Can India pull off its 100 GW-in-one-go solar tender

Newsletter - June 27, 2018

Completely wrong: India's toxic air means people have to shield against the very air they must inhale


In PM constituency, yoga in mask

On International Yoga Day, citizens from Varanasi came out in their air pollution masks to do yoga as a symbolic gesture to demand their right to breathe clean airVaranasi and Kanpur were among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world. Last December, the AQI in Varanasi rose 20 times above safe levels, worse than Delhi.

The problem's elsewhere: Global warming's risk to rice's nutrition spells big trouble for developing nations

Rice to lose nutrition to warming, poor at risk

Extreme heat to hit 142 Indian cities, 360 million people

New study says extreme heat will impact 360 million Indians and 142 Indian cities by 2050 if “emissions continue unchecked”. Cities including Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata, will face extreme heat waves, flooding, droughts, water and food shortage.

Mumbai gets 438% excess rain in a single day

Mumbai received 438% excess rain in a single day, disrupting normal life. On June 24, suburban Mumbai received 31.7 mm rainfall: 18% in excess of what it usually receives. Scientists have linked the sudden heavy rainfall trend to the warming of the western Indian Ocean, and warned the government earlier.

Rice to lose nutrition to warming, poor at risk

Rice, the staple food for over 3 billion people, will become less nutritious by 2100, because of climate change. “Rice grown at the concentrations of atmospheric CO2 expected to reach by 2100 has lower levels of four key B vitamins.”

Greener sooner: EU's enhanced climate ambition for 2030 is necessary impetus to global emissions reduction

Indian cities may run out of groundwater by 2020, warns NITI Aayog; EU countries to miss 2020 targets; Antarctic melting at record-breaking rate

Study: 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020

21 Indian cities, including Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020, 40% Indians will have no access to drinking water by 2030, if “immediate action” is not taken, a new report from the NITI Aayog said. Over 40% surface water is used every year, 200,000 people die annually due to inadequate access to safe water, demand will exceed supply by 2050, report said.

Most EU countries to miss 2020 emission reduction targets

Not a single EU country is sufficiently reducing carbon emissions, most will miss the 2020 targets, says the latest report by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the UK, “so far have remained silent or vague on the need to accelerate the zero-carbon transition in the EU”.

EU Climate ambition: Can cut emissions by ‘over 45%’

The EU can exceed its 2030 target and submit a more ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases by “over 45%” under Paris accord, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said at a gathering of ministers from the EU, Canada and China, ahead of next round of global talks to lower emissions. This year’s negotiations, called COP24, will be held in EU member state Poland.

Climate change to hit India’s renewable energy?

Climate change is changing wind pattern in the Northern Hemisphere that is impacting India’s renewable power generation. The research used 10 global climate models to investigate large-scale changes in wind power generation across the globe. Experts say, since extreme weather events cost India $10 billion annually, India should more aggressively decarbonize its economy.

Antarctic melting at record-breaking rate

Antarctic ice sheet is melting at a record-breaking speed, the resulting sea rise will have catastrophic global consequences, according to two new studies. The melting has accelerated threefold in the last five years, faster than at any previously recorded time. Sea level may rise over 25 cm by next decade, and over a metre by 2070.

Moody’s Warning On Climate Change To Cities

Take climate action, or get downgraded and pay higher interest rates on bonds, that’s the warning from credit rating agency Moody’s to the US states and cities as residents and businesses face sea levels, wildfires and extreme heat waves. “If you have a place that simply throws up its hands in the face of changes to climate trends, then we have to evaluate…how that abdication of response actually translates to changes in its credit profile,” Moody’s vice president said.

Not surprising: The new CPCB data & satellite images confirm that Delhi's air is incredibly toxic

Delhi now in year-round toxic air

Toxic Air, now Delhi’s year-round problem

High 24-hour average PM2.5 levels have been recorded across National Capital Region (NCR) between March and May, analysis of CPCB data shows. Experts say this proves that poor air quality is a year-round problem affecting the region, beyond winter episodes and individual weather events.

Environmental approval time slashed? Activists alarmed

India is set to reduce deadline for environmental clearances for power plants and coal mines to 170 days, from 600 days. Campaigners say construction and coal plants are major contributors to India’s toxic air. Centre has exempted public hearing for important sectors. This year environment ministry cleared 38% of total projects within 100 days, (compared with 16% a year ago).

Why does India’s air look different from space?

Europe’s new Sentinel-5P satellite, tracking air quality worldwide, captured worrying layers of formaldehyde over India. Formaldehyde is a colourless gas released by vegetation and a number of polluting activities such as burning wood. Together with nitrogen dioxide from fossil fuel and sunlight, it produces ground-level ozone, a severe respiratory irritant that can damage health.

Ozone level spikes four times in a week

As Delhi baked at 44C on Sunday, Noida and Ghaziabad witnessed a spike in ozone at least four times in the past week. Ozone, a composite pollutant, is generated when polluting emissions react with sunlight. The Indian permissible limit for ozone levels is 100 µg/m3 over eight hours.

China, S Korea, Japan fight dust pollution

China, Japan and S Korea pledged to fight air pollution together. China promised to reduce fine dust pollution amid S Korea’s growing concerns over trans-border pollution. The three will release the results next year of joint research on the long-range air pollutants in Northeast Asia.

War on pollution: China to protect 25% of its land

Extending war on air pollution to 2020, China will protect 25% of its land by the country’s new “ecological red line”, and keep it off-limits for development by 2020. China will increase forest coverage to over 23% of its total landmass.

About time: India's 30GW offshore wind target is a good start to tapping its vast offshore wind potential

RENEWABLES: India’s massive 100GW solar tender, Utility solar grew 72% in FY17-18; Offshore wind target of 30GW by 2030

Can coal compare? India’s staggering 100 GW solar tender plan

India is planning “world’s biggest” 100GW solar tender, linked with manufacturing, but no timetable yet. Power Minister recently said India will achieve 227GW by 2022, and exceed the 175GW renewable target. Experts say large scale renewable projects make economic sense (as they are much cheaper than coal), and would need investment of around $100 billion.

Solar companies fear being eclipsed by foreign biggies

Six power giants, including Adani, have complained against new bidding rules raising maximum bidding limit from 750MW to 1800 MW (SECI) and 2000 MW (NTPC) in the upcoming auctions. The six claimed the high limits would give advantage to foreign bidders with deeper pockets, over local ones. Experts say, the resultant “investment deflation” will benefit the government and the consumers. The six want the bidding deadlines to be postponed.

India’s utility solar capacity grows 72% in 2017-18: Report

India’s utility solar capacity grew by a whopping 72% in 2017-18 (9.1GW vs. 5.5GW in 2016-17). Total solar installation was at 10.4GW, including rooftop and off-grid. India’s cumulative solar capacity touched 24.4GW, “way short of 100GW target”. Coal added 4.6GW; and wind 1.7GW. Karnataka, with its solar exemptions, added the most (4.1GW): 46% of capacity installed in FY18. Adani, Renew, Acme were top developers. FY19 figures will be low, “because of a slowdown in tender activity” in late 2016, early 2017.

Safeguard duty confusion may hit 100GW target

Ahead of public hearing on proposed 70% safeguard duty on solar imports, developers said the duty may jeopardize India’s 100GW by 2022 target, impact 25 GW volume under progress and thousands will lose jobs. A public hearing on the duty by the recently created Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) has created confusion since the finance ministry panel last month dropped the duty plan.

Indian solar imports up by 20%, exports 105% in FY 2018

Solar imports rose nearly 20% in FY 2018 ($3.83 billion), compared to FY 2016-17 ($3.19 billion). To meet commissioning deadlines, developers installed over 3GW of solar PV capacity during Q4 of FY 2017-18. Indian solar exports ($141.41 million) rose 105%, compared to FY2016-17 ($69.11 million).

Gujarat announces Solar-Wind Hybrid Power Policy

To boost hybrid wind-solar power production, Gujarat announced solar plus wind hybrid power policy, allowing land optimization. Developers can set up solar project on land meant for wind project and vice versa; transmission lines meant for solar can also be used for wind farms.

Govt. will buy excess power from “hybrid projects”

SECI issued “rare” 2.5 GW interstate transmission system-connected wind and solar tender. The “novel” idea: in case of over generation, the implementing agency will buy the excess power at PPA tariff.

India offshore wind energy target: 30GW by 2030

In a big boost to wind sector, Centre announced offshore wind target of 5GW by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030. The recent Expressions of Interest (EoI) for the first 1 GW offshore wind project in India, “evoked keen response”, both global and Indian, government said.

Wind power tariffs ‘to remain low’

Meanwhile, in bad news for coal, rating agency CRISIL says India’s wind power tariffs are expected to remain below Rs3/kWh, 10% cheaper than the thermal power sector average, because of reduction in payment and offtake risks. A “generation clause” in recent power purchase agreements (PPAs) is providing relief to developers as it offers payment for generation rather than offtake.

India seeks $2.4 billion funding from AIIB

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) annual general meet opens in Mumbai. India has sought $2.40 billion from the Beijing-headquartered bank, that will also loan $200 million to India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)

Campaigners say loan to NIIF, a financial intermediary, could be high risk, as it is waiting to invest in stalled projects. To date, the post-Paris bank has disbursed US$4.59 billion, of which US$990 million has been invested in five fossil-fuel projects. Experts say public banks backing unviable coal continue to jeopardize interest of shareholders.

Sterling and Wilson India’s Leading Solar EPC Player in 2017

Based on its commissioned projects in 2017 (1GW), Sterling and Wilson was the top solar engineering procurement construction (EPC) developer (12% market share) in India in 2017 – a record year for solar. The firm has over 2 GW of commissioned solar projects in India.

Batteries boom to get 50% of global electricity from renewables by 2050

Recent BNEF study says batteries and renewables boom, will surge solar and wind power to “50% of world generation by 2050.” Coal will shrink to just 11%. Cheaper batteries will allow storage/discharge to meet shifts in demand and supply. Lithium-ion battery prices, down 80% per MWH since 2010, will continue to fall with the rise of EVs through the 2020s.

Getting it right: Uber's new strategy to pay more to EV drivers could help improve US EV sales

Uber paying extra to EV drivers

China dwarfs Europe on EV investments

European carmakers invested $25.3 billion in 2017-18 to manufacture electric vehicles in China, “seven times more than they invested in Europe”. Experts say this is because of China’s aggressive EV promotion, “requiring carmakers to manufacture EVs in its territory”. Campaigners say Europe does not have big zero emission vehicle plan, as it poses a threat to German auto industry.

Tesla’s Cobalt Usage To Drop From 3% Today To 0%, Musk Commits

Elon Musk committed to cut down use of cobalt in Tesla batteries from 3% to zero. The mining of the rare earth material in DRC is rife with rights abuses and use of child labour. The London Metal Exchange price of the battery input jumped from under $30,000 per ton in 2016, to $86,750 now.

VW to double EV-making capacity in China factory

VW has decided to double its EV factory capacity in China. The Foshan Plant produces around 300,000 vehicles per year for FAW-Volkswagen joint venture. China norms are pushing foreign carmakers to invest in EVs in the country.

VW invests big in solid-state batteries

Volkswagen is the latest automaker to invest in solid-state batteries for electric cars. The German automaker will invest $100 million in QuantumScape, a solid-state battery startup from Stanford. Solid-state batteries are seen as the next step in energy storage, yet to be commercialized.

Japan eyes solid-state battery dominance

In a massive push for solid-state batteries, Japan launched a public-private project to develop the technology: 23 companies, including Toyota, Nissan, Honda have signed up. Japan aims to reduce cost to $90 per kWh by 2030, and cut charging time to 10 minutes.

Uber starts paying drivers to buy electric

EV Champions – Uber’s new scheme in the US – will pay drivers higher rates if they drive an electric car. The pilot will run for a year in seven cities: Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco, California; Montreal; and Seattle. Drivers will get extra dollar per EV ride.

Still welcome? Loans to coal-power developers has made SBI post its worst ever first quarter losses

Indian public banks funding more coal than renewables;

Thermal power receiving massive public funding despite ballooning bad loans, coal shortage

A new investigation has revealed that coal-fired thermal power received Rs. 60,767cr (USD 9.35bn) in financing from India’s largest public sector banks (PSBs) in 2017. The figure is nearly three times their lending to renewable energy capacity addition – Rs. 22,913cr (USD 3.5bn) – and heavily skewed towards thermal power projects in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The former in fact attracted 10 times more financing for coal-fired power while the latter two received none for renewables.

The revelation comes at a time when bad loans by PSBs to the power sector – dominated by coal-fired power – have ballooned to INR 1.74 trillion (approx. USD 26.7bn), nearly 75GW of stressed assets may face liquidation proceedings, 15.6GW of capacity is stranded in the absence of PPAs and the govt. admitting that India is facing a severe coal supply crisis. Reports suggest the country may even resort to importing coal from Indonesian Papua to keep (private) thermal power plants from shutting down.

G20 energy ministers endorse natural gas as key future fuel, Coal-fired power failing across the US

Energy ministers of the G20 member nations Рmeeting in Argentina Рissued a compromised joint statement that endorsed natural gas as a key fuel for lowering global carbon emissions. The communiqu̩ was heavily influenced by US insistence on diluting reference to the Paris Agreement and the implied urgency of a much faster move away from fossil fuels. US energy secretary Rick Perry has also offered Argentina technical assistance in developing its giant, largely untapped Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas reserves

Back in the US nearly 40% of the country’s coal-fired power capacity has either shut down or is facing imminent shutdown, despite President Trump’s orders to revive the sector. Several US utilities have already publicly pledged to source electricity from renewables and natural gas powered plants because of their lower tariffs. Coal – as well as oil & natural gas – has also alienated the US Democratic National Committee, which has banned accepting any campaign contributions from political groups linked to fossil fuels.

WB may pull support from its last coal power plant, UK pension funds could divest from fossil fuels

The World Bank is considering withdrawing support to the last coal-fired power plant on its books – the yet to be constructed 500MW Kosovo C plant in Kosovo – in continuation of its 2013 policy to support coal-fired power only under “rare circumstances”. World Bank had previously announced in 2015 that it will not support any upstream oil and natural gas projects after 2019, and rather aim to direct 28% of all its funding towards climate action by 2020.

Meanwhile the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may soon allow pension fund trustees to divest the funds’ holdings in coal, oil and natural gas assets and re-invest in cleaner alternatives. This is despite the DWP asserting that profitable returns on investments will remain the key driver for trustees’ decisions – which could insulate them from pressure by members who are keen to steer the funds away from huge losses that may arise from an increasingly likely carbon bubble bust.