Vol 2, July 2022 | Diamond in the rough

While a rapid expansion of carbon removal capacities is required in order to lower atmospheric carbon concentrations, it is feared that expanding CCS would in effect prolong the use of fossil fuels. Photo: Climeworks

The IPCC says the world will need carbon removal in the long run, but a measured approach to CCUS will ensure current bloated costs, and tall claims made by private players are eventually kept in check . Read more

While a rapid expansion of carbon capture and removal capacities is required in order to lower atmospheric carbon concentrations, it is feared that expanding CCS would in effect prolong the use of fossil fuels. Photo: Climeworks

Carbon capture and removal: Not all it is cracked up to be

The IPCC says the world will need carbon capture and removal in the long run, but a measured approach to CCUS will ensure current bloated costs, and tall claims made by private players are eventually kept in check 

India’s climate action plan looks set to have a new addition—carbon removal. The Indian government has been quietly exploring the carbon removal option since the PM’s net zero announcement at COP26 in November last year. The first noticeable move in this direction came early this year when the government established two centres of excellence to study carbon removal. After a period of relative silence, early July saw a panel comprising representatives from the petroleum ministry, industry executives and academics putting forth a draft roadmap for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) for upstream exploration and production companies. The roadmap aims to capitalise on “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to emerge as a global CCUS innovation hub.”

The opportunity referred to in the document is the climate crisis. Averting the crisis, according to the IPCC, would require a rapid expansion of carbon removal capacities in order to lower atmospheric carbon concentrations. In order to keep warming within a 1.5˚C temperature rise by 2100, the world will need carbon removal in the long run and rapid decarbonisation in the short term, according to the latest assessment by the IPCC. Models included in the 6th Assessment Report suggest that carbon dioxide removal (CDR) could rise to 6 billion tonnes of CO₂ (tCO₂) a year by 2050 under certain assumptions. Assessments done by the IEA, which considers the possibility of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 while still accommodating an expanding carbon budget, show that the world needs to pull out nearly a billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. As of 2021, less than 10,000 tCO2 has been permanently removed. Without the flow of capital into CCUS, however, the cost of mitigation, according to the IPCC, is likely to more than double.

The urgency to remove carbon, along with the evolution of carbon pricing, emissions trading and increasing pressure on companies to declare emissions reduction plans has resulted in billions of dollars of private and public capital pouring into carbon removal technologies and companies. Several large investment groups, including the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and even government agencies like the US Department of Energy are supporting the two broad categories of CCS: one that is applied to power plants and industrial facilities, and direct-air-capture (DAC). Both categories involve four distinct steps, namely, CO2 capture from anthropogenic sources compression, transportation, utilisation and storage, each of which can be resource- and energy-intensive. 

The former captures carbon through chemical processes before it is released out into the air, and the latter sucks carbon out of the air (again through chemical agents) to ultimately achieve net negative emissions. The captured CO2 is dealt with in two ways: a) it is pumped and stored underground in abandoned oil and gas fields or rock formations that are judged to not be vulnerable to seismic activity, or b) it is repurposed for use with existing materials. The latter has spurred incredible innovation (more on that later) and is helped in no small measure by generous incentives, such as the $100 million XPrize Carbon Removal fund, supported by the Musk Foundation.

Bloated costs of capturing carbon

There are currently 59 CCS plants in service around the world that are together removing more than 40 million tonnes of CO2 every year. For context, the world emitted 43 billion tonnes of CO2, or a 1,000 times more than the removal capacity, in 2019. While two plants, both in the US, have also suspended operations due to accidents and poor economic output, there are reportedly around 75 plants at various stages of development and planning. One recent addition to the list of operating plants is the Orca direct air capture and storage plant in Iceland. Developed by Switzerland-based Climeworks, the plant will mix the CO2 with water and pipe it deep into underground basalt formations, where over time it will cool and turn into solid rock. Orca is rated to extract 4,000 metric tonnes (MT) of CO2 every year, but at $600-800/tonne of CO2 removal, its prices are prohibitively expensive. 

Analysts suggest that they need to come down to around $100-150/tonne for such plants to turn a profit without any government subsidies. Climeworks co-founder Christoph Gebald says that is the target beyond 2030, after dropping to $200-300/tonne by the end of the decade as economies of scale kick in with additional units. He also points out that the state of California subsidises EVs to the tune of $450-500 per tonne of CO2 emissions (saved over their lifetimes), and this kind of the support would certainly be welcomed by CCS operators. But for now, customers that cannot afford to cap their own emissions, such as large industrial facilities, can pay Climeworks to do the job for them. In comparison, trees are estimated to perform the same function at a cost of about $50/tco2. 

Except that Orca is blessed with access to Iceland’s cheap and zero-carbon geothermal energy, as well as plentiful water for the CO2 to be mixed with and just the right geological underbelly. In fact, that’s precisely why it was installed in Iceland. If it were to be set up in a water-stressed region (like most developing nations with coal plants) and the power for it came from fossil sources, the operation may end up releasing more CO2 than it absorbs (depending upon the plant’s efficiency) and worsen the local water availability. 

Carbon Removal Technology is Scaling

CCUS technology is definitely scaling, even if far from the required rates, with the oil-dependent Middle East emerging as the hot new market. Oman and Saudi Arabia are the first in the region to declare their carbon-capture ambitions. The technology, too, has been diversifying, with new concepts to capture and store ocean-dissolved carbon being introduced into the commercial carbon removal landscape. 

Still, atmospheric carbon capture remains the predominant mode. The Carbon Engineering-run plants in Texas, US, and Alberta, Canada, are much larger than the Orca at around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 removal capacity per year. The world would need nearly 21,500 such plants to reach the 6 billion tCO2 figure included in the IPCC assessment. To achieve net-zero status by 2050, the number of such plants would need to be closer to 100,000. Even conservative estimates would put the required capital expenditure at several hundreds of billions of dollars and aggressive carbon pricing regimes to sustain.

carbon sequestration
CCUS plants at different stages of development around the world | Source: Global CCS Institute

The utilisation of sequestered carbon is slowly but surely emerging as an option to increase the circularity of carbon and extend its value chain. Spurred on by the XPrize challenge, a number of brilliant minds have devised uses for the captured carbon that have birthed an entirely new industry: carbon-based consumer goods. The products include diamonds and high-end sportswear, carbon sunglasses, shampoo bottles and wallets, and the idea behind “carbon recycling” is to make CCS (much) more remunerative by creating mass market demand for carbon. Also, the two winners of the XPrize Carbon Removal challenge—they will receive $7.5 million each—will capture CO2 from a coal and natural gas plant (in Wyoming and Alberta, respectively) and inject it into concrete in a manner that will lower the manufacturers’ water requirement by up to 50%, and add to the material strength of the concrete. Concrete is one of the most abundantly used manmade materials and accounts for roughly 8% of global CO2 emissions, so the advancements would be a big step towards sustainable construction. 

Captured carbon can also be applied to agriculture, to improve soil carbon and spur plant growth. Australia-based Global CCS Institute suggests that this application makes CCUS a useful piece of the Just Transition puzzle as the world looks to tackle emissions from agriculture as well as the looming food security question. It says that instead of the renewables-related manufacturing jobs migrating to a few production centres (mainly China), CCS could create high-value jobs in virtually every country and avoid the socio-economic shut down costs of retiring existing fossil fuel capacities. From 40 million tonnes per annum at the moment to an estimated 5,635 MTPA of CO2 removal by 2050, expanding CCS facilities may certainly require much more manpower. 

India’s Carbon Sequestration Roadmap

India, which emits about 2.65 GT of CO2 annually or 7% of the global total, is the world’s third-largest emitter of CO2 emissions after China (28%) and USA (15%). Over two-thirds of the country’s emissions can be attributed to the energy sector and while India’s per capita emissions continue to remain far below the average in developed economies, international pressure to ratchet up its emissions reduction ambitions have been increasing in recent years. The 2070 net-zero target announced last year includes short-term targets of reducing projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 and bringing down the carbon intensity of the Indian economy by 45% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.

India’s recently released draft roadmap primarily focuses on emissions removals from fossil fuel energy projects. Although the draft lists four separate methods of CDR, it predominantly covers post-combustion carbon capture on site, given the relative ease of retrofitting the required technologies. The draft advocates for the recovery and transport of carbon to be then injected into oil producing reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Even though a majority of global CCUS projects utilise removed carbon for similar purposes, the draft goes on to acknowledge that given the spatial and geographical limitations of oil and gas fields, there is a possibility that future CCUS projects will shift to permanent geological storage, in which the carbon is injected into cracks and fissures of suitable geological bedrocks.

The draft identifies four distinct methods with significant storage potential in the country— storage through CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR), enhanced coal bed methane recovery (ECBMR), in deep saline aquifers, and basalt formations. While the first two are methods to plug carbon right back into fossil fuel production channels, the latter two involve permanent geological storage. 

Estimates included in the draft show a viable capacity of 1.204 GTCO2 in India’s oil and gas fields and storage capacity between 3.5-6.3 GTCO2 in the country’s coal reservoirs. Saline aquifer and basalt storage are estimated to be around 291 GTCO2 and between 97-316 GTCO2 respectively. While acknowledging the high costs of CCUS and the risks associated with transporting sequestered carbon, the draft goes on to advocate incentivising CCUS through direct capital gains, subsidies, carbon pricing, prioritising procurement of low-carbon products and support for R&D.

carbon sequestration technology
CO2 capture and storage capacity of major geological formations in India through CO2 EOR, ECBMR, in saline aquifers, and basalt. The basins in grey were excluded from the calculations due to insufficient data | Source: MoPNG; Draft 2030 Roadmap for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) for Upstream E&P Companies

Currently, there are no active operational CCUS plants in the country. The first one to come online will likely beat IOCL’s Koyali refinery. The project envisages piping captured CO2 from the refinery to ONGC’s Western onshore field in Gandhar about 80kms away where it will then be used for EOR. Oil India Limited’s (OIL) Naharkatia Oilfield in Assam has also been identified as a candidate for CO2 utilisation for EOR.

Big players in India’s private sector have been moving too, to insert themselves into the country’s nascent captured carbon value chain. Dalmia Cement’s Ariyalur plant in Tamil Nadu, which requires a total of 5 MTPA of coal for production and also has a 27MW captive power plant for electricity, recently conducted a feasibility study for carbon capture and utilisation for urea production with the help of the Asian Development Bank. According to the feasibility report, viable CCU integration would be along with a biomass boiler and fossil fuel-based ammonia, which could reduce CO2 emissions from the plant by about 60%. This, however, would come at a cost of $2.9 billion, just to set up the plant alone. 

For a base case where 0.5 million tonnes of CO2 is converted into 680,000 tonnes of urea, the capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the project is estimated at $365.43 million (Rs26,417.98 million) or $730.86 (Rs52,835.96) per tonne of CO2 for conversion into urea. Operational Expenditure (OPEX) for the conversion is determined as $167.35 million (Rs12,098.23 million) or $316.34 (Rs22,869.17) per tonne of CO2 converted to urea, including capture cost is $55.65 per tonne. The requisite price of carbon credits to achieve a 20% internal rate of return has been estimated to be around $85/tCO2. Other estimates have pegged the carbon pricing to be around $57-68/tCO2 for CCUS to become viable in India. If passed on to the end-consumer, this additional cost could have an amplified effect on economic demand. While costs have been prohibitively high, it has not stopped other Indian businesses from incorporating CCUS in their long-term decarbonisation strategies, most notably steel companies such as Tata Steel and JSW.

Claims aplenty, low accountability on CO2 capture

While economic and natural resource feasibility continue to dog the prospects of carbon capture, utilisation and storage, activists have also pointed to the lack of evidence of real world emission reductions from carbon removal projects. A recent report by Transparency International pointed to the lack of any clear regulations or multilateral governance or verification process to flag risks of corruption, lobbying and unverified claims emerging in the CDR landscape. 

Additionally, activists have also propped up the notion that expanding CCS would in effect prolong the use of fossil fuels. Indeed, the oil and gas industry has been one of its strongest supporters, not just because the captured carbon (CO2) can be piped down into underground deposits to extract even more oil—a process known as Enhanced Oil Recovery. It can extract up to 60% of a reserve’s oil deposits—some studies say it could boost oil output from deep beneath the North Sea by 15%—but is different from fracking in that it scrapes the rock formations and does not crack them open. It is widely used across North America, but one would argue that CCS overall obviates the need to throttle emissions and switch to clean alternatives. Further, transportation and storage of removed carbon open up risks of leakages and environmental contamination. Natural gas pipelines, which are responsible for a large chunk of the associated fugitive methane emissions stand as evidence of these risks.

There is merit to the argument as it is not just the carbon footprint of the fossil fuels industry that needs to be managed, but also its ecological and public health impacts. The Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 released 210 million gallons of crude oil and is expected to disrupt marine life and contaminate the food chain in the Gulf of Mexico for generations. Also, as the Arctic ice cap thaws and Big Oil looks to move in, the spectre of an oil spill in the pristine waters is a very real possibility. 

While removal and utilisation of CO2, at least in theory, offers a way to reduce the burden of carbon, governments must be wary of substituting the need to cut-down on fossil fuels with a still contentious and incredibly expensive technology. While a measured approach to CCUS could indeed evolve into a win-win situation that delivers emissions reductions and economic benefits, as has been claimed by proponents, over-reliance on these methods and low accountability could very easily turn this hail Mary into a lose-lose.

Full throttle: After a weak start, monsoon in India is progressing, with multiple states across the nation witnessing high rainfall and floods. Photo: Diariocritico de Venezuela_Flickr

Monsoon wreaks havoc across India; Delhi receives rainfall, finally

After a shaky start, the monsoon season has invaded the entire country with full force, with several regions reporting incessant rain and massive flooding. In the north, Delhi finally received some rain and got a respite from the heat. East Rajasthan also reported heavy rain. 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms in Himachal Pradesh, as well as on the east coast in Odisha, which is already reeling from heavy rain and floods. In the west, Gujarat had already received 900mm in the past week. It usually receives an average of 1,450mm of seasonal rainfall every year. There were reports of rivers and dams overflowing in Valsad and Navsari districts. Three people have died because of rain-related incidents in Telangana and the state has reported a loss of around Rs 1,400 crore due to floods in its northern and eastern districts last week.

In the south, Kerala was put on high alert as rain lashed the region continuously for five days and counting. Authorities said certain dams were nearing capacity. The IMD issued a yellow alert in eight districts. In Andhra Pradesh, an overflowing river Godavari inundated villages and fields. Authorities said the Godavari flood breached the 25 lakh cusecs mark after 16 years.

Rajasthan has received above-average rainfall this monsoon season, while heavy rains also lashed parts of Chhattisgarh, including Raipur. 

Wildfires rage across Europe, temperatures reach 45°C in some regions

An unusual heat wave triggered wildfires across Europe. The UK, southern France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Croatia have reported severe blazes. Temperatures tipped at 45°C in parts of the continent. In the UK, temperatures rose to above 40°C for the first time ever. Near Bordeaux in the South of France, more than 800 firefighters were battling two wildfires, and around 6,500 people were evacuated. 

Around 1,800 hectares of land has so far been destroyed in the fires so far. In Portugal, the mayor announced more than 3,000 hectare of land has been destroyed in just the district of Leiria. In western Spain, a wildfire destroyed 3,500 hectares of land, and more than 400 people were evacuated. 

In Croatia, wildfires fuelled by strong winds blazed across the Adriatic Sea coast. Firefighters struggled to keep things under control as water-dropping planes were also seen trying to contain the flames. 

5 most-polluting countries caused $6 tn in global economic losses between 1990-2014: Study

A new study found five national emitters of greenhouse gases caused $6 trillion in global economic losses due to warming between 1990 and 2014. The US and China alone accounted for $1.8 trillion each of the total amount in the 25-year period, according to the study conducted by the University of Dartmouth. Russia, India, and Brazil accounted for more than $500 billion each in economic losses, the study found. According to the researchers, the study proves that there is a scientific basis for climate liability claims.  

Watered down: This exemption further dilutes EIA norms, much to environmentalists’ dismay. Photo: P Jeganathan/WikimediaCommons

Highway construction upto 100 kms from LoC, without green clearance, allowed

The government exempted highway construction activity upto 100 km from line of control from prior environmental clearances. Environmentalists and legal experts opposed the dilution of the EIA norms, particularly for highway projects in border areas. The government said they had not received any major objections to these changes, HT reported. Experts pointed out that the land within this 100-km EC-exempt zone, is about 1.3M km², or 40% of India’s land area.

The high-powered committee (HPC) for the Char Dham Pariyojana, Uttarakhand, recommended an environment impact assessment (EIA) before conducting road widening in the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone stretch. But environmentalists fear that the exemption will mean the EIA process will be skipped entirely for the project.  

India’s green ministry seeks to decriminalise some provisions of its forest act

Environmentalists raised concerns about a recent consultation paper released by India’s environment ministry. The paper includes the ministry’s plans to decriminalise some provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, including starting a fire in a forest, felling trees, and dragging timber. 

The original provision stated that such acts would lead to imprisonment of six months and a fine. The proposed provision, however, seeks to reduce this to just a fine of Rs500. Environmentalists, however, fear that the new provisions trivialise a serious offence such as felling trees worth lakhs by just imposing a paltry fine.  

India likely to submit emission-cutting plan to UN by September: Sources

India will submit its emission-cutting plans to the United Nations, an obligation it has to fulfil under the Paris Agreement. It is likely to send across the plans by September, just before COP27, according to sources. The country has delayed submitting plans despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grand announcement at COP27 the net-zero-by-2070 target.  

Brazil’s Supreme Court first in world to recognise Paris Agreement as human rights treaty

In a move that is sure to have implications on climate litigation globally, Brazil’s Supreme Court became the first in the world to recognise the Paris Agreement as a human rights treaty. The declaration was made as the court delivered its first climate change ruling, which ordered the Brazilian government to reactivate its national climate fund. The court said the climate fund was a primary tool to cut emissions, and shutting it down was equivalent to a breach “by omission” of the country’s constitution. 

In with the new: Revised emergency measures have been introduced for times when air quality worsens in Delhi. Photo: the Hindu

Centre’s air quality commission revises Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQP) recommended revisions to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — the emergency measures when air quality worsens in Delhi. The revised GRAP recommended a ban on coal and firewood, including in tandoors in hotels, restaurants, open eateries, and on diesel generator sets, except for emergent and essential services under Stage I. Around 950,000 diesel vehicles will be off road under new norms if pollution touched 450.

The commission recommended action based on the air quality index (AQI) and not the existing system of response that kicks in based on particulate matter concentrations. The new GRAP follows four different stages of adverse air quality in Delhi: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe+’ (AQI >450).

Earlier, under the ‘severe plus’ situation, agencies waited for PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations to stay above 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic metre for 48 hours or more before implementing the measures mandated under GRAP.

Govt rejects EPIC report that links air pollution and life expectancy

The government rejected the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) annual update report released by The Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago (EPIC), last month that said air pollution is the greatest threat to human health in India. The report also stated the average Indian resident is set to lose five years of life expectancy if the new WHO guideline is not met.  

Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey told Parliament that the government is aware of such studies. However, there is no linear relationship between air pollution and life expectancy as assumed in the AQLI by EPIC.

Residents of Delhi, the most polluted megacity in the world with average annual PM2.5 levels exceeding 107 micrograms per cubic metre or more than 21 times the WHO guideline, stand to lose 10 years of life expectancy if current air pollution level persists, the report had stated. 

IIT-K to help India set up sensors to measure air quality in villages

The Centre launched a pilot project to eventually set up a network of air quality sensors in rural India. The Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K),  will develop the $2.5 million project (₹19 crore) to install nearly 1,400 sensors in rural blocks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The three-year pilot project, if successful, will be implemented on a national level, setting up a network of air quality sensors in rural India.

21% higher death risk on days when heat ways meet air pollution: Study

According to a new American study, extreme heat and air pollution combined lead to more deaths compared to deaths because of air pollution during moderate heat. Researchers at the University of Southern California analysed more than 1.5 million deaths in California between 2014 and 2019, and found that the risk of death increased by 21% on days when there was both extreme heat and high air pollution.

The researchers found that the risk of death increased by about 6% on days with extreme high temperatures and by about 5% on days with high concentrations of fine particulate matter, PM2.5.

Lion’s share: Gujarat received the biggest amount in financial aid from the Union ministry of new and renewable energy for solar projects among all Indian states. Photo: pixabay

Centre opts for feed-in tariffs over reverse auctions that earned DISCOMS low tariffs

The government is planning to introduce state specific feed-in tariffs from April 1, 2023, instead of reverse actions, which DISCOMS prefer, Mercom reported. RE tariffs fell drastically under reverse auctions with competitive biddings, compared to feed-in tariff projects. Private industry claim reverse auctions lead to “unhealthy competition”.

The low tariffs have been the result of aggressive bidding, particularly by public sector developers, who have access to low-cost funding. Solar projects fell to a record low tariff of Rs1.99 per kWh in 2020 in reverse action.

The Centre plans to conduct detailed research before proposing a state specific feed-in tariff mechanism, Mercom reported. If such a tariff is high and not accepted by the DISCOM the government will reconsider the option, said the energy news portal.

Gujarat got 47% of MNRE aid to install solar power in 2021

Gujarat got almost half of the total aid from the Centre to states in 2021 to install solar projects, the government told Parliament. Gujarat received Rs1,242.71 crore (47%) in financial aid of a total amount of Rs2,633 crore disbursed to all other states in 2021-22. Gujarat ‘s installed solar power capacity is at 7,806.8 MW.

The state plans to procure up to 1.5 GW of solar power from grid-connected PV projects. The bidders are expected to supply the power from their proposed or under-construction PV projects. Of 1.5 GW capacity, 750 MW will be awarded under the Greenshoe option, reported PVMagazine.

Report: India my miss 2030 RE target by 104 GW

India must add over 38 GW of renewable capacity annually between 2022 to 2030 to achieve its target, which it is likely to miss by 104GW considering the current market and growth trends, according to a new report by GlobalData.

The report stated that even after including large hydro under the definition of renewables, India is likely to achieve its 2022 target but may miss out on the solar-specific target and fall short of the 2030 target. The country aims to reach a renewable power capacity of 500 GW and meet 50% of its electricity needs through renewables by 2030. It also targets net-zero emissions by 2070.

Only decentralised RE can help India to achieve 2030 targets: Experts

India can achieve its 2030 target only by increasing decentralised renewable energy projects, experts warned. The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) Surya Sethi pointed out that utility scare RE projects use grid as back-up (battery) and that cost is not included in the overcall cost per unit. Solar, wind or biofuel are, by nature, decentralised (energy needed to transport biofuels beyond 5 sqkm is more than what can be extracted from that biomass, Surya said). All new projects for RE are being built over agricultural land, no matter how much they are yielding, pointed out Ulka Kelkar. All big projects target massive installed capacities and disrupt agriculture and biodiversity, experts pointed out at the  Earth Journalism Network workshop. 

According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), India gets investments of about $10-15 billion for RE annually, when it needs over $30-40 billion. At the Glasgow 2021 summit, India announced an RE target of 500 GW by 2030 and said it will meet 50% power requirement through RE.

Better now than later: US EV buyers have indicated that they'd much rather pay a little more for their vehicles with an upfront subsidy, instead of waiting to receive the full $7,500 tax credit. Photo: cars.com

Study: Upfront rebates valued far more than tax credits

A new study by George Washington University found that despite the US government offering $7,500 in tax credits for new EV purchases, customers actually far prefer to receive an upfront rebate. The nationwide survey calculated that this is because customers valued immediacy instead of having to wait for the credits to be applied after they filed their taxes. Thus, while the latter had been popular amongst the wealthiest buyers, the lower rungs would have much preferred a $6,000 upfront, “cash on the hood” rebate to make the purchase easier. Such a difference in the amount, the study reported, could have saved the federal government $2 billion ($1,440 per EV) over the lifetime of the tax credit. 

Coal India to set up EV charging infa for its own EV fleet 

India’s largest coal miner, Coal India Ltd., will set up its own charging infrastructure for its fleet of EVs that it plans to transition to, and the charging stations will be set up at the site of the vehicles’ operation. The move is a part of the miner’s steps to lower its CO2 footprint — the pre-feasibility studies have been completed — and the plan is to electrify the payloader vehicles that lift coal. The same is already being done in the western markets, although the heavy earth moving vehicles will be trailed for a transition to LNG instead, because CIL felt that the enormous loads they carry would not be supported by battery power. The LNG pilot will be carried out with Mahanadi Coalfields and GAIL, and is expected to be completed by September 2022. 

BYD outpaces Tesla as world’s top EV seller, Hyundai’s EVs impress Musk 

Chinese EV maker BYD (backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffet) overtook Tesla as the world’s largest EV seller, as its sales surged by 300% in the last half of 2021. The surge was so strong that BYD sold 641,000 units in the first half of 2022, compared to Tesla’s 564,000 electric cars in the same period. Also, the seller has posted a 500% increase in sales in the last five years. Surprisingly, when it launched its first car 10 years ago, Elon Musk dismissed the vehicle as not being “particularly attractive” and derided the technology, and added that BYD was not at all a competitor. 

Also, Hyundai’s two new EVs, the Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 (Kia is a subsidiary of Hyundai), have garnered such strong sales that Elon Musk too, reportedly, was impressed. Tesla had taken 10 years to sell as many EVs as Hyundai has done in the last few months, and its dealerships in the US were reporting that the two models were selling “within hours”. 

Panasonic commits to investing $4 billion in second EV battery factory 

Tesla’s primary battery supplier, Panasonic, announced that it would invest $4 billion in its second battery manufacturing plant in Kansas. The announcement follows Tesla’s setting up of its second Gigafactory in Texas, and Panasonic output will mostly focus on the new, 4680 line of EV batteries. The manufacturer also plans to quadruple its output by 2028, and the site in Kansas was chosen for its tax incentives and its proximity to the Gigafactory. 

Back to Australian coal: China may soon start re-importing Australian coal as it reconsiders the cost of keeping the ban alive against the risk of prohibitively costly Russian imports. Photo: ph.news.yahoo.com

China may end Australia coal import ban, India okay 83 coal mining projects in two years

The Chinese government may soon undo its import ban on Australian coal as the country tries to shield itself from supply issues that may occur when further western sanctions throttle Russian energy exports. The ban was unofficially instituted in 2020 over a diplomatic standoff between the two nations as Australia had called for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, and over its decision to side with the West on barring the tainted Huawei Technologies from building the country’s 5G network. The ban on coal imports, when removed, will reinstate China’s position as the top consumer of Australian coal. 

Meanwhile, a note presented to India’s parliament reported that the country had approved 83 new coal mining projects in just the last two years, in part to assist Coal India Ltd. in achieving its target of extracting one billion tonnes of the fuel every year by 2025. The projects are also to help India lower its coal imports, but interestingly one of the reasons cited was that India’s growing market share of EVs would necessitate much higher power supplies. 

US: Biden submits fresh environmental analysis for Alaskan oil drilling project 

The Joe Biden government submitted a fresh environmental analysis for the controversial Willow project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and environmentalists feel that the government had practically approved the project, even though it was previously blocked by a judge. The new analysis includes several options that would seemingly lower the project’s impact on the reserve —  which is home to rich arctic wildlife — such as reducing the number of drilling sites from the five proposed initially, and the “option” to not drill at all. The project is backed by Alaska’s senator Lisa Murkowski, who claimed that she would hold the government responsible for its environmental impact during Willow’s operational lifetime, but that its construction should commence by winter 2022. 

The project, however, is vehemently opposed by environmentalists as it would release 278 million metric tonnes of CO2 and would necessitate the building of hundreds of kilometers of pipelines, several new bridges and even a gravel mine (among other facilities) in what is currently pristine wild land.  

India: Oil exploration to commence in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram  

India’s union minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas announced that the eastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram would soon start oil and natural gas exploration, and the move comes as a part of the government’s strategy to boost the domestic supplies of the fuel and lower its dependence on imports. The minister, Rameswar Teli, stressed that he wanted to see the prices of petrol and LPG to drop across the country, but the high prices on the international market were making the situation difficult. Teli also said that all the north-eastern states would receive gas pipelines and that their construction would commence as soon as possible. 

Japan: Regulators to restart up to 9 nuclear plants, add fresh new coal capacity 

The Japanese government said that it will restart a number of nuclear plants and bring online a new 1 GW-coal plant as the country battles high power demand and the surging prices of imported fuels. At the moment only 10 of its 33 nuclear reactors are operational — several were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima accident — but the government said that adding nine more would help cover 10% of the country’s total power demand. Adding more thermal power to the mix would “stabilise the power supply”, according to the policy makers, who were looking to shield the country from the high fuel prices and supply issues posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.