy.
- Tidal Energy
- The tidal cycle occurs every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon.
- The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is potential energy.
- Similar to traditional hydropower generated from dams, tidal water can be captured in a barrage across an estuary during high tide and forced through a hydro-turbine during low tide.
- The capital cost for tidal energy power plants is very high due to high civil construction and high power purchase tariff.
- To capture sufficient power from the tidal energy potential, the height of high tide must be at least five meters (16 feet) greater than low tide.
- The Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast have the locations in the country where potential exists.
- Wave Energy
- Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor.
- Many different techniques for converting wave energy to electric power have been studied.
- Wave conversion devices that float on the surface have joints hinged together that bend with the waves.
- This kinetic energy pumps fluid through turbines and creates electric power.
- Stationary wave energy conversion devices use pressure fluctuations produced in long tubes from the waves swelling up and down.
- This bobbing motion drives a turbine when critical pressure is reached. Other stationary platforms capture water from waves on their platforms.
- This water is allowed to runoff through narrow pipes that flow through a typical hydraulic turbine.
iii. Current Energy
- Marine current is ocean water moving in one direction. This ocean current is known as the Gulf Stream.
- Tides also create currents that flow in two directions.
- Kinetic energy can be captured from the Gulf Stream and other tidal currents with submerged turbines that are very similar in appearance to miniature wind turbines.
- Similar to wind turbines, the movement of the marine current moves the rotor blades to generate electric power.
- Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
- Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy.
- A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy.
- Research focuses on two types of OTEC technologies to extract thermal energy and convert it to electric power: closed cycle and open cycle.
- In the closed cycle system, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger.
- In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths.