India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining this past fortnight. The PM said the sales from the auction would help turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity. The government hopes this move will help create jobs, reduce India’s dependence on energy imports and help develop parts of central and eastern India, which remain largely undeveloped.
What has worried experts, however, is the location of these coal mines. Several of them are located in biodiversity-rich areas in central India. What’s worse is that many of them don’t have the required forest clearance, as per information available on the website of the state-run MSTC Limited. The well-being of indigenous tribes living in these forests are also a concern, as mentioned in a letter written by Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren to the PM on June 10.
Another concern with regards to the auction is who will place their bids as the coal mining industry seemed less than excited over the move. With global coal demand falling rapidly, the industry doesn’t believe foreign mining companies would be interested. A former head of the Indian operations of a global coal mining company said he did not expect many Indian companies to participate either. “These will go to an Adani or Thriveni (Earthmovers). The market is basically a duopoly now.”
Andhra Pradesh allocates 57% of energy sector budget to provide free power for agriculture
The Andhra Pradesh government has allocated a much lower sum of Rs6,984.73 crore to its energy sector this year compared to last year’s Rs11,639 crore. What’s more significant, however, is that the government has allocated ₹4,000 crore (57%) of this sum to ensure ‘nine-hour free power supply for agriculture’.
As part of the YSR 9-hour free power supply scheme, the government will establish the AP Green Energy Corporation that will aim to install 8GW to 10GW of solar power capacity.
New electricity law should have clear policy framework on energy storage: IESA
The India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) suggested a clear policy framework regarding energy storage was required as part of the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003, in order to adopt storage technologies in suitable areas. Such technologies could be a ‘key enabler’ in renewable energy integration and grid stability, the industry body said. The IESA also suggested the inclusion of definition of energy storage as this would aid ancillary services and frequency regulation through energy storage as a flexible asset.
Germany to do away with green power hurdles
In yet another example of Germany pushing for renewable energy to become a pillar of its post COVID-19 recovery plan, the country is set to remove obstacles that are keeping Berlin from reaching its green energy goal of 65% production by 2030. A draft of an addendum to a law on energy in buildings shows that the solar capacity cap of 52 GW has been removed and a rule to build wind turbines 1,000m away from homes has been set.
The Eastern European Union countries, meanwhile, have rejected the use of carbon emissions trading to boost the bloc’s COVID-19 recovery budget. The EU’s 27 national leaders are currently in discussions over how to raise 750 billion euros, over and above the next EU budget of 1.1 trillion euros, for a recovery fund.
Stop investing in arms, fossil fuels: Vatican to Catholics
In a rare move, the Vatican urged Catholics to disinvest from armament and fossil fuel companies and to keep a check on mining companies to see if they are damaging the environment. The appeal was part of a 225-page manual for church workers and leaders to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be), which focused on protecting nature, life and defenseless people. The encyclical had strongly supported global warming agreements and had also warned against the effects of climate change.
While equating abortion to fossil fuels and arms, the manual asked Catholics to ‘shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels’.