Vol 1, Sep 2022 | Capitalising on carbon

Various features of the market, including a national credit registry and standards, are still to be worked out and put in the public domain.

India outlined its plans for a national carbon-trading market last month. CarbonCopy spoke to Gilles Dufrasne and Jonathan Crook of Carbon Market Watch (CMW) on what lessons India could learn from the global carbon market space before it locks in on its strategy .Read more

Various features of the market, including a national credit registry and standards, are still to be worked out and put in the public domain.

‘A voluntary carbon market won’t have a significant impact on India’s emissions’

India outlined its plans for a national carbon-trading market last month. CarbonCopy spoke to Gilles Dufrasne and Jonathan Crook of Carbon Market Watch (CMW) on what lessons India could learn from the global carbon market space before it locks in on its strategy

On August 8, the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, passed the Energy Conservation Amendment Bill, 2022. This bill, when it comes into force, will replace The Energy Conservation Act, 2001, with new norms and standards.  

Along with mandating a minimum use of non-fossil fuel sources for industries, the bill also advances India’s plan to create a national carbon-trading market. The market, in its initial phase, reportedly, will focus on major polluting industries, including cement, steel and power.  The bill will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session of the Parliament.

There is very limited information available on public platforms regarding how the market will be set up. Various features of the market, including a national credit registry and standards, are still to be worked out and put in the public domain. According to the latest information, to set up the market, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has tendered PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to undertake the launch.

In the absence of granular details, a draft carbon market blueprint published by the power ministry provides some insights. As per the draft:

  • The market will be “cost effective, politically feasible and … based on the existing body of knowledge of managing ESCs [Energy Savings Certificates] and RECs [Renewable Energy Certificates] transactions.” 
  • The new market will subsume ESCs and RECs–currently traded on power exchanges using the Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) platform–and create a common one-stop-shop for credits with a “meta-registry”. The draft says, “Such a carbon market would help create synergies across different policy measures for climate change mitigation, by creating a common marketplace for emissions trading through the development of a meta-registry”.
  • The market will be introduced in three phases. Phase one would focus on increasing demand, making ESCs and RECs more fungible (or interchangeable), adding participants to the buying pool and linking other markets to a ‘voluntary carbon market’.
  • Demand would stem from voluntary buyers, designated consumers in the PAT programme representing 50% of India’s primary energy consumption, state-designated agencies, distribution companies that have renewable purchase obligations, and airlines.
  • Phase two would focus on increasing supply in the market. As per the draft, the crucial supply-side push would come from project-level registration and proper validation, verification and issuance of emission reduction units (ERU). Participants’ activities would be credited with a project-specific reference case. For emissions reduction activities, this would be done by applying a greenhouse gas intensity factor to the production in question. The performance of the activity will be monitored and respective amounts of credits will be issued by the regulatory body. In order to generate credit, a project developer must complete a rigorous process in order to ensure that real, quantifiable emissions reductions have been achieved.
  • The third and final phase sees the market entering into a cap-and-trade regime where sectors and specific companies are allotted emissions quotas, with an overall emission cap. Companies that can easily abate their emissions will do so and sell their extra cuts to the companies which could not cut their emissions. To set a baseline for the first crediting period of the program, sectoral growth in the next few years would be used. Eventually, the targets will be aligned with India’s net-zero pledge.
  • To participate, each entity would need to set up a GHG emissions inventory and a monitoring, reporting and verification system.

What are ESCs? 
Under the Indian government’s Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme, Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) are issued to those plants that have achieved excess energy savings over their targets. Units that are unable to meet the targets either through their own actions or through the purchase of ESCerts are liable to financial penalty under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001]

What are RECs?
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are market-based instruments that certify the bearer owns one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated from a renewable energy source. The REC received can then be sold on the open market as an energy commodity once the power provider has fed the energy into the grid. RECs are traded by all electricity distribution licensees in India to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) which mandates them to purchase or produce a minimum specified quantity of their requirements from renewables.

There are, however, some lessons from India’s experience with the PAT scheme that entails reducing fossil fuel-based energy use in 13 energy-intensive sectors, including thermal power plants, cement, metals, fertilisers, petrochemicals, and textiles. The government claims its success, but after finely combing through the scheme and its performance a 2021 study by a Delhi-based think tank, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found the results less enthusiastic.

With an example of the power sector, CSE analysis shows that the total emission reduction at the end of completed first two PAT cycles–6 years in total, 3 years each–from the thermal power plant sector is 24.85 million tonnes of CO2, which is only 3% of the total annual emission from the sector. So, “the achieved annual emission reduction is very feeble,” the study said. The study also pointed out how an excess of availability of ESCs led to cheaper prices. Buying ESCs for compliance was far less expensive for thermal power plants than demonstrating compliance by installing energy-saving measures.

The problem is one of standardisation. With different methods and efficiencies of the emission reduction process applicable for different industries and production processes, how can it be ensured that Emission Reduction Certificates (ERCs) awarded represent the same effective quantity or quality of emission reductions. The methodology used to measure these reductions will thus be critical. If the applied parameters are too lax, it might lead to a flood of ERCs that cumulatively account for low levels of real emission reduction while also undermining the market through an oversupply of credits. If the parameters are too tight, on the other hand, the number of ERCs issued could become too low to sustain a healthy functioning market that represents real emission reductions.

These will also have a bearing on the price of these credits, which will be a key determinant of the effectiveness of the market in terms of real emission reductions. If priced too low, industries will find it easier to buy credits than achieving any real emission cuts. If the cost of purchasing credits is prohibitive, it might lead to low industry participation and the pricing-out of smaller players from the market.  

India’s carbon market will be ‘voluntary’ in its intermediate phase, and these markets around the world typically function under skeletal regulation. They often lack robust governance structures including standards for permanence and additionality. There are questions about their efficacy to achieve legitimate emission cuts. 

These initial stages of building demand and establishing a voluntary market, however, will be followed by a cap-and-trade regime, similar to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS), which is grappling with its own set of challenges including generous allocation of pollution quotas to industries, which essentially served as a subsidy to polluters.

To understand these larger issues and learnings in the carbon market space from around the world, CarbonCopy spoke with carbon market experts Gilles Dufrasne and Jonathan Crook of Carbon Market Watch (CMW), an international non-profit. 

Excerpts of the interview:

The blueprint sees a market introduced in three phases, moving from building demand in a voluntary system, then supply before a final cap-and-trade phase. Are there examples like this around the world? What are your initial thoughts on this?

I am not aware of similar examples in place today. CORSIA—a carbon market for airlines, set up at the United Nations level—similarly starts with an offsetting requirement for airlines, but it’s unclear that it will ever evolve into a cap and trade system. Some existing cap-and-trade systems started with very generous allocations of pollution permits (like the EU-ETS) before progressively becoming more stringent.

A voluntary system is unlikely to have any significant impact on emissions. The carbon price will likely be very low—because carbon credits on the voluntary market are very cheap, and hence is unlikely to incentivise meaningful reductions within companies. At the same time, there is a real risk that the credits purchased will not represent the full tonne of CO2e [carbon dioxide equivalent] that they are supposed to represent because many voluntary market projects issue credits of low quality (one major problem being the lack of additionality).

The third and final phase focuses on moving to a cap-and-trade system with sectors and specific companies being allotted emissions quotas. India’s cap-and-trade design is somewhat similar to the EU’s. What are the checks and balances that India should be careful about going forward? Any shortcomings in the EU market that India can learn from?

There are some valuable lessons to be drawn from the EU’s experience.

First, the EU has distributed too many allowances to companies, which has created a large oversupply that continues to weaken the system up to this day.

Second, the EU distributed a very large share of these allowances for free to industry—instead of auctioning them. This means that European governments have lost significant revenues from the sale of these allowances. Such a system also fails to implement the “polluter pays principle”, and in fact actually ended up subsidising the heaviest polluters, as they received more permits than they needed, and were able to sell these on the market and make a profit. Even without this overallocation, to this day, companies continue to pass on the cost of allowances to consumers, despite not having to pay to acquire them in the first place, which creates significant “windfall profits” for these companies.

The reduction trajectory under the EU ETS has also been too weak for years and continues not to be in line with the EU’s objective of reaching net-zero by 2050. This trajectory is currently being renegotiated, but substantial industry lobbying has, over the years, significantly weakened the stringency of the system.

What are the larger risks around such markets that you have seen worldwide? 

Cap-and-trade systems can be an impactful climate tool. When implemented correctly, they can set a meaningful decarbonisation incentive by pricing carbon, while at the same time generating large public revenues, which could for example be used to finance decarbonisation efforts or balance any social impacts from the carbon pricing policy. To achieve this, it is important to avoid the pitfalls of free allocation and over-generous distribution of allowances, which industries will certainly promote.

A voluntary market, on the other hand, is unlikely to make a significant difference in emissions. A significant share of voluntary market projects is not additional, meaning that these are projects which would go ahead regardless of the sale of carbon credits. A company buying such credits hence does not finance climate action, but simply hands out money to a project that would have happened anyway. Many renewable energy projects, in particular, larger ones and/or those connected to the grid, fall under this category of non-additionality. The credits generated by these projects are not only of low quality, but they are also very cheap. This gives companies an easy alternative to reducing their own emissions, which can have long-term impacts by locking them into high carbon investments.

In general, in systems like this, what are the basic standards and regulations for voluntary and cap-and-trade systems that should be in place to protect against greenwashing or unintended uses?

Avoid excessive distribution of allowances: It is key to respect a few basic principles, in particular, the implementation of the polluter pays principle. While a voluntary market is unlikely to have a significant impact, a cap and trade system can raise large public revenues, while setting a real incentive to decarbonise. A priority should be to avoid excessive distribution of allowances and ensure the auctioning – rather than free distribution – of allowances.

A registry should ensure independently verifiable transactions: Further, when and if a registry is set up for the baseline-and-crediting system it should have enough information for independent parties to be able to verify what’s happening, and what transactions are occurring. There should be rules about disclosures in the registry, which will ensure information about who is holding credits, on whose behalf, when it’s sold, to whom it is sold, and how much of the revenue is going back to the product developer or to local communities, where relevant. This is something sorely lacking from voluntary carbon markets currently. There are different entities that track how many credits have been issued, retired, etc. But there’s almost no information about who’s holding credits. This leads to a situation where intermediaries can hold millions of credits without anyone knowing.

All of this information is important because, for example, there are cases of LNG-cargoes being marketed as ‘carbon neutral’, because they have supposedly purchased carbon credits to offset the emissions. Aside from the fact that this is completely misleading for many reasons (including that Scope 3 emissions are not always accounted for), they often don’t disclose which credits, from which project. In this case, if oil and gas companies don’t voluntarily disclose it, and if it’s not required by law to publicly disclose this information on the registry, then there’s no way of verifying the claims about these offsets. 

Ensure strong safeguards for communities: Another very important thing for India would be to ensure that there are strong safeguards for people and communities at the local level that may be involved, or associated with a carbon crediting project. Many voluntary carbon market projects do not have a lot of transparency in terms of how many benefits local communities will receive from a project. Some standards may require a benefit-sharing agreement with the community, though they are not usually made public. As a result, it’s hard to actually know what’s happening on the ground. There have been cases reported, even recently, of brokers who resold carbon credits at a higher rate, as the price of carbon credits increased, but seemingly without any of the additional benefits going to the product developer or to local communities. So that’s a huge problem. Ideally, having a government setup system could help to mitigate some of these issues by making it a requirement, for instance, for brokers to disclose what percentage of the revenue goes to the project, developer, communities, etc, to have robust safeguards in place. 

Scattered showers: Some parts of the country witnessed extreme rainfall and floods, while others remained dry, affecting the crop production there. Photo: Wikimedia Commons_Rakesh.5suthar

Heavy rain lashes South India, but eludes north, northwest; delayed monsoon withdrawal likely

South India witnessed record levels of rain this past fortnight. Heavy rain was reported in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Bangalore crossed the 1,000mm mark for the first time ever this southwest monsoon season. Mumbai and its neighbouring areas also recorded heavy rain with thunderstorms and lightning strikes. 

Farmers in the north, however, are suffering because of a prolonged break from rain. Rajasthan, especially, hasn’t received rain for more than a fortnight. The unusually hot temperatures have ripened the kharif crops prematurely or burnt them in some cases. Churu, Rajasthan, recorded a maximum temperature of 41°C last week

The India Meteorological Department, however, predicted a fresh spell of rain for northwest India, including Rajasthan. Heavy rainfall over Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand over the last week did bring some respite, but it will now also delay the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon. The normal withdrawal date is September 17, but last year, it withdrew in mid-October.  

Exceeding 1.5°C warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points: Study

As the world becomes hotter with every passing day, there’s a growing risk to set off multiple climate tipping points (CTPs), according to recent research. Climate tipping points are conditions beyond which changes in a part of the climate system become self-perpetuating beyond a warming threshold. These changes may lead to abrupt, irreversible, and dangerous impacts with serious implications for humanity. 

The research identified nine global “core” tipping elements that contribute substantially to earth system functioning and seven regional “impact” tipping elements that contribute substantially to human welfare or have great value as unique features of the earth system. The study mapped that the current global warming of ~1.1°C above pre-industrial levels already lies within the lower end of five CTP uncertainty ranges. Six CTPs become likely (with a further four possible) within the Paris Agreement range of 1.5 to <2°C warming. 

Declining crop yields due to global warming could hinder bioenergy’s potential: Study

A new study found that declining crop yields because of warming climate are likely to reduce the effectiveness of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). BECCS includes the burning of biomass for energy, and the resultant emissions are captured. This “negative” emissions technology plays a major role in model pathways limiting warming to 1.5-2°C. The study, published in Nature, assumed that both biofuels and the residue from food crops are used for BECCS. With the increase in global temperatures, crop yield will also decline, as will its residue. If the warming threshold crosses 2.5°C, the effectiveness of BECCS will “rapidly decrease”, according to the study. Models relying on BECCS to limit global warming could be “unduly optimistic”, according to the authors. 

Warming-induced shift in precipitation patterns leading to rapid glacier mass loss in southeastern Tibetan plateau: Study

Less summer snowfall is likely the reason for the rapidly melting glaciers in south-eastern Tibet, according to a new study. Glaciers in this region receive the most amount of snowfall in the summer months. But rising temperatures have led to a shift in summer precipitation from snow to rain. This has limited the amount of snow that accumulates on the glacier, which eventually turns to ice. This coupled with an increase in glacier melt has resulted in a rapid loss of mass in the region, according to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Ready to dig: Parts of the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary will now be opened for sand mining.

Part of Chambal wildlife sanctuary to be opened for sand mining

Parts of the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary (NCWS) will be opened to sand mining. The sanctuary spans across three states–Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) gave its nod to sand mining in 207.05 hectares of the NCWS, which fall in Morena district in MP. Environmentalists warned that this decision could legalise illegal sand mining. They also fear that the order could be used to pressure central and state governments to open up protected areas for similar activities.  

Truss appoints ‘climate sceptic’ Jacob Rees-Mogg as UK’s new energy secretary

UK’s new prime minister Liz Truss appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg as the country’s new energy secretary, much to the dismay of climate experts. Rees-Mogg had previously blamed high energy prices on “climate-change alarmism”. Climate activists described his appointment as “deeply worrying”. Rees-Mogg is expected to lead the country’s efforts to achieve its mid-century net-zero target, his past views on which can be best described as sceptical.

G20 talks collapse after leaders fail to agree on text for Ukraine war, climate finance

G20 meetings in Bali collapsed after leaders from the world’s largest economies failed to agree on joint texts. Energy and climate ministers disagreed on language pertaining to the Ukraine war, climate finance, and limiting warming to 1.5-2°C. This has sparked fears that countries might backtrack on their climate pledges ahead of COP27 to be held in Egypt in two months. 

Sportswear brand owner gives away company to fight climate crisis 

The owner of Patagonia, one of the world’s largest sportswear brands is giving away his entire company to fight climate change. Yvon Chouinard is giving the company to a trust and non-profit that will use all of the company’s profits towards climate action. Members of the Chouinard family donated 2% of all stock and their decision-making power to a trust, while 98% of the company stock will go to Holdfast Collective, a non-profit. 

Connecting dots: Research found that places with higher levels of air pollution had more lung cancers not caused by smoking.

Study redefines air pollution’s link to cancer

How does air pollution lead to cancer? According to new research, rather than causing damage, air pollution wakes up old damaged cells. The findings mark a “new era” for scientists as it will allow them to develop drugs that stop cancers from forming, reported the BBC. The research found that cancer-causing substances do not damage the DNA as earlier believed, but they trigger cancerous mutations in the DNA that are already damaged from ageing. Scientists discovered this while exploring why non-smokers get lung cancer.

Studying the impact of particulate matter PM2.5, they found that places with higher levels of air pollution had more lung cancers not caused by smoking. Breathing in PM2.5 leads to the release of a chemical alarm—interleukin-1-beta—in the lungs, which inflames and activates cells in the lungs to help repair any damage. 

But around one in every 600,000 cells in the lungs of a 50-year-old already contains potentially cancerous mutations, which are caused due to ageing, but they appear completely healthy until they are activated by the chemical alarm and become cancerous, the report said.

Centre extends deadline for coal plants to fix SO2 emissions to 2027

Yet again, the government extended the deadline for thermal power plants to meet SO2 norms to December 31, 2027, for units which are scheduled to retire, and December 31, 2026, for plants that will continue operations beyond that period. The rules to control particulate matter, SO2, nitrogen oxides and mercury from coal-fired power plants were notified in December 2015, which had a deadline of December 2017.

Now, coal power plants have additional two years to install equipment to minimise the emissions of sulphur dioxide, a greenhouse gas, after they failed to meet the deadline to comply yet again. Experts pointed out that since 2021, only about 68.7 GW of the total installed capacity of 169.7 GW had been awarded bids for installing flue gas desulphurization (FGD), the process of removing sulphur compounds from the exhaust emissions of fossil-fueled power stations. Experts said instead of shutting down the plants that are flouting norms, the government is rewarding them with extensions.

Air in 95 of 131 National Clean Air Programme cities improves: Centre 

Over the past five years, the air quality of 95 out of 131 cities covered under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) improved with Varanasi recording the highest—53%—decline in PM 10 concentrations in 2021-22 compared to the baseline of 2017, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s assessments. 

Five years ago, Varanasi’s annual PM 10 concentration was 244 micrograms per cubic metres, now at 114 micrograms per cubic metres in 2021-22. Delhi’s air improved by 18% as in 2017. Its PM 10 annual average concentration was 241 micrograms per cubic metres, which fell to 196 micrograms per cubic metres in 2021-22.

Analysts are relieved to see improvement in air quality of the Indo-Gangetic Plains cities, which had very high concentrations of air pollution. Twenty-seven cities, including Chennai, are meeting the annual PM 10 air quality standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metres, according to the data.

Climate change-induced heatwaves, wildfires to worsen air pollution: WMO

According to the latest report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), frequent and intense heatwaves and wildfires driven by climate change are expected to worsen the air quality. Because of large wildfires in 2021, particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in eastern Siberia reached “levels not observed before”. Lead scientists of the report said a further increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves could lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘climate penalty’ (climate impact on ground-level ozone production, which negatively impacts the air people breathe).

Vedanta flouts pollution laws in Goa, still manages Centre’s clearance?

Vedanta’s iron industry in Goa got clearance to expand despite being caught emitting dangerous substances for over a decade, reported the Wire, adding that the company went to great lengths to dodge environmental laws and avoid paying for pollution mitigation efforts.

The company’s pig iron factory, with a monthly capacity of 80,000 tonnes, is scaling up. In Amona and Navelim in Goa, Vedanta has set up three blast furnaces that it says are two separate units—to cut costs and evade stricter pollution limits. In 2022, it got the Centre’s clearance to ramp up these plants despite an adverse environmental audit.

The Centre also said that Vedanta should treat the two units as one large unit and thus submit to a tougher EIA. Earlier in 2021, after the ministry pulled up Vedanta for allotting only Rs35 crore for environmental protection, the number shot up to Rs90.68 crore.

Aiming high: The RE target in India’s new draft national electricity policy is more than what India promised at COP26 last year.

India raises RE targets to 186 GW from 150 GW by 2027 in new national electricity policy

India’s new draft national electricity policy (NEP) pledged to increase installed solar power capacity by 2030, and reduce installed coal capacity when compared to Central Electricity Authority’s 2020 Optimal Generation Capacity Mix report.

The RE target is more than what India promised at COP26 last year. According to India’s updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs), India aims to increase its total share of installed non-fossil fuel capacity to 50% by 2030, but the draft electricity plan commits to 57% non-fossil fuel capacity by 2027 and 68% by 2032. In 2018, India expects 150GW of installed solar capacity by 2027, which is raised by an additional 36GW to 186 GW by 2027 in the new plan.

The world will save up to $12 trillion if it switches to renewable energy by 2050: Study

The world will save around $12 trillion (£10.2 trillion) if it switches from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2050, according to a new study published in journal Joule. Based on historic price data for renewables and fossil fuels, the study predicted future prices and concluded that the cost of solar and wind power has fallen rapidly “at a rate approaching 10% a year”.

The research pointed out that industry has overestimated the future costs of transition to clean energy and dampened the confidence of investors and governments alike. 

India needs 10 GW annual onshore wind capacity to get 70 GW by 2030: Study

Over the past five years (2017-21), India’s SECI tendered 3.5 GW of annual onshore wind capacity on average, this excluded hybrid tenders, which were at annual average of 1.6GW capacity between 2018-21, reported Global Wind Energy Council. According to the report, India will require 8-10 GW of annual tendering capacity to be able to install 70 GW inshore wind capacity by 2030, the report estimated. 

EU mulls to cap profits of power companies to fight rising consumer power bills 

The European Commission plans to impose a €180 per megawatt-hour revenue cap on abnormally high profits” of energy companies to help households and businesses battling rising electricity prices, which have risen 10-fold in the past year, driven by the high price of gas due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand from global markets. The proposed temporary revenue cap on so-called “inframarginal” electricity producers will allow the member countries to collect estimated €140 billion (£121 billion) from the electricity producers, on an annual basis, which would go towards reducing bills for consumers, Renews reported.

China’s global wind turbine order intake break record, rise 36% in 2022

China witnessed a record 36% increase in wind turbine orders worth $18.1 billion globally, according to Wood Mackenzie. China’s global turbine orders rose to 43 gigawatts in quarter two of 2022, according to the new analysis. According to the research company, China aims to support an estimated average build of more than 55 GW per year over the next 10 years. 

In Q2 alone, China accounted for a record 35 GW of activity and is at 45 GW year-to-date, Renews reported. World intake of offshore wind turbine orders exceeded 6 GW in Q2 this year. Europe’s intake grew to 3.8 GW, doubling its Q1 activity, and the US’ intake was at a low of less than 2 GW through H1, the report stated. 

Recharge offer: The govt is planning to introduce a subsidy for businesses looking to establish electric vehicle charging points across the country.

Govt to provide subsidy to set up EV charging infra: Power Secretary

The central government is trying to change the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME II) policy to include a subsidy for businesses looking to establish electric vehicle (EV) charging points across India, Union power secretary Alok Kumar said. The government would offer subsidies to the companies looking to build charging infrastructure in the country, which will subsequently be given to the regional electricity distribution firms. For instance, the installation of a 200-KW charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will receive a subsidy of about Rs4-5 lakh. 

Fire at e-scooter showroom in Hyderabad kills 8

A fire broke out at an electric scooter store in Hyderabad on September 12, leaving eight people dead and numerous others injured. The fire reportedly erupted at the showroom on the ground floor and spread to a hotel located above it, on the building’s upper floors. Authorities are yet to determine the cause of the fire. Whether it is due to short circuit or charging of batteries in the cellar or in the first floor where the scooter showroom is located, will be known after the fire department’s investigation. All 40 electric bikes, purportedly kept on the charging mode in the showroom, were gutted. The police have so far booked the building and showroom owners. 

About 25 guests were stuck there when the fire erupted. Viral videos showed people trying to jump out of the windows. The PM announced a compensation of Rs2 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Used electric car batteries to get a second life as stationary energy storage systems

The national railway company of Germany, Deutsche Bahn (DB), and Korean car maker Kia have partnered up to reuse used lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles to create efficient and cost-effective energy storage systems for green electricity. These second-life battery energy storage solutions can save surplus electricity from photovoltaic systems or, as part of a distributed system, can supply power throughout the day to DB maintenance depots and depots where trains are prepared for operations. This would help cut the cost of power peaks. 

The pilot project went into operation in Berlin in July 2022. The procedure is being handled by encore, a corporate startup of DB Bahnbau Gruppe, which will start serial manufacture and distribution of several hundred battery energy storage systems in 2023.

BMW to use cylindrical battery cells for new class of EVs from 2025

In order to speed up charging and increase range, BMW will use cylindrical battery cells produced in six plants by partners like China’s CATL and EVE Energy. They will power its next class of electric vehicles to be introduced in 2025. BMW’s new generation of batteries will use more nickel and silicon and less cobalt, leading to a 20% increase in energy density, 30% faster charging and a 30% longer range than previous generations. Breaking from the prismatic cells it has so far used in its batteries, BMW is following Tesla’s  (TSLA.O) path that uses 4,680 cylindrical batteries. Prismatic batteries are rectangular in shape and have become the most common form of auto battery in the past two years as they can be more densely packed, saving on costs. However, cylindrical batteries with the newer larger format cells are said to become more cost-effective due to improvements in energy density.

Shutdown effects: The closure of Nord Stream Iled to a surge in gas prices and a slump in the value of the euro and pound. Photo: Wikimedia Commons_PjotrMahh1

Gas prices soar as Russia shuts off major pipeline to Europe

Russia shut off one of its biggest pipelines, Nord Stream I, on August 31, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany. While Russia initially said it was taking this step because of a technical fault, many European leaders said the country was retaliating to European sanctions imposed on it after its invasion of Ukraine. The shutdown triggered a surge in gas prices and a slump in the value of the euro and pound. EU countries are now looking to store as much gas as they can ahead of a harsh winter and are also looking for alternative fuel sources as they brace for a severe gas shortage. 

Gas flows from other key routes, such as the eastbound Yamal-Europe pipeline, however, remained steady this week. Russian energy firm Gazprom committed to ship 42.4 million cubic metres of natural gas to Europe through Ukraine. 

Chinese LNG firms pump up supply for overseas market amidst global energy crisis

As the global energy crisis worsens, Chinese LNG companies are ramping up their supplies for the overseas market, especially Europe. Some firms have seen a double-digit rise in their overseas orders, Global Times reported. The price of gas at the end of summer was $2,500 per 1,000 cubic metres, up 2.6 times compared to the beginning of June. 

Experts, however, warned Europe should not depend on Chinese companies to make up for its gas shortage as their stock is limited. Apart from supply being tight, Chinese firms also have to grapple with the lack of infrastructure such as storage tanks and LNG ships.

Big oil spending more on climate-positive PR than actual low-carbon investments: Study

Big oil and gas companies are spending hundreds of millions on climate-positive messaging, while they continue engaging with lobbying activities and investments to lock our future in fossil fuels, a new study found. A detailed analysis of company disclosures and public messaging by climate think-tank InfluenceMap focused on public communications in North America and Europe, and found that 60% of the public messages from BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and TotalEnergies contain ‘green’ claims, while 23% promote oil and gas. However, these companies are set to spend a relatively small fraction (12% on average) of their capital expenditure (CAPEX) budgets on ‘low-carbon’ investments this year, according to the study.