Newsletter.June 13, 2018

#From Regional Press: Uttar Pradesh

FROM THE REGIONAL PRESS: Uttar Pradesh, MP

Alarming Mercury contamination in Singrauli

A recent study found alarming level of mercury contamination in the coal hub of Sonbhadra in Singrauli (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh border). Mercury was detected in the hair and nails of villagers. Over 900 villagers submitted their concerns. The green court (NGT) has ordered a temporary ban on further expansion in the region.

Over 249 villages have been declared affected by pollution. The region generates 15% of India’s energy needs everyday.


#Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE: Trump Isolated again at G7; India Inc ranks ‘poor’ over climate disclosures

‘G7 Split’: Trump isolated again over climate, trade

G7 meet ended in a split over climate change. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the EU backed carbon pricing, and “just transition” to clean energy, while the US unilaterally promoted fossil fuels. Trump skipped the G7’s climate discussions. The leaders pledged to curb air and water pollution and emissions towards a global carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

The US refused to join in the summit’s communique. Trump later rubbished the whole communique in a Twitter tirade.

Study ranks India Inc ‘poor’ over climate disclosures

A Cambridge University study says “India fares poorly when it comes to asking companies to disclose how vulnerable their businesses are to climate-related risks”. The study assessed the countries’ record against the recommendations made by a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TFCD).

Study: G7’s annual support to fossil fuels is worth $100 billion

The ODI study says the G7 democracies spent at least $100 on oil, gas and coal consumption at home and abroad in 2015 and 2016. France topped the ranking in ending government support to fossils. ODI alleged that the UK tries to “fudge” how much it spends subsidising coal and fossil fuel. The UK and Japan have not yet undertaken a peer review into its fossil fuel subsidies.

288 investors with more than USD26 trillion in assets called on world governments, ahead of the G-7, to scale up climate action including phasing out thermal coal worldwide.

‘China’s emission reduction target going off track’

China emissions witnessed dramatic rise since 2011, Greenpeace reported. China’s emissions for the first three months were 4% higher than the same time last year, and set to rise 5% in this year. The unexpected uptick in emissions led to experts commenting on the country’s emissions peak to come well before 2030, it is reasonable that it will peak by 2025.

China urged to increase climate ambition

A government think tank has recommended China consider increasing its emission reductiontargets. The NCSC said China should “evaluate and demonstrate the options for updating the 2030 nationally determined contributions in 2020”.

‘Green economy now worth as much as fossil fuel sector’

Recent market study says green economy now holds around same market share as the fossil fuel sector: 6% of global market equity was derived from renewable and alternative energy, energy efficiency, water, waste and pollution services. This ‘green economy’ was now worth approximately $4 trillion, roughly the same as the fossil fuel sector.

UK’s biggest asset firm to penalise 8 top bosses over climate inaction

LGIM, Britain’s biggest asset manager wants to sack the chairmen of the board of eight companies worldwide over failing to take climate action. The firms include: China Construction Bank, Dominion Energy, Japan Post Holdings, Occidental Petroleum, Rosneft, Subaru, Loblaw, and Sysco. LGIM said it would sell any shares of the eight companies held in its $6.7 billion Future World Funds index funds range. LGIM manages nearly $1.3 trillion in assets.


#Climate Science

Study: Dismal water shortage in India’s major reservoirs

26 people were killed in dust storms and lightning that struck 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh. Two died in rain-related incidents in Maharashtra. A downpour in Mumbai disrupted rail and air traffic.

In just over 2 months, 50 storms in 16 states have left 500 dead, 1000 injured, 5000 houses collapsed. Experts attribute it to manmade rapid desertification (lack of green cover), excessive groundwater extraction, and extreme heat waves, and western disturbances.

Study: Dismal water shortage in India’s major reservoirs

Water levels in India’s major reservoirs are 10% lower than normal, and 50% deficient in Himachal Pradesh. The study, compiled from the secondary data, looks at the impact of climate change in shifting rainfall patterns, recurring droughts and water shortage incidents and the economic impact of water shortage on industries.


#Air Pollution

AIR POLLUTION: ‘Grave spikes’ in NOx, Ozone levels; First use of DSI tech to curb SO2

Deadly NOx emissions rising, escape air purifiers

CSE study says the number of cities where Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) exceeded norms increased from 18% to 29% in 10 years. NOx hotspots: Amritsar, Aurangabad, Delhi, Faridabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Meerut, Navi Mumbai, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune, Thane and Vijayawada.

One of the largest NOx increases was in Jamnagar, the site of world’s largest petrochemical complex. NOx cannot be filtered by air purifiers, main sources are vehicles and thermal power plants.

India’s First: Thermal power plant to use DSI tech to curb SO2 emission

State-owned NTPC’s Dadri power plant became the first in the country to decide to adopt DSI technology to lower SO2 emission in cost-effective manner. Dry Sorbent Injection (DSI) system curbs SO2 emissions. Ensuring compliance, Dadri power station had invited bids in March 2018 to install DSI technology.

Grave trend: Ozone spikes-up in Delhi, NCR

Spike in ozone levels was recorded in Delhi and the National Capital Region this summer. During February-May, ozone emerged as the major pollutant along with PM2.5, PM10. Gurugram faced highest number of excess ozone days during April and May.

‘Mumbai’s citizens’ brought down its air pollution

SAFAR study says PM2.5 levels in Mumbai dropped to 60 µg/m3 in 2017, from over 70 µg/m3 in 2016, thanks to people’s awareness and media initiatives, while Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) credited the shutting down of 1,000 polluting units. Mumbai ranked the fourth most polluted mega city in the world based on WHO 2016 PM2.5 data.


#Renewables

RENEWABLES: India sets better 2022 renewable target?; Key public hearing on safeguard duty; China’s surprise solar cuts to trigger global glut, hit India’s panel making

227GW, not 175GW, India’s new 2022 renewables target?

Power minister said India will “overachieve” renewables target, touch 227GW by 2022 (as opposed to 175GW) with new schemes: floating solar, manufacturing-link solar & offshore wind projects. This surge requires $50 billion more in investments. Thermal power plant developers dread power glut, but government expects “spurt in demand”. India’s current installed capacity is 70GW, while 40GW is under tendering/construction.

Public hearing on safeguard duty on June 26

June 26, Centre will conduct public hearing on probe of safeguard duty on solar imports. The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) will probe if solar imports are causing domestic industry “serious injury”. Earlier Director General of Safeguards (now under DGTR), recommended safeguard duty for 200 days.

China surprise solar cuts to delay India’s panel-making plans

China’s decision to cut support to its solar sector is threatening India’s plan to produce solar panels. China’s move is expected to create a solar equipment glut in the market, and price crash. India may delay auction to invite bids to build 5GW of panels annually. Experts say, renewable power generation will surge in India as imports get cheaper. Solar module prices are expected to drop 34% in 2018, and 15% in 2019 in the wake of China’s move.

Tariffs in India’s next solar auction may fall below the 2.44 rupees/kWh record set May 17, last year. This has made public hearing on 70% safeguard duty in July critical.

Global solar forecasts lowered as China cuts support policies

China’s sudden move “sent solar stocks into a free fall” and prompted analysts to lower forecasts for global solar installations this year amid expectations that a glut of excess panels would send prices tumbling, and thin down profit margins.

Eleven Chinese solar firms have urged Beijing to delay decision on solar subsidies, as “the sector had racked up huge debts.”

‘Over $42 billion invested in renewable sector in 4 years’

Giving its 4-yr report card, government said over $42 billion have been invested in renewables sector. “India stands 4th in wind power, 5th in renewable and 6th in solar installed capacity”, govt. said. Solar rose by over 8 times: 2.6GW in 2014 to 22GW, wind capacity increased by 1.6 times: 21GW in 2014 to 34GW.

Solar pumps next month? Waiting for Finance Ministry sanction

The much-awaited Rs. 1.4 lakh-crore solar pump scheme for farmers, KUSUM, will kick off next month. 2.75 million solar pumps (1 million grid-connected) are set to be provided to farmers. Finance Ministry is yet to allocate the massive amount for the “non-starter” of the scheme. Farmers will have to pay 10% upfront, and 30% in loan to buy solar pumps.

Greenko’s biggest-ever $1 billion buyout

Greenko will purchase the solar and wind portfolio of Orange Renewables for about $1 billion. Backed by Singapore’s GIC and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (US$450m investment), Greenko is the largest green buyout in India.

Billions in U.S. solar projects shelved after Trump panel tariff

President Trump’s tariff on imported solar panels has led U.S. renewable energy companies to cancel or freeze investments of over $2.5 billion in large installation projects, along with thousands of jobs.

Govt approves continuation of off-grid solar PV applications scheme

Centre approved off-grid and decentralised solar PV application programme under which 3 lakh solar street lights will be installed in the country where there is no grid.


#Electric Mobility

Indian startup eyes e-scooter market

Flipkart founder-backed Indian startup launches subsidised e-scooter

Bengaluru-based startup Ather began bookings for its electric scooters. Ather raised $43 millionin funding from investors including Hero MotoCorp, Walmart partner Flipkart’s founders and Tiger Global Management. Its scooters cost more than double the average cost of those currently on the market, even after nearly 20% subsidy.

First made-in-India E-bus off to Nepal

First made-in-India Goldstone-BYD e-bus is ready to be exported to Nepal. Chinese EV major BYD has a tie-up with Goldstone Infratech in India. BYD’s Zyang Jie said: “We are going to introduce and adopt the latest technology to India, make the product in India and export overseas.”

MSEDCL to seek separate tariff for charging electric vehicles

Maharashtra has asked regulators to allow separate tariff for charging EVs, currently being charged commercial tariff as per rules. The charging centres have been categorized as commercial. The state plans to launch 500 charging stations, 50 tenders have been completed.

Tata to make Maharashtra EV ready

Tata Power will partner with Tata Motors to set up EV charging stations in Maharashtra. Tata Motors signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state to support the 2018 EV Policy.

Tesla battery costs bad news for fossil fuel cars

In bad news for fossil fuel cars, Tesla founder Elon Musk updated buyers on battery costs: battery cells for cars will be $100 by the end of 2018, and below $100/kWh at the pack level in less than 2 years.

Battery Billionares: China’s national battery giant is spreading abroad

As part of major Europe push, China’s national battery maker CATL is set to set shop in Germany, home to VW, Daimler, BMW. CATL is also setting up factory in Poland, and planning to sell 10% stock in IPO to fund growth outside China. Zeng Yuqun, CATL’s founder became billionaire Monday after shares soared by 44% on trading debut in Shenzhen. China’s BYD will also join massive battery production in Europe.

First Indian utility sets EV target

BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL) pledged to transition to EVs by 2030, becoming the first Indian utility to join The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative.


#Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels: Pope criticizes fossil fuel extraction, Coal crunch shuts down power plants, Sharp rise in Asian coal imports

Pope Francis sharply critical of fossil fuel extraction, Leaders continue to back coal and oil

Pope Francis was scathingly critical of continued fossil fuel extraction at the Vatican Climate Conference – warning that using fossil fuels to provide energy access must not come at the cost of destroying civilization itself. He also likened the transition to cleaner energy to an “epochal challenge” and warned the attendees – CEO’s of the world’s largest oil & gas and investment firms – against “ever-increasing extraction, consumption and waste”.

However the UK based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has found that the G7 member nations were yet to define a concrete roadmap to end their billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. Meanwhile the Trump administration is trying to bail out increasingly uncompetitive American coal (and nuclear energy) fired power plants, citing a threat to grid stability and national security.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has also bizarrely justified his CA$4.5bn purchase of a Kinder Morgan oil sands pipeline, saying that Canada would fight climate change by responsibly exporting oil extracted from tar sands to new markets. Tar sands are the world’s dirtiest source of oil and developing the resource could increase global CO2 emissions by up to 150 million tons/year by 2030.

Jharkhand’s energy policy tweak for Adani Power could cost the state more than Rs. 7,000cr

A special investigation has revealed that the Jharkand state govt. tweaked its energy policy in 2016 to allow Adani Power Ltd. to charge a premium for the power it would retail from its Godda thermal power plant. The plant is meant to retail power to power-hungry Bangladesh, but Jharkand is legally entitled to 25% of the plant’s output, procuring which – under the tweaked energy policy – will allegedly cost the state an excess of Rs. 7,410 cr (approximately $1.14bn).

Low coal stocks shut down power plant, Coal rushed to Delhi to avoid blackout

Acute shortage of coal has forced the 700MW unit of the 2X700MW Rajpura thermal power plant in Punjab to be shut down. The plant’s owner – Nabha Power – has squarely blamed it on Coal India Ltd. (CIL) prioritizing supplies to govt. owned power stations and only supplying 75% of the contracted tonnage to the plant. 3000MW of thermal power in Gujarat – facing perilously low coal stocks of less than a day’s worth – may also face a shutdown.

Meanwhile coal was rushed to NTPC’s Badarpur and Dadri thermal power stations (around Delhi NCR) under top priority to avert a possible blackout, as Delhi clocked a record high peak demand of 6,651 MW under intense heatwave conditions. Peak demand may even breach 7,000MW under rising temperatures, and before monsoon showers reach the city.

CIL on its part has ramped up coal output by 15.7% (year-on-year) this fiscal to meet summer’s peak demands, and has requested that power plants within 20km of coal mines arrange supplies by road alone for faster offtake. Additionally the Indian Railways has beefed up coal loading by 19% (y-o-y) to 431.5 rakes/day to quell the coal supply crisis.

Asian coal imports surge under summer heat, China considers importing more US coal

Thermal coal prices shot up to $112.05/ton at the Newcastle Index (Australia) under a cumulative surge of 16.1 million tons in imports this year from China, India, Japan and South Korea. The figure is driven primarily by record high summer power demand – particularly in India and China – and has breached February 2018’s record high of $110.60/ton.

China is also considering increasing its imports of US coal (90% of which is currently metallurgical) to lessen its $375bn trade deficit with the latter. However the country has already posted a 4% increase in carbon emissions for the first quarter of 2018 (compared to Jan – March 2017), and India’s West Bengal is reportedly keen to fully exploit the 2,102 million tons of coal reserves from the world’s second largest coalfields in Birbhum. Together this could heavily undermine global carbon emissions reductions achieved so far.