Pulling the plug on coal: Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, two states with a significant number of thermal power plants, have decided to ditch coal and focus solely of renewables for new energy projects | Photo: NTPC

No new coal plants for Gujarat, Chhattisgarh

The Gujarat government has announced that the state will not build any new coal plants going forward. Its 8-9% annual appreciation in power demand will be met primarily by solar power. Gujarat’s current coal-fired capacity has been languishing at PLFs as low as 40%, and the state’s decision to plow ahead with solar comes despite it currently purchasing solar power at tariffs as high as Rs.15/kWh.

And India’s coal mining heart of Chhattisgarh will also stop bringing any new thermal power plants online as the state has decided to also go for solar power for new energy demand. Its thermal power plants are reportedly under-utilised and the state is keen to take advantage of the cheaper solar power, for which it has already sanctioned a 100MW plant.

India: Major changes in UDAY 2.0 to boost DISCOMs’ efficiencies, CEA proposes 50% upfront payment

India’s power minister has said that the government would soon launch UDAY 2.0, under which it will unveil several new policies to boost DISCOMs’ efficiencies and performances. These will include penalties for load shedding, disbursement of Centre and state funds only after the DISCOMS take demonstrable steps to reduce their losses, and the setting up of new police stations to fight power theft. UDAY 2.0, if approved by the Cabinet, will also restrict payment under-recovery by DISCOMS to only 15% of the total — and the rest will have to be borne by the DISCOM itself, or the respective state government.

And the CEA, too, has proposed that DISCOMS pay 50% of the payment to power producers upfront (starting from 25% for the first month) to ensure that the latter are assured of their dues. If they aren’t paid, they have been advised to drag the DISCOMS to court.

Coal India to continue fueling inefficient plants as high level panel recommends privatisation

Coal India has decided to drop a plan that would have cut supplies to old, inefficient thermal power plants, and will instead maintain usual supplies so as not to disrupt power sector supplies. The plan was floated by a government panel to only support efficient operations, and would have cut NTPC’s quota by 32 million tonnes a year, Mahagenco’s by 13 million tonnes and DVC’s by 5 million tonnes.

Late last week, a high level committee comprising cabinet secretary, Department of Economic Affairs secretary, revenue secretary, coal secretary and Niti Aayog vice-chairman recommended sweeping reforms in the coal sector including privatisation. The committee also suggested moving away from any allocations of captive coal mines and the shifting of all concessions to commercial mining.

CarbonTracker: Big Oil approved $50 billion in new oil & gas projects since last year

A new analysis by CarbonTracker shows that prominent oil and gas firms have approved up to $50 billion in new fossil fuel projects since last year — squarely against any hopes of containing global warming to less than 1.5°C. The names include BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, and the analysis reports that 30% of their investments last year were made in projects that would even breach 1.6°C of global warming — despite their explicit pledges to diversify into renewables. The report concludes that if the trend continues, up to $2.2 trillion of investments could be “wasted” if and when national governments tighten up their fossil fuel regulations.

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