Climate Change: ‘Bomb Cyclone’, frozen iguanas of Florida, Sydney’s baking suburb

Newsletter - January 16, 2018

The record breaking deep freeze has even frozen parts of the iconic Niagra falls

Climate Change: ‘Bomb Cyclone’, frozen iguanas of Florida, Sydney’s baking suburb

While Donald Trump mocked the US’ deep freeze after the historic “bomb cyclone” and wished for some “good old global warming” to fight bone chilling temperatures sweeping across the US – science actually linked extreme cold snaps with global warming. The cold shock off the US’ eastern coast also killed sharks and frozen iguanas were seen falling from trees in Florida. At the opposite end of the globe temperatures in the Sydney suburb of Penrith reached 47.3°C, just a bit short of surpassing the suburb’s hottest day ever on record. Meanwhile, the US’ Interior Department has issued orders to rescind several Obama era climate conservation policies. But 200 of the largest finance firms – under the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) – have pledged to annually report the risks climate change poses to their operations, and steps they would take to minimize their environmental impact. Together they manage assets worth over $81trillion.

Earth may ‘become a desert by 2050’, massive aridity in store?

Scientists have warned that more than 25% of the world’s land area – including southern Europe, South East Asia, Southern Africa and Central America – could turn “significantly drier” if the world fails to restrict temperature rise to under 2°C. This could be disastrous as aridification promotes loss of vegetation (critical for absorbing CO2), increases the chances of wildfires and it could make water even scarcer for farming and human consumption. However the impact would be much reduced if global warming is limited to 1.5°C.

China's increasingly strict fuel consumption standards have affected some of its largest auto makers

Minister says ‘no 2030 EV plan’, NITI Aayog, Industry say all-EV target ‘not viable’, China bans 553 car models over fuel consumption

Win for automakers, no 2030 EV target?

State minister Babul Suprio told Parliament that there was no plan to go all-electric vehicle by 2030. Suprio has spoken months after minister Piyush Goyal promised to give away electric cars for ‘free’ and turn India into an EV-only nation by 2030, and after union transport minister Nitin Gadkari threatened to ‘‘bulldoze’’ automakers into making EVs if they didn’t take the step themselves.

NITI Aayog to make EV policy, others will follow

The government think tank NITI Aayog will make the EV policy and all ministries will follow it – that’s the decision taken by cabinet secy panel. NITI Aayog has suggested green number plates, 3-yr free parking and no toll tax for EVs. The ggovernment think tank alo said an all-EV plan is not viable because of high import bills of lithium batteries, and instead has prescribed a mix of fossil fuels, EVs, hybrids, ethanol and methanol to combat air pollution caused by India’s transport sector.

EVs with a driver: State-backed firm offers EVs on lease

Meanwhile, state-backed firm Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) continues with its EV plan to ‘’aggregate demand’’. EESL installed 90 chargers in government offices in Delhi, before rolling out the first lot of 500 EVs (bought from Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra) by January 15 in the city, Now, it wants to release more EVs in the states: 9,500 EVs in next 6 months in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. The company will give the cars on lease for Rs. 40,000 a month, and with a driver.

EESL’s IPO to fund green projects

EESL also plans to go for an IPO around the start of the next financial year, and plans to raise Rs. 2 billion by selling 20% stake in its ownership.

Merc, Toyota also called India’s EV plan ‘Not Viable’

After Mercedes India’s chief said India’s all-EV plan wasn’t viable and claimed that EVs polluted more than diesels and demanded tax breaksToyota officials also slammed India’s all-EV plan as ‘not practical’ and said the consumers should be given “technology agnostic” choices, which would in turn give automakers enough leeway in product development.

China stops production of over 553 car models over emission norms

China continues to push for greener cars and plans to stop the production of 553 passenger vehicle models that have failed to meet fuel consumption standards. The manufacturers affected by the order include FAW-Volkswagen, Beijing Benz Automotive, Chery and Dongfeng Motor Corporation.

Again: Tesla pushes back Model 3 production target

Tesla owner Elon Musk has again slashed the production of Model 3s to 2,500 per week by the end of the first quarter, and delayed its goal of 5,000 Model 3s per week to the end of the second quarter. Being the cheapest of all Teslas, the Model 3 is critical to its long-term success.

California seeks to ban fossil-fueled vehicles by 2040

California plans to ban selling new fossil fuel vehicles in the state by 2040. California sells the maximum number of cars in the US, and if adopted, the law would help the state hit its target of reducing emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

India’s RE capacity addition continues to impress, even as low tariffs make profits hard to come by

Renewable Energy: “Will easily meet renewable target”, or India target in jeopardy? 7.5% tax on imported solar panels, 70% duty on China, Malaysia solar cells proposed

India crosses 62GW in renewables

India’s installed renewable energy capacity touched over 62 GW last year: solar 16.61GW, wind 32.7GW, 8.29GW biomass, 4.40GW hydro power. India is chasing ambitious 175GW renewable target by 2022.

Will meet 175GW renewable target ‘before 2022’

The Power Minister told Parliament, India will hit 175GW renewable energy target ahead of 2022. He said, India’s renewable capacity is about 69GW, if we include 6,500 MW projects under-installation projects. “Apart from that, we already bid out about 14,000MW in 2017, adding that it will go up to 84,000MW, and next year again we are going to bid out about 30,000-40,000MW. Our target is about 1,75,000MW and we will achieve it easily… before 2022,” he said.

Solar target in jeopardy: 7.5% duty on solar imports, 70% on China, Malaysia solar cells proposed

India may charge 7.5% tax on all imported solar panels and proposed 70% ‘safeguard’ duty on Chinese and Malaysian solar panels to boost domestic manufacturing. India’s annual average solar cell requirement is 20GW, while annual domestic solar production is 3GWGovernment may reclassify solar panels (since they produce electricity) as motors to tax the imports with 7.5% duty. India is the top importer of cheaper Chinese panels _ that allowed power producers to offer some of the world’s lowest tariffsThe proposed taxes may disrupt Centre’s solar target of 100 GW by 2022. The rising global costs already left an impact in the last auctions and projects were delayed last year after customs blocked huge solar cargoes demanding import duties.

Low tariffs killing profits, power firms look to sell directly to consumers

Large renewable power producers such as ReNew and Greenko are reportedly planning to directly sell power to consumers and diversify into transmission and distribution. Experts say developers are trying to boost profits as record low tariffs are impacting their margins. Wind power tariffs plummeted to Rs 2.43 per unit last year and solar tariffs are at Rs 2.47 and Rs 2.48 per unit.

First: German power usage reached 100% renewable

On January 1, heavy winds and low demand post New Year’s eve briefly landed Germany’s power usage at around 100% renewable for the first time. Wind power accounted for 85%, the rest was from biomass and hydro power. Solar was zero before sunrise. Tariffs fell to negative, and extra power was passed on to neighbouring countries.

German carbon emissions ‘remain same’

While wind power made coal and nuclear redundant for the first time, Germany’s carbon emissions remained the same for the third year in a row, propped up by heavy use of oil and gas in transport, heating and industry.

The death toll in Delhi due to air pollution continues to mount

Killer Air: ‘66% rise’ in air pollution deaths over 2 yrs, Govt. begins phased-in fixing of coal plants, China ‘defeating’ smog

66% rise in air pollution deaths

Recent Delhi government data suggests a 66% increase in deaths due to respiratory diseases between 2014 and 2016. The deaths rose from 5,516 in 2014 to 9,149 in 2016, the year when Delhi saw its worst smog in 17 years. Apparently even then the sale of private and commercial vehicles to rise, while the number of public buses declined.

2.5 Million pollution deaths in 2015: Study

According to a global study, 2.5 million of 10.3 million deaths in India in 2015 were linked to pollution. Meanwhile, experts have warned that Delhiites will soon need 5 oxygen cylinders a day to fight air pollution.

Pollution board orders coal plants to fix emissions

After coal plants missed the December 7 deadline to install pollution abatement technologies, the CEA has issued a phased-in plan to fix emissions by 2022. Flue gas de-sulphurisation will be installed in 414 units, and electrostatic precipitators in 222 plants for a capacity of 64,525 MW, the power minister told Parliament.

Thermal power companies account for 80 percent of all industrial emissions of lung-damaging particulate matter, sulphur and nitrous oxides in India. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issued directions to install the emission control equipment.

Growing awareness? Delhi’s diesel usage ‘declines by 16%’

Diesel use declined in Delhi by 16% in 2016, which has been partly attributed to growing awareness of diesel’s environmental impact, and partly to rising taxes on the fuel which have narrowed the price gap between petrol and diesel vehicles. The consumption of diesel in Delhi went down from 15,08,000 tonnes in 2015-16 to 12,67,000 tonnes in 2016-17.

Beijing winning against air pollution?

Beijing may have defeated its notorious smog, and experts say it’s the result of tough anti-pollution norms of China bearing fruit.

A nightmare waiting to unfold: Big Oil may soon have unprecedented access to Arctic oil and gas

Paying for dirty coal: Power bills will rise from March, polluting coal got ‘more state benefits’ than renewables

Dirty coal gets expensive, get ready to pay higher bills from March

Come March, power prices will rise as Coal India Ltd (CIL) revises price of non-coking coal, main fuel to make electricity. Following the coal price increase the state-owned CIL is expecting Rs 6,421 incremental revenue for 2017-18 and Rs 1,956 cr incremental revenue from the balance period of the fiscal.

Subsidies favoured coal and oil over renewables: Study

Polluting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas were the largest receivers of financial benefits, or subsidies, from the govt between 2013 to 2016, even though government reduced the energy subsidies by 38% ($15 billion), says study by ODI, ICF and IISD. Subsidies to renewables compared with overall energy subsidies accounted less than 10%. Coal mining and coal plants got Rs 14,990 crore in 2016 in subsidy.

‘Coal crisis’ or mismanagement?

Private power generators have alleged that state-owned miner Coal India Ltd is causing a coal crisis by allegedly supplying more coal to state-owned plants while forcing private generators to shut down.

Coal India hikes annual production target

The Centre has increased Coal India’s annual production target for 2018-19 by 5% to 630 MT. In2017-18 it was 600 MT. Beginning with 554 MT in 2016-17, CIL plans to mine 1 billion tonnes of coal every year by 2020.

Banking on domestic coal

Power companies are topping up their allotments from Coal India and the firm is increasing supplies to captive power consumers (cement, aluminium and sponge-iron manufacturers) – especially after cement manufacturers in Northern India faced a fuel glut after the petcoke ban.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary standing committee has recommended supplying thermal power plants with domestic coal to reduce India’s dependence on non-coking coal.

Retro-fitting ‘not the answer’

The Power ministry has stressed that retro-fitting thermal power plants over 25 years old to make them comply with stricter emission norms is not financially viable. Instead the ministry wants to promote supercritical technology, which lowers CO2 emissions to 0.82kg/kWh from the old plants’ 1.1-1.3 kg/kWh.

DISCOMS get to exit expensive PPAs?

The Centre plans to allow DISCOMS to exit PPAs signed with old thermal power plants – that sell power at higher tariffs – to offtake cheaper power from energy efficient coal plants and fulfil their renewable purchase obligations (RPOs).

China to streamline coal capacity

China plans to consolidate (by 2020) its fragmented, 4000-odd coal mining firms into a number of “super large” miners, each capable of producing more than 100 MT annually. The move will eliminate approximately 800 MT of “inefficient and outdated” capacity, and instead bring online 500 MT of advanced capacity.

UK’s 2025 coal phase-out deadline

UK will phase out all its coal fired power plants by October 2025 in a further boost to meeting its Paris Accord commitments. Like in India, the decision is influenced by the very high cost of retro-fitting existing plants with carbon capture technologies.

Norway to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic

A Norwegian court has ruled against environmentalists’ pleas of not allowing the Norwegian government to grant oil drilling licences off the country’s arctic coast, effectively paving way for Big Oil to start drilling in the planet’s most ecologically sensitive and vulnerable region. The ruling surprisingly follows the Norwegian pension fund’s decision to divest from oil and gas.

In the US too, the Trump administration has been doling out licences to oil firms to drill in federal oil fields off the coast of California, with 17% more drilling permits issued since 2012. Governor Jerry Brown – under whose leadership there has reportedly been a 67% jump in the number of wells drilled and completed – is being urged to halt any expansion in oil drilling and fossil fuel use in California.