Liberalization of power generation has opened vast opportunities for small generation capacities in villages. Steam energy is coming back as quick solution of instant rural electrification. There is bright scope of establishing 10 million tiny thermal power plants of 10 kw capacity in farms and villages of India. Similarly 40 million tiny power plants in the world. Tiny thermal power plant to which we call tiny steam power plant specifically is the simplest power plant consisting of only two equipment i.e. small biomass boiler where steam will be produced by burning any biomass and steam engine which is revolved by steam to give mechanical power to run any machine such as water pump for irrigation, rice huller for rice milling, flour mill for grain grinding, sugarcane crusher to extract sugarcane juice, oil expeller to get cooking oil or generator for electricity and lighting.
Tiny steam power plants will have the following eye catching advantages :
- Rural electrification is unsolved problem since last 60 years. 80 million poor homes have no electricity in villages of India. Giant thermal power plants with transmission and distribution lines involving thousands of crores of rupees will not solve this problem fully even in next 20 years. Installing Tiny Steam Power Plants is the quickest solution at minimum cost. All unelectrified villages can be electrified instantly at 20% cost of the budget being spent by the government for this purpose. For tiny thermal power plant, no transmission lines, no distribution lines, no losses.
- Tiny thermal power plants will be very cheap. 10 kw steam power plant costs only US$ 10000/- (Rs 4 lakhs in India). Considering cost of transmission and distribution lines, transformers, losses in it, losses in converting electricity to mechanical power etc, investment in tiny power plants will be only 30% than in giant thermal power plants. So with same investment, about 3 times capacity can be built in a very short period of 2 to 3 years only.
- Tiny power plant will use steam engine which is simple technology. The technology of steam engine is not a new technology. We should remember that entire British empire was built and expanded in the world by using steam engines in boats and steamers, in vehicles and railways, in war equipments, in factories, in textile mills and so on. Steam engine is so much simple that even in villages, it can be produced on lathe.
- Tiny power plants with steam engines will greatly contribute for water lifting problem. Entire rural India is facing heavy shortage of electric power in agriculture sector and as electricity is never available in time, farmers are losing their crops. This can be avoided and problem can be solved by Tiny power plants with steam engines.
- Tiny steam power plants can be operated on biomass, agricultural waste, crop residue, forestry waste, wood etc. So farmers can produce their own power. So farmers will be independent from the harassment and tyranny of electricity authority. THIS WILL BE THE BIGGEST HAPPINESS TO VILLAGERS. In India, about 60 millions of rural homes can be electrified simply on surplus rice husks.
- Tiny power plants with steam engines will greatly encourage co-generation with Combined Heat & Power application in oil milling, sugarcane crushing, rice milling etc. Waste heat of steam engine can be gainfully utilized for ice making and refrigeration without any running cost. So tiny steam power plants will be highly efficient and blessing to villagers. The huge amount of heat created by burning coal is simply wasted in giant thermal power plants which is not possible to use it. Huge amount of cooling water is required in giant thermal power plant simply to dispose off heat energy in atmosphere which creates huge problem of water and environment.
- Tiny power plants with steam engines will be established in villages and hence it will greatly save transport expenses of agricultural produces from villages to cities. So import of diesel will be reduced and traffic burden on highways will be reduced.
- Tiny steam power plants will greatly contribute for rural development, income and employment generation in villages and homogeneous development of the country. Benefits of this can not be measured in terms of money. In fact, this will be real development.
- In most of the industries, direct mechanical power will be more convenient and generation of electricity will not be required. So investment cost of generators and motors will be saved. Efficiency of direct mechanical power is always higher than converting in to electricity and using electric motors for mechanical power.
- Tiny boilers of tiny steam power plants are designed to accept any type of biomass fuel. It can work for coal also. So small steam power plants will be blessing to small farmers. it will get more and more importance particularly in agriculture and agro processing industries. In case of giant thermal power plants, design of boiler is for specific type of coal only. Any type of coal can not work there. So if it is designed for the coal of Jharkhand, it can not work with Meghalaya coal.
- Gestation period of giant thermal power plant is 3 to 4 years and that of atomic power plant is 10 years, while tiny steam power plant can start working in 24 hours once you have it. So it is quickest solution.
- Tiny steam power plants can be converted in to tiny SOLAR power plants in future simply by adding solar concentrator which will become cheaper and affordable and economically viable in a few years only. Giant thermal power plants can not be converted to solar power plants. So when solar power will be abundant, huge investment made for giant thermal power plants will be simply wastage.
- Thus we can bring real revolution in rural India by establishing 10 million tiny steam power plants and we can bring real revolution in entire world by installing 40 million tiny power plants. Then heaven has to descend on this earth.
- V. K. DESAI
The Author is a Managing Director of TinyTech Plants, Rajkot.