Newsletter.January 24, 2018

#Climate Change

Climate Change 'biggest threat' says PM, extreme weather 'top global risk', Egypt's ancient treasures at climate risk

PM: Climate Change, protectionism greatest risks

Prime Minister Modi in his Davos speech said Climate Change was one of the greatest threatsthe world faces today. ‘Everyone talks about carbon emissions but very few help developing countries with appropriate technology’, he said as he slammed ‘selfish’ protectionism

Extreme weather, climate change, ‘top 2018 risks’

The World Economic Forum (WEF) kicked off in Davos. The WEF Global Risks Report 2018says extreme storms and droughts, and natural disasters are posing serious threat. 2017 was the most expensive hurricane season, flooding hit millions in South Asia, wild fires raged, 2016 displaced 31 million people: 75% were extreme weather refugees.

2017 was hottest year without El Nino

2017 was one of the top three hottest years on record. While 2016 still holds the world record, 2017 was the warmest year without an El Niño event, which is associated with above normal global annual temperatures.

Climate change threatens Egypt’s ancient monuments

Erratic weather due to climate change is threatening Egypt’s ancient treasures, eroding the ancient stones. Experts say, the monuments survived thousands of years of war, and theft but, “the splendours of ancient Egypt might have finally met their match: climate change.”


#Electric Mobility

Govt seeks policy advice, Maruti 'changes game', plans e-car, China e-cars steal US show

Govt on EV-only road, may change law to get e-chargers?

India’s planning body NITI Aayog has invited public suggestions as it drafts policy to migrate to only ‘zero emission vehicles’ by 2030. India may change its Electricity Act (2003) to boost the number of charging stations to meet its 2030 target. The government may also set up charging stations in partnership with private firms, as India currently has only 350 public EV chargers, compared to China’s 215,000. The country is also looking to be the first to have all-electric public transport and corporate fleets.

Karnataka mulls ‘smart poles’, no road tax for EVs in Goa

Karnataka plans to install over 250 ‘smart poles’ costing Rs.10 lakh each to charge EVs in the Huballi-Dharwad region. Meanwhile, Goa has exempted EVs from road tax to fight air pollution.

‘Won’t need’ state push for EVs by 2022

Automakers are counting the days of combustion engine. They say, if Lithium-ion battery prices fall to less that $100 per KwH by 2022, from the present $180, they ‘won’t need incentives’ to shift to commercial EVs.

Maruti’s ‘game changing’ e-car, what’s stopping Audi?

Maruti Suzuki India is ready to ‘change the game’ and shift to EVs. It’s planning an electric car, a lithium ion battery plant in Gujarat, and a charging network in partnership with its dealers. Audi is keen to launch EV in India by 2020 provided there’s charging infrastructure, while Volkswagen is ‘watching’ India closely. Indian auto makers’ lobby SIAM expects 40% of private vehicle sales to be all-EV by 2030.

Auto parts makers warn of job losses

Meanwhile, auto parts makers’ lobby (ACMA) has warned that 1.5 million people may lose job to a ‘sudden’ shift to EVs. They said the suppliers are investing heavily to meet BS-VI technology 2020 deadline for which they need 10 years to get the return.

EV sales to almost double in 2018?

EV sales will grow by 40% to touch 1.5 million in 2018 globally. China will lead the market followed by Europe (Germany in particular) and the USA.

Study: Carmakers must shift to EVs now, or perish

EVs will be as affordable as a regular car by 2022, and industry must shift now to survive, that’s the analysis by CDP. Over 30% of new car sales (potentially $1 trillion) are projected to be zero emission by 2030.

Chinese e-cars steal Vegas, Detroit shows

China’s $45,000 concept electric SUV, Byton, lured crowds with features including self-driving, voice recognition, rotating seats and a massive 49-inch long screen that can distract commuters to death. The Vegas and Detroit shows were abuzz with flashy Chinese e-cars backed with ‘ample funds’, but Nanjing-based ‘startup’ Byton is reportedly seeking $400 million in funding.

Can West afford to ignore Chinese e-cars?

Experts say Byton’s very first concept SUV is China’s alternative to Tesla X, and BMW X3. Backed by subsidies China’s e-carmakers such as BYD and Byton are transforming global market, threatening to oust combustion-engine car. Biggies like Daimler, Toyota, VW will become irrelevant, if they don’t catch up, experts warn. China’s domestic e-car sales are expected to cross 1 million in 2018, and 5 million by 2020. As Western buyers largely prefer Western cars, China has ‘shifted strategy’ from selling cars to selling car parts to Western companies.


#Renewables

Renewables: India will hit 175GW target 'before 2020', 30% Trump tax, 70% proposed India duty 'flawed'

Trump’s 30% solar import tax ‘bad’ for US manufacturings

Trump’s ‘lighter than expected’ but steep 30% duty on solar imports to ‘boost’ domestic manufacturing won’t bring back the jobs from China, but it’s the biggest blow to the clean energyindustry yet, experts say. The US solar traders’ body SEIA called it a loss for the US that may actually cost 23,000 American jobs in domestic manufacturing.

India’s proposed tax ‘flawed’, Trump tax ‘opportunity’?

India has also proposed 70% ‘safeguard duty’ on solar imports to ‘protect’ domestic manufacturers. The US decision might ‘nudge’ India to go ahead with its own tariffs, but some see it as ‘opportunity’ for India if it decides to drop its tariff plan and use lower prices to its advantage, as suppliers seek new markets. The ‘flawed’ proposal is expected to slow the solar growth of the last 7 years, and jeopardize India’s 100GW by 2022 target. Credit rating agency Crisil said the proposed tax will put 3GW of solar projects in danger and raise costs by 25%. Domestic solar manufacturers’ body AISIA said the proposal will hurt domestic manufacturers operating in SEZs (special economic zones)

Rajasthan to export 4,000 MW clean energy

Rajasthan is setting up Green Corridor connecting Punjab and Gujarat before it starts exporting 4,000 MW renewable energy to other states by 2019. The Green Corridor is vital for Rajasthan as it will only be able to use a part of total solar and wind power generation once ultra mega solar projects get commissioned by 2019.

Solar PV costs to ‘halve by 2020’

Meanwhile, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says costs of solar PVs are expected to fall by 50% by 2020 and wind and solar could be generating power for less than 3 cents per kWh in 2 years.

First solar company beats coal-based plant

Solar power company ReNew Power has become the first renewable power company to beat coal based plants in the spot market. ReNew Power set a record by directly competing with coal generated power firms by achieving better tariffs than those quoted in the auction process.

Denmark leads in Wind Power, China to lead by 2022

Denmark set a global record for wind power. Wind power accounted for a record high of 43.4% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark in 2017. Denmark’s energy minister said earlier renewable power was pushed for climate concerns, but now solely for economic concerns. According to BNEF study the offshore wind market is expected to grow 6 times by 2030 and China is expected lead the world in wind installation by 2022.


#Air Pollution

Killer Air: Suffer SO2 for 3 more yrs?, Indian lives 'cut short' by PM2.5, stringent BSVI norms from April

Coal plants get 3 more yrs to spew toxic SO2

A huge setback to fight against air pollution: Central Pollution Control Board has extended the deadline for installing flue gas desulphurization (FGD) to stop SO2 emissions by 3 more years. Single FGD costs rupees 50 lakh per MW. Experts say, to install FGDs in several units can cost thousands of crores, which will result in power tariff hikes. Government should apply the principle of ‘polluter pay’ experts say. According to NASA study India is surpassing China as the world’s largest emitter of SO2.

Emissions: Stringent BS VI norms from April, 2018

India revised standards norms for petrol and diesel from BSIV to more stringent BSVI. BS norms were set according to European emission standards to curb air pollutants spewed by vehicles. BS VI emission norms will be applicable in Delhi from April 1, 2018 and in the rest of the country from April 1, 2020.

Delhi’s clean air campaign next month

Meanwhile, Centre and Delhi government have decided to launch clean air campaign in the Capital next month. Authorities will focus on curbing pollution by preventing garbage burning, managing solid waste and mitigating dust.

PM2.5 reducing life by up to 6.5 years

A new study by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and National Centre for Atmospheric Research, says life expectancy of Indians is dropping by several years because of Air pollution. Here’s what the study says: main culprit behind deaths is particulate matter 2.5, which is emitted by diesel vehicles. Indians are losing 3-4 yrs of their life because of PM 2.5. 6 lakh Indians died prematurely because of air pollution in 2011. People in UP stand to lose 5.7 yrs of their life, Delhi 6.4 years and West Bengal 6.5 years.

Indians have shorter lifespan because of air pollution

A new study has revealed that people in rural India are more vulnerable to premature deaths due to air pollution, 75% of total deaths due to PM2.5 were caused in villages. PM 2.5 levels were similar in rural and urban areas.

The first-ever report to map deaths according to sources of pollution says residential biomass burning was responsible for 267,700 deaths. The second biggest killer was coal combustion: responsible for 169,300 deaths. Crop burning killed 66,200 people due to PM 2.5 in 2015. According to an IIT study cooking stoves. IIT Bombay study says after coal, 25% of pollution related deaths are caused by chulhas or cooking stoves.


#Fossil Fuels

Oil & Gas linked to Methane emissions, Minister pushes for biofuel in cars, 'like it or not'

Oil and Gas linked to rise in Methane levels

According to a new NASA study, extracting oil and gas causes methane emissions which fuel global warming. Methane (CH4) emissions have increased by about 25 teragrams per year since 2006. The study has been credited with crushing the ‘myth’ that natural gas is a climate solution.

Gadkari wants cars to run on biofuels to reduce oil bill

Transport minister Nitin Gadkari wants to cut oil import bill of rupees 7 lakh crores by promoting biofuels. He said ‘whether auto industry likes it or not’ they have to make vehicles that can run on biofuels. Government’s GST council has recommended slashing tax on fuel production from 18% to 12%.


#Fossil Fuels

Coal: Green Court puts foot down on emissions, Poland to mine India, Norway keeps Lofoten off drilling

NGT: No environmental clearance to polluting power plants

The National Green Tribunal has directed the MoEFCC to withhold the issuing of any environmental clearance to existing and proposed thermal power plants until their emissions and water consumption meet the new standards notified in 2015.

Thermal power developers had sought an extension to the now-lapsed December 7 (2017) deadline to comply with the new standards, citing the very high costs of retrofitting power plants to curtail their emissions, which they said would inevitably lead to an increase of up to Rs. 0.93/unit in power tariffs for end consumers.

CIL hikes price for non-coking coal, may affect power tariffs soon

Coal India Ltd. (CIL) has raised the price of non-coking coal by 15-18%, and experts suggest this could raise thermal power tariffs by 2-4%, which the developers will be forced to pass on to end consumers to continue on their UDAY assisted path to financial recovery.

While the price revision will help CIL earn more than Rs. 6,000 crore in additional revenue for 2018, it further complicates matters for thermal power developers, who – apart from losing demand to renewables – also have to operate under an unhealthy and largely stagnant average Plant Load Factor (PLF) of under 60%, even though electricity demand in India for April – December 2017 rose by 5.8%.

UP govt: Industries can choose DISCOM(S) of their choice

In a bid to ease the use of the ‘open access system’, the Uttar Pradesh government is set to allow industries to purchase power from DISCOMS of their choice. The move could attract more investors to the power hungry state, but also set off competition between UP’s DISCOMS to attract customers. The move is a step under a previous announcement to amend the Electricity Act (2003), aimed to open up power supply options for industrial customers.

Ministry of Steel requests waiver on coking coal import duties

The Ministry of Steel (MoS) has requested that the 2.5% import duty on coking coal be completely waived off in the upcoming budget for 2018-19 to help the industry boost its output. It has also asked for zero import duties in steel scraps (which are recycled into steel).

Since India imports coking coal to compensate for its poor (heavy ash content) domestic supplies, the Centre is aiming to reduce import bills, and MoS is reportedly in talks with the coal ministry to set up washeries to improve the quality of Indian coking coal.

CIL wary of private coal miners

With private players slated to be granted access to commercial coal fields , CIL chairman Gopal Singh has reportedly asked the miner’s employees to be polite and respectful to villagers from whose lands they extract coal, possibly as a pre-emptive measure to shield CIL from any further complications other than the one it may face due to the private firms’ lower mining costs.

While CIL is targeting increasing its output to 600MT for 2017-18, Gopal Singh will be keenly aware of the importance of maintaining or even boosting CIL’s public image in the face of competition from private coal suppliers, who may win over customers (state and captive thermal power plants) by selling them coal at prices lower than what CIL can offer.

Poland keen on commercial coal mining in India

Possibly under pressure from the EU’s shrinking coal market, Polish coal firms are reported to be keen on exploring commercial coal mining in India – under “the right conditions” – to power Poland’s coal fired electricity generation capacity, which accounts for over 80% of the country’s power needs.

Granting such permits may however be in direct contradiction to India’s commitment to restricting global warming. It may also increase pollution from coal dust at new mining sites, an issue which has already prompted the Goa State Pollution Control Board to stop coal handling at Mormugao Port.

Poor growth for US coal jobs despite Trump’s push

Despite president Trump’s campaign to revive the US coal industry – his administration is rolling back environmental regulations to prop up US’ thermal power plants – statistics reveal very poor net job creation (only 771 jobs added for 2017).

The US’s coal decline is largely attributed to the proliferation of natural gas – and not renewables – which although not emissions free, is cheaper to extract.

Norway seals off Lofoten against drilling till 2021

The Norwegian government will exclude the country’s Arctic regions of Lofoten, Versteraalen and Senja from oil exploration activities at least till 2021, which is when its next parliamentary elections are due.

The pristine regions – Lofoten is referred to as Norway’s Amazon and Great Barrier Reef – are home to an abundance of cod, cold water reefs and other sea life, besides being estimated to hold nearly 1.3 billion barrels of oil, worth over approximately $65billion.