Newsletter.March 21, 2018

#Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE: WB warns of 'massive migration' in S Asia, Water shortage to hit 5 bn by 2050, China's "Polar Silk Route", Vietnam's resilient coastal housing

Climate change to cause mass movement, World Bank warns

The World Bank has warned that climate change will trigger a massive wave of migration in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America between now and 2050, creating “hotspots” of tens of millions of people. Over 140 million people are likely to be internally displaced. In sub-Saharan Africa: 86 million; in south Asia: 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million. This might cause “enormous disruptions”. The countries could prevent it by accelerating CO2 cuts, incorporating policy on climate change migration, and investing in data and analysis for use in planning development, WB said.

UN report: Water shortage to hit 5bn people by 2050

A UN report on the state of global water says, over 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. The study warns of “civilisational threats” unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, wetlands and reservoirs. The World Water Development Report projected demand for water to rise fastest in developing countries. Meanwhile, climate change will put an added stress on supplies because it will make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier.

Trump govt. fails to file climate report, sued

A US climate group has sued Trump administration over failing to release records that could explain why the government didn’t file climate action report required under Paris accord. US, like others, is obligated to submit a report every two years on emissions cut to keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Trump plans to quit Paris deal but the process will take at least three years, until then US remains party to the deal.

USA’s ‘first climate science skeptic’ Secy of State

Trump’s new pick for Secy of State, Mike Pompeo, is one of the biggest global warming deniers, also referred by climate activists as the “lap dog” of Koch Brothers _the energy giants had donated him over $375,500 in campaign funds. Koch industries have spent millions of dollars to kill climate change regulation. Pompeo’s appointment has made autonomous climate action by US cities, states, and businesses even more urgent.

Climate resilience & Vietnamese coastal housing

Vietnam’s typhoon-hit families will receive free storm-proof houses, which can “help pull them out of poverty” the UN said. Vietnam is one of 10 countries most affected by climate change, according to the latest annual Climate Risk Index published by the research organisation Germanwatch. UNDP plans to build 300 houses by the end of this year, out of a total of 4,000 by 2022.

China’s Arctic ship & “Polar Silk Road”

As part of its “Belt and Road” initiative, China has begun building its first polar expedition cruise ship, as global warming opens up shipping lanes in the Arctic. Construction of the 104.4-meter vessel, was expected to be completed by August 2019. China released its first official Arctic policy white paper in January, “to encourage companies to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages” with the goal of building a “Polar Silk Road”.


#Electric Mobility

India's EV roadmap 'confusion' in top gear, EV sales doubled in 2017, users looking for electric cars, 'not chargers', EVs on fossil fuel power 'do not pollute more'

EV roadmap: Conundrum continues

State think tank Niti Aayog’s Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said “India needs EV policy, a lot has been done, cabinet note has been prepared”. This, days after government scaled down EV target from 100% to 30%, and had earlier simply refused to have an EV policy. Kumar said EV policy is a must to deliver a “brand new transport model”. Ministries and markets can’t be “working in silos”, he said. The road-map “confusion” apart, government wants industry to set up battery manufacturing units and charging stations, while state aggregates demand for EVs.

India EV market ‘doubled in 2017’, to grow more

Meanwhile, India’s EV market ‘doubled’ in 2017 (2,000 electric cars sold). Sales are set to increase this year as government and fleet operators are expected to place large orders and electric bus market grows rapidly. Big players such as Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and BYD have plans to launch EVs in India.

Myth buster: lack of cars, ‘not infrastructure’, blocking EV sales

New analysis shows EU consumers are buying less EVs (1.4% sales in 2017) because there aren’t enough electric cars in the market, not because of lack of chargers. There are enough chargers until 2020, the study says. The European average also points to hugely underserved areas, like India, where more aggressive electromobility is the need of the hour.

Myth buster: EVs charged on fossil fuel do not pollute more

Latest research has busted the myth that EVs that run on fossil fuel electricity are more polluting. The study reveals that electric vehicles, in any energy mix (oil well, coal train, lithium etc.), emit less CO2 than diesel/petrol/gas vehicles. However, if EVs use renewable power they will be emission-free in the real sense, else they are not entirely emissions-free. According to Bloomberg data China, whose EV market accounts for 40% of all sales globally, drives the most emissions-intensive electric cars. The majority of China’s electricity comes from coal.

Ikea’s first India store to have 20% EV fleet

Furniture giant Ikea will launch its first India store in Hyderabad with 20% of delivery vehicles comprising EVs, which will rise to 40% in 2019 and 60% in 2020. The Swedish firm will build chargers at its Hyderabad store.

Volkswagen’s global EV venture snubs India

World’s second largest carmaker VW is set to expand EV production to 16 countries by 2022. The 20 billion euro plan includes partnerships with battery manufacturers in Europe and China, 3 new EV models in 2018, and an EV “every month” from 2019. But for India, VW says it is “too early” to launch EVs as the country lacks technology and imposes import duties.

Delta chargers for India, China’s Swedish EV venture

Taiwan-based Delta Electronics will invest over $150 million to develop chargers across India, in parking lots, highways, residential and commercial buildings. Delta launched its fourth manufacturing unit in Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, China’s GSR Capital is investing $500 million in Swedish EV manufacturing firm NEVS. GSR will make EV batteries on NEVS premises in Trollhättan, Sweden.

Biggest Battery: Metal Tycoon to beat Musk, coal lobby looms

Sanjeev Gupta (Simec Zen, UK’s GFG Alliance) is set to snatch the world’s biggest battery title from Elon Musk (Tesla) with his 120 MW lithium ion battery at Port Augusta, in South Australia. The proposed battery exceeds Musk’s 100-megawatt unit in the same state. The British billionaire hopes to provide grid stability to the region that is run on clean renewable power, now under threat of coal-backing new Liberal party government.

Panasonic India: Profiting on Lithium-ion batteries

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic is upbeat over its lithium-ion storage business in India. The firm’s energy systems head says the batteries have reduced the polluting diesel generators to emergency backups. Panasonic supplies lithium-ion batteries to 40,000 telecom towers in the country. Their actual requirement is very brief_ during power cuts.

Electric carmakers in ‘rare’ roadblock?

A recent study has warned EV manufacturers against a battery roadblock, saying that supply of required rare materials (lithium, nickel, cobalt) will dry up. “By 2025, the economics of recycling is likely to improve as used batteries become more commonplace and second-hand batteries take root,” researchers said.


#Air Pollution

AIR POLLUTION: Cut CO2 sooner, 'save 153 million lives', Delhi air 'not safe to inhale yet', Centre's clean air plan 'lacks transparency', lung cancer rises among non-smokers

Cutting CO2 sooner, ‘could save 153 million lives’

A new study says around 153 million premature deaths linked to air pollution could be avoided globally if governments curb fossil fuel emissions sooner, than their present targets. The research shows estimated lives saved per city if countries reduced CO2 emissions and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees sooner than later. Kolkata (4.4 million saved) and Delhi (4 million saved) top the list of beneficiaries from accelerated emissions cuts.

Delhi’s toxic air ‘not safe yet’

CSE’s air pollution report card on Delhi and its surrounding region shows first signs of improvement. “But it is not safe to breathe yet” it adds. The environment group says people must not lose momentum in the fight for clean air. Delhi NCR air is so polluted and toxic, that all efforts have reduced pollution from the severe-severe plus category to poor, very poor category, which is still hazardous.

Centre’s clean air plan ‘lacks transparency’

Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to tackle air pollution lacks transparency, Greenpeace has alleged. The climate group that accessed the NCAP’s concept document through an RTI said the draft plan has no clear interim milestones. Greenpeace study has revealed that over 80% cities in India where air quality is monitored are severely polluted and it impacts 47 million children. Also, 580 million people in India do not even have a single air quality monitoring station in the districts they are living.

Studies: Air pollution ‘causing lung cancer’ among non-smokers

Studies have revealed that lung cancer is on the rise in India, and it is linked with air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, and not smoking. “The number of non-smokers with lung cancer is going up by 30 to 40%…what is glaring is air pollution,” says Dr Shyam Aggarwal, chairperson of the Department of Medical Oncology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi. Data from the major cancer treatment centers across the country suggest a clear link, although there is no nationwide data yet to confirm this increased incidence.

Old commercial vehicles’ scrapping date: 2020

Centre’s mandatory policy to scrap commercial vehicles that are 20 years old, to curb air pollution, will come into effect by 2020. Govt plans to give tax concession on new commercial vehicles bought against a scrapped one. According to a study based on CPCB emission norms, there are 700,000 trucks, buses and taxis manufactured before December 31, 2000 that contribute to 15-20% of vehicular pollution.


#Renewables

RENEWABLES: House panel says no to proposed 70% solar import duty, India ranks 78 in energy transition index, KUSUM Farmers to 'run solar plants', Good radiations from Chernobyl

The proposed 70% safeguard duty on solar imports will not be implemented retrospectively, and developers will be allowed to increase the tariffs based on the rates they bagged the projects on. A Parliamentary panel has said no to ‘safeguard duty’ and recommended to scrap the current 7.5% customs duty, saying they are unviable and dampen investor sentiment. The 70% ‘safeguard duty’ was requested by a group of domestic manufacturers, including Adani.

Energy transition: India at 78 on list of 114

India figured at a low 78 (Brazil-38, China-76) of 114 countries on the World Economic Forum index, with costly and polluting fossil fuels driving most of its energy needs. The report said, many Indians still lack access to electricity and clean cooking fuel. Between 2013 and 2018, India improved by 5.6% points.

PM: Can we develop more efficient solar modules?

PM Modi has asked Indian scientists to “extend research from labs to the land” and develop more efficient solar panels. “Current efficiency of solar modules is 17-18%. Can India produce more efficient modules at the same cost?” he asked. The government has set a target of 100 GW of installed solar power by 2022

KUSUM: Farmers to run grid-connected solar projects

The government is formulating a scheme for farmers – KUSUM – that aims to install grid-connected 2MW solar plants each in barren farm lands. With a plan to decentralize over 28,000MW of solar power production over 5 years, KUSUM expects farmers to sell the surplus power to the grid (discoms), be free of power subsidy, and help states meet renewable targets.

Macron launches UP’s biggest 75MW solar plant

On Solar Alliance inaugural visit French President Macron launched UP’s biggest, 75MW, over Rs 500 crore solar plant in Mirzapur. The solar plant, set up through transparent bidding by French firm ENGIE, will generate power at Rs 4.43 /unit for 25 years. India backs it with viability gap fund of Rs 74.25 lakh per MW. With 75 MW, UP’s solar capacity has gone up to 165 MW.

S Africa court blocks 27 renewable deals, over coal job-loss plea

A South African court blocked 27 renewable deals, worth $4.7 billion, including 3 of Norway firm Scatec Solar, on the plea by ousted President Jacob Zuma loyalists. In a blow to current president Ramaphosa, National Union of Metalworkers and Transform RSA want the court to scrap the deals citing coal industry job losses.

India’s $1 billion solar credit line for Africa

India extended blanket Line of Credit worth $1 billion in Africa at the recently held International Solar Alliance. Credit for 23 solar projects in 13 African countries included French speaking Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Togo, Guinea, besides Democratic Republic Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Seychelles, Tanzania and Rwanda. India aims to produce solar panels cheaper than those made in China, for these projects.

Mahindra completes 250 MW MP solar project

Mahindra Renewables completed its 250 Megawatt (MW) solar project in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. Expected to start by December 2018, the project is part of the 750 Mw Rewa solar park. Mahindra raised Rs 750 crore from Yes Bank, and Rs 200 crores from other institutions. 78% of over 525 million units of electricity will be sold to MP discoms, rest 22% to Delhi Metro.

Healthy and green: Chernobyl’s solar radiation

The 1986 site of world’s worst nuclear disaster, now holds around 4,000 solar panels spread over concrete grave of radioactive waste. Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant today promises to deliver safe sun power as substitute to the erratic Russian gas and coal supplies. Ukraine boasts 1.2 GW of solar power by the end of 2017. It now aims to lure companies to generate another 1.2 gigawatts of solar energy on the site of the devastation, enough to power 200,000 homes.


#Fossil Fuels

FOSSIL FUELS: RBI's directive may spell doom for stressed assets, BP's plea for urgent carbon pricing policy, India blocks important shipping emissions reduction target

RBI’s scathing new regulations may spell nightmares for stressed assets owners

The RBI’s new regulations on stressed assets have scrapped all loan restructuring initiatives last month for the country’s 50GW worth of stressed assets (that are coal-fired). This could spell deep trouble for their owners as the power plants are already reeling under the lack of adequate power offtake arrangements (PPAs) with DISCOMS – and therefore declining PLFs – and precariously low coal supplies.

India’s power minister has also directed the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) – two of India’s largest power financiers – to stop doling out loans to DISCOMS with aggregate T&D losses above 15%. The two directives may snowball into DISCOMS, the stressed assets and Coal India Ltd. (CIL) blaming each other for non-compliance on contracts, further exacerbating the stressed assets conundrum.

BP bullish about coal’s future in India

Meanwhile, British Petroleum (BP) has stressed in its 2018 Energy Outlook report that coal will continue to be a central part of India’s energy mix in 2040, although its share is expected to fall from about 75% today to 66%. The statement comes despite the oil giant’s support for subsidizing renewables, its acknowledgement that the share of renewables will only strengthen from here on, and its suggestion for carbon pricing as an urgent policy intervention to cap global emissions.

Zimbabwe’s coal output to quadruple in 2018

Possibly keen to capitalize on renewed international demand for coal, Zimbabwe’s coal output is set to quadruple – from 2 million tonnes in 2017 to over 8 million tonnes this year – with help from nearly $300mn in investments from the world’s largest coal miners. The African nation is, however, also courting investments to develop its solar potential and its (fifth largest in the world) lithium deposits.

Czech tycoon bets against RE’s lack of baseload supply capacity

Eager to exploit the yet undeveloped capacity for solar and wind energy to supply baseload power in Europe, Czech billionaire Pavel Tykac is aiming to buy and operate old, carbon emissions heavy coal and natural gas plants across UK, Germany and Italy. The situation may persist for several years, especially on the back of Germany’s yet significant reliance on thermal power and its plan to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Sharp rebukes to new US EPA and Dept. of Energy proposals

Environmentalists have severely criticized the US EPA’s proposal to weaken coal ash pond regulations – which would allow toxic chemicals and heavy metals from coal ash to leach into the groundwater and potentially wreak havoc on the health of nearby communities – including aggravating incidences of lung, bladder and skin cancers.

Also, the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) is reportedly exploring setting up smaller thermal power plants – about 200MW in capacity – that can be ramped up much faster than larger plants and counter gird fluctuations from the increasing share of renewables. However, even certain coal dependent utility executives are unconvinced of the new plants’ economic viability against falling RE and natural gas tariffs.

Arnold Schwarzenegger to sue Big Oil over “first degree murder”

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to sue Big Oil over failing to act on their knowledge of the adverse impacts of burning fossil fuels for decades (including climate change), saying that it “knowingly killed people all over the world”.

Schwarzenegger likened Big Oil’s silence (such as by Exxon) to the tobacco industry’s deliberate ignorance of the potentially lethal consequences of smoking, and his lawsuit will follow legal challenges filed by The Philippines and several US cities against the oil and gas giants’ roles in accelerating climate change.

India blocks important emissions reduction target for international shipping

India – along with Argentina, Brazil and Saudi Arabia – has bizzarely blocked provisions for significant emissions reduction from international shipping by 2050, which were to be instituted at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meet in London next month.

The four countries have also replaced the proposed target of zero emissions shipping by 2075 with a vague, extended window of “no later than in the second half of the century”. The move appears to be regressive in terms of global emissions reduction, particularly when major sea-faring nations like Norway are already leading the way to emissions free shipping.