Newsletter.October 30, 2017
Following a year of extreme climate change impacts, and the United States declaring its intent to pull out of the Paris Agreement, governments will gather in Bonn, Germany for the 23rd Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC which will start next Monday.
Although being held in Bonn, the COP is being hosted by Fiji, the first Pacific nation to do so. There is hope that issues like loss and damage and fixing financial accountability for climate disasters will be at the fore. The discussions around US withdrawal and what it means for China’s leadership will be interesting to watch out for. In the leadership scenario that is more diffused, it is India that is being seen as an enabler of the Paris Agreement. Indonesia, and other island nations also have good opportunity to show initiative.
Big companies’ climate change targets are ‘un-ambitious’
Even though private companies are not bound by the Paris agreement, many of them have taken steps to reduce emissions. Ahead of COP23, many companies and governments have pledged to meet the aims of the Paris pact. New research has shown that 9 out of 10 of the biggest companies have plans in place to reduce carbon emissions, but only a fifth of them are doing so for 2030 and beyond.
Delhi continues to battle killer smog, even as the court-imposed firecraker ban failed to improve the city’s air quality. The Capital’s air quality index (AQI) recently crossed the deadly 800 micrograms per cubic meter.
Delhi top priority? Top Court: Implement long-term pollution plan
After the annual ‘winter-pollution’ – which has forced the authorities to impose a 5-month long Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in Delhi that includes short-term bans on diesel generators, trucks, coal plants and crushers – the Supreme Court wants the firstever comprehensive action plan implemented, that requires Delhi to cut particulate pollution by 74%, and meet safety standards 98% of the time annually.
What about equally hazardous Chennai?
While Delhi has the much-needed 32 state monitoring stations generating data (16 more are to be added), and a WhatsApp helpline number (9717593574), the rest aren’t that lucky. Chennai’s particulate matter post-Diwali was 15 times (936.69 μg/m3) the permissible limit. The average AQIs remained life-threatening in the last week in Ghaziabad (397μg/m3), Kanpur (317μg/m3), Amritsar (342μg/m3), Delhi 338 (μg/m3), Ludhiana (320μg/m3).
Finally, Haryana to monitor open waste burning
Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) teams will check waste burning, blamed for rising air pollution levels in Gurgaon. People caught burning garbage may face a fine of Rs. 5,000 (around $80).
Singrauli coal hub to miss emissions deadline, gets first real-time AQ monitoring
Singrauli, a designated Critically Polluted Area (CPA) got its first real-time air quality monitoring network. Singrauli’s 10 power plants burn 2.5 lakh tonnes of coal daily. The thermal power hub is set to miss the 2018 deadline to cut emissions and to retrofit the plants. Singrauli residents are suffering from soars and rising cases of TB.
Indoor air pollution: Kill Kerosene subsidy, give it to clean cookstove makers
Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy said that the state should subsidize clean cookstove makers, as he felt that businesses in India were not focusing on clean energy. Experts say that indoor pollution caused by kerosene can be 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution. A 2017 report has said subsidies for kerosene are discouraging the poor from switching to solar.
Lancet: Pollution kills 9 million, 2.5 million in India
The International Energy Agency has praised India for providing electricity to half a billion people since 2000. India is likely to achieve universal energy access by 2020, the IEA report said, adding that by 2030, three out of five Indian connections will be powered by renewable energy.
Power pacts: Centre’s plan to rein in states
Meanwhile, faced with a ‘slump’ in the sector, Power minister R K Singh plans to amend the law and make the RPOs (renewable purchase obligations) binding – an idea he plans to propose to state energy ministers on November 10th and 11th. He expects power demand to grow, and all villages to be electrified by this December, 3 months ahead of the March 2018 target.
Boost lagging solar sentiment, change narrative
Experts suggest that the government is trying to boost the investor sentiment by changing the power sector narrative from the previous ‘surplus electricity’ to ‘growth in consumption’ to meet its power-for-all 2019 deadline. Experts say with states refusing to relent on cheaper tariffs, privatization of DISCOMS is the only option left for the Centre.
Solar power costs to drop by 60%
Utility scale solar power costs are expected to plummet by another 60% over the next decade, according to IRENA as solar modules get cheaper and more efficient. It also expects 80 – 90 GW of solar capacity addition globally for 5-6 years, with China alone expected to install 50 GW annually.
India’s capacity addition is also expected to grow, even though rise in domestic demand in China has increased prices of modules imported into India, resulting in slowdown to single digits (in GW) here.
Anti-Dumping Duty bad idea for India’s solar sector?
While the government must boost India’s module manufacturing capacity, experts say it needs to simultaneously retain the price competitiveness of solar power. They are therefore wary of anti-dumping duties imposed on imported modules, which if instated, would raise solar power prices.
‘Ignoring overtures’ from India, Tesla plans to set up its electric car factory in Shanghai by the end of the year. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari had offered land near ports to Tesla to set up a factory and an export base, but Tesla has not responded officially. Prime Minister Modi had also visited Tesla’s factory in California, in 2015. Analysts believe that the tweets by Elon Musk highlight the problem: India is seemingly slow, and unresponsive.
As per IEA, in 2016, 450 electric cars, less than a 1% of the market, hit Indian roads. India currently has about 350 charging points while China had about 215,000 installed at the end of 2016.
Octillion to open EV battery factory in India
The US-based company plans to establish a $15 million advanced EV battery manufacturing facility in Pune, which is expected to create 500 new jobs in the next three years.
Ashok Leyland to invest 400-500 cr on EVs over 3-5 yrs
The company is developing high-speed fast charging buses, buses which can be charged overnight, and battery swapping technology with Sun Mobility to address concerns over the limited range of electric vehicles.
Automakers push for humble delivery vans
In the rush toward electric vehicles, automakers are aiming for electrification of the humble delivery van. Given lingering concerns about purchasing cost and charging infrastructure, many feel it may take a decade for EVs to win over mainstream car owners.
Toyota scrambles to ready ‘game-changer’ EV battery
Toyota is racing to commercialize a battery breakthrough in early 2020s with the potential to drastically cut the cost of manufacturing electric cars. All solid-state battery technology is a next-generation, high-capacity energy storage device that improves on today’s lithiumion batteries, replacing the liquid or gel-form electrolyte with a solid, conductive material.
Tata Motors begins Electric Bus pilot-runs in Guwahati
Tata, who bagged a 350 units order from the EESL to supply e-cars earlier this month, have signed an agreement with the Assam State Transport Corporation to run 9 meter long e-buses that can carry 26-34 passengers.
To restore India’s gradually slowing wind power capacity addition, the government is planning to invite bids for 4,500MW of wind power in three tranches of 1,500MW each. The bids will be invited in October, December and February (2018). Wind auctions conducted on October 4 this year saw record low wind tariffs at Rs 2.64 per unit. No capacity addition in the wind sector might have also resulted in the low tariffs, as equipment suppliers were left with huge inventory. Global energy bodies have raised doubts if such low tariffs are sustainable.
For Europe, low wind power prices mean higher 2030 targets?
The falling cost of offshore wind power has created the chance to exceed the current 2030 European RES target. The EU pact that requires 27% energy from renewable energy sources was made on the assumption of a cost level that would reach €123/MWh in 2020. Experts say, the current costs are at almost half the price of what was originally estimated.
Germans Could Be Paid to Use Electricity This Weekend
German power producers may have to pay customers to use electricity this weekend. Wind generation is expected to climb to a record high, creating more output than needed and driving electricity prices below zero. Negative prices mean that producers must either shut down power stations to reduce supply or pay consumers to take the electricity off the grid.
Coal imports will jump and India and Southeast Asia will drive global demand through 2040 as China cuts use of the fossil fuel to fight pollution, forecasts from the IEA and Wood Mackenzie show. Imports into South Asia, which includes India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, will rise to 284 million tonnes, up 72% during the same period. Coal’s demand outlook remains bright until at least 2025, unless renewables and batteries become costcompetitive.
25 tonnes a minute, coal is choking Goa
The Indian Express investigation has revealed that the Big Three – Jindal, Adani and Vedanta – who transport coal from Mormugao Port on three key routes, have left a devastating trail of health hazards and environmental damage. Nearly 25 million tonnes of coal – equivalent to a 3 km high toxic black mountain – will be unloaded each year at the Mormugao Port Trust by 2020. By 2030, this is slated to double to up to 51.6 million tonnes each year.
One in seven coal plant owners ‘fully or partially phased out plants’ between 2010-17
The ‘first ever’ global survey of coal phase out plans, by data trackers Coal Swarm, revealed two different trajectories as the industry collapses in the west, but grows on in Asia. Globally, the International Energy Agency’s report found investments in coal power down by 20%, with money flowing increasingly toward lower-cost solar, wind, and natural gas. A US study found that investment in coal mining and coal power by private funds in North America “has completely dried up”.
Italy proposes phasing out coal power plants by 2025
Italy has plans to phase out coal power plants by 2025. Italy’s biggest utility Enel has said it will not invest in new coal-fired power plants. Canada, France and the UK have also pledged to end coal fired power generation.
Is climate change Hollywood’s new supervillain? Eco-thriller Geostorm, with Gerard Butler as a weather-busting scientist, is the latest movie to battle the climate disaster. From Blade Runner 2049 to Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, films are turning up the heat on the big screen.
Geostorm captured China’s box office with a strong $33 million in its opening weekend. That put it comfortably ahead of Blade Runner 2049, which struggled into third place.