Newsletter - July 11, 2018
“Extremely lax” norms for thermal power plants released
Experts say, revised norms for thermal power plants, have failed to address climate concerns raised during public consultation. Water consumption of toxic-emitting new plants has been fixed to “extremely lax” 3.0 m3/MWh. Compared to this, China’s worst performers subcritical 600 MW plant operate with 1.96 m3/MWh, in S Africa its 2.32m3/MWh. The increased water “can meet domestic needs of 44000 people”.
Meanwhile, top ministry official said starting 2019, India will cut down emissions of all old power plants to national standards by 2022, and shut down “very old” plants.
London Stock Exchange drops Vedanta post Oppn. demands
Vedanta has been delisted from London Stock Exchange following demands from UK oppositionover the killing of 13 protestors in police firing in anti-Sterlite protest in Tuticorin. The firm has also been dropped from ex-Japan portfolio.
Delhi notifies list of permissible fuels
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) issued list of permissible fuels for National Capital Territory. All businesses have to comply within 90 days. Permitted fuels include Bharat Stage VI compliant petrol and diesel with 10 ppm sulphur, LPG, natural gas/CNG, aviation turbine fuel, firewood for crematoriums and religious purposes, wood charcoal for hotels/restaurants/banquet halls/eateries having emission channelization/control systems and Biogas. Coal with low sulphur (less than 0.4%) is permitted only in thermal power plants.
Delhi Clean Air Plan “Floundering”, 83% plants to miss deadline
A new CSE study says, Delhi-NCR’s “comprehensive clean air action plan is floundering”, as power plants and brick kilns are set to miss December 2019 emission deadline. “83% thermal plants will not be able to comply with SO2 emission cuts and 50% of installed capacity in the region have not reported on NOx control compliance. About 35% of installed capacity is set to violate Particulate Matter compliance deadline.
Clean air action programme yet to see the light of day: Greenpeace
Climate campaigners including Greenpeace India sent recommendations to the ministry on the National Clean Air Programme saying the NCAP draft released on April 17 didn’t set timelines and emission targets for the most polluting sectors of thermal plants and industry. While China released its second action plan against air pollution, India’s clean air action programme is “yet to see the light of day,” Greenpeace said.
Goa U-turn: Coal polluter allowed to pollute afresh
In a bizarre U-turn, Goa pollution control board gave fresh permit to JSW group to import coal through Goa, months after it banned JSW for flouting air quality laws.
The board also said it was allowing JSW to resume operations, so that a pending IIT Bombay study can collect samples to study how bad the pollution is.
Ella: First death directly linked to air pollution
Nine-year-old Ella’s death is the first to have been directly linked to air pollution, she lived 25m from London’s South Circular Road, a pollution “hotspot”. Following 3 years of seizures she died in February 2013. During that time, local air pollution levels breached EU legal limits.
‘One pollution death, for every 2 coal jobs”
A new study says Trump’s plan to revive dying coal and N-plants could lead to premature deaths. “For every 2 to 4.5 coal mining jobs the plan protects, there would be 1 human death due to SO2, NOx over the next two years.”
India to auction 40GW of renewables each year till 2028 to meet 2030 power demand
MNRE will auction 40GW worth of renewable energy projects (30GW solar + 10GW wind) every year from 2018-2028 to meet the country’s expected power demand of 862GW by 2030. The figure is based on CEA’s calculation of about a 6% annual growth in electricity demand till 2027, of which the ministry is aiming to supply 500GW through solar (350GW) and wind energy (140GW). India’s current installed renewables capacity stands at just under 70GW.
Closed-envelope bids are also likely to be invited going forward to address concerns over unsustainably low tariffs.
India’s renewables growing faster than China
New BNEF study shows India’s renewable investments rose 22% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year, while China investments fell 15% during the time. “At this rate, India is expected to overtake China to become the target growth market by late 2020s.”
Again: tariff drops to all-time low of Rs. 2.44/kWh
Solar tariffs once again fell to all-time low of INR 2.44/kWh ($0.035) at SECI’s 2 GW auction recently. ACME won 600 MW bidding lowest (Rs. 2.44/kWh) tariff, a record it had set at Bhadla in May 2017. “Positive momentum” was attributed to recent policy announcements clarifying stand on GST, new bidding norms and withdrawal of solar subsidies in China.
3 days later, why have tariffs shot up?
Tariffs again shot up to Rs 2.70 to 2.71 per unit at Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) 750 MW Andhra Pradesh auction. Experts attributed the difference to high solar park charges in Andhra Pradesh, and the shorter one-year deadline (the former 2 GW auction involved Inter State Transmission System projects, that could be set up anywhere, within 2 years.)
NTPC’s 2GW project oversubscribed by over 3 times
Meanwhile, NTPC’s 2 GW March 2018 solar tender have been oversubscribed by over three times. 14 bidders showed interest. Domestic developers’ complaint that the maximum allowable capacity to be bid was “too large” was ignored as government pushes to meet 100 GW by 2022 target.
SEZs to spoil Import duty plans?
Major domestic players, including Adani, who have sought 95% duty on solar imports, may themselves face the proposed safeguard duties on their products manufactured in SEZs, as according to DG Safeguards, “a unit operating in SEZ cannot claim market disruption due to imports…(they) are deemed to be outside Indian Customs Territories and not competing with other domestic units.” Experts say developers operating from SEZ “tax havens”, can’t wish to impose duties on competitors, while they push up power prices.
Local manufacturing key to large solar power projects
The government plans to make local manufacturing key for big solar power projects. “If one player takes it all, that will be unfair, It would be difficult to attract manufacturers with smaller bid sizes”. It’s not mandatory to use locally manufactured panels, to keep the tenders WTO compliant.
Niti Aayog CEO: If you are not competitive, don’t attempt it
The Centre think tank Niti Aayog chief said he doesn’t support protectionism. To domestic manufacturers his message: If you are not competitive in solar manufacturing “right till the back-end, do not attempt that”. Experts say to boost domestic manufacturing India needs a better eco-system rather than protectionist measures. Why tax US$20bn pa of solar installations to protect the tax-free SEZs, analysts ask.
Over 30 GW solar tendered in 2018
After 10 GW in May, India issued 8 GW of wind and solar tenders in June, allowing developers to choose the project sites. Over 30 GW of solar have been tendered in the first half of 2018, but only 15% was actually auctioned. “Auctions are when bidding occurs…Tenders by themselves don’t mean a whole lot as many tend to get postponed multiple times and quite a few of them also get cancelled”
‘75% India power from renewables by 2050’
India will generate 75% power from renewables in 2050 according BNEF. “Of this, 34% would be solar, and 32% wind. “Wind and solar will surge to almost 50% of world generation by 2050 backed by falling costs, and advent of cheaper batteries.”
Renewables employed 432,000 Indians in 2017, Up 12% from 2016
Recent global study says in 2017 renewables employed 432,000 in India, 3.8 million in China & EU (1.2 million). To ensure job boom is inclusive, the sector must train unskilled and semi-skilled workers from rural India, including women, the report noted.
ADB’s solar loan to Bangladesh, study backs wind power
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will give $20 million loan to Bangladesh for off-grid solar projects, and $25.44 million for solar irrigation pumps. Replacing diesel pumps is expected to cut 17,261 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Meanwhile, new study backed by USAID, conducted over 3 years, says wind power is best suited for Bangladesh.
Sweden to meet targets 12 yrs early
Sweden is set to meet renewables target 12 years early by 2018 end, thanks to surge in wind energy. The surge is worrying power producers banking on subsidies. Forward prices are 70% lower for 2021 than a year earlier “because of all the new installations.” Once 2030 target is met, there’ll be no subsidies.
Wind Projects: China moves to auctions
China is moving from feed-in tariff model to auctioning wind projects through bidding. The government will set tariff which cannot be exceeded. Meanwhile, India has called for procuring power from small solar and wind projects through feed-in tariffs set by state regulators (SERCs).
NITI Aayog to host global EV summit in September
September 7-8, PM will inaugurate MOVE, India’s first ‘Global Mobility Summit’. Niti Aayog will host the summit in collaboration with various ministries and industry partners, to drive vehicle electrification, renewable integration and jobs. Over 1,200 participants: international state and industry leaders, think tank and civil society organisations will attend.
India’s Lithium and Cobalt plans abroad
India is set to join the global scramble for lithium and cobalt mines abroad, with China already in substantial lead. The “strategic minerals” are critical battery elements for mobiles to EVs. Three state-owned mineral companies Nalco, HCL, MECL will jointly acquire assets abroad in partnership with private firms. Niti Ayog is formalising the proposal. Niti Aayog CEO said battery storage is the future.
EV targets for state public transport, ‘shift’ not before 2026?
Centre is planning to set targets for state public transporters for a percentage of EVs in their future orders. For private buyers, “market forces should decide” is government position. India’s less than 1.5 lakh EVs are projected to grow to 5% by 2022. Niti Aayog CEO said “Only by 2026 EV cost will be at par with combustion vehicles…India will make incremental shift to EVs.”
Fortum’s EV charging stations in Hyderabad
Backed by incentives from Telangana government, Finland state firm Fortum set up two EV charging stations at Indian Oil outlets for public in Hyderabad. The chargers would be “expanded to 50 in two years and 150-200 in the country.”
Tata utility proposes EV charging category
Tata has proposed to Maharashtra power regulator a new category for ‘electric vehicle’ (EV) charging. Tata proposed to reduce tariff for high-end consumers by up to 20% and increasing rates for low-end residential users by 7%.
Oil giant BP buys UK’s largest charging firm Chargemaster
Oil giant BP is buying UK’s largest electric charging network, Chargemaster, for £130m. Earlier BP said EVs in the UK are set to grow from 135,000 at present to 12 million by 2040. Last year rival Shell bought car charging company NewMotion. Chargemaster currently has 6,500 charging points.
4GW of coal-fired power cancelled in Andhra Pradesh, India’s thermal power reeling under bad loans, competition from renewables
NTPC’s 4X1000MW ultra mega thermal power project in northern Andhra Pradesh has reportedly been shelved after a central directive to develop it on domestic – instead of imported – coal supplies was found to be operationally unviable. The cancellation is just the latest in the pipeline of approximately 547GW of coal-fired power projects cancelled or shelved in India since 2010 – prompting speculation that the country’s peak thermal coal power may be breached sooner than expected.
India’s thermal power sector is also reeling under the prospect of liquidation of about 40GW of thermal power plants – a potential crisis for public sector banks as well – that may not be resolved despite the Centre’s newly announced Sakshat scheme to repurpose bad loans made to power sector NPAs (non performing assets). Thermal power tariffs may also have to rise to absorb the prices of costlier imported coal – which would make it even less competitive against already cheaper renewable power tariffs and may therefore throttle its demand even further.
India’s coal shortage to persist for 2-3 years, MoEF being pushed for clearances to new coalmines
Power Minister R. K. Singh has clarified that India’s acute coal supply shortage is likely to persist for the next 2-3 years, during which states have been allowed to import coal to keep their thermal power plants running. The shortage has tightened on the back of rising power demand from industry and domestic loads, despite Coal India Ltd. (CIL)’s year-on-year supplies to coal power plants alone (for 2018’s first quarter) rising by 15.4%.
The power ministry is also pushing the environment ministry for quick environmental clearances to a number of new coalmines that have already been started to tide over the supply shortfall. Meanwhile coal minister Piyush Goyal has assured the Delhi government that coal supplies to the NCR will be increased from about 300 rakes/month at present to 2000 rakes/month within the next few months to avoid any blackouts.
US refusal to budge on Iran oil sanctions leaves India in diplomatic quagmire
India has been pushed into a potential diplomatic standoff with the US after the country’s refusal to make any exceptions for any of its allies dependent on Iranian oil exports. Iran is India’s 3rd largest oil import source – behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia – and supplied 18% of its imports (33 million tons) last year. However with the US deadline of November 4th to stop buying Iranian oil inching closer, global as well as Indian insurance firms are starting to decline insurance cover for refineries importing Iranian crude oil.
This makes it untenable for major refineries such as MRPL and HPCL to import the fuel; Reliance Industries has already announced that it will stop its Iranian imports before November 4th. However, keeping in mind the economic impacts of a potential increase in oil prices if India switches suppliers, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has insisted that India’s response to the sanctions will be taken in national self-interest – a stance that may be unwelcome to the Trump administration.
Big Oil champions natural gas as permanent fuel for energy security
Natural gas has been backed as a permanent solution to the world’s growing energy demands at the World Gas Conference – by the largest oil firms – on the back of its abundant supplies and relatively cheap extraction prices. This is despite calls by concerned climate scientists for a rapid move away from burning fossil fuels. The fuel has also been called a “mainstay, and not a transition fuel” by GAIL’s chairman – in reference to much anticipated scenarios where renewables alone could meet all of the world’s energy needs.
India incidentally plans to double the share of Natural Gas in its energy mix to 15% by 2022 by tripling LNG imports. However, more than twice the gas is leaked to the atmosphere than is extracted within the US alone – which may accelerate global warming as Methane (that makes up about 94% of the gas) is nearly 86 times more potent than CO2 in retaining atmospheric heat for the first 20 years.
Rhode Island first US state to sue Big Oil, California court dismisses climate change lawsuit against oil majors
The US state of Rhode Island has become the first US state to sue 14 oil majors for deliberately contributing to climate change. The state joins cities and counties – such as New York, King County (Washington) and Boulder (Colorado) – in arguing that drillers intentionally prioritized short-term profits over warnings about the adverse environmental impacts of fossil fuels.
Meanwhile a California federal court has dismissed a climate change lawsuit by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell. The court ruled that the issue required a solution much larger in scope than could be delivered by a district judge and jury. Shell has since reiterated that the issue required a government policy revamp and not legal battles, possibly as a safeguard against similar lawsuits already in court.