Newsletter.February 21, 2018

#Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE: Thinning sea ice, first ship crosses Arctic in winter, EU's new policy: no Paris deal, no trade

Global Warming: First ship crosses Arctic in winter

Amid concerns over thinning polar ice due to climate change, the ship Eduard Toll carrying liquefied natural gas, became the first commercial vessel to cross the Arctic alone during the winter months. As global warming leads to melting of Arctic ice, the area is becoming accessible to ships for the first time. Sea ice fell to its lowest level since human civilization began. Climate scientists are against the opening of the northern route and exploitation of polar resources.

No Paris pact, no trade deal with the EU

Want to trade with EU, ratify Paris climate accord, that’s the new Brussels policy. The EU said the new policy will apply to the upcoming deals with Mexico, the South American trade bloc Mercosur, and to post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. The new rules leave future trade deal with the US, under Trump, off the table. Trump has indicated that he will not sign up to the deal to cut greenhouse emissions.


#Air Pollution

AIR POLLUTION: Minister vows to cut killer air by 50% in 5 yrs, lotions and soaps as bad as diesel pollution? Germany's 'free transport' solution

Environment minister has said India will cut down air pollution in 100 cities by 50% in 5 years. The government plans to achieve this by expanding monitoring network, set up air information systems, certify monitoring institutes, air quality forecasting systems, awareness and capacity building drives.

Household chemicals rival vehicles

According to a study by US agency NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) everyday household items such as soaps, perfume, paint and pesticides contribute as heavily to air pollution in cities as cars and trucks. Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ozone and particulate matter that make up smog, which is linked to asthma and heart disease.

Air pollution behind poor lung capacity among kids: study

80% of the sample population have below normal lung function because of particulate matter pollution that’s the finding of a new study that monitored over 15 different locations across the Capital for over three winter months.

Peak flow test (assessing how quickly you can blow air) was conducted, the samples for the health study were taken from Holambi, Bhalaswa, Ayanagar, Punjabi Bagh, Wazirpur, Seelampur, Seemapuri, Saket, Okhla-NFC, Badarpur-TGK andMunirka. Hazardous AQ levels were over 30 times WHO limits, equalled to 50 cigarettes in a day.

Indraprastha Gas, Mahindra & Mahindra fight stubble burning

Natural gas supplier Indraprastha Gas and automakers Mahindra & Mahindra joined hands to curb stubble burning, identified as a major cause of air pollution in Delhi and its suburbs. The two are developing plants for producing gas from crop stubble and organic farm waste.

UP’s biofuel policy to address crop burning

The UP cabinet approved Rs 8,000 crore biofuel policy expected to tackle stubble burning issue. The policy will address issues of bagasse, the residue left over after juice is extracted from sugarcane, and that of agricultural residue. Crop stubble burning spikes air pollution to hazardous levels.

Germany: Free public transport to quash air pollution

To reduce number of private cars on the road and cut air pollution, Germany has radically proposed to make public transport free, to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen’s devastating “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal.


#Renewables

RENEWABLES: Boost to solar, wind projects, key state charges dropped, ISA's 120 projects, China sues US at WTO over tariffs

Setback to coal power?

In a major boost to solar and wind power, Centre waived off inter-state transmission charges till March 2022, making the projects even more attractive for developers. “No transmission charges and losses levied” will draw more bidders. Low solar and wind tariffs have already reached grid-parity, threatening thermal power.

100% renewable ‘in 20-25 yrs’

International group Energy Transition Committee (ETC) has said India, with right policy, will transit to 100% renewables in 20-25 years. ETC is helping India redesign coal-centric policies, and decarbonise manufacturing sectors.

Ratings: Renewables stable, thermal power negative

Rating agency India Rating has upgraded outlook on wind power to stable from negative for FY19, but negative for thermal power blaming it on uncertain power purchase agreements. The agency says renewable energy bids, driven by Centre, are becoming favourable to developers.

121 projects of International Solar Alliance

The first International Solar Alliance summit (March 11, Delhi) is expected to launch 121 solar projects across 121 sunshine-rich member countries. The India-France brainchild has mobilised demand (not purchase) for 464,000 of 500,000 solar pumps for farmers in India, Bangladesh, Uganda and Mauritius, to attract industry. The ISA awareness fund is backed by EU (370,000 euros), World Bank ($500,000), India ($18 million), and non-member China ($1 million).

WTO: China sues the US over import tariffs

Ready with its own protectionist 30% tax on solar imports, Trump is blocking India at WTO over its safeguard duties, but there is no escape from China ire, the solar equipment giant, along with Taiwan and S Korea, has demanded compensation from the US for proposing tariffs ‘against’ WTO rules.

Tamil Nadu: clean energy ‘world leader’ stuck with ‘expensive’ coal

A new study says Tamil Nadu will soon be global leader in wind power, but it must abandon coal. ‘By 2027’ over 50% of Tamil Nadu’s power will be emission free. TN has 7.85GW wind power, more than Denmark, over the next decade, renewable energy would account for 67% of state’s capacity, study says. The report argues that the state’s coal power is likely to be twice as expensive as solar or wind power, yet it has 22.5GW of coal power plants in the pipeline.

China avoids India tariffs, expands

Chinese solar panel manufacturer Longi Solar Technology will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India to avoid impact of proposed import duties in India (70%) and the US (30%). Cheap Chinese panels triggered a rapid global transition to renewables. As technology costs continue to drop, ‘reluctant’, Indonesian government has also become more supportive and conditions for investors there ‘are better now, than ever before’.

Solar connect: Uninterrupted power supply to 41 schools in Kerala

Kerala will provide non-stop solar power to 41 government/aided schools at the cost of Rs. 80,000 per 2kW unit to be met through MLA, MP, PTA funds, the rest of the expense would be borne by Agency for non-conventional energy and rural technology (ANERT).

100% cheap renewable energy for the world

Clean and healthy, Stanford study says the world can have un-interrupted 100% renewable energy for cheap, if we get to work. Stanford engineers have developed a new method of keeping the lights on by proposing three separate ways if the world transitions all its energy to 100 percent wind, water and sunlight.

ArcelorMIttal to set up 600 MW solar farm in Karnataka

Steel giant ArcelorMittal is planning to set up a 600 MW solar farm on land in Karnataka originally allotted to it for $6.5 billion steel plant. Last month ArcelorMittal took over Exosun, a French company that makes trackers for solar farms that allow solar panels to follow the sun’s path.


#Electric Mobility

'Skepticism' amid India's EV U-turn, EESL orders another 10,000 EVs, China's colossal EV 'disruption'

Government’s latest U-turn of no EV policy, but only action plan, have added to skepticism about EV growth in India. But state-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) plans to order 10,000 more EVs. There’s more demand from states: Andhra Pradesh wants 10,000 EVs, Gujarat 4,000, Maharashtra 2,000. Two 10,000 EV tenders in less than a year, is good e-mobility for some.

But EV lobby group Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) is looking for clarity. SMEV (Hero Electric, Okinawa Scooters, Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors) want special tax structure for EVs to continue. Transport minister expects electric mobility in full force in another decade.

Automakers’ lobby ‘can’t escape EV megatrend’

Experts say Indian automakers’ lobby, blocking EVs, risk disruption by Chinese EVs. Like solar, China is investing massively in EVs and battery storage, setting a ‘megatrend’. Experts say India should strategically use it to its advantage.

Charging points for electric vehicles at railway stations soon

Meanwhile, the Railways plans to provide EV charging stations at its parking lots. To begin with, fast-charging DC points capable of charging 10 cars simultaneously in the parking lots of New Delhi and Nizamuddin stations. The Railways is also phasing out diesel engines with electric locos and promoting solar and wind energy gradually.

$1 billion to create battery swap ecosystem

Lithion Power, a Delhi-based EV battery service plans to invest around $1billion in swapping stations. Currently, it operates 5 swapping stations – where users can swap their close-to-discharge batteries for a fully-charged one -strictly focused on public transport electric vehicles. A daily charge costs between Rs 75-300. One battery runs an average 70-100 km.

Mahindra & Mahindra to invest Rs 900 crore more into e-vehicles

The Mahindra Group plans to invest Rs 900 crore in EVs over the next four years, which should ramp up its first installed capacity to 5,000 units a month.

2025 ‘turning point’ for electric cars

Electric cars will remain more expensive than petrol or diesel cars until 2025 predicts Nissan’s most senior executives Daniele Schillaci. 2025 will be the turning point where the cost of EV and internal combustion engine, will be the same. Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi will launch 12 new electric models by 2022. Meanwhile, Porsche, Audi will develop joint electric car platform to save costs.


#Fossil Fuels

COAL & OIL: CIL foresees no new coal mines till 2030, India to share excess power with neighbours, big banks still backing fossil fuels

Coal India Ltd. (CIL)’s 2030 Coal Report is of the opinion that India will not need “any new coal mines till 2030” as aggressive capacity addition for renewables increasingly adds to baseload power capacity, supplemented by rapidly falling costs of energy storage. The conclusion is expected to hold true even as the country’s estimated 300 billion tonnes of coal reserves will be opened up to commercial exploitation by private firms to feed India’s temporary spurt in coal consumption.

Coal’s economic competitiveness against RE is also likely to decline in the long term under stricter emission norms for new thermal power plants, complying with which will raise thermal power tariffs.

India to supply excess power to neighboring countries

Power Minister R.K. Singh has said – in an apparent lifeline to ailing assets – that India was keen to supply its excess power to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, which are currently at a power deficit. Most of the export will be from India’s thermal power plants – operating at below 60% PLFs – to strengthen their PLFs to about 80%.

Major banks and insurers still financing fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a €1.5bn loan for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – a €3.5bn project to pipe natural gas from Azerbaijan to southern Italy. TAP will also be financed by World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), even as environmentalists call it a squandered opportunity to move Europe away from fossil fuel dependence. Poland’s upcoming 10GW of thermal power plants – to be powered by heavily polluting lignite – have likewise been underwritten by Allianz, Generali and Munich Re.

More worryingly, the world’s biggest lenders have financed $600bn worth of coal power projectsworldwide – from 2014 to Sep 2017. Fossil fuel projects worth $23bn are earmarked for financingby the G20 countries alone, particularly China, Japan and South Korea. Singapore’s DBS bank, OCBC and UOB are also financing coal projects in Vietnam and Indonesia, disregarding even the most basic due diligence protocols under the Equator Principles.

US shale oil to dominate global oil supply

Drilling for shale oil is at an all time high in the US – production having spiked by 1.3 million bpd over 2017 – as the Trump administration looks to cash in surging oil demand in India and China. OPEC countries – particularly Saudi Arabia – and Russia, however fear that cheap US shale oil output – projected to top 12 million bpd by 2019 – may flood the global market with more oil than there is demand for, which would eat into their profits and OPEC’s iron grip over global oil dominance.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is dragging Big Oil to court over its role in climate catastrophes, and Norway’s decision to allow drilling in the Arctic has again been challenged.