The opening of the climate conference has seen a departure from precedent as it delivers a decisive push for the operationalisation of the pivotal Loss and Damage Fund
COP28, the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), kicked off yesterday in Dubai’s Expo City. The Conference comes quick on the heels of the escalation in conflict between Israel and Palestine, which has captured the attention of the world. Although sights remain affixed on the Middle East, the gaze has now shifted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as participants and national delegations descend on the federal monarchy. The two-week affair, due to run until December 12, has reportedly garnered close to 100,000 registrations—nearly four times the volume seen during the UK’s Presidency of COP26 in 2021.
“…the world has reached a crossroads. And yes, since Paris, we have made some progress. But we also know that the road we have been on will not get us to our destination in time. The science has spoken. It has confirmed that the moment is now to find a new road, a road wide enough for all of us, free of the obstacles and detours of the past,” said the newly elected President of the Conference Sultan al Jaber while delivering his opening remarks.
The journey to COP28 has been anything but smooth. If the backdrop for COP28 was not challenging enough, UAE’s path to the COP Presidency itself has been rife with controversy from the moment it bid to host the conference about two years ago. Given UAE’s coziness with the oil and gas Industry, the decision to host the COP in the country raised eyebrows among observers. The choice of person to lead the conference provoked further consternation. Al Jaber is no stranger to controversy either. With a long history and deep ties with oil producer ADNOC, practically every word spoken by him in the year leading up to this week has been viewed with suspicion, especially among civil society.
Nevertheless, the Presidency has maintained confidence that COP28 will be the most inclusive COP thus far with the ambitious goals of fast-tracking emissions reductions, doubling the finance available for adaptation, and setting the framework for new financial arrangements to meet the requirements of mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Success in any of these objectives, however, hinges on the Presidency’s ability to craft a difficult political consensus, particularly in the ‘Global Stocktake’ (GST) process.
Positivity, and a dash of desperation
The lead-up to COP28 saw a flurry of reports suggesting imminent pledges and announcements from several countries. That momentum has evidently carried over to the first day of the Conference, which unlike ever before saw the adoption of a decision (on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund) at the opening plenary session of the conference. Sultan al Jaber announced the operationalisation of the fund, which is now expected to be hosted at the World Bank for at least an initial period of four years amidst applause and celebrations typically reserved for the end of the Conference. The announcement was quickly followed by pledges for contributions to the fund amounting to a total of $420 million, including $100 million pledged by the UAE and $225 million pledged collectively by the EU.
“The hard work of many people over many years has been delivered in Dubai.” Dr. Al Jaber said, “…the speed at which the world came together, to get this fund operationalized within one year since Parties agreed to it in Sharm El Sheikh is unprecedented.”
There are still gaps though, prominently the lack of a sustained funding mechanism or replenishment cycle to ensure the continued functioning of the fund. “It is crucial to simultaneously enhance its (the fund’s) financial scope—necessitating hundreds of billions of dollars annually—and establish a process for initial capitalisation and periodic replenishment. This step is essential to efficiently channel funds to those battling climate catastrophes…The World Bank has, in principle, agreed to the conditions proposed by developing countries, which include enhanced access and independent decision-making for the fund. It must be held accountable to revise its policies to meet these commitments and to effectively deliver finance to vulnerable communities and countries during its tenure,” remarked Harjeet Singh, the head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.
The opening plenary of the conference also broke the impasse around the agenda as Al Jaber announced the adoption of a 19-point list of agenda items due for deliberations at this session.
Over the next few days, more pledges and initiatives are expected to be announced at the World Climate Action Summit. Feelers have been put out on a possible expansion of the Global Methane Pledge, the initiation of the Global Cooling Pledge to tackle emissions from cooling needs, and a possible initiative to set the ball rolling on a new agenda and framework for climate finance, to name a few. Al Jaber also indicated the possibility of attaining “critical mass” for agreements pertaining to the tripling of global renewable energy capacity within this decade and a target to double energy efficiency. The latter would be a big win for India, which has been at the forefront of calls to carve out a bigger role for energy efficiency targets in decarbonisation efforts.
For those paying attention, the heavy front-loading of positive announcements has been a palpable objective—not just for the presidency, but also for several other countries considered vital for the prospects of collective climate action. For the cynics among us, however, it also triggers suspicion—why the hurry in trying to brand the event a success even before the floor opens to any negotiations?
The consequences of taking stock
COP28 serves as a critical juncture in the effort to craft sustained collaborative climate action—offering, for the first time, a vantage point to gauge how far exactly the world has come toward achieving the objective of arresting and reversing the effects of climate change as well as charting the path forward.
Dubai will see the culmination of a five-year-long exercise of assessing progress in climate action with the express intention of identifying inadequacies and ratcheting up ambition in the next update of parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The process, laid out as a part of the Paris Agreement, is considered critical in forging the path ahead for policy-making by setting baselines that strengthen future climate ambition.
After multiple rounds of information gathering and technical dialogue, a draft synthesis text was prepared in the run-up to COP28 as a compilation of the inputs received by the UNFCCC over the past five years. The text, which is rife with flashpoints, will form the basis for the negotiations in Dubai.
As such, questions around global emissions reduction pathways and the significance of the 1.5°C warming target have become inalienable. While several developed countries have in the past called for a reiteration of the 1.5°C target and for a timeline to peak global emissions, developing countries have thus far resisted citing the inequitability of such a timeline and the unfair burden it places on developing countries to reduce emissions. India’s position on the matter is aligned with the view expressed by most developing countries. According to India’s submissions on the matter in the past, any such articulation of a target for emissions peaking or emission reduction pathway should be conditional on developed countries taking the lead in its delivery.
The most widely endorsed IPCC emission reduction pathway, which also features in the GST draft text, suggests GHG emissions reductions of 43% by 2030, 60% by 2035, and 84% by 2050 relative to 2019 levels.
India, in the past, has also put forth the need to recognise a global carbon budget for the 1.5°C and 2°C warming targets of the Paris Agreement and its fair-share partitioning between parties on the basis of developmental equity.
The question of emission reductions, however, has profound bearing on the future of fossil fuels, the burning of which has been the predominant driver of climate change. The matter of any phased wind-down of unabated fossil fuels has been a tricky one to navigate for some years now. While intuition would suggest that such a target is inextricable to the objective of combating climate change, negotiating language around this has proven anything but simple. While calls for a phased reduction of dependence on unabated fossil fuels have been led by some developed countries (notably the European Union) and vulnerable countries facing existential threats from climate change, most developing countries (notably Saudi Arabia) have claimed that any such language would trample on the sovereignty of nations in deciding their most suitable decarbonisation pathways, as guaranteed under the overarching UNFCCC agreement. The argument, instead, is to maintain the conventional source- and technology-agnosticism in the negotiated texts, and for targets to be devolved around emissions regardless of their source.
The reluctance to engage in the future of fossil fuels, however, is not an exclusive stance of developing countries and is shared by large oil and gas producers, regardless of developmental status. This became increasingly evident over the past year’s G20 deliberations wherein language around curbs on unabated fossil fuels was ultimately replaced with an elaboration on the role of abatement technologies such as CCS.
UAE’s association with the oil and gas industry and the choice of Al Jaber as the President of this edition of the conference has barely helped matters. The Presidency’s proximity to oil and gas interests has fueled speculation of the outweighed influence of the sector during the conference, with allegations going as far as claiming that the UAE government has used COP28 as a moment to craft new oil and gas deals.
Consensus on scaling low-emission and emission reduction technologies, as one would expect, leads to the question of who foots the bill and how equity is maintained in any emergent financial arrangement. As such, mitigation ambitions are unlikely to be free of the condition that finance be equitable and accessible, particularly to those countries that are most vulnerable and carry little economic clout.
In fact, the entirety of climate negotiations, spanning over 30 years, can be boiled down to two pivotal questions—‘Who does what?’ and ‘Who pays/who receives?’. Climate finance has been a perpetually sticky wicket for international climate policy.
The first explicit articulation of a commitment for climate finance came in 2012, when developed countries committed to mobilise $100 billion annually toward climate action in developing nations by 2020. Failure to meet this commitment despite an extension in the timeline has been cited as a prime reason for a widening trust deficit at the UNFCCC.
Although the latest OECD statements on the matter indicate that the $100 billion goal pledged in 2009 is likely to have been met in 2022, several countries, including India, have pointed to the lack of public data to validate this claim.
The burden of mobilising finance for climate action in developing countries has historically rested with developed countries, which were deemed to have an oversized “historic responsibility” in creating the climate crisis due to unfettered emissions post industrialisation. Citing a change in global economic and political order, several developed country parties in recent years have called for an expansion in the donor base beyond what was agreed in the early days of the UNFCCC. The riposte from the developing world, particularly large developing countries at risk of being pulled into the donor pool, has rested on the precedent of failure to meet earlier commitments on the part of developed nations.
Developing countries, prominently China and India, have also expressed that expanding the donor base dilutes unmet responsibilities of developed countries. While not shutting the door completely on a possible expansion, developing countries have thus far maintained that any expansion of donors for future climate finance arrangements must be voluntary and can only be considered through an equitable process once developed countries deliver on prior commitments and take the lead on mobilising finance in future arrangements.
Despite differences in the articulation of responsibilities towards financing climate action, the needle has moved significantly in recent years as far as the quantum of finance requirements are concerned. This was most recently seen during India’s Presidency of the G20, which conclusively shifted the frame of reference for financial requirements from billions to trillions of dollars.
The New Delhi G20 Leaders’ Declaration, adopted in September, puts its weight behind numbers produced by the UNFCCC-constituted Standing Committee on Finance, which states that developing countries need $5.8 trillion–$5.9 trillion up to 2030 to finance less than half of the climate action listed in their national commitments (articulated in formal submissions made by governments to the UNFCCC) to keep global warming in check.
According to the numbers included in the draft GST synthesis report, “developing country needs (excluding China) will be $2-2.8 trillion by 2030 with other estimates being $5.8–5.9 trillion for the pre-2030 period and needs identified in National Communications of developing countries indicate $9 trillion and almost $6 trillion to implement their NDCs.” Building a clean energy economy itself is expected to require $4 trillion per year up to 2030 for a Net-Zero emissions target to be within reach by 2050.
The likely inclusion of these figures in the GST will further move the frame of reference for climate finance into the trillions. While this is unlikely to be the figure considered for the provision of long-term finance from developed to developing countries, it is expected to shift the bar significantly higher from the current floor set at $100 billion per year. COP28 host, UAE, has identified adaptation finance as a priority with a clear goal of doubling adaptation finance, which currently lags far behind finance available for mitigation.
There is no denying that COP28 has seen among the most positive starts in the history of climate negotiations. The Presidency has undoubtedly created momentum for announcements to be made during the upcoming leaders’ segment. The worry, however, is if this would be enough to carry the Conference to a successful conclusion. While non-negotiated pledges and announcements signal strong intent, there is little guarantee that it will deliver success when the rubber hits the road in negotiation rooms.
Failure to deliver consensus and progress in the negotiated texts, particularly on the GST, could yet puncture the early claims to success. Prudence would suggest holding off on celebrations until negotiations conclude, lest we are left with little to show but a bad haircut—heavy in the front and desolate at the back.
The latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report (EGR) has found that today’s carbon-cutting policies are so inadequate that 3°C of heating would be reached this century. Each year, the UN’s EGR series tracks global progress in limiting global warming well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement.
To meet 1.5°C target, 22 billion tonnes of CO2 must be cut from the currently projected total in 2030, the report said. That is 42% of global emissions and equivalent to the output of the world’s five worst polluters: China, US, India, Russia and Japan. The report said that implementing future policies already promised by countries would reduce 0.1°C from the 3°C limit. Putting in place emissions cuts pledged by developing countries on condition of receiving financial and technical support would cut the temperature rise to 2.5°C, still devastating, the Guardian reported.
In a separate report, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said climate heating gases in atmosphere such as CO2 reached record highs in 2022, there is no end in sight to the rising trend, which is largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels. The report said that the concentration of carbon dioxide is now 50% higher than before the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The Earth has not experienced similar levels of CO2 for 3-5 million years, when the global temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than today, the WMO said. Other main greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, also grew, according to the report, published ahead of the UN’s COP28 climate summit.
CSE report: India faced extreme weather events nearly daily in first 9 months of this year
According to an analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India witnessed extreme weather events nearly daily in the first nine months this year, claiming an estimated 2,923 human lives, affecting 1.84 million hectares (ha) of crop area, destroying over 80,563 houses, and killing nearly 92,519 livestock, HT reported. CSE researchers said the losses and damages could be higher as data for each event was not collated nor were the losses of public property or crops calculated.
Using data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and home ministry, the report said India recorded extreme weather events on 235 of the 273 days (86%) from January 1 to September 30 in different parts of the country. Record-breaking temperatures were reported for months. Regions across the country were also deluged because of very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall.
Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of days with extreme weather events—every second day. Bihar suffered the highest number of human losses at 642, followed by Himachal Pradesh (365) and Uttar Pradesh (341).
‘Colonial rule nearly doubles UK’s historical contribution to climate change’
The latest analyses of historical emissions by Carbon Brief shows that the UK is responsible for nearly twice as much global warming as previously thought because of its colonial history. The article states that historical emissions matter because the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted since the start of the industrial revolution is closely tied to the record temperatures expected in 2023.
In earlier assessments, the UK’s historical cumulative (CO2 from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry) emissions, at 3.0% of the global share, ranked it the eighth-largest contributor to current warming, behind the US (1), China (2), Russia (3), Brazil (4), Germany (5), Indonesia (6) and its former colony India (7). The new analyses in the light of its colonial past holds the UK responsible for 5.1% of global share of warming, pushing it up to fourth place historically, after the US, China and Russia and followed by India, Brazil and Germany.
Within the borders of the country, the UK released some 76.4 billion tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) between 1850-2023 (3.0% of global cumulative emissions over the same period). After adding emissions the UK caused in its colonies, they rise to 130.2 GtCO2.
China’s CO2 emissions falling, likely to touch net-zero decade earlier in 2050
According to an analyses published by Carbon Brief, China’s CO2 emissions may be falling already. The country’s emissions were expected to fall next year and potentially enter structural decline. China’s target of net-zero by 2060 is likely to be achieved a decade earlier than previously assumed, in a “remarkable turn of events”, the article published in the Telegraph states adding that a 2024 Decrease in power sector carbon emissions “is essentially locked in”. China is likely to see a fall in total CO2 emitted in the first half of next year, in part driven by the “staggering” growth of clean energy bases, which is going “hand in hand” with higher rates of approvals for new coal plants that will likely remain idle as renewable energy capacity grows.
Lancet on health and climate change: Heat-related deaths to rise 370% by 2050
The annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change report says climate change is on track to cause a 370% surge in heat-related deaths by mid-century “if government inaction on global warming continues”. The report also concludes that every health hazard it monitors is predicted to worsen if temperatures rise to 2°C by the end of the century.
Citing the Lancet findings DTE wrote In India, 191 billion potential labour hours were lost due to heat exposure in 2022. Agricultural workers are the worst affected in many countries, with the burden often shifting to those in construction in higher income countries, the report stated.
US National Climate Assessment report: US regions will suffer a stunning variety of climate-caused disasters
The US released its Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA) report that said hotter temperatures and extreme weather are impacting every corner of the US, according to the country’s latest climate assessment. The outlet says while many regions are experiencing heavy showers more frequently, others are seeing worsening drought, and some are getting both. These changes are translating into greater stresses on public health through worsening heatwaves, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and the psychological toll of mounting disaster, the report said. The report appeared at a time when the state of Florida was battling power cuts amid heavy rains and high winds. More than 100,000 Floridians were without power.
One-day temperatures breach 2°C warming point for first time: Report
On November 17, global temperatures, for the first time, rose more than 2°C hotter than levels before industrialisation, according to preliminary data shared on X by Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, based in Europe. Attributed to El Nono and long-term human-caused climate change, the temperature crossed a crucial threshold that scientists have been warning for decades could have catastrophic and irreversible impacts on the planet and its ecosystems, data shared by a prominent climate scientist shows, the CNN reported.
The dreaded limit was crossed briefly and does not mean that the world is at a permanent state of warming above 2°C, the report said adding that it is a symptom of a planet getting steadily hotter and hotter, and moving towards a longer-term situation where climate crisis impacts will be difficult—in some cases impossible—to reverse.
China and the US have released a statement agreeing “to jointly tackle global warming by ramping up wind, solar and other renewable energy with the goal of displacing fossil fuels”. In the statement, China and the US say they will “pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030” and “anticipate post-peaking meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction, in this critical decade of the 2020s”, the New York Times reported. The agreement said that the growth should reach levels high enough “so as to accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation.”
In 2021, climate finance flows hit $1trillion mark globally: Report
Annual climate finance flows crossed the $1 trillion mark globally in 2021, new research revealed. The paper by US non-profit Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) warned that the level still has to increase fivefold by 2030 to battle the worst impacts of climate change. According to the report, average finance flows in 2021 and 2023 were $1.3 trillion–double the 2019 and 2020 levels. But 28% of the increase was attributed to increased access to data.
Developed countries failed to achieve $100 billion goal in 2021: OECD
Total climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries amounted to $89.6 billion, falling short of the $100 billion target they had set earlier. There was still a 7.6% increase in climate finance compared to 2020, the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found. Public climate finance doubled between 2013 and 2021–from $38 billion to $73.1 billion. It also accounted for a majority of the climate finance in 2021. The report, however, found that adaptation finance dropped by $4 billion in 2021.
France, Kenya to announce taxation taskforce at COP28
France and Kenya announced plans to launch an international taxation task force at COP28. This taskforce will aim to push for new levies to increase climate finance. These levies will be proposed for international shipping, aviation and fossil fuels. The taskforce will work to get consensus on specific proposals by COP30, to be held in 2025.
McKinsey pens energy scenario for COP28, pushes oil and gas industry interests, drives African agenda to boost carbon markets
According to an AFP probe, the world’s top management consultancy McKinsey & Company as a key advisor to the UN’s COP28 climate talks is pushing the interests of its big oil and gas clients, undermining efforts to end the use of the fossil fuels driving global warming, France24 reported.
An “energy transition narrative” drafted by Mckinsey only reduces oil use by 50% by 2050, and calls for trillions in new oil and gas investment per year from now until 2050, the report said. The 2015 Paris Agreement calls on nations to cap warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and IPCC, the UN’s scientific advisory body, has said the world economy must be carbon-neutral by 2050 to stay below 1.5C. ”On average, 40-50 MMb/d (millions of barrels per day) of oil is still expected to be utilized in 2050,” compared to about 100 MMb/d today, McKinsey’s narrative said, that is twice the amount allowed in the International Energy Agency (IEA) net zero roadmap, reported AFP.
Leaked documents analyzed by Climate Home News show that US consultancy firm McKinsey “dominates an ecosystem pushing carbon markets in Africa and processes designed to help governments develop long-term energy plans”. Climate campaigners have warned that the focus on carbon markets as “a dangerous distraction” from African climate priorities and accused McKinsey of working to protect the interests of its western corporate clients.
There was “chaos, not progress”, at the INC-3 (third round of United Nations Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution). While trying to deliver the world’s first treaty to control plastic pollution, negotiators failed to prepare a first draft of the treaty text, reported Reuters. Instead, negotiators got more than 500 proposals from governments, during a week-long meeting. By 2024-end, they have to strike a deal for the control of plastics, which produce an estimated 400 million tonnes of waste every year.
According to the report, the plastics industry, oil and petrochemical exporters, including Russia and Saudi, want the global deal to back recycling and re-use of plastic, but environmental campaigners and some governments say much less needs to be produced in the first place.
The participant NGOs said major fossil fuel producers and exporters stalled efforts to move forward in an efficient manner. According to the UN, less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled, while at least 14 million tonnes end up in oceans every year.
Delhi battles hazardous smog in the air; toxic white foam floats on river Yamuna
Amid winter air pollution and smog, white toxic foam floating on the river Yamuna was caught on camera in Delhi. The foam on the river comes from untreated waste. According to a CNN report, the white froth, a mixture of sewage and industrial waste, contains high levels of ammonia and phosphates, which can cause respiratory and skin problems, according to experts.
The Indian Express reported that special boats laden with food-grade enzymes have been deployed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to tackle the poisonous foam floating on the surface of the Yamuna
Nanoplastics pollution linked with Parkinson’s disease
A new paper found a potential link between nanoplastics, Parkinson’s disease and related dementias, reported Science Advances. The studies have identified increasing levels of nanoplastic pollution in the environment. Researchers said nanoplastics can internalise in neurons through clathrin-dependent endocytosis, causing a mild lysosomal impairment that slows the degradation of aggregated α-synuclein. In mice, nanoplastics combine with α-synuclein fibrils to exacerbate the spread of α-synuclein pathology across interconnected vulnerable brain regions, including the strong induction of α-synuclein inclusions in dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. These results highlight a potential link for further exploration between nanoplastic pollution and α-synuclein aggregation associated with Parkinson’s disease and related dementias.
Big brand SUVs used up to 13% more fuel on Australian roads than reported in lab
The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) in their first real-world test of fuel consumption found SUVs Hyundai Kona and the Toyota Rav4 used up to 13% more fuel on the road than was reported in laboratory. The Mitsubishi ASX, the MG ZS and the Ford Puma came next, consuming 8% more fuel than lab tests. The test showed these vehicles also emitted more CO2 than lab results showed, the Guardian reported. The article added that The Toyota Rav4 Hybrid consumed 2% more fuel than lab tests showed, while the Nissan X-Trail, the Hyundai Tucson and the GWM Haval Jolion recorded results that were lower than their lab results.
The $14 million program plans to test 200 cars, SUVs, utes and electric vehicles over the next four years. The AAA proposed Real-World Testing Program in the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, in which the auto giant was found to have fitted cars with software that could detect when it was being tested and lower emissions during the tests.
ADB grants $6.5 million for clean cooking in rural India, eyes major carbon credits
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sanctioned a senior secured (backed by an asset that is pledged as collateral) loan of $6.5 million to Greenway Grameen Infra Private Limited for the production and distribution of 1 million improved cookstoves across rural Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, ET reported. This initiative is further strengthened by a $3.25 million first-loss liquidity reserve provided by the Climate Innovation and Development Fund (CIDF), which is managed by ADB. ADB’s financing is part of using Indian carbon markets to finance community based projects. Greenway intends to market the carbon credits accrued from the project through its subsidiary SDG 13 Ventures Private Ltd.
The drive to replace conventional mud chulhas is projected to see a drop in fuel needs and smoke emissions by 65% and 70% respectively, thereby reducing the environmental burden of black carbon and carbon monoxide.
India is set to achieve 16 GW of solar capacity implementation, the country’s fastest annual pace, this fiscal year, because of a steady decline in solar module prices since October 2022. According to rating agency CRISIL, this will boost the internal rate of return (IRR) for 45 GW of utility-scale solar projects that have been awarded since fiscal 2021, reported the PV Magazine.
The outlet said solar installation faced delays in fiscals 2022 and 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to protect the Great Indian Bustard bird, resulting in project extensions. Crisil analysts anticipate accelerated solar project execution by fiscal 2026.
Falling PV module prices are set to enhance investment returns for the 45 GW of solar projects that have been awarded since fiscal 2021, with expectations for 16 GW of new capacity in the current fiscal year, says CRISIL Ratings.
According to a new report by JMK Research, India installed about 8.5 GW of solar capacity in the first nine months (January to September 2023) of 2023, about 25% less than the PV installations during the corresponding period in 2022. Utility-scale solar installations in the Jan-Sept. 2023 period (5.06 GW) were 84% down from 9.3 GW installed during the same period in 2022.
Renewable developers directed to give 15-day notice for early commissioning
Power generators can initiate supply from specific components outside the PPA now as the Centre has amended the tariff-based competitive bidding process guidelines for power procurement from renewable sources, directing developers to give a 15-day notice to end and intermediary procurers for advance commissioning of power supply.
Mercom reported that the amendments were made to the recently issued bidding guidelines for grid-connected wind power projects, wind-solar hybrid projects, solar PV power projects, and renewable energy power projects with energy storage systems. Acceptance by both end procurer and intermediary procurer is crucial within the specified fifteen-day period else developers have the option to sell the unaccepted power through power exchanges or bilateral arrangements, the outlet said.
PFC Approves ₹1.17 trillion worth projects for DISCOMs under RDSS program
State-run Power Finance Corporation (PFC) approved projects worth over ₹1.17 trillion (~$14.04 billion) for various state distribution companies (DISCOM) under the Revamped Distribution Sector (RDSS) Program as of September 2023, Mercom reported.
The government lender has also approved loans worth ₹70 billion (~$8.4 billion) and disbursed ₹31 billion (~$3.7 billion) under the Late Payment surcharge (LPS) program, fetching the DISCOMs more than a 50% reduction in legacy dues, the report said.
Chemists at Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used machine learning to design a record-breaking carbonaceous supercapacitor material that stores four times as much energy as the best available commercial material. A supercapacitor made with the new material could store more energy—improving regenerative brakes, power electronics and auxiliary power supplies. Calling this design a real milestone, the researchers said this is the highest recorded storage capacitance for porous carbon. By developing a carbon material with improved physicochemical and electrochemical qualities, the researchers advanced the potential of carbon supercapacitors for energy storage. They claim that their research could accelerate the development and improvement of carbon materials for use in supercapacitors.
New “super steel” to enhance green hydrogen production from seawater
Researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have now created a “super steel” with strong resistance to corrosion that may be used in the manufacture of green hydrogen from saltwater easily acquired from the oceans. Despite being significantly less expensive than its corresponding contemporary counterparts, its performance in a saltwater electrolyser is equivalent to the present industrial practice of using titanium as a crucial structural component to produce hydrogen from desalted seawater or acid. The invention consists of adding a secondary manganese (Mn)-based layer engineered on the preceding chromium (Cr)-based layer at ~720 mV onto the single Cr2O3-based passive layer. Since it is generally understood that Mn reduces stainless steel’s ability to withstand corrosion, the scientists did not first accept the material’s new role. However, the discovery of Mn-based passivation is counterintuitive and defies conventional corrosion science understanding. Researchers said that replacing gold (Au) and platinum (Pt) with this steel could reduce the structural material costs of a 10-megawatt PEM electrolysis tank system, currently at USD $ 2.8 million, by about 40 times.
IITM professor wins prestigious national award for research on CO2 sequestration
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) faculty member, Rajnish Kumar, won the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award in the engineering category for 2022. Kumar works in the chemical engineering department. His study focused on the process of sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2). The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in India bestows this award yearly to recognise exceptional achievements in fundamental and applied research in a range of fields, including biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and physics. The honour is given in recognition of his contributions to our knowledge of methane recovery from marine gas hydrates, CO2 sequestration in solid hydrates, and the nucleation and growth of clathrate hydrates.
Electrofuel developed from green hydrogen and carbon dioxide put to test in Finland
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and its partners have developed a concept for producing electrofuel from green hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The team has combined high-temperature electrolysis, carbon capture and Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis to develop electrofuel production for commercial and industrial scale. The paraffinic E-fuel was tested for the first time in Finland on a diesel-powered tractor at AGCO Power’s Linnavuori factory in Nokia town. Paraffinic fuels are “clean diesel” fuels, with near zero sulphur and aromatics, and their use in diesel vehicles could lower emissions. A researcher involved said that the fuel can be used to replace fossil diesel in sectors that are difficult to electrify, such as heavy road transport and shipping. It can also be used in machinery. During the test, fuel consumption and the carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particles and other substances in the exhaust emissions were measured. Now, the results of the test run will be analysed to see whether E-diesel is also an environmentally friendly alternative with regard to harmful exhaust emissions.
World’s first offshore hydrogen pilot passes sea trials
Sealhyfe, Lhyfe’s offshore hydrogen pilot, achieved all test run objectives, the company said. This could be a critical step towards offshore green hydrogen production scaling up. Lhyfe, a global firm in the field of green and renewable hydrogen production, launched Sealhyfe in September 2022 as the world’s first offshore hydrogen production pilot platform. During the pilot run, the platform showed that it could produce up to 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of hydrogen per day with its 1 MW (megawatt) electrolyser. The company will now delve into the data collected during the pilot, with major findings expected to be shared by January 2024.
According to a new analysis by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), governments globally issued more than $1.7 trillion in public money to support fossil fuels, through subsidies, investments by state-owned enterprises (SOE), and lending from public financial institutions in 2022. At the same time, financial support for renewable energy generation, grid integration of clean energy and battery storage increased. However, it remains insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The report found that China ($266 billion), Saudi Arabia ($129 billion) and Indonesia ($72 billion) provided the largest amounts of subsidies for consumer prices. Several European countries also supported consumer prices for fossil fuels in 2022 for the first time including Germany ($49 billion), France ($42 billion) and Italy ($15 billion), due to the energy crisis with escalating prices of natural gas
India to build its first strategic natural gas reserves by using depleted wells: GAIL
India is aiming to build its first strategic natural gas reserves by using old, depleted hydrocarbon wells to store the fuel and hedge against global supply disruption, the Business Standard reported. According to Sumit Kishore, an executive director at GAIL, the strategic facilities would be constructed gradually in the western and northeastern areas of India, initially having the ability to store three to four billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas. India lacks natural gas storage facilities but has five million tonnes of strategic petroleum reserves. Two billion cubic metres of gas are presently stored by Indian firms for commercial usage in liquefied natural gas tanks and pipelines. Following government permission, Kishore estimated that the construction of the first strategic gas storage facility would take three to four years. India wants to increase the amount of natural gas in its energy mix from its current 6.2% to 15% by 2030. The country uses about 60 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
Indian govt makes biogas blending compulsory from FY2025
In an effort to reduce dependency on imports, the government of India has announced compulsory blending of compressed biogas in natural gas. Beginning in April 2025, 1% of biogas—which is produced from agricultural and municipal waste—will be mixed in with the gas used for cooking in homes and cars. The share will be increased to around 5% by 2028, according to the government statement. Additionally, by 2027, the government intends for aircraft turbine fuel to contain 1% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which will increase to 2% by 2028. According to the announcement, SAF will apply to international flights first. Up until FY 2024–2025 (April 2024–March 2025), CBG blending will be voluntary, becoming compulsory from FY 2025–2026. The main goals of the Compressed Biogas Blending Obligation (CBO) are to stimulate demand for CBG in the city gas distribution sector, import substitution for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), save in forex, promote circular economy and to assist in achieving the target of net zero emission.
COP28 host planning for “largest net-zero-busting” fossil fuel expansions
According to the Guardian, Adnoc —the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates — has the “largest net-zero-busting expansion plans” of any company in the world. The CEO of Adnoc, Al Jaber, will preside over UNFCCC climate negotiations starting November 30. Responding to the report, an Adnoc spokesperson said that the data and assumptions in this report are incorrect and misleading. However, the company did not provide its own figure for its planned expansion of oil and gas production. Another report by the Energy Monitor said that UAE is planning to extract 38 billion barrels of oil and gas between now and 2085, with significant further reserves that could also be extracted in that time.
Fossil fuel producers planning expansions that’ll shatter climate targets : UN report
According to the recent Production Gap report by the UN, plans to increase the production of fossil fuels by a number of nations, including the US, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, would “throw humanity’s future into question” and shatter climate targets. These plans would result in 460% more coal production, 83% more gas, and 29% more oil produced in 2030 than could be burnt to maintain the 1.5C scenario. Additionally, the plans will generate 69% more fossil fuels than what is necessary to meet the riskier 2C objective. The nations planning to produce the most fossil fuels are Saudi Arabia (oil), Russia (gas and coal), and India (coal). The United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Canada also intend to be significant oil producers.
Renewables not enough, thermal is needed to meet rising India’s power demand: Union Minister
The Indian government aims to increase thermal power capacity by 80 GW by 2031-32 , according to R. K. Singh, the Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy. He underlined that India’s growing energy needs cannot be met by renewable energy sources alone. “We had planned to build another 25 GW, but we already have 27 GW under development. However, we have made the decision to begin construction on a minimum of 55 GW to 60 GW of thermal capacity. We will continue to build capacity as long as demand keeps growing,” he stated. According to him, thermal energy will persist until energy storage becomes a financially viable option for continuous supply from renewable energy sources. Furthermore, he recently said that India cannot be forced to use less coal to provide for the rising energy demands in the country. Officials from the Petroleum Ministry echoed these sentiments while stating that India should maintain its stance that additional funding for the development and extraction of oil and gas resources is required in addition to the exploration of carbon-free alternatives. According to the Business Standard, the Ministry recommended this position during interministerial deliberations on COP28.