NGT: No environmental clearance to polluting power plants
The National Green Tribunal has directed the MoEFCC to withhold the issuing of any environmental clearance to existing and proposed thermal power plants until their emissions and water consumption meet the new standards notified in 2015.
Thermal power developers had sought an extension to the now-lapsed December 7 (2017) deadline to comply with the new standards, citing the very high costs of retrofitting power plants to curtail their emissions, which they said would inevitably lead to an increase of up to Rs. 0.93/unit in power tariffs for end consumers.
CIL hikes price for non-coking coal, may affect power tariffs soon
Coal India Ltd. (CIL) has raised the price of non-coking coal by 15-18%, and experts suggest this could raise thermal power tariffs by 2-4%, which the developers will be forced to pass on to end consumers to continue on their UDAY assisted path to financial recovery.
While the price revision will help CIL earn more than Rs. 6,000 crore in additional revenue for 2018, it further complicates matters for thermal power developers, who – apart from losing demand to renewables – also have to operate under an unhealthy and largely stagnant average Plant Load Factor (PLF) of under 60%, even though electricity demand in India for April – December 2017 rose by 5.8%.
UP govt: Industries can choose DISCOM(S) of their choice
In a bid to ease the use of the ‘open access system’, the Uttar Pradesh government is set to allow industries to purchase power from DISCOMS of their choice. The move could attract more investors to the power hungry state, but also set off competition between UP’s DISCOMS to attract customers. The move is a step under a previous announcement to amend the Electricity Act (2003), aimed to open up power supply options for industrial customers.
Ministry of Steel requests waiver on coking coal import duties
The Ministry of Steel (MoS) has requested that the 2.5% import duty on coking coal be completely waived off in the upcoming budget for 2018-19 to help the industry boost its output. It has also asked for zero import duties in steel scraps (which are recycled into steel).
Since India imports coking coal to compensate for its poor (heavy ash content) domestic supplies, the Centre is aiming to reduce import bills, and MoS is reportedly in talks with the coal ministry to set up washeries to improve the quality of Indian coking coal.
CIL wary of private coal miners
With private players slated to be granted access to commercial coal fields , CIL chairman Gopal Singh has reportedly asked the miner’s employees to be polite and respectful to villagers from whose lands they extract coal, possibly as a pre-emptive measure to shield CIL from any further complications other than the one it may face due to the private firms’ lower mining costs.
While CIL is targeting increasing its output to 600MT for 2017-18, Gopal Singh will be keenly aware of the importance of maintaining or even boosting CIL’s public image in the face of competition from private coal suppliers, who may win over customers (state and captive thermal power plants) by selling them coal at prices lower than what CIL can offer.
Poland keen on commercial coal mining in India
Possibly under pressure from the EU’s shrinking coal market, Polish coal firms are reported to be keen on exploring commercial coal mining in India – under “the right conditions” – to power Poland’s coal fired electricity generation capacity, which accounts for over 80% of the country’s power needs.
Granting such permits may however be in direct contradiction to India’s commitment to restricting global warming. It may also increase pollution from coal dust at new mining sites, an issue which has already prompted the Goa State Pollution Control Board to stop coal handling at Mormugao Port.
Poor growth for US coal jobs despite Trump’s push
Despite president Trump’s campaign to revive the US coal industry – his administration is rolling back environmental regulations to prop up US’ thermal power plants – statistics reveal very poor net job creation (only 771 jobs added for 2017).
The US’s coal decline is largely attributed to the proliferation of natural gas – and not renewables – which although not emissions free, is cheaper to extract.
Norway seals off Lofoten against drilling till 2021
The Norwegian government will exclude the country’s Arctic regions of Lofoten, Versteraalen and Senja from oil exploration activities at least till 2021, which is when its next parliamentary elections are due.
The pristine regions – Lofoten is referred to as Norway’s Amazon and Great Barrier Reef – are home to an abundance of cod, cold water reefs and other sea life, besides being estimated to hold nearly 1.3 billion barrels of oil, worth over approximately $65billion.