Sweden has earmarked a sum of $2.5-3.5 million towards research and development on renewable energy in India. The two countries launched a pilot micro grid project using renewable energy in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in November 2015, the first stage of which has just been completed. Meanwhile, Swedish Energy Minister Ibrahim Baylan is leading a delegation of officials and businessmen to Delhi and Chennai this week to explore further possibilities of energy cooperation between the two countries.
The Andamans project is a joint effort of the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) the India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).“The feasibility study is done and we have now started the procurement process,” said Erik Brandsma, Director General, SEA. “We will be involved in funding, facilitation, and project oversight.” The project will use the “E4T Microgrid” concept, developed by Sweden’s leading research agency STRI, which combines a renewable energy source with smart energy storage and load management, and is scalable. “We have a number of islands in Sweden where we have set up micro grids using renewable energy,” said Brandsma. “We can use the lessons we learnt in the Andaman Islands project.”
The SEA and MNRE have also completed two more studies in the same region – the first on the prospects of setting up more micro grids, and the second on how to make the Andamans completely free of fossil fuel use. The three studies together cost around $900,000. Micro grids, or power generating units which are not connected to any central transmission line but supply power directly to nearby consumers, are particularly useful on island clusters like Andaman and Nicobar, where the cost of transmitting power from one island to another is prohibitive. All the 37-38 odd inhabited islands of Andaman and Nicobar have their own generation plants, but most of these run on diesel.
Sweden and India signed an MoU to cooperate on energy in 2010. Since 2012, the SEA and India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) have been working together on improving efficiency of clean technology products. Energy minister Baylan’s current visit is expected to strengthen and enhance existing ties. “I have with me many small and mid-size Swedish companies offering innovations who are looking to do business in India,” Baylan said.
Baylan, an emigrant to Sweden from a remote village in Turkey, which never had electricity while he was growing up, maintained that renewable energy was the key to the future. “People need power to lead the good life, but the power has to have a sustainable basis,” he said. “With around 70% of our energy coming from renewable sources, Sweden is the greenest country in the European Union. The target is to switch totally to renewable energy by 2040. I’m hoping it will be even earlier.”