Newsletter.March 12, 2018

#Electric Mobility

Back on track, but govt. bats for toned down EV policy; first profits from charge points; Why ride hailing must be only EV

Two weeks after the govt. announced that an EV policy was not needed for India’s 2030 EV target, the Power Ministry is reportedly again considering introducing an EV policy (that includes charging infrastructure standards) by the end of the month – perhaps after realizing the merit in automakers’ calls for a clearly defined policy framework to safeguard their investments. However, this time the govt. seems to be going for a potentially more realistic target of at least 30% of all (new) cars as EVs by 2030 – instead of the original target of 100%.

The target is more conservative than SIAM’s 40% by 2030 estimate, but given the accelerating scale of investment and technical progress on EV batteries, it may well be breached before time. The upcoming policy will also categorise EV charging as a service – which will not require operational licenses – and the power tariff for charging will be kept below Rs.6/kWh.

EV forecasts show steady rise

BP’s 2018 Energy Outlook scenario ‘Evolving Transition’ estimates the total number of EVs on the road rising to over 300 million by 2040, from around 3 million today. While, BNEF’s EV Outlook sees over 530 million EVs in 2040.

EV Charge-points reap profits, already

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that XCharge, the Chinese charge-point operators that service EV fleets are the “first to become profitable”, and plans to expand in Europe. Big investments are expected from automakers and utilities in the space. BNEF forecasts that the number of public EV charging points globally will increase to 700,000 from 500,000 this year.

China: Recycling EV battery, job of carmakers

China released new norms on battery recycling, making it manufacturers’ job to collect and recycle spent batteries. The world’s top EV manufacturer is facing 170,000 tonnes of lithium battery waste. As per norms the carmakers must also provide for repair, and exchange of old batteries.

Fiat Chrysler to drop costly diesel by 2022

Fiat Chrysler vehicles may go diesel-free by 2022, that’s the buzz amid emission cheating scandal. The Italian-American carmaker is the latest to drop diesel after Volkswagen-owned Porsche and Toyota. Diesel cars fell out of favour in Europe after 2015 Volkswagen emission scam. Sales of diesel vehicles in Europe fell 8% last year. Diesel cars that meet EU rules are 20% costlier, while EV prices are coming down.

In a first, Indian Railways turns diesel engine into electric

The Indian Railway workshop in Varanasi has successfully converted a diesel engine to electric engine. Engineers said they developed detailed system engineering, as “there were no precedent designs and experience available anywhere in the world”.

Porsche to launch EV in India in early 2020

Volkswagen owned Porsche will launch an EV in India in the beginning of 2020. Porsche, which set shop in India in 2012, has so far been selling fully imported units as the company does not have manufacturing/assembly units outside Germany.

Andhra gets EV cars, Mumbai eyes EV buses

In the official roll-out of electric cars the State-backed Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) will supply 10,000 electric cars and 4,000 e-car chargers to Andhra Pradesh, including 17 lakh smart energy meters. Meanwhile, Mumbai’s bus service BEST will procure 40 EVs on 7-year lease with around Rs 36 crore subsidy from the Centre.

Why ride hailing firms must switch to EVs

Ride hailing services (Uber, Ola and Lyft) are not complementing public transport but taking people out of trains and buses and putting them in cars, clogging roads and adding to emissions, that’s the conclusion of recent US study. “The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing [is] increasing congestion,” Christo Wilson, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied Uber told the AP.

European battery alliance to ‘counter Asia, US’

French battery maker Saft, owned by energy group Total, formed an alliance with Siemens, Solvay and Manz to build new generation of batteries, to compete with Asian and U.S. manufacturers. Their high-density Li-ion and solid-state technology, would target EVs, railway, marine, aviation, energy storage and specialty industries.


#Renewables

RENEWABLES: France to commit 700mn euros more to ISA; US, China 'keen to join', rooftop solar key to India targets

International Solar Alliance: Multilateral Banks, GCF onboard

France will invest additional 700 million euros in the International Solar Alliance (ISA), President Macron said at the founding conference in Delhi. France has already invested 300 m euros in the alliance. ISA aims to mobilize $1 trillion for solar generation, storage and technology globally by 2030. It has 60 signatories, with 30 of those countries having ratified the agreement. US and China are ‘keen to join the ISA’ too.

Big banks such as Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank) and the GCF (UN’s Green Climate Fund) World Bank, European Investment Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are current ISA partners.

121 solar projects, the ‘inevitable renewables’

Next month (April 19-21) ISA will hold Re-Invest summit and sign 121 solar projects. Experts say. The ISA will speed up the ‘inevitable transformation’ of the power industry to renewables, globally.

Rooftop solar key to India 2022 targets

As India seeks to achieve 100GW solar installations by 2022, 40GW of that will be rooftop installations of small businesses (a third of India’s $2 trillion economy). Small firms are dumping ‘expensive and erratic’ grid and dirty diesel generators for cheaper solar rooftops: the fastest growing renewable segment in India, according to BNEF. The World Bank is also stepping in with a $625 million loan to support India’s solar rooftops of small businesses.

India’s clean energy: 22% rise, & ‘22% fall?’

India’s clean power (wind, solar, biomass, small hydro and bagasse) grew 22% in 2017, Central Electricity Authority report said. Renewables’ share was at 8% in 2017, compared to 6.8% in 2016.

However, 2018, solar installations are heading for a ‘22% fall’ from 19.6GW in 2017 to around 7.5 GW in 2018 as ‘investor sentiment’ is faced with policy uncertainty over multiple tariffs (safeguard, anti-dumping, and port) Mercom report said. Developers are backing out, forcing auctions to be postponed. Solar capacity rose to 19.6GW in 2017 (10.6 GW of large-scale units under construction, 4.3 GW of big projects pending auction). Top bureaucracy is confident of meeting the 175GW target before 2022 as it banks on International Solar Alliance (ISA) to help mobilise solar funds.

World’s largest solar park in Karnataka, farmers paid rent

State of Karnataka launched ‘world’s largest’ 2,000 MW solar park. The Rs 16,500 crore park at Pavagada (13,000 acres) has been built in record two years, with zero land acquisition. The 2,300 farmers are paid Rs 21,000 per acre as monthly rent. Meanwhile Andhra Pradeshmobilized funds for renewable energy worth Rs 68,000 crore at a recent CII summit.

New coal plants drop, 45% power capacity additions solar

In India, new coal plants declined from 62% in 2016, to 19% in 2017, and solar power saw 45% of total power capacity additions. India’s 2027 renewable target is 275 GW. BP report said, India’s energy consumption, growing at over 4.2% annually, is slated to overtake China energy market by 2020s.

China’s $1.5 billion ‘hands-off’ loan to India

China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is loaning $1.5 billion to India for infrastructure-projects in 2018, as China plans to invest over $100 billion for its mega Belt and Road linking Asia, Europe and Africa. AIIB has committed $200 million to India allowing the government to decide how to use the money. China follows a hands-off overseas development financing policy, unlike western banks who come attached with social and environmental accountability. India needs $125 billion in investments to meet its 175 GW renewable target by 2022.

China’s new solar norms, post US tariffs

Import duties (in the US and India) have only strengthened China’s resolve to dominate solar market. China issued fresh norms to make high-efficiency solar cells and expand solar sector with over $1.5 million funds to firms annually. China produced 87GW of silicon wafers and 68 GW of solar cells last year. It has 130.3 GW of installed solar capacity.

Microsoft’s first Asia deal in solar

After wind energy deals in Ireland and the Netherlands, Microsoft struck its first Asia deal to buy all of 60MW solar power from the Sunseap Group for 20 years to run its Singapore datacenters. Microsoft plans to power 50% of its world datacenters load with renewables this year.

Wind, solar could meet 80% of US demand: study

Wind and solar power could meet 80% of US demand if transmission and storage facilities are in place, researchers said. Currently, the US draws 8% power from renewables (wind 7%, solar 1%). Researchers compared 36 years of US weather data with US electricity demand to get around 80% figure.


#Climate Change

Climate Change: Arctic's 'winter heatwave', blizzards in Europe, extreme heatwave warning in India

Scientists are redrawing their ‘most pessimistic forecast’ of climate change as an unprecedented heatwave in the winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe. Daily temperatures in the Arctic this year have been up to 20 C higher than average, scientists are concerned that global warming is eroding the polar vortex (the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north). Flow of warm air has heated Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018, three times more than in any previous year.

IMD warns of intense heat waves this summer

Intense heat waves are likely to hit most parts in India this summer, Chhattisgarh is already at 37 degree Celsius – 3 to 4 degrees higher than usual. The early onset of summer means higher probability of heat waves. India Meteorological Department (IMD) said, country faces hot weather during March to July but studies indicate increasing trends in the frequency and duration of heat waves over the country, which can be attributed to rise in emissions and the warming of the sea over the equatorial Indian and Pacific oceans.

Trump’s attempt to block kids’ climate case rejected

21 young Americans are suing government agencies over climate inaction. A US court has rejected Trump’s attempt to block the case of kids who want government to cut the US emissions and end subsidies to fossil fuel companies. White House tried to slow down the case arguing that finding documents and interviewing people, was ‘too burdensome’.


#Air Pollution

AIR POLLUTION: Paris accord can 'prevent premature deaths', Centre cleans air in 13 cities, 26 more choke, NO2 from cars 'killing thousands' in Germany

Investing trillions of dollars to meet Paris targets and cutting emissions would be much cheaperthan paying the costs of people dying by polluted air, new Lancet study said. Countries, including India and China?, could save $54 trillion in health care by investing less than half that amount in green projects by mid-century, scientists said. It will save 30 million people from dying prematurely due to air pollution.

26 more south Indian cities choking

Centre has announced plans to clean killer air in 13 south Indian cities, but the latest state data shows 26 more cities across south Indian states choking on particulate pollution levels higher than the national safe standards. Centre’s plan is to spread monitoring network, conduct air pollution health impact studies, set up air information systems, certify monitoring institutes, air quality forecasting systems. UNEP chief during a recent visit to India said India needs to ‘move fast’ to tackle air pollution.

NO2 from cars ‘killing thousands’, German top court allows diesel car ban

Nitrogen dioxide, emitted by diesel vehicles, is killing thousands of people prematurely annually in Germany, says a latest government-sponsored report. Almost 6,000 people died prematurely in 2014 from illnesses caused or aggravated by NO2, report said. The study, compared deaths from diabetes, asthma and other diseases with emissions records in cities and the countryside. On February 27, Germany’s top court allowed cities to ban the use of diesel cars as part of measures to improve air quality.

EU groups back norms, take on coal lobby in court

European Environmental groups have moved court to defend new EU limits on emissions of dust, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury as the coal lobby challenges limits for NOx and mercury in European Courts. Europe Beyond Coal said, pollution from European coal plants is linked to around 20,000 premature deaths, 458,000 asthma attacks in children and over €50 billion in health costs annually.


#Fossil Fuels

FOSSIL FUELS: Private coal firms celebrate 100% FDI, commercial extraction, China beats own target on coal phase out

Pvt. players welcome ‘unrestricted commercial extraction’

India’s private sector has welcomed the government’s decision to end Coal India Limited (CIL)’s monopoly on coal extraction, saying that allowing up to 100% FDI and unrestricted commercial extraction by private firms will drive “efficiency of extraction” – which could allow private players to theoretically undercut CIL’s per ton cost of coal extraction and sell it at higher profit margins.

CIL’s workers and national trade unions have opposed the move, fearing that the move may jeopardize CIL’s future in the face of competition, and that private players’ unethical mining practices and insufficient compliance with environmental norms for extraction may drive down wages for contract labourers.

CIL has however sought to reassure unions that it was going to benefit from the deregulation – perhaps on the back of its advanced expertise in coal mining, which most private players lack. Also the govt. is already looking to establish a regulatory body to oversee all mining technologies and practices for commercial coal mining.

China beats own target on coal capacity phase out

Despite posting a 0.4% increase in coal consumption for the first time in three years (for 2017, over 2016) – which was driven by an unusually severe winter – China managed to suspend operations from 65GW of coal-fired power plants in 2017. This was 15GW in excess of its State Council’s target of 50GW, and as a result China’s share of coal in its energy mix dropped by 1.6% to 60.4% for 2017.

The country is aiming to get coal-fired power to below 58% of its energy mix by 2020, and the target seems all the more plausible on the back of its phenomenal 54% increase in installed solar capacity for 2017 (53GW, as compared to 34.5GW for 2016). It will also slash steel and coal output in 2018 (30 million and 150 million tons resp.) in an aggressive bid to “defend its blue skies”.

Meanwhile, India’s NTPC has indicated it will reduce its dependence on coal from 85% at present to 65% by 2032 by primarily focusing on hydro power.

Generali joins coal disinvestment bandwagon

Joining industry partners AXA and Allianz, Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali has announced it will be divesting its roughly €2 billion worth of coal related holdings as part of its new strategy of minimizing insurance exposure.

It will instead invest about €3.5 billion in green projects by 2020, which mirrors the trend by the world’s largest insurers to divest away from fossil fuels. The move was largely prompted by the Bank of England’s dire warning in 2015 of catastrophic losses for fossil fuel firms, if they were forced to curtail production in light of strategies to avoid breaching the 2°C global warming limit.