Tirupur Textile Industry -Danavarshini & Ashwath – Concentrated Solar Technology(CST) Pioneers

With more and more Indian companies particularly textile units adopting Industry best practices ,automation of machinery ,standard production process there is very less that can differentiate them from their competitors.

Global and Indian manufacturing companies are shifting their focus to Sustainable Energy to give them the edge.

Sustainable energy adoption results in less fuel over heads which again as a direct impact(Positive) on their bottom line.

It is true that for winning in a competitive market we have to reduce overheads. Here in Greenera Our primary focus is to help reduce our customers fuel overheads.

Our specialization in case of Sustainable energy market is CSP- concentrated solar power with parabolic troughs for process heat.

Most of the process heat requirement in any industry requires steam. This is no different in textile industry Right from yarn, dyeing to garment finishing this industry requires steam. Here is a success story of two Textile units who have successfully embraced Solar Technology for their process heat requirements..
Tirupur is one of the famous cities in India which is well developed and Industrialized.It is a major textile and knit wear hub.The textile industry provides employment to over six lakh people and has an annual turnover of 220 billion Rupees. Of this, nearly 120 billion rupees comes from export. It has thousands of production units with various capacity.

The textile industry process includes Cleaning, Blending, weaving, knitting,scouring, bleaching, Dyeing, printing , compacting , Finishing etc., Almost all the processes require (process) heat in one form or the other. The main sources for the steam are Diesel fired boilers, LPG fired boilers & electric heater boilers. Continuous price hikes in LPG, Diesel and (Un)availability of electric power has considerably increased the fuel over heads for the Tiruppur Textile Industry.

Our focus has been on the final process of the textile industry garment finishing which requires steam in its purest form.

The garment pressing is done using steam before packaging for export. It requires 150ºC of saturated steam.

We have been working with two leading textile manufacturing and exporting companies namely  Dhanavarshini  Export Pvt Ltd &  Aswath Inc who have been the pioneers to adopt CSP Technology in Tirupur and have taken the initiative to go for green to increase their profit margin.

In case of both the companies, most of their production process is during the day. We set up and integrated our direct steam generation parabolic troughs with electric & Diesel boiler on their roofs with single axis tracking. At present each of this system delivers around 100KG stem per day. At the current rate, this system should be able to pay for itself within 2 years.

Another perspective or from a social & Environment point of view each company has started reducing CO2 emission by 47 kg per day and saves about 18 liter Diesel per day- which is an important depleting source of energy.

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Greenera’s first steps in journey of million miles

Greenera’s first steps in journey of million miles

It gives me immense pleasure to deliver our product to the market. The point has come where we are about to sense the outcome of our team’s three yearlong hard work in researching, developing and marketing our own product – SG1000.

We have indigenously developed SG1000 (Cost effective and high quality solar parabolic trough concentrator) and gT5  - single axis solar tracker system. We are still working on a more appropriate name for both- suggestions welcome in comments section.

I have tried to provide the journal of our journey so far on our first client installation here and again this is not our final destination but the first step. We still have millions of miles to go before we sleep…

Journey started
The marketing and production saga for our first Thermal project was nothing compared to the installation challenges. Our team of three Tamil, Saravanan and yours truly were tasked with the responsibility of  installing  SG1000 – Solar Thermal Parabolic trough  to supply the heat required for steam ironing , at our first client – a leading and reputed textile export company at Tiruppur  .

We started our journey carrying lot of experience from our first installation of Greenera’s PTS5 tracker at Palayam.  But we were unaware of the unknowns and hidden challenges ahead. We had prepared a detailed plan of action which runs in to more than 100 sub activities. There was a last minute change by the customer in the installation location. This change resulted in having to recast the entire plan.

Demanding Condition

Condition at the new location was much different from the previous location. Our installation was at the terrace of our customer’s 3 storey building which has a white washed floor. White washed floors have very high reflectivity making it twice as difficult due to irradiation on our body from the sun as well as from the calcium hydroxide and chalk coated floor.  Our body was not used to exposures of direct radiation from sun, leave alone the effect of additional radiation of sun’s rays from the floor. It was highly demanding for the body especially for the eyes and skin.  All team members over the course of the first week suffered from dehydration and severe sun burns. We started feeling the power of the sun which we were trying to harness. We soon adapted ourselves and we made sure to wear a hat and to drink lot of fluids to avoid dehydration. And it is essential to use a sunglass in such conditions, but we never did that.

Moving the Materials – Day 1 and 2

We decided to transport our product in an unassembled condition; this was to help us avoid manufacturing complicated racks and packages for safe transport. We transported the materials in 2 parts one with fragile and other one with non-fragile materials. One of our team member ensured the safety of fragile materials by accompanying the truck driver.

Once we reached the site, we did not have the convenience of having a hoist or crane to lift the materials. We lifted all the materials manually through the stairs. In two days we as a team had lifted nearly two tonnes of material from the ground to the roof successfully (except for one setback). This was a completely different experience altogether we had the chance of witnessing how a toughened glass breaks- With a big shattering noise, it splashes like a fountain of water showering tiny pieces of glass all over our body and on the floor. We cleaned the entire floor in 30minutes to ensure safety of the floor occupants.

Civil work – Day 3 to 5

Any solar product’s efficiency depends on accuracy of its orientation with respect to earth’s North Pole. We at Greenera use a specially designed proprietary system for locating the true north rather than a magnetic compass which helps in avoiding an error of 2 to 3°. With help of strings and markers we were able to create a map for the civil work team. We were lucky to have a very cooperative and patient civil work team who listened to us and executed our instructions carefully.

Now our task was to assemble, install and commission our steam generating system on the prepared civil beds. Knowing the fact that this is our first solar Thermal project, we realized that initial days are going to be very tough. we ensured to keep ourselves motivated all the time, by encouraging each other, celebrating successes and taking right breaks to share the lighter moments.

……….. Journey to be continued…


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Solar Technologies – Thermal (Concentrated Solar Power) & PV

When I tell my friends and family I am working on solar Technology, the first question(s) they ask me  usually goes like this…

  • Are you supplying the generated power to the grid?
  • How much can solar help me save on my electricity bill? 
  • How many watts/Kilo watts are you generating?

It is very difficult to make them understand that I am on to Solar Thermal technology which also leverages Solar as energy source. So I have been wanting to write a Blog (my first one) on Solar thermal Energy to help few people out there who have been attuned to the fact solar=PV. I have tried to compare both these technologies at a very basic level and provide my view points.

Solar thermal Vs PV (electricity)

Let us start from the basics. PV panel converts solar radiation into electricity. Solar thermal system concentrates the solar radiation and transfers the energy, mostly to water. Photons from Sun Rays displaces electrons in the Crystalline semiconductors to produce electricity whereas Solar radiation is used to heat underlying medium ,mostly water or oil and this underlying heat energy is transformed into other forms of energy to cater to our needs(Remember Law of conversation of energy from high school days )!!!

Solar Radiation is concentrated by mirrors or lenses to obtain higher temperatures – a technique called  concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is used for this and this is as ancient as Sun Dials and some might argue it is even older than that. Nevertheless the first patent on Solar collector was registered in 1866 (AD of course).

Enough of the Basics. Let me get to the interesting part, I want to provide my view point on a match up between  Thermal vs PV Solar Energy.

For sake of this discussion leave out CSP, the huge scale solar concentrators for power generation(Yes Solar Thermal can also be used for electricity generation, that is for another time). We will focus on other varying needs – the specific need determines which technology(PV vs Thermal) to choose.

Now a days it is becoming a trend in India to have a small captive power generation with PV panels in households for lighting and to power the fans because of unreliable grid supply.

Since the last decade solar thermal came into part of households to generate hot water even though they had compact good looking electric heaters. Solar thermal had a great success in replacing electric heaters. More than 7 million sq meter installations are harnessing solar thermal power for heating water in India.
Cost and efficiency, the efficiency of solar roof top water heaters are above 65% with affordable storage. Meanwhile the PV has average of 16% at 25ºC atmospheric and the overall efficiency is just 10% for Indian conditions.

Storage of electric energy is costly. Grid supply might be slightly lesser than PV’s generation cost still you are polluting somewhere, consuming and depleting energy resource.

Solar thermal in process heat.

We are at a situation where we need to start thinking about harnessing the solar power not only at a large scale, generating electricity in Mega Watts scale  but also for small scale utilities in our Industries.

The former (Electricity generation to Grid) requires lot of stars to line up and there is very little or nothing that small scale industrialists or common man do about it. But on the other hand the using solar energy in the form of Thermal energy is something that is realizable for everyone enabling them to make a difference for future generations.

The most common need in industry, be it textile, paper, food processing etc., is heat. The industry needs huge amount of heat at medium temperature range from 80ºC to 120ºC. Using Solar thermal energy greatly helps these industries reduce their operating costs.

The main sources of the heat in process industry in India are fire wood, fossil fuel & electricity. Fire wood stays first in process heat application. Most of the companies use steam boilers to cater different type process heat needs and they operate the boiler at elevated temperature at 175ºC. The overall system efficiency becomes very less. Small units cannot install boilers and they use electric heaters or fossil fuels.

 It is being proven again and again that is very much possible to direct the solar radiation to cater process heat needs at more than 50% of system efficiency with well proven Thermal technology.



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Greenera – A Journey in making

I fall under one of the categories that Harvard Business Review prescribes as the reason for venturing “Out”

Over the past decade or so in my current field, I sense that the experience and knowledge that I have gained has changed me. The Job that I previously enjoyed suddenly seems to be stale. Something’s wrong and I cannot put my finger on what is causing this. Spending 14 to 16 hour days in front of the computer, hooked up to the phone and in war rooms should have resulted in some progression over the years. You expect it . But not so, only that now my job title has changed and am dealing at a different level still hooked up to the phone and in bigger war rooms.

I have been wondering if a small change or major shift would re energize me. My inner consciousness has been screaming it is time for a change. Steering clearly away from the rat race, I was inclined to survey the landscape and climb the tallest mountain rather than getting busy scaling the first peak that I stumble upon(Premature optimization)

Over the course of last year ,as a result of exploring different options, I have been interacting with people from different walks of life and have learnt a lot (Much more than what I did over the last 12+ years). When you want to do something different in your life, you will be surprised with the options that flood your mind and mailbox for that matter.

Eventually me zeroing in on Greenera was no mere accident. This is going to be a long journey. But a journey worth spending my time in with talented and motivated team members.

I strongly believe that “it is the Travel experience that matters most than your final destination in a long journey”.

Over the course of this life , we make lot of trips/journeys during different stages of life.Some sequential and some in parallel with others. Some for a small duration, others for a longer duration. If you take a moment to reflect on these journeys some of them will clearly stand out – Schooling(, College days, Initial work days, Marriage etc., If you reflect on them , it is not the end that has made you wiser or it is not the end that makes you nostalgic or contended for that matter. It is in fact the actual journey that amounts to anything of importance. It applies to the small journeys , long journeys and the ultimate journey of “birth to death” as well.

I have got into this long voyage with Vijay, Saravanan ,Moorthy and Valli as my fellow passengers and crew members. This is going to be the biggest journey of our life and with all the wisdom that I have gained in my 27 years(The first 8 years did not amount to anything ;-) ) of life , I would like to indicate again “I care less about the destination, It is the experience that matters to me the most.”. This is the principle that would be governing my engagement with GreenEra.


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