Climate champion India ramps up funding for coal-bed methane

Newsletter - July 10, 2019

It gets darker: Increased funding for coal-bed methane could be cold comfort for India’s future energy strategy | Image: StudentEnergy

Big Story: Climate champion India ramps up funding for coal-bed methane

The Indian government has walked the tightrope when it comes to the future of India’s energy sector – projecting the country as a global leader in renewables, while simultaneously seeking to expand thermal power capacity and delaying environmental safety norms for power plants. Now, however, distress across India’s power sector and poor investor confidence is forcing the government to prioritise and the 2019 Union Budget is the clearest sign yet that India’s bet is on coal and coal-bed methane (CBM).

Renewable industry expectations, buoyed by the $330 billion pitch in the Economic Survey 2018-19, remained unmet by the budget. While there was no mention of any stimulus package to spur growth, allocations towards expansion of renewables were increased by a paltry 2.1% — from Rs5,146.63 crore to Rs5,254.83 crore. 

In sharp contrast, allocations to the Ministry of Coal have increased by over 48% compared to last year. Interestingly, the biggest increases have been towards exploration of coal and lignite — a monumental increase of nearly 500% — from Rs 159.28 crore in 2017 to Rs 937 crore this year. What’s worrying is that despite the increases, outlays for conservation, safety and infrastructure development in coal mines have fallen by about 30%. Ostensibly, the increase in outlays is to facilitate exploration of CBM for India’s future energy needs. The country reportedly has CBM reserves of up to 948 billion cubic meters and since the rules were relaxed last year, several joint ventures are reportedly in the pipeline for CBM, including some global partnerships. Yet, methane itself is a devastating greenhouse gas, and India’s forays into the fuel have previously been questioned by none other than the chairman of the State Bank of India. Given its coal plant stranded assets and India’s NDCs, this new step could get murky.

Climate Science

Tragic loss: Torrential rain and a flooded river breached this dam in Tivare, Maharashtra and claimed 14 lives | Image: IndiaYahooFinance

Monsoon 2019: Maharashtra goes under, but India still records rain deficit

Mumbai began the month of July by once again coming to a screeching halt amidst torrential rain. The city has already received almost half of the season’s rain – 1,043.1mm recorded so far, while normal seasonal rainfall is 2,272.2mm. Reports of wall collapses in the city and its surrounding areas have killed at least 30 people so far. Tragedy also struck on the Konkan coast after a dam breached last Tuesday night in Ratnagiri district’s Tivare village, killing at least 14 people with several still missing.

The rest of the country is still playing catch up as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported India received 6% less rainfall than the 50-year average in the week ended on July 3. A July deficit would mean disaster as historically, less rainfall in this month is associated with an overall deficit monsoon and severe droughts. The big picture: In India, dormant monsoons interspersed with extreme rainfall events may have just become a trend.   

Europe hits record temperatures, human-induced climate change worsening every heatwave 

Europe is currently in the grips of an intense heatwave. The continent recorded its highest temperature ever – 45.9°C in Gallargues-le-Montueux in southern France, which is 1.8°C higher than the previous record from 2003. While the UN said it was too soon to attribute the heatwave to climate change, it added that the rise in temperature is “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. 

A separate study, however, didn’t mince any words while stating the record-breaking heatwave was made at least five – and possibly 100 – times more likely by climate change. The increased demand for air-conditioners in Europe may also start a vicious global warming cycle as most of the energy is likely to come from fossil fuels.  But the immediate impact is also dangerous:  The World Wildlife Fund has warned of the risks from new faster-spreading wildfires primarily due to the heatwaves and droughts across Europe.

India’s water shortage may cut its food exports

Acute water shortage in India is likely to hit its food exports, the country’s water resources minister warned last week. The impact would largely be borne by the 12 million tonnes of rice that the country exports annually because it is a water intensive crop. According to experts, Indian farmers need approximately 4,000-5,000 litres of water to grow one kilo of rice. But the below-average monsoon season in 2018, which hasn’t improved this year, is only going to worsen the situation, experts said.  

Congo rainforest experiencing longer dry season

A long-term drying trend over the Congo basin could have an adverse impact on the world’s second-largest rainforest. A study published in Nature Climate Change determined that the length of the boreal summer (June to August) has increased — 6.4 to 10.4 days per decade from 1988 to 2013 – which could affect the tropical rainforest’s photosynthesis and productivity.

On a larger scale, a longer summer could also accelerate global warming as the rainforest also serves as a carbon sink, the study’s researchers said. The study is even more relevant as observations on Congo’s climate have been largely limited, with most studies focused on the much larger Amazon forest, where a longer dry season has also been observed.   

Training AI proving costly to the environment

While Artificial Intelligence is making life easier for humans, its impact on the environment is also significant. According to a study, a common AI training model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide – five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car. The study focused on the process of natural-language processing (NLP), which is a subfield of AI that works on making machines understand human language. Training the machines requires huge data sets from the Internet – which means using a lot of computer power and as a result copious amounts of energy.

Plane’s contrails worse for climate than its emissions, says study

While most of the world’s climate change experts are focused on the carbon footprint left behind by airplanes, a new study states it’s the contrails that the plane leaves that are more of a concern. Contrails, which are cirrus clouds that form when the moisture in the jet engine exhaust freezes into ice crystals, lead to more climate warming than the carbon in the exhaust, the study opines. This effect, which is called Contrail Cirrus Radiative Forcing, is set to increase by a factor of three by 2050, according to the study. 

Urbanisation pushing temperature up in eastern India: Study

A study, which took a closer look at climate change in often-forgotten eastern India, made a startling revelation – warming induced by changes in land use and land cover is making the region hotter. The study by IITs at Bhubaneswar and Kharagpur, and Southampton University found that over three decades (1981-2010), Odisha’s mean temperature rose by 0.3°C, with larger cities such as Cuttack and Bhubaneswar experiencing a greater rise than smaller ones – thereby pointing to the effect urbanisation and deforestation were having on the climate.  

Climate Policy

Soon in the history books: India is staring at an acute freshwater crisis, yet there was no mention of drought in the union budget | Image: IndianExpress

Economic survey warns of water insecurity, but Union budget skips mention of drought, allocates little for agriculture

Taking a serious view of prevailing water scarcity and widespread droughts in the country, India’s Economic Survey 2018-19, released on the eve of the Union Budget 2019, stressed on the need to improve “irrigation water productivity”. However, neither did finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s mention drought in her budget speech, nor do budget outlays reflect much cognisance of the situation. While the budget prioritises piped drinking water to all by 2024, outlays for irrigation remains a minuscule Rs 7,615.56 cr, which is a composite Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) irrigation budget, split between the ministry of water resources (Rs 4,115.56 crore) and ministry of Agriculture (Rs 3,500).

For experts, such little allocation for agriculture is a worrying signal. With India’s agricultural growth at a five-year low, farmers are already feeling stuck performing a non-remunerative job. The Union Budget has left them even more disappointed. Farmers say while this budget professes fertilizer-free zero-budget farming, there are no markets for their produce. The budget grants a tiny Rs25 crore more for traditional farming, but the allocation for chemical fertilizers is upped by Rs9,990 crore. The budget does not provide much for rain-fed area development and climate change (Rs 250 cr), or for meeting government’s own goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.

ILO study says India to lose 34 million jobs by 2030 to heat stress

Reduced productivity because of climate-change related heat stress will cause India a loss of 34 million jobs by 2030, according to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) study. Globally, this will  result in a loss of 80 million jobs, researchers said. The ILO estimate is based on a conservative scenario of a 1.5°C rise in global temperatures by 2100. However, as per the existing policy, such a massive impact on labour force may not be officially considered a disastrous loss, since India doesn’t yet categorise the phenomenon of heat waves as a natural disaster

India: 316 Of 651 protected sites currently under final ESZ notification

After much delay, the government of India has so far finalised only 316 of 641 protected areas as Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs). As of June 25, a further 199 sites were reported as being under draft notifications by minister of state for environment Babul Supriyo while answering a question in the Lok Sabha. The ESZ notification prohibits mining, stone quarrying and crushing units located within one kilometre of such areas. A 100 of these ESZs, are in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Environmentalists have long said that the areas notified as environmentally sensitive are quite less and won’t really help protect the ecology to the extent it is needed. 

China pledges to upgrade climate action “to highest possible ambition”, sings different tune on dirty investments abroad

In its first public declaration, the world’s largest emitter of warming greenhouse gases, China, has pledged to upgrade its Paris accord climate action to the “highest possible ambition” and promised to release a long-term decarbonisation plan in 2020. The announcement came on the sidelines of the G20, where the US reiterated plans to quit the Paris deal, arguing it “disadvantages American workers”.

Meanwhile, China has continued to finance coal abroad even if it means threatening world heritage sites. This week at a meeting of the UNESCO world heritage committee, the country blocked a motion to declare the Sundarbans as a heritage site “in danger”. The Asian giant was also successful in scrubbing the draft document of any mention of Chinese-financed coal plants Taltala and Kalpara, as well as the India-backed Rampal coal plant, that are being set up in the vicinity of the Sundarbans mangroves, a world heritage site since 1997.

In major win for Kenya archipelago, court blocks $2 billion Chinese-financed coal plant

In Kenya, the ‘UNESCO world heritage site’ tag was used to great effect by environmental activists who successfully petitioned Kenya’s green court to block the construction of a $2-billion Chinese-financed coal plant at the pristine Lamu archipelago- home to rich marine life. Activists cheered the court’s decision and told the media there was no place for coal in Kenya, and renewable energy is the only way to go. Greenpeace says emissions from the 981-megawatt plant would increase air pollution and cause acid rain, while the waste from the plant would threaten marine life and coral reefs.

Bonn impasse: Saudis mute 1.5°C from UN talks for good, Brazil insists to cash dated carbon credits

The latest UN climate talks ended in Bonn, with the US and Saudi Arabia managing to remove the key 1.5°C IPCC science report from the UN talks, questioning the findings of the global scientific community behind closed doors. Another unresolved issue was that of dated carbon credits. The Arab Group, India, and Brazil called for all existing credits (estimated to be between 2.3 to 5.4 billion) to be carried forward beyond 2020. Brazil, India, China and South Korea hold most of these credits.

Britain’s new net-zero emissions target becomes law

The UK passed the law to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, becoming the first major economy to set such a target. This means massive changes, including phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2035, a 20% cut in consumption of red meat and more renewable electricity. Campaigners said the new target deadline should have been 2025, Reuters reported. The current government has also made climate protection the focus of overseas aid, with a planned expense of £193 million.

Climate change threatens basic Right to Life, UN expert warns of “Climate apartheid”

Global warming may not only undermine democracy and the rule of law, but also basic Right to Life, says a new study by UN special rapporteur Philip Alston. The study criticises the UN, for not making the climate crisis a central issue and warns of an impending ‘climate apertheid’ indicating that climate change could lead to systematic forms of discrimination and oppression. It points out that the most recent Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution on the climate crisis did not recognise “the need for the deep social and economic transformation …urgent if climate catastrophe is to be averted.” The report said developing countries will bear 75% of the costs, despite causing just 10% of carbon dioxide emissions. “The risk of community discontent …will likely stimulate nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses,” the report warned.

1,300 cases, 20 years, 28 countries: Govts and firms sued over climate crisis and lost, says report

Governments and businesses worldwide will be increasingly dragged to court in climate crisis cases says a new London School of Economic study. Over 1,300 climate change court cases have been brought across 28 countries in the past 20 years, the study says. Maximum cases (1,023) have been in the US followed by Australia (94 cases), and the UK (53). The study cites a landmark Pakistan case that recognised the right to challenge climate inaction on the basis of human rights. The 2015 case resulted in setting up of a climate change commission in the country after a farmer alleged that his leaders had failed to ensure water, food and energy security, which are threatened by climate change. 

Chubb becomes first US insurer to turn back on coal investments

Acknowledging the reality of climate crisis, the US insurance company Chubb has decided to phase out its coal investments and insurance policies by 2022. The first US insurer to dump coal, Chubb won’t sell new insurance policies to companies that build or operate coal power plants, or those which generate more than 30% of their revenue from coal mining or supplying coal-fired electricity. It will begin cutting ties with major coal-using utilities, such as the German energy giant RWE, from 2022.

Air Pollution

No more on priority? Tackling air pollution seems to have fallen away from the “mission” status it was accorded when India’s NCAP was announced | Image: CTVNews

Budget 2019 ignores “Blue sky” policy vision? Air pollution buried in budget

The National Clean Air Plan (NCAP), bundled along with other pollution control programmes such as water and ambient noise pollution monitoring, has been allotted Rs460 crore – indicating marginal or no change compared to last year’s outlay. Environmentalists are surprised that India’s new Union Budget 2019 has no explicit mention of air pollution as a budgetary head. During elections in May, the ruling party promised to implement the National Clean Air Plan (NCAP) on a ‘mission’ mode to cut air pollution by 35% in the next five years. The stagnation of funds to tackle air pollution has been seen by experts as not helpful to the government’s goal of a “pollution-free India” and “Blue skies”.

Minister rejects air pollution’s link with early deaths as “extrapolation”

Indian government acknowledged that ozone was the main pollutant in Delhi for 95 days over the last three years. India’s Environment minister Prakash Javdekar informed the Parliament about the findings but he rejected the latest reports linking air pollution and rising ozone levels with death of children saying there was no data to prove it. The minister said air pollution may cause respiratory ailments but studies linking it with mortality were “simulations and extrapolations”.

India’s green court issues notice to Haryana over polluting fly ash at 2 coal plants 

India’s green court came down hard on two thermal power plants in Jhajjar, Haryana, and served a month’s ultimatum to the government to file a report on polluting fly ash at the plants, and how it plans to dispose it off. The court also ordered the state pollution control board to monitor air quality in the region and submit a report within a month. 

Polluter pays: UP govt to crackdown on illegal brick kilns in Delhi NCR

Brick kilns, one of the major contributors to air pollution, continues to flourish illegally in the National Capital Region (NCR). India’s green court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to act against brick kilns operating illegally in the Modinagar Muradnagar area of NCR. The UP government has assured the court it will initiate action of recovering compensation based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle within the next three months.

Indian metros brimming with pollutant nitrogen oxide: Greenpeace

Latest study by Greenpeace says at least six Indian metros have dangerous levels of air pollutant Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), which is formed after different gases in the atmosphere react in sunlight and high temperature. The NGO study said Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad have high vehicular presence and diesel consumption and they are also hotspots of nitrogen oxide. The data from February 2018 to May 2019 also revealed NOx emissions in the coal clusters of Sonbhadra-Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Korba in Chattisgarh, Talcher in Odisha, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Mundra in Gujarat and Durgapur in West Bengal, the study said.

China’s new rules curb industries in pollution-stressed regions

China has ordered local governments to raise approval limits for setting up new industrial projects and reject industry projects in the regions where air and water pollution is already high. The local governments will have to prepare “access lists” where factories can be built. Limiting the number of polluting factories will impact energy-intensive sectors like steel, metal refining, petroleum and petrochemicals, Reuters reported.

Jakarta residents to sue government over air pollution

Residents of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta have battled the world’s filthiest air for nearly two weeks last June, so much so that they have decided to sue the country’s president, governors and ministers for inaction. Over 30 complainants, including activists, civil servants, artists, and business owners have decided to move court this month. However, the chief of the Jakarta environmental agency has rejected the June data, saying the government “doesn’t really respond to real-time data”.

Asians, African-Americans breathing 66% more killer air than whites: US study

According to latest analysis, people of colour breathe 66% more toxic air than white residentsin the American north-east and mid-Atlantic. The study from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says on average, African Americans are exposed to 61% more PM 2.5 particles that come from burning gasoline. Asian Americans breathe 73% more and Latinos 75% more. PM 2.5 particles are small enough to enter the bloodstream and are linked to lung and heart diseases, asthma and premature death. The study collated 2014 data from the Environmental Protection Agency with 2018 data from the US Census Bureau to compare communities to a pollution average. The research once again reaffirmed the pattern campaigners call “environmental racism”.

Indoor air pollution in India linked to increased hypertension risk in women: Study

Women are at greater risk of high blood pressure because of higher levels of indoor air pollution in India, says a new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). Based on the blood pressure samples of 5,531 adults from 28 peri-urban villages near Hyderabad city, 46% participants were identified as hypertensive, and most of them with undiagnosed and untreated hypertension. Researchers measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants and correlated them with estimated annual residential exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon. The men in the sample showed a weaker link because they spent 57% of their time in their homes compared to 83% of the time women stayed home everyday. 


Still a mess: Despite UDAY’s attempts, finances for India’s DISCOMS are still a tangled mess of inefficiency, losses and power theft | Image: NBCNews

Govt moves away from sops for renewables, seeks review of UDAY to spur investment

Rather than budgetary sops, the centre’s focus is now on increasing the effectiveness of UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) that was launched in 2015 to help stop the fiscal haemorrhaging of discoms. The scheme has faced criticism of late owing to mounting debt and overdues of discoms.  In a report last month, ratings agency CRISIL had said the combined external debt of discoms had reached Rs 2.28 lakh crore in March 2019 and is set to rise to pre-UDAY levels by March 2020.

The government has now decided to use a carrot and stick approach to deal with erring discoms. Along with proposed reforms including disallowing commercial losses of more than 15% to be passed on in consumer tariffs and deferring of power price hikes by regulators, the government also plans to stop extending UDAY incentives to distribution utilities that fail to meet government-set targets during the second phase of the scheme.

The ineffectiveness of UDAY is evident in the growing number of states where future of renewable energy has become uncertain as discoms are saddled with debt. Rajasthan has now become the latest to join the list as three discoms in the state have amassed dues of Rs. 843 crores towards wind power generators and power purchasing agreements have not been renewed. 

Andhra CM defies Centre, calls for review, cancellation of PPAs

Newly elected Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has delivered another massive blow to investor confidence by announcing the review of power-purchase agreements (PPAs) signed by the previous government in the renewable energy sector claiming losses of Rs2,636 crore to the state exchequer. Further, PPAs for projects in the pipeline have also been cancelled by the new government citing irregularities. A government notification has elaborated that this cancellation would include PPAs of 21 wind power projects, a 600 MW Siemens Gamesa hybrid project, Axis Energy hybrid project, energy storage projects and about 600 MW of schedulable power.

Gujarat to triple renewable capacity in three years

Even as investor confidence remains low and debts to renewable energy producers continues to grow across the country, Gujarat has doubled down on its plans to increase renewable energy production. The state has announced plans to more than triple its power generation capacity from renewable sources to 30,000 megawatts (MW) in the next three years, a third of which is expected to be sold to other states. The plan includes a Rs1,000-crore new rooftop solar power generation scheme that aims to cover 2 lakh families. The state’s current capacity stands at 8,885MW.

Solar imports down 40% in Q1 of 2019

Latest trade data suggests that India’s solar imports, on which the country’s solar energy industry is heavily reliant, has fallen by 40% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019. According to Mercom India’s analysis of Department of Commerce data, solar modules and cells valued at approximately $650 million (~Rs45 billion) were imported by India in Q1 2019 compared to $1.1 billion (~Rs76 billion) worth of solar cells and modules imported in Q1 of 2018. While China remained the largest exporter to India, trade volume dropped by 47% year-on-year. The reason for the decline in imports is widely believed to be the 25% import tariffs introduced by the government last year in an effort to boost domestic manufacturing. 

REC sales continue to slide in a worrying trend for the sector

In yet another indication that all is not well in India’s renewables sector, sales of renewable energy certificates (REC) dropped by 22%. The Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) and Power Exchange of India (PXIL), the two power bourses in the country, which are engaged in trading of RECs, reported at the end of the June trading period that REC trade volume fell to 6.98 lakh units in June as compared to 8.96 lakh in the same month a year ago. As availability of power from solar and hydro projects contracted long term with discoms increases, availability of RECs on trading platforms has reduced. This has resulted in buy bids exceeding sell bids, and an increase in the value of the certificates. This does not bode well for growth trajectory of renewables in the country and indicates an urgent need to bring more projects under the REC ambit.

WTO provides India relief in trade battle over solar exports to the US

A World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel has ruled in favor of India in its complaint against the United States over subsidies and rules applied by eight US states in the renewable energy sector, such as for solar and wind power. The panel found that California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington had improperly given tax or financial incentives to domestic producers of renewable energy systems, components or “inputs” made in those states, in effect discriminating against imported goods. India didn’t specify the amount of alleged damage of the practices. The two sides have up to 60 days to appeal.

Centre to introduce solar scheme for farmers

The Indian government is in the process of operationalising a scheme to enable the sale of solar power generated on farms to the government. Power minister RK Singh informed the Lok Sabha on July 4 that farmers would now be able to use their land to install solar panels, power generated from which would be bought by the government at 30-35 paise per unit. According to the minister, this would ensure an annual income of up to Rs1 lakh, as part of the Prime Minister’s target of doubling farmer income by 2022.

Delhi police to go solar across the capital

In a bid to transition to clean energy and cut down on electricity bills, the Delhi police on July 3 announced that it would install rooftop solar energy systems in over 200 of its buildings across the city. The installation will be taken up as a part of an MOU between the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and the Delhi police. With this project, it is estimated that Rooftop Solar Systems of total capacity of about 3-4 MW will be implemented across various Delhi police buildings.

Electric Vehicles

Disappointing: Several months into its EV transition, high battery prices and a poor charging network are still holding back EV sales in India | Image: IndianExpress

India: Economic survey tables factors holding back EVs, NITI gives automakers mere 2 weeks for EV roadmap

India’s latest economic survey has found that the country’s pace of EV adoption is being held back due to three key factors: lack of charging infrastructure, high prices of batteries and the time needed to charge EVs. The survey was tabled in the Parliament on July 4 and also calls for more investment to fast-track the rollout of a nation-wide fast charging network. 

The Centre has also announced tax deductions of up to Rs. 1.5 lakh on loans to purchase electric cars for private use — in the central budget — regardless of the cost and category of the vehicle.  

NITI Aayog, on the other hand, remains defiant against automakers’ insistence on a slower, market forces-driven approach to e-mobility. It has given them a mere two weeks to table their roadmaps for switching to 100% EV production post-2025 (for two-wheelers), and has said that the well thought-out approach allows the automakers adequate time to recover their investments in the IC-engined variants. 

DTC orders 1,000 new electric buses, Kerala targets 1 million EVs by 2022

Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is planning to get 1000 electric buses — over and above the Delhi government’s plan to introduce 1000 electric buses. The city’s government has also launched a pilot project on using EVs for freight deliveries — under which 1,000 EVs will be deployed in the city over one year to deliver orders by services such as Amazon, Zomato and Blue Dart Express.

The state of Kerala too will deploy at least a million EVs on its roads by 2022 — of which 3,000 will be electric buses, 200,000 will be electric two-wheelers and 1,000 will be goods carriers. Its capital city of Trivandrum is also likely to get 100% electric public transport within 12 months, while Andhra Pradesh is eyeing 350 e-buses for five of its cities at the cost of $110 million. 

Beijing to replace taxis with 20,000 electric cabs

Beijing’s municipal council has said the city’s gasoline powered taxis will be replaced with 20,000 electric cabs within two years. Shenzen, in China, is already ‘electrifying’ its taxi fleet and Beijing’s plan is aimed at improving the city’s infamous air quality — where there has been notable progress of late. 

Fossil Fuels

Not going anywhere: Coal will still fire half of India by 2030, estimates the CEA, despite the fuel’s many drawbacks | Image: Zimbio

CEA says coal to power 50% of India, even in 2030

A new report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of India says coal will account for half the country’s energy demand in 2030, even though the share of non-fossil fuels is expected to swell to 65% of its installed power capacity. The assessment draws upon the mismatch between India’s peak power demand and the peak power output of solar and wind power stations, which — in the absence of energy storage —  prolongs the necessity to use coal power. 

India’s coal demand has ballooned to nearly 1 billion tonnes per annum over higher demand from utilities, but CEA’s latest report is silent on what the trend means for the country target of shrinking its emissions intensity by 30-35% (over 2005 levels) by 2030. 

OPEC secretary calls “misleading” climate science greatest threat to industry 

The Secretary-General of the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) has sharply criticised “misleading” climate science for affecting investments in the oil & gas sector and portraying it as the cause of climate change. 

Mohammed Barkindo was also critical of how global calls for slashing the use of fossil fuels are affecting corporate decisions and investments in the sector, and instead stated that oil and gas were in fact “part of the solution” to fighting climate change. Nevertheless, the vast majority of climate studies detail how the fuels are driving global rises in temperatures and worsening the frequency of extreme weather events. 

Europe’s 2nd largest steelmaker Thyssenkrupp targets 30% less CO2 emissions by 2030

Germany’s largest and Europe’s second largest steelmaker, Thyseenkrupp, has announced it will slash its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 and aim to go carbon-neutral by 2050. Thyssenkrupp releases 20 million tonnes of CO2 every year, and is also targeting a 16% reduction in CO2 emissions from its other products by 2030. 

The move is quite significant as the country itself is divided over how soon to exit coal — which is the primary fuel for steelmakers and aluminium smelters. 

China: Spiralling debt forces Datang group subsidiary into bankruptcy 

A 660MW thermal power plant – owned largely by one of China’s largest coal power developers, Datang — has filed for bankruptcy and liquidation after defaulting on $2.39million of debt. The plant’s closure may be indicative of the stress Chinese coal plants face under eroding investments and the expanding share of renewables — so much so that more than 50% of them are reported to be running on losses.  Paradoxically, China’s coal consumption has been on the rise. And 1 billion tonnes of new coal mining capacity has been approved for the nation, which will add to the 3.5 billion tonnes of coal it extracted in 2018.