Colossal waste: $33 billion worth of coal plants planned for India are already being called superfluous, especially in the face of cheaper, more flexible solar and battery storage | Photo:

27 GW of planned coal plants in India would be superfluous despite $33 billion in investments

A new report by think-tanks Ember and Climate Risk Horizons found that 27 GW of pre-permit and permitted coal plants across India would be unnecessary and “superfluous” as the country’s 33 GW of under-construction coal plants would be enough for its power needs beyond 2030. The report terms the pre-construction plants as “zombie” capacities as they would have to operate at well below optimal load factors, or lie idle, despite the $33 billion (~Rs. 247,421 crore) in investments needed to bring them online. Of this, the Adani Group and Bajaj Group have proposed to invest Rs26,286 crore and Rs17,998 crore in new coal capacities, respectively. 

The report instead suggested that the financing be used to grow India’s renewable energy and battery storage capacities, which together could meet even peak power demands at a rate cheaper than building new coal plants, and would make the grid more flexible and resilient to changes in load profiles. 

India: Automakers asked to offer flex-fuel engines within 6 months 

The Indian minister for road transport announced that it would be mandatory for automakers in the country to launch flex-fuel vehicles (capable of running on 100% bio-ethanol) within the next six months. The move is aimed to lessen India’s dependence on oil imports and to make vehicle ownership less expensive as the price of petrol has exceeded Rs100/litre, while bio-ethanol blended fuel retails for around Rs65/litre. 

At the same time, India’s production of the fuel would have to more than double from the current rate of 465 crore litres per year to at least 1,000. The government, however, will approve 450 new bio-ethanol plants and petrol stations across the country will be equipped to retail blended fuels or 100% bio-ethanol within 10 years — with the aim of eventually selling only pure bio-ethanol (E100). 

UK firm replaces natural gas with hydrogen for world’s first carbon-free sheet glass

UK glassmaker Pilkington made history by manufacturing the world’s first carbon-free sheet glass, for which it replaced the traditionally used natural gas with hydrogen at its factory in St. Helens. The trial project is part of the larger HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching Project and demonstrates the safety of using hydrogen for such industrial applications. The development also follows the first-ever shipment of carbon-free steel — also made with hydrogen — by HYBRIT in Sweden.

BMW to lower carbon emissions of its vehicles by 40% by 2030 

One of the largest luxury automakers in the world, BMW, announced that it would reduce the life cycle carbon emissions of its cars by at least 40% over 2019 levels by 2030. The announcement was made before the IAA Mobility Conference and it would see BMW increase the use of recycled and reusable materials in its cars from 30% (at present) to 50%, target at least 50% sales from EVs by 2030 and at least halve the per kilometre CO2 emissions from its cars by the end of the decade. The targets could significantly affect BMW’s carbon footprint — and spur competition amongst its rivals — as the group sold nearly 1.4 million cars in the first half of 2021 alone. 

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