Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why Go Solar?

Why do we want to go in the direction of Solar Energy? Is it just because Leo said in his Oscar speech? Everyone knows what it does. 


Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, its pluses and minuses. So, naturally, there must be a number of solar power advantages and solar power disadvantages too, right? It’s been awhile since I ran down a list of solar power advantages and disadvantages, so I figured this topic was ripe for a refresher.

Solar Power Advantages


There are many solar power advantages worth noting. In no particular order (well, perhaps simply the order in which they come to mind), here are some of the top advantages:
clean energy sources
Solar power helps to slow/stop global warming. Global warming threatens the survival of human society, as well as the survival of countless species. Luckily, decades (or evencenturies) of research have led to efficient solar panel systems that create electricity without producing global warming pollution. Solar power is now very clearly one of the most important solutions to the global warming crisis.
Solar power saves society billions or trillions of dollars. Even long before society’s very existence is threatened by global warming, within the coming decades, global warming is projected to cost society trillions of dollars if left unabated. So, even ignoring the very long-term threat of societal suicide, fighting global warming with solar power will likely save society billions or even trillions of dollars.
Solar power saves you moneyPutting solar PV panels on your roof is likely to save youtens of thousands of dollars. The average 20-year savings for Americans who went solar in 2011 were projected to be a little over $20,000. In the populous states of New York, California, and Florida, the projected savings were over $30,000. In the sunny but expensive paradise known as Hawaii, the projected savings were nearly $65,000!
Beyond solar PV panels, it’s worth noting that solar energy can actually save you money in about a dozen other ways as well — with proper planning and household design choices.
Solar power provides energy reliability. The rising and setting of the sun is extremely consistent. All across the world, we know exactly when it will rise and set every day of the year. While clouds may be a bit less predictable, we do also have fairly good seasonal and daily projections for the amount of sunlight that will be received in different locations. All in all, this makes solar power an extremely reliable source of energy.
Solar power provides energy security. On top of the above reliability benefit, no one can go and buy the sun or turn sunlight into a monopoly. Combined with the simplicity of solar panels, this also provides the notable solar power advantage of energy security, something the US military has pointed out for years, and a major reason why it is also putting a lot of its money into the development and installation of solar power systems.

Solar power provides energy independence. Similar to the energy security boost, solar power provides the great benefit of energy independence. Again, the “fuel” for solar panels cannot be bought or monopolized. It is free for all to use. Once you have solar panels on your roof, you have an essentially independent source of electricity that is all yours. This is important for individuals, but also for cities, counties, states, countries, and even companies. I was recently in Ukraine touring various cleantech initiatives and projects. While there, I discovered that Ukraine in recent years has saved approximately $3 billion in reduced oil and gas imports from Russia thanks to the solar power plants developed by a single developer. Impressive.

If this isn't good enough a reason to look into this, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Highlights: Budget 2016-17

Tax
Infrastructure and agriculture cess to be levied.
Excise duty raised from 10 to 15 per cent on tobacco products other than beedis
1 per cent service charge on purchase of luxury cars over Rs. 10 lakh and in-cash purchase of goods and services over Rs. 2 lakh.
SUVs, Luxury cars to be more expensive. 4% high capacity tax for SUVs.
Companies with revenue less than Rs 5 crore to be taxed at 29% plus surcharge
Limited tax compliance window from Jun 1 - Sep 30 for declaring undisclosed income at 45% incl. surcharge and penalties
Excise 1 per cent imposed on articles of jewellery, excluding silver.
0.5 per cent Krishi Kalyan Cess to be levied on all services.
Pollution cess of 1 per cent on small petrol, LPG and CNG cars; 2.5 per cent on diesel cars of certain specifications; 4 per cent on higher-end models.
Dividend in excess of Rs. 10 lakh per annum to be taxed at additional 10 per cent.
Personal Finance
No changes have been made to existing income tax slabs
Rs 1,000 crore allocated for new EPF (Employees' Provident Fund) scheme
Govt. will pay EPF contribution of 8.33% for all new employees for first three years
Deduction for rent paid will be raised from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000 to benefit those living in rented houses.
Additional exemption of Rs. 50,000 for housing loans up to Rs. 35 lakh, provided cost of house is not above Rs. 50 lakh.
Service tax exempted for housing construction of houses less than 60 sq. m
15 per cent surcharge on income above Rs. 1 crore
Social
Rs. 38,500 crore for Mahtma Gandhi MGNREGA for 2016-17
Swacch Bharat Abhiyan allocated Rs.9,500 crores.
Hub to support SC/ST entrpreneurs
Government is launching a new initiative to provide cooking gas to BPL families with state support.
LPG connections to be provided under the name of women members of family: Rs 2000 crore allocated for 5 years for BPL families.
2.87 lakh crore grants to gram panchayats and municipalities - a quantum jump of 228%.
300 urban clusters to be set up under Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission
Four schemes for animal welfare.
Health
2.2 lakh renal patients added every year in India. Basic dialysis equipment gets some relief.
A new health protection scheme for health cover upto 1 lakh per family.
National Dialysis Service Prog with funds thru PPP mode to provide dialysis at all district hospitals.
Senior citizens will get additional healthcare cover of Rs 30,000 under the new scheme
PM Jan Aushadhi Yojana to be strengthened, 300 generic drug store to be opened
Education
Scheme to get Rs.500 cr for promoting entrepreneurship among SC/ST
10 public and 10 private educational institutions to be made world-class.
Digital repository for all school leaving certificates and diplomas. Rs. 1,000 crore for higher education financing.
Rs. 1,700 crore for 1500 multi-skill development centres.
62 new navodaya vidyalayas to provide quality education
Digital literacy scheme to be launched to cover 6 crore additional rural households
Entrepreneurship training to be provided across schools, colleges and massive online courses.
Objective to skill 1 crore youth in the next 3 years under the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojna-FM Jaitley
National Skill Development Mission has imparted training to 76 lakh youth. 1500 Multi-skill training institutes to be set up.
Energy
Rs. 3000 crore earmarked for nuclear power generation
Govt drawing comprehensive plan to be implemented in next 15-20 years for exploiting nuclear energy
Govt to provide incentive for deepwater gas exploration
Deepwater gas new disc to get calibrated market freedom, pre-determined ceiling price based on landed price of alternate fuels.
Investments and infrastructure
Rs. 27,000 crore to be spent on roadways
65 eligible habitats to be connected via 2.23 lakh kms of road. Current construction pace is 100 kms/day
Shops to be given option to remain open all seven days in a week across markets.
Rs. 55,000 crore for roads and highways. Total allocation for road construction, including PMGSY, - Rs 97,000 crore
India's highest-ever production of motor vehicles was recorded in 2015
Total outlay for infrastructure in Budget 2016 now stands at Rs. 2,21,246 crore
New greenfield ports to be developed on east and west coasts
Revival of underserved airports. Centre to Partner with States to revive small airports for regional connectivity
100 per cent FDI in marketing of food products produced and marketed in India
Dept. of Disinvestment to be renamed as Dept. of Investment and Public Asset Management
Govt will amend Motor Vehicle Act in passenger vehicle segment to allow innovation.
MAT will be applicable for startups that qualify for 100 per cent tax exemption
Direct tax proposals result in revenue loss of Rs.1060 crore, indirect tax proposals result in gain of Rs.20,670 crore
Agriculture
Total allocation for agriculture and farmer welfare at Rs 35984 crores
28.5 lakh heactares of land wil be brought under irrigation.
5 lakh acres to be brought under organic farming over a three year period
Rs 60,000 crore for recharging of ground water recharging as there is urgent need to focus on drought hit areas cluster development for water conservation.
Dedicated irrigation fund in NABARD of Rs.20.000 cr
Nominal premium and highest ever compensation in case of crop loss under the PM Fasal Bima Yojna.
Banking
Banks get a big boost: Rs 25,000 crore towards recapitalisation of public sector banks. Jaitley says: Banking Board Bureau will be operationalised, we stand solidly behind public sector banks.
Target of disbursement under MUDRA increased to 1,80,000 crore
Process of transfer of government stake in IDBI Bank below 50% started
General Insurance companies will be listed in the stock exchange
Govt to increase ATMs, micro-ATMs in post offices in next three years