MonitorsPublished on Sep 10, 2018
Energy News Monitor | Volume XV; Issue 13

Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: August 2018


India is all set to comfortably achieve 100 GW of solar energy capacity by 2022 and has already installed solar capacity of 23.12 GW till July this year, Parliament was informed. The data regarding generation of power from various renewable energy projects is consolidated by the Central Electricity Authority. Solar power projects require around 4 to 5 acres of land per MW and the MNRE monitors the development of upcoming and commissioned renewable energy projects with implementing agencies like SECI, NTPC Ltd, state nodal agencies and state governments/UT administrations through regular meetings, video-conferences and on the site visits. Karnataka topped the installed solar energy capacity chart at 5.16 GW followed by Telangana at 3.4GW and Andhra Pradesh at 2.56 GW as on July 31, 2017. The National Institute of Solar Energy has assessed the solar power potential of the country at 748 GW.

The finance ministry said that safeguard duty will not be insisted upon on import of solar cells for the “time being” in deference to interim directions passed by the High Court of Orissa. India had imposed safeguard duty on solar cells imports from China and Malaysia for two years to protect domestic players from steep rise in inbound shipments. The duty was imposed following recommendations by the DGTR under the commerce ministry. It further said that till further direction from the revenue department, solar cells whether or not assembled in modules or panels “would, in respect of safeguard duty, be assessed provisionally” on furnishing of simple letter of undertaking/bond by the concerned person. The circular would provide interim relief from payment of safeguard duty to the solar cell importers. Further, given that it is only an interim relief, whether the solar players should factor the safeguard duty as a cost or not would still be an important decision point. India is targeting to 100 GW solar capacity by 2022. Solar cells, electrical devices that convert sunlight directly into electricity, are imported primarily from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Imports of the cells from these countries account for more than 90 percent of the total inbound shipments in the country.

Imposition of safeguard duty is likely to result in some delay in project implementation of nearly 12,000 MW of under-construction solar capacities, ratings agency CRISIL said. As per CRISIL’s analysis, a 25 percent safeguard duty entails a rise in capital costs by 15-20 percent, which would have a 30-40 paise per unit impact on bid tariffs so as to maintain the same rates of return. Following a petition filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association in December 2017, seeking imposition of safeguard duty DGTR had recommended a 70 percent safeguard duty in January 2018. DGTR reviewed the recommendations and imposed 25 percent duty for the first year followed by 20 percent in the first half of the second year and 15 percent for the rest part of the year. According to the agency, solar power capacity addition is likely to ramp up to 56,000-58,000 MW between fiscals 2019 and 2023, compared with 20,000 GW between fiscals 2014 and 2018, which will be driven by capacities allocated/tendered under the National Solar Mission, state solar policies, other schemes driven by SECI and PSUs.

Small to mid-sized renewable energy companies in India are starting to look like attractive takeover targets as lenders and investors withhold funds, worried by the stiff competition, weak bond markets, low tariffs and high debt besetting the sector. The small companies’ difficulty in raising cash is keeping them away from government power project auctions, restricting their growth and crippling their ability to refinance loans, a consultant from a top global consultancy firm said. With many smaller operators being gobbled up or offering themselves for sale, the number of projects being developed could fall, potentially keeping India from its renewable energy targets, the consultant said. In a few years, there may be only a few big companies and a few regional firms active in India’s renewable sector. The trend goes back at least to 2016, when Tata Power bought solar and wind company Welspun Renewable Energy, but the pace is expected to pick up. One of India’s largest renewables companies, Greenko Group, said in June that it was buying 750 MW of solar and wind assets from Orange Renewables, because the Singapore-based company saw few opportunities for growth. The deal has yet to be closed. Tata Power said it plans to invest $5 billion to increase its renewable capacity in India fourfold over the next decade to 12 GW. More than doubling India’s renewables capacity by 2022 will require $76 billion, including debt of $53 billion, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said.

The SWR has installed solar panels in 19 buildings, including railway stations, workshops and offices, with a total capacity of 3,605 kWp. The annual energy requirement of KSR railway station is 3.13 million units and about 13.9% of it is now being met by solar panels. SWR said these solar panels generate about 3 million units per annum on an average, saving revenue of about ₹ 700,000. SWR hopes to meet the full energy requirement of Hubballi and Mysuru workshops with solar energy, making them carbon neutral. In addition to the 12 railway stations in SWR that have solar panels, it has identified 60 more stations where solar panels will be installed during 2019-20, increasing the total capacity to 4,685 kWp, which translates to about 7 million units on an average per year, contributing 15% of annual energy requirements (other than for running of trains) of SWR. The annual energy requirement of SWR is about 47 million units, which includes 17 million units for Bengaluru division. Rooftop solar panels installed at platform 7 and 8 at Bengaluru City railway station

The next time the floodlights are up for a day-night match at the Brabourne stadium, it will be solar power panels on the roof that will be powering them. The stadium, which has several sports activities inside the CCI complex and is mostly used for first-class cricket matches, earned the distinction of becoming the first cricket stadium in the world to generate 865 kW, which translates to 1.15 million units per year, of solar power. It amounts to 30% of the overall power consumption of approximately 3.5 million units per year. The plant over a stadium that can save power bills worth ₹ 12.5 million is praiseworthy. The Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru had around 430 kW power from solar panels. The generation of solar power will reduce carbon emissions from the thermal power generation that can be equated with planting 1,600 new trees every year in the initial period. The CCI club and the stadium consumes power worth ₹ 50 million every year. Though floodlights will require generators, normal power and other back-ups going by the intensity of power needed by them, indirectly more than the same amount of green power would have already been supplied to the grid. In effect, it will be green power that will be fed to the stadium and other club areas. While Tata power executed the project, the Excelsior Engineering Solutions acted as the project consultant. The solar panels were imported from China.

The SECI is likely to revise downwards its 2,500 MW wind-solar hybrid project tendered in June to 1,200 MW, as evacuation-related challenges continue to affect the sector. The SECI had earlier deferred the last bidding date from 8 August to 7 September. The SECI plans to amend the standard bidding document for the project and has proposed to the MNRE to introduce a separate bidding guidelines for hybrid wind-solar power projects. The plan to reduce the capacity comes in the wake of cancellation of wind and solar auctions in the last two months as developers faced evacuation-related issues and the difference in tariffs of first and second bidder was too wide. A lot of developers did not have commitment from the central or state transmission utilities to evacuate power from the project site. The 2,500 MW wind-solar hybrid tender was invited by the SECI in June with 8 August as the last date for submission of bids. However, the date was later extended to 7 September after developers requested change in bidding documents. The ceiling tariff for the project is ₹ 2.93/kWh.

Andhra Pradesh inaugurated a 2 MW floating solar power plant built on Mudasarlova reservoir. The power plant envisages saving the burning of 1,540 tonnes of coal a year and release of 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide. As part of the ‘Smart City’ initiative, the solar power plant was built in 20 acres of the reservoir, among the oldest man-made water bodies, on the outskirts of the city, at a cost of ₹ 11.34 billion. The works were executed by DES Engineers of Hyderabad under the supervision of AECOM, consultants for the Smart City projects. The works for the plant began in May this year and prior to it, the reservoir was de-silted at a cost of ₹ 2 million.

Power trading solutions provider PTC India announced that it has operationalised the flow or supply of 126 MW inter-state wind power commissioned capacity to different beneficiary states under government scheme. The power will flow (be supplied) to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha, PTC India said. According to PTC India, the commissioned capacities are part of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Wind Scheme (Tranche-I) of 1050 MW in Jun 2016. The SECI had conducted the competitive bidding and e-reverse auction for selection of wind project developers in Feb 2017 and the tariff discovered was ₹ 3.46 per kWh setting a new benchmark for the wind sector at that time, it said.

In what could set the template for other state governments that find themselves facing the hump of safeguard duty on solar gear, the Madhya Pradesh government has revised the conditions for its rooftop solar tender. The state was in the middle of a tender when the Centre on 30 July notified a safeguard duty ranging from 15-25 percent on solar cells and panel. The state has amended Clause 3.29 of the request for proposal, dealing with tax and duties, through a corrigendum to the tender. The Madhya Pradesh government had floated a tender to put up 28 MW peak of rooftop solar projects through RESCO model. The amended clause specifies how changes in tax would be passed on in the tariff. This adjustment in tariff because of change in capital cost can be done till three months before the project’s scheduled commissioning specified in the power purchase agreement.

A switch from conventional diesel- and electric-powered irrigation pumps to solar-powered ones can help the country achieve 38 percent of its envisaged 175 GW renewable energy target by 2022. The shift to solar-powered irrigation pumps can also save enormous sums of money and generate additional income for farmers, the US-based Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis report said. The report said that the idea of replacing some 30 million grid-attached or diesel pumps with solar pumps is gaining traction but the pace of deployment is slow. The Government of India’s KUSUM scheme and the Gujarat government’s Suryashakti Kisan Yojana are steps in the right direction for solar-powered irrigation initiatives. The KUSUM scheme mandates deployment of 2.75 million solar pumps in the first phase of its implementation. The initiative would produce an additional 4 GW of installed solar power, thus giving a material boost to the country’s renewable energy deployments.

Leading wind turbine maker Suzlon is looking to capture about 30 percent of the 20,000 MW of wind capacity likely to be commissioned by financial year 2020-21, the company said. According to industry estimates, with the thumb rule of ₹ 650 million per MW. The domestic wind market is on a growth trajectory with 7,500 MW of capacity already auctioned, 10,000 MW of bids in the pipeline, and another 3,000 MW soon to be auctioned. The company at present has a 20 percent share in the 7,500 MW wind capacity already auctioned, according to him. Suzlon, with an installed manufacturing capacity of 4,200 MW, has a strong presence across the entire wind value chain with a comprehensive range of services to build and maintain the projects, which include design, supply, installation, commissioning of the project and dedicated life cycle asset management services. The company is currently a market leader in the country with over 11.9 GW of installed capacity and global installation of 17.9 GW spread across 17 countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

The government announced the country’s first wind power project connected to the ISTS was commissioned by Ostro Kutch Wind Private Ltd in Gujarat. SECI had conducted the first auction of wind power projects in February last year in which tariff of ₹ 3.46 was discovered, much lower than the feed-in tariffs in vogue at the time. Companies placed bids for 1,000 MW capacity of projects to be connected on ISTS where power generated in one resource-rich state could be transmitted to other renewable deficient states. Five firms including Mytrah, Inox, Ostro, Green Infra and Adani won the bids. The energy generated from this project is being purchased by Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Renewable energy company Siemens Gamesa has announced the commissioning of 3.375 MW of wind-solar hybrid power pilot project for NTPC. This being smart grid based renewable energy’s (SGRE’s) first hybrid project for the thermal power giant. The Wind Solar Hybrid project consists of an SG 2.0-114 wind turbine in hybrid with 1.375 MW High Efficiency HiT solar panels, which was executed in Bijapur District in Karnataka. This is the first pilot renewable energy hybrid project in India that was developed from the engineering design stage by Siemens Gamesa. Present in India since 2009, the accumulated base installed by Siemens Gamesa recently topped the 5-GW mark.

India aims to increase the use of biofuels to cut its oil import bill by ₹ 120 billion ($1.7 billion) by 2022 and reduce carbon emissions. India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer and ships in about 80 percent of its crude needs, but is gradually building capacity to increase its output of biofuels. The South Asian nation plans to build 12 bio-refineries costing 100 billion rupees to produce fuel from items including crop stubble, plant waste and municipal solid waste. Building the bio-fuel refineries would create 150,000 new jobs, but did not give a timeframe for when they would all be up and running. India, a signatory to the Paris Climate deal, plans to reduce its carbon footprint by increasing ethanol content, a sugar by-product, in its gasoline to 10 percent by 2022 and to 20 percent by 2030. India aims to ramp up ethanol production to 4.5 billion litres in the next four years, a move that could cut the country’s gasoline consumption. Use of gasoline in India has been growing rapidly as millions more households buy motor cars and motor cycles due to rising income levels and cheaper credit.

The government has imposed restriction on import of bio-fuels including ethyl alcohol and other denatured spirits, bio-diesel, petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals other than crude, through an amendment in import policy. The import of these items, which was free earlier, will now only be allowed for non-fuel purpose on actual user basis. Import policy of bio-fuels revised from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’ and allowed for non-fuel purpose on actual user basis as per the National Bio-Fuel Policy, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification. In another notification, the government said export of beach sand minerals has been brought under state trading enterprise and shall be canalised through Indian Rare Earths Ltd.  Export of rare earth compounds classified as beach sand minerals, permitted anywhere in the export policy, will now be regulated.

India’s first Biofuel-powered flight was successfully tested for domestic operations between Dehradun and New Delhi. The Bio-fuel is expected to reduce India’s dependency on ATF and help bring down air fares. ATF price is the key component in the aviation industry, and in the coming days, India is hoping to reduce its import dependency in this area. Made from Jatropha crop, Biofuel has been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum, in Dehradun. It has been recognised by American Standard Testing Method and meets the specification standards of Pratt and Whitney and Bombardier for commercial application in aircraft. SpiceJet had last year placed orders for 205 Boeing 737 Max fuel-efficient planes that are expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 15% and will leave 40% lesser noise footprint. SpiceJet said that the company intends to use the mixture of 75% ATF and 25% Biofuel in its operations. According to International Air Transport Association, aviation industry contributes to 2% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The advantage of Biofuel as compared to ATF is that it reduces carbon emissions and enhances fuel efficiency.

A part of kerosene subsidy savings in India could be invested in helping the vulnerable section of society access clean lighting through off-grid solar lighting technologies, a new study by leading think tanks International Institute for Sustainable Development and The Energy and Resources Institute explored the business model for a ‘kerosene-solar subsidy swap’ has suggested. It said a shift to solar lighting will reduce the need for ongoing expenditure on subsidies because any government support would help cover one-off capital costs, not consumption costs. Their report released said since 2013-14 the central government has cumulatively saved ₹ 264.70 billion by gradually reducing kerosene subsidy expenditure. This makes sense fiscally and environmentally but leaves some households with high lighting costs. The report also reviews the suitability of Uttar Pradesh and Odisha to host a subsidy swap pilot study, assessing the real-world impact of increased adoption of solar energy and a reduction in kerosene consumption. Moreover, almost 51 percent of subsidised kerosene is lost and marketed for other purposes. Policy makers are aware of these problems, and the government has been winding down kerosene subsidy expenditure through increased prices, reduced allocation of subsidised fuel to states and by encouraging cities such as Chandigarh and New Delhi to voluntarily give it up.

The CIAL has suffered an estimated loss of over ₹ 2.2 billions in the floods. The CIAL management has launched rebuilding of the damaged infrastructure including 2.5 kilometre long airport walls that collapsed after Periyar river overflowed. The solar power system of the world’s first solar-powered airport has also suffered damage in the floods.

The RND is gearing up to add new ferries to its fleet. While three new ferries will ply on the existing routes, the government is also seeking bids to launch the state’s first solar-powered ferry service. The tender for either of these is expected to be floated by the end of the month, RND said. RND said that attempts are being made to ensure that the three new ferries are aesthetically better looking than the existing ones. In April this year, RND had launched three new ferries which are now operational on the state’s waterways. An expression of interest will also be published for the solar-powered ferry launch service. The ferry will run on solar energy and battery-run electric energy. The vessel will be supported by a generator onboard to be used as back-up. The eco-friendly technology of a solar-powered ferry launch service will be a 75-seater vessel.

GAIL (India) Ltd has sought shareholder nod to amend the charter of the company to invest in start-ups, build solar power plants and set up battery charging stations for EVs as it looks to diversify its portfolio beyond gas and petrochemicals. The nation’s biggest natural gas transporting and marketing company wants to insert six new sections in the main objects clause of the memorandum of association of the company, according to shareholder notice. GAIL said that there is a necessity to adopt new and different pathways to provide clean, cost-effective and efficient mobility services that are safe, reduce dependence on oil imports and achieve more efficient land-use in cities with the least environmental footprints and impacts on human health. With the government planning to make a major shift to EVs by 2030, GAIL felt that charging infrastructure for EVs in India has not been fully developed yet.

The government’s plan to revive stalled hydropower projects through a bailout package of ₹ 160 billion is lying in a limbo for a year now. Lack of funds through budgetary support is a major reason for the delay, as the finance ministry asked the ministry of power to rework the scheme. Last year, the Centre drafted ₹ 160 billion package to revive projects with a capacity of nearly 11,000 MW. This includes 4 percent interest subvention to projects totalling 11,639 MW, creating a Hydro Power Development Fund. The installed capacity of hydropower projects has remained at around 40,000 MW for the past three years, while that of the renewable energy sector has increased about 20 percent in the same period. In the past decade, renewable energy (solar and wind power) has grown by 89 percent while hydro has grown only 28 percent.

Strictly sticking to the slogan ‘perform or perish’, the Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to terminate 100 more hydroelectric projects allotted to various private developers, days after terminating 15 project with a total generating capacity of 1,586.4 MW of power. Two major hydroelectric projects would be commissioned this year – the 600 MW Kameng and the 110 MW Pare projects which will substantially overcome the power needs of the State.

Locals opposing the construction of Jaitapur nuclear power plant in coastal Konkan held a protest march, opposing land acquisition for the project. Villagers, including women in large numbers, gathered at Madban village in Ratnagiri district and shouted slogans against the proposed power plant. Almost 80 percent of the land acquisition of the total 930 hectares owned by 2,500 persons, has been completed. However, some farmers and villagers are opposing the project, citing forced rehabilitation and loss of livelihood. The proposed nuclear power plant will take over land that currently belongs to the villagers in five different fishing villages: Madban, Varliwada, Karel, Niveli and Mithgavane. In March, French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler said construction of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant is expected to begin this year-end. India and France had inked an agreement to expedite the project. On completion, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a collective capacity of 9,900 MW.

Rest of the World

South Africa has cancelled plans to add 9,600 MW of nuclear power by 2030 and will instead aim to add more capacity in natural gas, wind and other energy sources. Africa’s only nuclear power has an installed capacity of 1,860 MW but plans under the government of former President Jacob Zuma to have six times that output by 2030 hit hurdles over cost and other issues. The plan also showed that electricity demand on the grid has been declining. Russian state-owned firm Rosatom was seen as a frontrunner to build the additional nuclear capacity. Several meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin led to speculation that Rosatom had secured the deal before the launch of the public tender. The plan calls for additional capacity of 8,100 MW from wind and 8,100 MW from gas, 5,670 MW from photovoltaic panels, 2,500 MW from hydro and 1,000 MW from coal by 2030.

Russia’s state civil nuclear power corporation Rosatom has started to load nuclear fuel at the fourth power unit of the Tianwan NPP in China, Rosatom said. Overall, 163 fuel assemblies are planned to be loaded into NPP’s fourth power unit. Nuclear fuel loading signifies the start of the stage of the power unit’s launch into operation. In the next stage, the power unit will be launched with its connection to China’s power grid. The second stage of Tianwan NPP (the third and fourth power units) is being built with the assistance of ASE, Rosatom’s engineering division.  Currently, three VVER-1000 power units built under the Russian project are operational at the Tianwan NPP. NPP is the largest facility of the Russian-Chinese economic cooperation. The first stage of NPP (the first and the second power units) was launched in 2007. The launch of the third power unit of NPP dates back to December 2017.

Iran urged Europe to speed up efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that US President Donald Trump abandoned in May, saying French oil group Total has formally pulled out a major gas project. Efforts by the remaining signatories – EU members Britain, France and Germany plus China and Russia – to avoid the agreement’s collapse are struggling as Washington has said any firms dealing with Teheran will be barred from doing business in the US.

Iran has resumed talks with Russia to build a new nuclear power plant capable of generating up to 3,000 MW of electricity. The Islamic Republic currently has the capacity to produce 1,000 MW of nuclear electricity. Iran already runs one Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr, its first. Russia signed a deal with Iran in 2014 to build up to eight more reactors in the country. The US in May pulled out of a deal between Tehran and major powers to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Washington imposed new sanctions on Tehran in August.

Four of Japan’s biggest nuclear operators and plant builders have started talks on a potential partnership in atomic energy, as the sector struggles to reboot in the wake of the Fukushima disaster seven years ago. TEPCO, Hitachi Ltd, Toshiba and Chubu Electric Power Company have signed an initial agreement that will be fleshed out in discussions.  The companies had begun talks on an alliance that would initially focus on decommissioning old reactors. That could be extended to building and maintaining nuclear plants, with the moves likely to spur a broad realignment in Japan’s nuclear industry. Japan’s nuclear sector provided about 30 percent of the country’s electricity supply before a tsunami and earthquake caused reactor fuel meltdowns at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi station in March 2011. The disaster highlighted regulator and industry failings and turned swathes of the public against nuclear power, with all reactors needing to be relicensed by a new regulator to meet tougher safety standards. Japan had 54 operational reactors before the disaster, but utilities have announced plans to decommission nine units in the aftermath, in addition to the six reactors at Fukushima, where a decades long clean-up is in progress.

China’s State Council said it would promote the use of China’s nuclear industry’s independent technological standards worldwide, aiming to play “a leading role” in the global standardization process by 2027. Its two major nuclear project developers, China National Nuclear Corp and the CGN, are jointly promoting an advanced third-generation reactor known as the Hualong One to overseas clients, with CGN aiming to deploy the technology at a proposed nuclear project at Bradwell in England. China aims to raise its total nuclear capacity to 58 GW by the end of the decade, up from 37 GW at the end of June. Capacity could reach as high as 200 GW by 2030, and China also has ambitions to dominate the global nuclear industry via its homegrown technologies.

Britain’s ONR has notified EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd and Doosan Babcock of its intention to prosecute both companies over a non nuclear-related health and safety matter, the ONR said. The charge relates to an incident in April at the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant owned by France’s EDF, which resulted in injury to a Doosan Babcock employee.

Exxon Mobil Corp has been looking to buy renewable energy for delivery in Texas. The largest US oil company sent out a request for proposals with a 8 June deadline, inviting solar or wind power suppliers to pitch contracts that would last 12, 15 or 20 years. Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, is seeking at least 100 MW and would consider proposals for more than 250 MW. Exxon has been slow to follow Big Oil rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc into renewable energy technologies. But as the price of renewable power declines, the company may see the value in consuming wind or solar, even if it eschews producing that kind of energy. Texas is the biggest wind-producing US state, with power prices occasionally going negative on windy days, and solar power is cheaper than coal in many parts of the world. The number of companies contracting to buy renewables continues to expand. Excluding utilities, companies and agencies agreed to buy 7.2 GW of clean energy worldwide through July, shattering the record of 5.4 GW for all of 2017.

The EU will scrap import controls on solar panels and cells from China in September, rejecting a request from EU producers who argue that the bloc will be opening its doors to a flood of dumped products. The EU first imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures for Chinese solar panels, wafers and cells in 2013 and extended them in March 2017 by 18 months, signaling that they should then end. Chinese manufacturers are allowed to sell solar products in Europe free of duties if they do so at or above a minimum price that has progressively declined. If sold for less than that price, they are subject to duties of up to 64.9 percent.

Biofuel producer and oil refiner Neste sees good opportunities for its renewable jet fuel despite a canceled pilot project in Switzerland. The Finnish company is hoping to get a boost for its biofuels business in the coming years from proposed reductions of CO2 emissions in aviation. The pilot project was due to replace at least 1 percent of jet fuel used at Geneva airport with Neste’s biofuel, until Swiss authorities told Neste they had decided not to back the scheme. The International Civil Aviation Organization is targeting carbon-neutral growth in aviation from 2020. Alongside Neste, at least one other company, US AltAir Fuels, has tested biofuel for aircraft with pilot projects.

Indonesia made public a revised regulation that gives the country’s palm crop fund more leeway to support the expanded use of biodiesel in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Indonesia announced plans to require all diesel fuel used in the country to contain a 20 percent bio-component from September. The move aims to reduce diesel fuel imports, boost palm oil consumption and support the rupiah currency. The revised regulation for the Estate Crop Fund, signed by President Joko Widodo and made public, widens the fund’s ability to subsidize the price gap between biodiesel and petroleum-based diesel fuel. The current retail price of diesel is 5,150 rupiah ($0.3526) per liter compared to 7,600 rupiah for unblended biodiesel. The Estate Crop Fund collects levies from palm oil exporters and the proceeds are used to finance government palm oil programs such as biodiesel and crop replanting. Separately, Indonesia’s energy ministry planned to issue its regulation and guidance regarding the blending and biodiesel supply quota allocations.

Indonesia plans to require all diesel fuel used in the country contain biodiesel starting next month to boost palm oil consumption, slash fuel imports, and narrow a yawning current account gap. While the proposal has been welcomed by the palm oil industry and government, it has raised concerns among the automobile industry the fuel could impact engine performance. Environmentalists fear the boost to local palm oil consumption will hasten Indonesia’s already fast spreading deforestation. In Indonesia, the bio component in biodiesel consists of FAME made from palm oil. Indonesia has 26 FAME producers, including units of palm oil giants like Sinar Mas Group, Wilmar, and Musim Mas, according to the Indonesian Biofuels Producers Association.

Britain’s Drax said that its fourth biomass generation unit has started operations at its power plant in North Yorkshire. Drax converted its first three coal units to use biomass between 2013 and 2016. The cost of converting the fourth unit is below the level of previous conversions at around 30 million pounds ($38 million) Drax said it will now continue work to replace its remaining two coal units with gas-fired power generation units. Proposals for these conversions has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and a final decision is expected next year.

EU state aid regulators approved three Danish renewable energy schemes, worth a total €144 million ($164 million), as part of the Scandinavian country’s goal of loosening its dependence on fossil fuels by 2050. The three projects will support electricity production from wind and solar this year and next. Danish aid will be granted for 20 years. One is a €112 million scheme which involves onshore and offshore wind turbines and solar installations. A second, worth 27 million euros, is for onshore wind test and demonstration projects. The third project, with a €5 million budget, is a transitional measure for onshore wind. The European Commission said the Danish aid was in line with the bloc’s state aid and environmental objectives.

British renewable energy investor Quercus said it will halt the construction of a €500 million ($570 million) solar power plant in Iran due to recently imposed US  sanctions on Tehran. The solar plant in Iran would have been the first renewable energy investment outside Europe by Quercus and the world’s sixth largest, with a 600 MW capacity. Iran has been trying to increase the share of renewable-produced electricity in its energy mix, partly due to air pollution and to meet international commitments, hoping to have about 5 GW in renewables installed by 2022. In June, before the US-imposed sanctions, more than 250 companies had signed agreements to add and sell power from about 4 GW of new renewables in the country, which has only 602 MW installed, Iranian energy ministry data showed. Quercus has a portfolio of around 28 renewable energy plants and 235 MW of installed capacity. The 600 MW plant it aimed to construct in Iran would be the firm’s largest investment.

MW: megawatt, GW: gigawatt, MNRE: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, SECI: Solar Energy Corp of India, UT: Union Territory, DGTR: Directorate General of Trade Remedies, PSUs: Public Sector Undertakings, SWR: South Western Railway, kWp: kilowatt peak, CCI: Cricket Club of India, kW: kilowatt, kWh: kilowatt hour, RESCO: Renewable Energy Service Company, US: United States, KUSUM: Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan, ISTS: Inter-State Transmission System, ATF: aviation turbine fuel, CIAL: Cochin International Airport Ltd, RND: River Navigation Department, EVs: electric vehicles, NPP: Nuclear Power Plant, EU: European Union, TEPCO: Tokyo Electric Power Company, CGN: China General Nuclear Project Corp,  ONR: Office for Nuclear Regulation, CO2: carbon dioxide, FAME: fatty acid methyl esters


Petrol will soon touch Rs 100: Andhra Pradesh CM

4 September. Criticising the Narendra Modi-led government for the continuous rise in fuel prices, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Chandrababu Naidu opined that soon, petrol would be sold at Rs 100 per litre. The CM said that in addition to petrol prices, the rupee value would also touch Rs 100 against one US dollar.

Source: Business Standard

India allows state refiners to use Iran tankers, insurance for oil imports

3 September. India is allowing state refiners to import Iranian oil with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance after firms including the country’s top shipper Shipping Corp of India (SCI) halted voyages to Iran due to US (United States) sanctions. New Delhi’s attempt to keep Iranian oil flowing mirrors a step by China, where buyers are shifting nearly all their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). The moves by the two top buyers of Iranian crude indicate that the Islamic Republic may not be fully cut off from global oil markets from November, when US sanctions against Tehran’s petroleum sector are due to start. SCI had a contract until August to import Iranian oil for Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL).

Source: Reuters

Bring petrol, diesel under GST immediately: Chidambaram

3 September. As petrol and diesel prices hit new highs, former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Centre and states must act together to bring petrol and diesel under GST (Goods and Services Tax) immediately. Prices of petrol and diesel, already at unprecedented levels in the country, rose for the ninth consecutive day, even as analysts said the dual impact of rising oil prices and the depreciating rupee increases regulatory risks for state-run oil and gas firms. In the national capital, petrol was sold at Rs 79.15 per litre, up from Rs 78.84.

Source: Business Standard

DGH asks ONGC to show work plans, may get tougher

3 September. Concerned over the continuous fall in crude oil production by ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp), the government has asked the state-run explorer for detailed, time-bound work plans regarding as many as 86 petroleum mining lease (PML) areas awarded to it, where production is yet to commence. While ONGC is learnt to have agreed to submit the work plans, the missive from the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) indicates the government may have plans to ask the explorer to relinquish the PMLs if the regulator is not satisfied with the progress made by the company. After appraising the discoveries, PMLs were given for development of the area and production of oil and gas. ONGC has 337 such PMLs, the largest in the industry, while Oil India Ltd (OIL), also a PSU (Public Sector Undertaking), has 22 and 66 PMLs are with private players or their joint ventures with state-run explorers. Though one PML would typically cover one development area only, more areas could be added later. Usually, the government monitors production at the asset level and does not get into micro surveillance such as the one DGH is now doing. The DGH move comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a time-bound reduction in India’s onerous import dependence for oil and gas 10% by 2022 and 50% by 2030, with a commensurate increase in domestic production. According to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC), however, against domestic consumption, India’s oil imports were 78.3% in FY15 and the figure has since grown to 80.6% in FY16, 81.7% in FY17 and further to 82.8% in FY18.

Source: The Financial Express

Petrol touches record price of Rs 86.25 per litre in Mumbai, diesel at new high

2 September. Petrol in Mumbai reached the highest-ever rate at Rs 86.25 per litre. Diesel too touched a new high of Rs 75.12 per litre. The prices are expected to escalate further, oil marketing companies said. While it will pinch the motorists who are already fuming with low mileage and more fuel consumption due to road congestion, transporters are burdened with the diesel price hikes which continue for a fortnight now. As for LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) rates in Mumbai, a non-subsidised consumer will now have to shell out Rs 795, the highest ever for an LPG cylinder. The city has a significant number of non-subsidised customers and they will end up paying more for a 14.2 kilogram domestic gas

Source: The Economic Timescylinder.

HPCL to finalise 10 licensors for Rs 431 bn Rajasthan refinery

2 September. ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp)-owned state-run oil marketer Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) will award the licensor agreements to 10 of the 12 vendors it needs for the upcoming Rs 431.3 billion project Barmer refinery in Rajasthan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the 9 million tonne or 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) greenfield refinery at Pachpadra village in Barmer district of Rajasthan being set up in a 75:25 joint venture with the state administration. It is slated to be completed by end-2020. The foundation stone for the project was first laid in September 2013 by the then president of ruling Congress Sonia Gandhi. But the project remained a non-starter as the state, which voted in a BJP government, reworked the project and changed incentive structure including an interest-free loan of 168.45 billion to HPCL to be paid back in 15 years from the commissioning of the project. The company, taken over by upstream energy major ONGC this January for a tad over Rs 369.15 billion as part of the governments divestment process, has around 24.8 million tonnes (mt) refining capacity now. It has plans to ramp this up to 60 mt by 2030 and brownfield expansion to achieve the target is afoot with work. HPCL will also have 12.5 percent consideration in the proposed 60 mt Ratnagiri refinery in Maharashtra if it materialises. India’s annual refining capacity stands at 235 mt. Of this, 194 mt are consumed domestically. The country is in the process of increasing the refining capacity to around 310 mt by 2023 to become a refinery hub. The market leader Indian Oil Corp alone will have 140 mt tonne capacity by then when domestic demand for petrol and diesel is expected to go up by two-thirds to 170 billion litres.

Source: Business Standard

External factors behind fuel price rise: Oil Minister

2 September. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan blamed “external factors” for the rise in domestic prices of petrol and diesel, but said the increase is temporary. Pradhan said the factors responsible for drop in production of crude oil have caused a spike in fuel prices in India. Fuel prices have been on the rise since August 16 after the rupee dipped to its lowest value against the US dollar. Petrol and diesel prices had gone up by almost a rupee per litre within a fortnight last month.

Source: Business Standard

India may breach 3.3 percent fiscal deficit target as oil prices rise: Moody’s

29 August. Credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service said there are risks of India breaching the 3.3 percent fiscal deficit target for the current financial year as higher oil prices will add to short-term fiscal pressures. Higher oil prices add to short-term fiscal pressures, following cuts in the goods and services tax on some items and relatively high increases in minimum support prices for some crops.  Also driven by higher oil prices and robust non-oil import demand, Moody’s expects the current account deficit to widen to 2.5 percent of GDP (goods and services tax) in the fiscal year ending March 2019, from 1.5 percent in fiscal 2018. Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Joy Rankothge said, higher oil prices and interest rates will put pressure on the government’s budget and the current account. However, growth prospects remain in line with the economy’s potential, around 7.5 percent this year and next. Moody’s said oil prices at current levels will raise expenditures and add to existing pressures on the fiscal position stemming from the lowering of GST rates on a range of consumer goods and a tax cut for small businesses as well as the relatively high minimum support prices set for this year. Although the deregulation of both diesel and gasoline prices has reduced the fiscal impact of rising oil prices, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene remain regulated and subject to subsidies, which were budgeted at 0.5 percent of government expenditures for the year ending March 2019.  While the government may cut back on capital expenditures to limit fiscal slippage, as has happened in previous years, such cuts may not fully offset the revenue losses and higher spending on energy subsidies and price support for crops.

Source: Business Standard

Kerala floods: New LPG cylinders at reduced rates

29 August. Those who lost their gas cylinders in the flood can buy new ones without paying taxes. The decision was taken at a meeting convened by civil supplies secretary Mini P Antony in Ernakulam. The new cylinders can be bought at Rs 1,450 each. Currently, people pay Rs 2,600 plus taxes.

Source: The Economic Times

IOC to invest Rs 2.8 bn to expand LPG bottling output in north-east India by 2020

29 August. Public sector undertaking Indian Oil Corp (IOC) will invest over Rs 286 crore to enhance its LPG (liquefied petroleum) gas bottling capacity, including setting up of two greenfield plants, in North East by 2020. The company is establishing two new facilities at Agartala in Tripura and Barapani in Meghalaya at a total investment of Rs 217.46 crore. Apart from the above two units, the company is adding capacities to its existing bottling facilities at Silchar, Bongaigaon and North Guwahati.

Source: Business Standard


GAIL eyes new geographies to scale up international trade

3 September. A diversified supply base, the lure of fat margin, and the confidence earned with some recent overseas deals have boosted ambition at state-run GAIL (India) Ltd, which is now preparing to up its game in the international trade. GAIL’s gas marketing portfolio, including the locally-produced gas, is set to expand to 97 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) in 2018-19 from 86 mmscmd in 2017-18, aided by overseas LNG (liquefied natural gas) supply. Of the 97 mmscmd, locally-produced gas comprises about 51mmscmd. Nearly a quarter of the balance 46 mmscmd of LNG supply has been tied up for sale to international customers with the remainder planned to be shipped to India. GAIL is also contemplating setting up an office in Europe to be close to customers—it already has offices in Singapore and Houston.

Source: The Economic Times

Gujarat has connected 1.5 mn households through PNG network: Energy Minister

2 September. Gujarat has connected close to 15 lakh households through a well-developed PNG (piped natural gas) network, Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said. He said that Gujarat is the only state in India which has developed a Natural Gas Based Economy owing to long-term vision of the State Government. He said that under the able leadership of the State Government, GSPC (Gujarat State Petroleum Corp) Group has been able to establish a robust natural gas infrastructure to ensure availability of piped natural gas and CNG to millions of households and industries in Gujarat.

Source: The Economic Times

CNG, piped cooking gas prices hiked in Delhi

1 September. CNG (compressed natural gas) price was hiked by 63 paise per kilogram (kg) and piped cooking gas rates by Rs 1.11 in the national capital following a record fall in the Indian rupee against the US dollar, Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) said. The new consumer price of Rs 42.60 per kg in Delhi and Rs 49.30 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad would be effective from midnight tonight, IGL said. The price of CNG being supplied in Rewari is being increased by 63 paise per kg from Rs 51.62 per kg to Rs 52.25 per kg. IGL will continue to offer a discount of Rs 1.50 per kg in the selling prices of CNG for filling between 12.30 am to 5.30 am at select outlets. Thus, the consumer price of CNG would be Rs 41.10 per kg in Delhi and Rs 47.80 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad during 12.30 am to 5.30 am at the select CNG stations across the region.

Source: Business Standard

Railways ties up with GAIL to use natural gas in production units, workshops

30 August. The railways signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with state gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd to use natural gas in its workshops and production units. The aim is to replace industrial gases like dissolved acetylene, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and furnace oil/high-speed diesel (HSD) with environment-friendly natural gas. In the first phase, around 23 workshops will use natural gas by 31 December. It will be expanded to all 54 workshops and production units, and railway establishments — including base-kitchens, guest houses, hostels — by 30 June next year, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said. The use of natural gas has a potential to replace fuel worth Rs 70 crore per annum. GAIL and the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuel (IROAF) would prepare a project report by 30 September, Lohani said.

Source: Business Standard

Natural gas price may be hiked by 14 percent from October

30 August. The government may from October raise price of domestic natural gas by over 14%, a move that will translate into higher CNG (compressed natural gas) price and increased cost of electricity and urea production. Price paid to most of the domestic producers of natural gas is likely to be hiked to $3.5 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) from 1 October, from the current $3.06. Natural gas prices are set every six months based on average rates in gas-surplus nations like the United States, Russia and Canada. The price revision is likely to be announced on 28 September. India imports half of its gas which costs more than double the domestic rate. The $3.50 per mmBtu rate would be for six months beginning 1 October and will be the highest since October 2015 to March 2016 when $3.82 per mmBtu price was paid to domestic producers. The increase in price will boost earnings of producers like Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) but will also lead to a rise in price of CNG, which uses natural gas as input.

Source: The Hindu


Delhi, UP, 3 other states may face power disruption due to coal supply issues

4 September. Power supply to North India including Delhi and Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal is vulnerable to disruptions as fuel supply to 4,200 MW of generation capacity that feeds these states has fallen sharply heightening the risk of a shutdown from events like heavy rain. Coal India Ltd (CIL)’s supply has fallen because the mine supplying coal to NTPC Ltd’s large plants in the east has almost run out of pit head stock, while land acquisition problems have stymied expansion. CIL’s supply from Rajmahal mines in Jharkhand has fallen to 40,000 tonnes a day from about 55,000 tonnes. On a rainy day, the supply halves. At NTPC’s Farakka plant, stocks have plummeted to 4,000 tonnes from 2.5 lakh tonnes almost two months ago, NTPC said.

Source: The Economic Times

Congress seeks independent probe into ‘coal import scam’

3 September. The Congress targeted the Centre over a stalled probe against the Adani Group and demanded a time-bound, independent probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into an alleged Rs 29,000 crore scam involving over-valuation of coal imports. Earlier, a Singapore court had rejected Adani Global’s plea, seeking a stay to produce documents pertaining to coal imports to India mostly from Indonesia. After that, the group moved the Bombay High Court on August 28. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had alleged that the companies inflated the price of coal they were importing from Indonesia to siphon off money abroad and to avail higher power tariff compensation.

Source: Business Standard

India’s coal import rises 12 percent to 79 mt in April-July

2 September. India’s coal import rose 11.9 percent to 78.7 million tonnes (mt) in the first four months of the current fiscal. The country had imported 70.3 million tonnes (mt) coal in April-July period of the last fiscal, mjunction services, a joint venture between Tata Steel and SAIL, said. The country’s coal import in July increased by 42 percent to 20.79 mt (provisional), over 14.64 mt (revised) in the same month previous year. The increase in coal and coke imports in July is mainly due to a 12.9 percent growth (month-on-month) in non-coking coal shipments, it said. The government earlier said that during 2017-18 coal imports increased to 208.27 mt due to increase in demand by consuming sectors. The country’s coal import fell from 217.7 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 190.9 mt in 2016-17.

Source: Business Standard


Now MSEDCL consumers will not face shortage of electricity meters

4 September. Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), the state run power utility firm which supplies electricity to 2.5 crore consumers, has adequate meters to fulfill the requirement across Maharashtra. At present, there are around 2.31 lakh single-phase and 1.63 lakh three-phase new meters available in the various offices of MSEDCL. Mahavitaran has already begun the tendering process to buy more 20 lakh additional meters so that consumers do not face any shortage.

Source: The Economic Times

KSEB’s power generation plummets

4 September. According to KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board) Chairman N S Pillai, the Board has suffered a loss of Rs 180 crore during the first 15 days after the flood water entered the generators. KSEB’s daily power generation plummeted from 65 million units to 42 million units during this period.

Source: The New Indian Express

Delhi CM promises relief from fixed charges on electricity

3 September. Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal reached out to the voters assuring them relief from the recently hiked fixed charges on electricity bills. The CM said electricity rates were the “lowest” under the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) regime in the national capital while other state governments have increased power tariffs. In March this year, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had increased fixed charges for every consumer, but brought down the unit cost of power.

Source: Business Standard

RInfra pays Rs 26.4 bn outstanding electricity dues to Maharashtra government

3 September. Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) said it has paid all outstanding electricity duty and other taxes amounting to Rs 2,640 crore to the Maharashtra government on closure of deal to sell its integrated Mumbai power distribution business to Adani Transmission Ltd. This was the largest ever debt reduction for any company in the Indian power sector, the company said. With this deal, it is set to achieve top-end ratings.

Source: Business Standard

Government removes PPA hurdle to cut power purchase cost

31 August. The power ministry has allowed power generation firms to supply less expensive power from their preferred plants to distribution companies (discoms), even if power purchase agreements (PPAs) are linked to other (more expensive) plants. Currently, power companies can sell electricity to discoms only from the specific power plants identified in the PPA. The cost savings made from this process would be shared between the states and generation companies. The scheme is applicable for companies having multiple generating assets whose tariffs have not been determined through competitive bidding (under Section 62 of the Electricity Act). The introduction of the PPA rationalisation scheme is also expected to address the coal shortage issue stemming out of shortage of railway rakes with optimum utilisation of plants located near coal mines.

Source: The Financial Express

Tamil Nadu’s first private power plant shutting shop

29 August. A 196 MW liquid fuel-fired power plant at Basin Bridge, billed as the State’s first plant put up by the private sector in late 1990s, is being dismantled. Located on about 29 acres of land leased by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp (TANGEDCO) to GMR Power Corp for 20 years in March 1997, the plant had four units of 49 MW each. In March 1999, the power plant was formally inaugurated by the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. TANGEDCO had a 15-year-long power purchase agreement which expired in 2014. It bought power for one more year – till February 2015, beyond which it did not renew the arrangement.

Source: The Hindu

Power plants in India to face bankruptcy

29 August. Nearly 40 power plant companies of India were diving to bankruptcy. Nearly 40 organizations which have defaulted on loans of more than $285.06 million but avoid getting into the goals procedure, would be casualties of the Reserve Bank of India’s 12 February roundabout that gave 180 days to banks to solve defaults. According to the Money Control’s report, after the Allahabad High Court judgment declining interim relief to power companies from escaping insolvency proceedings, bankers fear more hair-cuts on their loans.

Source: Xinhua

Government unlikely to issue directions to RBI on bad loans of power sector: finance ministry

29 August. Ruling out invoking of exceptional powers to issue directions to RBI (Reserve Bank of India), the finance ministry said that the central bank should take a pragmatic view on resolving stressed assets in the power sector. The Allahabad High Court has turned down a petition by independent power produces challenging the 12 February circular of the RBI which specified that if a resolution was not found by 27 August these accounts should be sent to bankruptcy courts. Independent power producers had challenged the RBI order which mandated the lenders to initiate process under IBC (Insolvency and Banking Code) if resolution plan is not approved by 27 August. Banks have an exposure of about Rs 1.74 lakh crore to the stressed power projects.

Source: Business Standard

HC imposes rupees one lakh penalty on UP electricity department

29 August. The Allahabad High Court (HC) imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the Uttar Pradesh (UP) electricity department for making a vague explanation of delay in filing its reply to a plea against it by a consumer. After imposing the fine, a bench of justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Ajit Kumar ordered remitting the sum to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. The court had earlier summoned the Garhmukteshwar executive engineer of the state’s electricity distribution wing, the Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd, Hapur, who too was present before the court. Petitioner Gaurav Sharma had challenged the recovery order of the Electricity Department on which the court earlier had asked the department to file its reply. The court ordered that a draft of Rs 1 lakh made in the favour of court’s registrar general, who would remit the fund for the relief of flood-hit Kerala.

Source: Business Standard


India to generate 100 GW solar energy by 2022: Prabhu

4 September. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that India has set a target to generate 100 GW solar energy by 2022 for increasing share of carbon-free energy in the energy mix. He said that the idea of the solar alliance was conceived by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2015 as a treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation. ISA stands for co-operation among 121 solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics in order to promote massive deployment of solar energy and make solar energy affordable. He said ISA (International Solar Alliance) provides an opportunity to all countries to bring prosperity, energy security and sustainable development to their peoples. He said that once the generation of solar energy goes up, its prices will come down.

Source: Business Standard

Delhi government backs incentives for clean energy switch to combat pollution

4 September. Authorities in Delhi approved measures to encourage businesses to use clean energy as one of the world’s worst polluted cities stepped up the fight against deadly air pollution. The Delhi city government gave the go-ahead for financial incentives for restaurants switching to electric or gas tandoor ovens from coal, its Food and Supply Minister Imran Hussain said, without elaborating. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May said India was home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, with Delhi the sixth most polluted. Air quality has worsened in New Delhi in recent years, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to monitor measures to clean up the capital’s air directly. Illegal crop burning in farming states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhausts and swirling construction dust have contributed to what has become an annual crisis. Modi’s government opened two new expressways around the capital in May aimed at decongesting its streets and reducing pollution. Globally about 7 million people die as a result of polluted air a year, the WHO said, with people in poor Asian and African countries at most risk. Two years ago, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government restricted the use of private cars for two weeks, allowing them to be driven only on alternate days, going by their odd or even number plates. Last November, India’s top court upheld a ban on the use of petroleum coke, a cheaper and dirtier alternative to coal composed mainly of carbon, in and around New Delhi.

Source: Livemint

HSL commissions State’s largest rooftop solar power plant

4 September. In one of the major green-friendly initiatives, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) has commenced production from the State’s largest rooftop solar power plant. The plant is built and operated by Clean Max. While there is no investment on the part of HSL, as per the agreement arrived at with Clean Max, the yard has to buy power from it for 25 years. Out of two megawatt capacity, one megawatt production has already started. The full capacity will be generated shortly. HSL Chairman and Managing Director L V Sarat Babu said that they were required to buy the generated power from Clean Max at a cost of ₹ 3.93 per unit as against ₹ 5.60 per unit for grid power bought from Eastern Power Distribution Company of AP Ltd.

Source: The Hindu

Soon, oil from kitchen can be used in your cars

​​3 September. Soon, you may be able to use your cooking oil as an alternate fuel to run cars. This can become a reality after a successful experiment of using biofuel in airplane. The Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum is now working to convert used cooking oil into biofuel which would then be used to power automobiles and planes. With India taking the leadership role to drive the International Solar Aliance after the Paris climate agreement, its massive consumption of cooking oil can put India at the vanguard of research focusing on conversion of cooking oil into biofuel. In fact, global fast food giant McDonald’s has already started using biofuel from used cooking oil to power its fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks in 85 of its outlets across Mumbai and will soon expand it to 275-plus outlets in southern and western regions. As per reports, the move has helped the fast food giant in converting 35,000 litres of used cooking oil into biodiesel resulting in saving around 420,000 litres of crude oil annually. Recently, food regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) had also directed eateries not to reuse cooking oil and instead pass it to biofuel developers. Globally, commercial use of biofuel has still not taken off in a big way as it is unsustainable to produce it on an industrial scale. But, low cost of feed stock and used cooking oil in India can make bio-jet fuel quite competitive. According to some estimates, out of nearly 23 million tonne (mt) cooking oil consumed in India, 3 mt can be used for the production of biofuel. Biofuel, produced from vegetable oils, recycled grease, algae, and animal fat can be used as an alternative in place of fossil fuels. India, being a net importer of fossil fuels, is making efforts to reduce its dependence on oil imports. India imports nearly 80 percent of oil every year to meet its energy demand. This leads to heavy foreign funds outflows and currency fluctuation uncertainties. To reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, India is trying to promote biofuels. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently released “National Policy on Biofuels 2018”, under which it plans to triple ethanol production over the next four years. This will help India to reduce the oil import bill by nearly Rs 12,000 crore. The government has set a target of 20 percent blending of ethanol in petrol by 2030.

Source: The Economic Times

Solar power installations in India down 52 percent in April-June 2018

2 September. Solar installations in India plunged 52 percent to 1,599 MW during the second quarter of 2018, mainly due to uncertainties around trade cases and module price fluctuations, according to Mercom India Research’s ‘Q2 2018 India Solar Market Update’. The installations stood at 3,344 MW during the first quarter. The installations during the quarter under review were down nearly 21 percent in comparison to 2,025 MW installed in the corresponding quarter of 2017. During the second quarter of 2018, large-scale installations totalled 1,184 MW as compared to 2,954 MW in the previous quarter and 1,800 MW in the corresponding quarter of previous year. Also, rooftop installations accounted for 415 MW during the quarter under review as against 390 MW during the previous quarter and 225 MW in second quarter of 2017. Cumulative solar installed capacity totalled 24.6 GW at the end of the second quarter of 2018 with large-scale solar projects accounting for 90 percent and rooftop solar making up the remaining 10 percent.

Source: The Economic Times

Rajasthan eyes solar projects of 2 GW from recent SECI, NTPC auctions

30 August. Rajasthan is a frontrunner to get more than half of the 5180 MW solar projects auctioned in the past two months by Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI), NTPC Ltd and Maharashtra government under the open access system. With its own 1500 MW projects coming up, the state now sets sights on a cumulative capacity of 7500 MW in the next two years which can put the state ahead of Karnataka which now has the maximum capacity in the country. Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corp Ltd (RRECL) said that most of the companies such as ACME Solar, Azure Power, SB Energy, Hero Solar Energy, and Mahoba Solar (Adani group company) which have been awarded the projects have approached it with regard to identifying land and seeking other details necessary for setting up the plants. Currently, Rajasthan generates 2300 MW power from solar sources and the capacity is set to increase to 3800 MW as two projects having 750 MW each will be commissioned by April 2019. Also in the pipeline are projects worth 1500 MW in two phases by the Rajasthan government to meet its renewable power purchase obligation. RRECL said bidding process of 750 MW has already started.

Source: The Economic Times

India could reduce emissions by 2030

30 August. Individual city, region and company commitments in India could reduce emissions to 225-255 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per year by 2030, more than the emissions generated by the country’s industrial processes in 2014, a new international study said. International cooperative initiatives could reduce emissions by eight to 13 percent (280-490 MtCO2e per year) in India more than what it will be achieved through current national policies. By 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions could be 1.5 to 2.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year lower if existing sub-national commitments are fully implemented, compared to what would be achieved through current national policies, it said. The study comes from Data-Driven Yale, New Climate Institute, PBL Environmental Assessment Agency in partnership with CDP and is the most comprehensive assessment to date of sub-national commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. The report “Global climate action from cities, regions, and businesses” said action by cities, states, regions and business can go a long way towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, but their actions alone are not enough to hold global temperature increase to well-below 2 degrees Celsius and work towards limiting it to 1.5 degrees. The report said by 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions could be 1.5 to 2.2 GtCO2e per year lower if individual commitments from nearly 6,000 cities, states and regions and over 2,000 companies are fully implemented, compared to what would be achieved through national policies that are currently underway.

Source: Business Standard

Government puts restrictions on export of bio-fuels

29 August. The government imposed restrictions on export of bio-fuels within days of putting similar conditions for its imports. A licence is required for both exports and imports of bio-fuels. Bio-fuels include ethyl alcohol, petroleum oil and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, bio-diesel and mixtures. Export policy of bio-fuels is revised from free to restricted as per the national policy on biofuels 2018, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said. Biodiesel and mixtures shipments rose to $5.36 million in the last financial years from $2.73 million in 2016-17.

Source: Business Standard

India rooftop solar power tariff drop to record lows

29 August. Developers bid record low prices to sell power from solar projects to be built on rooftops of government and private buildings in auctions conducted by the Madhya Pradesh. The lowest bid came in at ₹ 1.58 (2 US cents) per kilowatt hour, the lowest ever in the country, the state government said. The remaining bids ranged from ₹ 1.69 to ₹ 2.35. The projects will service municipal and police buildings, colleges, industrial training and polytechnic institutions, as well as some private entities. The tariffs are valid for one year and will escalate by 3% annually for 25 years. The tender in Madhya Pradesh is being implemented as part of India’s larger rooftop solar program with support from the World Bank and International Solar Alliance. Under the model, consumers would pay for electricity generated by the selected contractor, who will undertake design, supply and installation along with operation and maintenance of the rooftop project for 25 years.

Source: Livemint


Global oil market is balanced: Algerian Energy Minister

4 September. The world crude oil market is currently balanced, Algerian Energy Minister Mustapha Guitouni said. A Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting is due to take place in Algiers on 23 September. The committee includes OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) members Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Venezuela and non-OPEC producers Russia and Oman.

Source: Reuters

Qatar cuts August crude oil prices to Asia

4 September. Qatar has set the August retroactive official selling price (OSP) for its Marine crude at $72.90 per barrel, down from $73.55 a barrel for the previous month, a document issued by the company showed. That set the August OSP differential for Qatar Marine at 41 cents a barrel above Dubai quotes, 2 cents lower than a month ago.

Source: Reuters

Israel’s Ratio Oil expected to sign Philippines exploration deal

4 September. Israel’s Ratio Oil Exploration is expected to sign a long-awaited deal to search for oil and gas in the Philippines. The company in 2015 was one of a number of foreign firms to be awarded an exploration deal. Ratio won the so-called East Palawan block, a 416,000-hectare oil and gas prospect off of Palawan, a southeastern province near the South China Sea. But the award was delayed due to legal issues involving a previous exploration contract covering that block.

Source: Reuters

Tropical Storm Gordon shuts 9 percent of oil output in Gulf of Mexico

4 September. Tropical Storm Gordon has shut 9.23 percent of daily crude oil production in the US-regulated Gulf of Mexico, the US (United States) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said. Producers have shut in 156,907 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production and 232 million cubic feet per day of natural gas output, according to BSEE. Offshore production in the Gulf accounts for 17 percent of total US crude oil output, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Natural gas production from Gulf offshore operations provides 5 percent of the US total.

Source: Reuters

Russia’s oil industry can shoulder extra taxes: Finance ministry

3 September. Russia’s oil industry is awash with cash and will be able to withstand the planned 1 trillion rubles ($15 billion) in extra taxes over the next six years, Alexei Sazanov, the head of the tax department in the finance ministry, said. The new oil tax changes will see an increase in the mineral extraction tax and a gradual reduction in oil and oil products export duty. The changes will be introduced step by step over the next six years starting from 1 January 2019. Sazanov said the oil tax reform was unlikely to affect domestic oil production, which is close to a 30-year high of more than 11.2 million barrels per day. Sazanov said the negative excise tax would amount to around 600 rubles per tonne of oil on average under a scenario where the oil price was $60 per barrel and the rouble at 58 per $1. The government in May decided to curb excise tax on fuel to rein in fast rising retail gasoline prices, which led to protests among drivers across the country. Sazanov said excise tax on fuel would rise in 2019, as initially planned.

Source: Reuters

Oman expects oil prices to stay between $70-$80 per barrel this year

3 September. Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi said he expects oil prices to remain between $70 to $80 a barrel this year. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are the only three countries that have the capacity to increase oil production, he said.

Source: Reuters

Turkey to sign deal with Qatar to reduce energy supply costs

3 September. Turkey will sign an economic and trade partnership agreement with Qatar, in order to secure cheaper supply of refined oil products and natural gas, Turkish trade ministry said. The deal, which the ministry said will target a comprehensive liberalization of goods and services trading between the two countries, will also include telecommunications sector and financial services.

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia may maintain October light crude prices for Asia cargoes

3 September. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to keep prices for the light crude grades it sells to Asia largely unchanged in October from the previous month to keep its oil competitive against other suppliers. Saudi Arabia has cut the prices for Arab Light and Arab Extra Light to Asia over the past two months as it fends off competition from other Middle East oil suppliers, Europe and the United States. Since June, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producer Russia have increased production to make up for falling output from Venezuela, Libya and ahead of US sanctions on Iran. The rise in exports from the Middle East and Russia, plus arbitrage flows from Europe and the United States, has kept Asia well-supplied, especially in light grades. State oil giant Saudi Aramco sets its crude prices based on recommendations from customers and after calculating the change in the value of its oil over the past month, based on yields and product prices.

Source: Reuters

US Army Corps stands by permit for Dakota Access oil pipeline

1 September. The US (United States) Army Corps said that a permit it granted for the Dakota Access Pipeline last year was environmentally sound, handing a setback to tribal and green groups hoping to stop the flow of oil on the pipeline. In June 2017 US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to further review environmental analysis on the permit, which had granted the final easement to finish the pipeline. Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline had hoped the new analysis would force the halting of the Energy Transfer Partners LP pipeline, which began transporting oil last year.

Source: Reuters

US sells 11 mn barrels of oil from reserve to Exxon, five other firms

1 September. Six companies, including ExxonMobil Corp, bought a total of 11 million barrels of oil from the US (United States) Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a Department of Energy document showed, in a sale timed to take place ahead of US sanctions on Iran that are expected to remove oil from the global market. Sale of the oil from the reserve was mandated by previous laws to fund the federal government and to fund a drug program, but the Trump administration took the earliest available time to sell the crude under the law. In May, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement between five other world powers and Tehran. The administration is urging countries to cut purchases of Iranian oil from the Islamic Republic to zero or face possible sanctions after November. The US in certain cases will consider waivers for countries that need more time to wind down imports of oil from Iran while reimposing sanctions against Tehran, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said. Exxon bought about 3.3 million barrels of oil from the reserve, held in a series of underground caverns in Texas and Louisiana. The other companies purchasing the oil were Marathon Petroleum Corp, which bought nearly 1.4 million barrels, Motiva Enterprises LLC, with 2.4 million barrels, Phillips 66, with more than 2 million barrels, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, with nearly 1.6 million barrels, and Valero Energy Corp bought 330,000 barrels. The oil, for shipping by both pipeline and vessels, sold in a range of $67.66 a barrel to $69.05 a barrel.

Source: Reuters

Trinidad oil union to call general strike if refinery shuts down

31 August. Trinidad and Tobago’s Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) threatened a general strike if the island’s government does not rescind a decision to shut down the country’s lone oil refinery, operated by state-run Petrotrin. The oil firm disclosed it would halt refining operations in October due to recurring losses from crude imports in recent years. The 150,000 barrel per day (bpd) Point-a-Pierre refinery was purchasing up to 100,000 bpd of foreign crude to produce fuels for the Caribbean island.

Source: Reuters

Six companies apply for 21 Colombian oil exploration areas

31 August. Six mostly foreign companies have so far made bids to explore for oil in 21 areas in Colombia under a new system that seeks to boost investment and find new deposits to increase the nation’s reserves. Under the new system, approved in early August by former President Juan Manuel Santos’s administration, companies can bid to explore in areas not yet offered by the government. Orlando Velandia, president of the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH), said Colombia, Latin America’s fourth biggest crude producer, is preparing to offer another 20 exploration blocks, including two offshore, which will demand initial investments of some $400 million. Colombia last held rounds, or auctions, in 2012 and 2014, when it awarded 76 blocks. The four years of inactivity was due to the drop in international oil prices. The changes, including contracts adjusted to international crude price fluctuations and the chance for companies to propose exploration on land not yet offered, will help attract more spending and double reserves to about 10 years worth of consumption, Velandia said. Colombia has 1.78 billion barrels of reserves, equivalent to about 5.7 years of consumption. It produces some 860,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, half for export.

Source: Reuters

Brazil regulator approves Shell, Total, BP, others for pre-salt oil bids

30 August. Brazil’s oil industry regulator ANP said it has approved six energy companies to bid for four pre-salt blocks in the Campos and Santos Basins to be auctioned on 28 September. The companies approved to bid are Shell, Total, BP, Germany’s DEA, QPI from Qatar and Chinese-owned CNODC Brasil Petróleo e Gás Ltda. The fifth pre-salt round is the last chance for oil companies to lock in stakes in Brazil’s coveted offshore oil deposits before the country’s October presidential elections, the uncertain outcome of which could change the rules for future auctions.

Source: Reuters

Colorado to vote in November on proposal to toughen oil drilling rules

30 August. A Colorado ballot initiative that would sharply increase the required distance between new oil wells and populated areas will go before voters in November, Colorado said. The proposal, opposed as anti-fracking by oil and gas producers, would require new projects to be at least 2,500 feet from buildings, parks and certain wildlife areas. The state currently requires as little as 500 feet of separation. A 2,500-foot setback would render about 85 percent of all new oil and gas development on non-federal lands in the state off-limits to drilling, according to a 2016 study by the state’s oil and gas conservation commission. Colorado, the seventh largest US (United States) oil and gas producer, has experienced an uptick in production. In May, its crude output was 447,000 barrels per day, up 30 percent from a year ago.

Source: Reuters

OPEC, non-OPEC seek to formalize oil policy coordination

30 August. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and non-OPEC oil producers will aim to formalize their long-term cooperation later this year by approving a charter that will make possible further joint action on output, according to a draft charter. Russia and several other non-OPEC countries have joined OPEC producers in reducing oil output since 2017 in a move that has helped raise oil prices to $80 per barrel from less than $30. Moscow and Riyadh have said they want to maintain a close level of cooperation even after the oil market stabilizes and the current output reduction deal expires. The draft charter, to be discussed by OPEC and non-OPEC Minister later this year, said its fundamental objective is to coordinate policies aimed at stabilizing oil markets in the interest of producers, consumers, investors and the global economy. The charter also aims to promote better understanding of oil market fundamentals among participants as well as to promote oil and gas in the global energy mix for the long term.

Source: Reuters

IEA sees oil markets tightening toward end of 2018: Birol

29 August. Global oil markets could tighten toward the end of this year due to strong demand and uncertainty of production in some oil producing nations, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol said. Birol said that Venezuela’s oil production was expected to slide further after falling by half in recent years.

Source: Reuters

Mexico’s new government may halt oil auctions indefinitely

29 August. Mexico’s incoming government is considering indefinitely suspending auctions for oil and gas projects, and giving state-owned Pemex authority to pick its own joint-venture partners rather than holding competitive tenders, according to policy guidelines. The document, drafted by energy advisers to leftist President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also recommends forging closer ties with leading oil producer cartel OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) while withdrawing from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which represents the interest of oil-consuming countries. It was not clear to what extent the guidelines would translate into formal policy after Lopez Obrador takes office in December. They would be a sharp break with outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s 2013 constitutional overhaul, which opened up production and exploration to private oil companies. Since ending Pemex’s decades-long monopoly, Pena Nieto’s government has forecast hundreds billions of dollars in investment from over 100 new contracts awarded to mostly foreign and private oil companies. The new guidelines would return greater responsibility for the sector to the government.

Source: Reuters

In Brazil, Equinor aims to repeat Norway’s oil boom

29 August. Norway’s Equinor will invest up to $15 billion in Brazil over the next 12 years to develop oil, gas and renewable energy sources, the company said. Coinciding with an expected drop in output from many aging oilfields off the cost of Norway, Brazil is expected to become a core region for Equinor as the firm takes advantage of the country’s opening in recent years to more foreign investment. The company plans to raise its Brazilian output to between 300,000 and 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) by 2030, from 90,000 boepd by developing new fields, including the giant Carcara discovery.

Source: Reuters


Venezuela to launch new gas payment system in border areas: President

4 September. Venezuela will launch a new payment system for its heavily subsidized gasoline in border areas as part of a pilot program meant to reduce smuggling, President Nicolas Maduro said. Maduro said the country’s gasoline prices, the lowest in the world, should rise to international levels.

Source: Reuters

China will buy more LNG, but wants it smoother, less lumpy

4 September. China appears set to once again boost its purchases of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the northern winter, but unlike last year’s rush, this time the process is likely to be more organized and stable. In recent weeks there have been several indicators that China is planning on increasing the use of natural gas in winter heating, replacing boilers that use more polluting coal. Curbing winter air pollution has been a major aim of the authorities in Beijing, but they were stung by criticism last year that the switch to natural gas was made too quickly and the resulting shortages left some people without adequate heating. It’s often a challenge with China to work out exactly how official pronouncements will translate into real world action, but in all likelihood China is going to increase LNG imports in coming months. China imported about 4.55 million tonnes of LNG in August, the highest since January, according to the shipping data.

Source: Reuters

ConocoPhillips asks to extend operations in Indonesia gas block

3 September. US (United States) energy giant ConocoPhillips has asked Indonesia’s energy ministry to extend its operations in the Corridor natural gas block after its contract ends in December 2023. ConocoPhillips (Grissik) Ltd had submitted a letter regarding its Corridor plans but still needed to submit a formal proposal, Oil and Gas Director General Djoko Siswanto said. Indonesia is pushing to nationalize more of its oil and gas assets as it tries to reduce imports and boost government revenue, but experts warn that this approach discourages investors and global energy companies with expertise crucial to maintaining its energy output. Corridor produced 828.4 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day (mmcfd) on average from January to July this year and is expected to churn out 810 mmcfd in 2019, recent SKKMigas data showed.

Source: Reuters

Russia’s Yamal LNG exports accelerate in time for winter, top Sakhalin

31 August. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from Novatek’s Yamal terminal in the Arctic have come on stream faster than expected over the summer and exceeded volumes from Russia’s only other LNG facility, Sakhalin, for the first time in August. Novatek said it had begun commissioning the third train, or plant, and that its first two trains were running at capacity, which is 11 million tonnes per year (mtpa). Russian LNG exports amounted to 10.8 mtpa last year, almost all of which came from Gazprom’s Sakhalin-2 site. Full production at the current trains of Yamal and Sakhalin doubles Russian LNG output to just over 20 mtpa, making the country the fifth largest LNG exporter in the world.

Source: Reuters

ExxonMobil offers November cargo from Australia’s Gorgon LNG

31 August. ExxonMobil Corp has offered to sell a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo from the 15.6-million tonnes a year Gorgon LNG plant in Australia for November. Bids were due on 3 September and were to remain valid until 5 September, one of them said. Gorgon LNG is owned by Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, Japan’s Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas and JERA.

Source: Reuters

Eni makes new gas discovery in Egypt

30 August. Italian oil and gas company Eni S.p.A. has made a new gas discovery in the Egyptian Western Desert, the company announced. The well was drilled on the Faramid South exploration prospect in East Obayed Concession, 18.6 miles northwest of the Melehia Concession and reached a target depth of 17,000 feet. The discovery well has been open to production delivering 25 million cubic square feet per day, confirming the East Obayed Concession’s potential, the company said. Eni has begun studies to develop gas reserves that can contribute to increasing Egypt’s gas production from the Western Desert Basin.

Source: Rigzone


Shareholders in Poland’s Energa approve coal power plant

3 September. Shareholders in Polish state-run utility Energa approved a plan to build 1 GW coal-fuelled power plant in Ostroleka, north-east Poland. Energa revived the Ostroleka project in 2016 in response to the government’s wider plan to stick to coal as the basic source of energy in the long term. The plant, which Energa plans to build with fellow state-run utility Enea, will be the last coal-fuelled one in Poland, the energy ministry said. The Ostroleka project, which is expected to be finished in 2023, has been opposed by environmentalists, who say that it only strengthens Poland’s reliance on coal. Shareholders in Enea will vote on the project on 24 September.

Source: Reuters

Construction begins at Botswana’s first privately-owned coal mine

29 August. Botswana’s Minergy Ltd said it has started construction at its Masama Coal Mine, which is set to be the country’s first privately-owned coal mine, following government approval. Botswana has an estimated resource of 212 billion tonnes of coal but has only one operating coal mine, the state-owned Morupule Coal Mine that produces 3.5 million tonnes a year. Minergy Chief Executive Officer Andre Boje said that commissioning of its 400 million pula ($37 million) Masama Coal Mine is scheduled for January 2019, and production of first saleable coal slated for the following month. Most off-site construction for Masama mine, which will produce 2.4 million tonnes a year, is already complete with some of the funding already secured. In November 2017, Boje said the company – which will export its coal to South Africa and Asia – will list on AIM on the London Stock Exchange after receiving a mining licence.

Source: Reuters


China to make electricity trading independent from grid companies

4 September. China wants grid companies to restructure and turn their electricity trading arms into independent firms, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said. The plan is part of China’s year-long efforts to liberalise its electricity market. All types of companies will be encouraged to invest in the new electricity trading firms, with non-grid companies taking at least 20 percent stakes. Grid companies must submit their plans for reforming electricity trading arms to central government by the end of September, and the reforms need to be completed by the end of this year.

Source: Reuters

Poland plans first power capacity auction in November

4 September. Poland plans to hold its first power capacity auction in November as part of a planned scheme in which electricity producers are paid for their readiness to provide electricity when needed. Poland generates most of its electricity from coal, mostly in outdated power plants, many of which need to be shut down in the coming years, raising risk for its security of supply.

Source: Reuters

Umeme projects boost in electricity demand

4 September. With the improvements in the performance of the economy, Umeme, the power utility, projects an increase in electricity demand over the period. In a bid to improve the power distribution network in Uganda and in readiness for extra generation capacities in Karuma (600 MW) and Isimba (183 MW), Umeme has so far invested more than sh1.8 trillion in upgrading its system. Over the past 12 years, Umeme’s investments in the distribution infrastructure has led to the doubling of the physical infrastructure, improved efficiencies, tripling of customer connections, supply reliability and improved customer service. Uganda’s electricity sector model is being replicated across other countries. The current state of the electricity sector in Uganda, requires significant investments in tandem with projected growth in generation.

Source: New Vision

Global power and utilities deals reach all-time high in H1

4 September. The value of deals in the global power and utilities sector reached an all-time high of $180 billion in the first half (H1) of this year, research by accounting firm EY showed. The record high occurred despite a decline in the second quarter of 14 percent to $83 billion compared to the same period last year.

Source: The Economic Times

Brazil’s Eletrobras sells three subsidiaries at auction

31 August. Brazil’s state-controlled power company Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras) sold three power distribution companies at a public auction in Sao Paulo, concluding another step in its divestiture program. Local companies acquired the assets. Energisa SA bought power distribution firms Eletroacre and Ceron, which operate in the northern states of Acre and Rondônia, while Oliveira Energia in association with ATEM purchased Boa Vista Energia, located in Roraima. The bids comprised a combination of tariffs the acquirers are planning to charge plus a signing bonus. They will also need to comply with requirements for immediate cash injection in the distributors and for long-term investment programs. Energisa said after the auction that it now owns 11 power distribution companies in Brazil. Eletrobras has now sold five power distribution companies, mostly money-losing units. It sold earlier Celg and Cepisa. Eletrobras is expected to hold another auction on 27 September to sell Amazonas Energia.

Source: Reuters

Spanish power generation climbs 4 percent in August

31 August. Spanish power generation jumped 3.5% year on year in August to nearly 21.1 terawatt hour (TWh) on lower French imports, amid a rise in renewable and coal-fired generation, data from TSO Red Electrica showed. Imports plunged 32% year on year to 1.2 TWh, down 34% to 1.1 TWh from France amid several nuclear outages in the country, according to the TSO. Output from coal-fired units was up 18% to 3.5 TWh, while production at gas-fired plants fell 23% to 2.7 TWh.

Source: Montel

Brazil to add 2.1 GW of power generation

31 August. The Brazilian government awarded licenses for new power generation projects that would add 2,100 MW of capacity by 2024, according to the country’s power trading chamber CCEE. Companies which won the licenses during an auction in Sao Paulo are expected to invest 7.68 billion reais ($1.89 billion) to build the projects, CCEE said.

Source: Reuters

Local industry may back up fragile power supply to Norway’s Nyhamna gas plant

30 August. Norway’s Nyhamna gas processing plant, which feeds Britain with gas through the North Sea’s biggest pipeline, may rely on power from local industries as a backup to its fragile electricity supply, grid operator Statnett said. Nyhamna is one of Norway’s biggest gas processing plants, requiring a stable and plentiful supply of electricity. Power supply has been a recurrent problem and the plant has had to shut down production due to outages in recent years, sometimes affecting gas supply to Britain. The power-hungry plant is connected only by a single transmission line to Norway’s grid, and processing more gas will only add to concerns about the fragility of its power link. Operator Gassco and the country’s grid Statnett have negotiated for years about how to reinforce the power supply to Nyhamna, and more importantly who will pay for it, without results so far. Cooperation with local industry would give Nyhamna a fallback option if power to the plant was cut or reduced. Statnett and Gassco were still working on options to enhance power supply at Nyhamna for the long-term but Hundhammer declined to elaborate on when that would be and how much it would cost, as the negotiations are ongoing.

Source: Reuters


Kenya to set up nuclear electricity regulator next year as cabinet clears bill

4 September. The Energy Ministry expects to set up the body to regulate nuclear electricity next year in a move that will concretise plans to build Kenya’s first nuclear power plant by 2027. The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) said the bill providing for the set-up of the regulator as well as other institutions that will oversee the country’s nuclear power over the next decade had received approval from the cabinet. The State expects to put up a 1,000 MW plant once plans are finalised. KNEB said the bill would be tabled in the Parliament in the coming weeks and was hopeful that it would go through the House by the end of the year. Electricity grid Eng Juma said KNEB has an analysis of the national electricity grid and is currently undertaking studies on possible sites for a nuclear power plant. Among the locations identified for the initial plant include areas around Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and along the Kenyan coast. Kenya is short of nuclear skills capacity and KNEB has been training some of its personnel in other countries such as South Korea, China and Russia.

Source: The Standard

Semi-artificial photosynthesis creates fuel from water

4 September. Scientists have developed a semi-artificial photosynthesis system that uses sunlight to produce hydrogen fuel from water. Photosynthesis is the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Oxygen is produced as by-product of photosynthesis when the water absorbed by plants is ‘split’. It is one of the most important reactions on the planet because it is the source of nearly all of the world’s oxygen. Hydrogen which is produced when the water is split could potentially be a green and unlimited source of renewable energy. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK (United Kingdom) used semi-artificial photosynthesis to explore new ways to produce and store solar energy. They used natural sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using a mixture of biological components and manmade technologies. Artificial photosynthesis has been around for decades but it has not yet been successfully used to create renewable energy because it relies on the use of catalysts, which are often expensive and toxic. Researchers not only improved on the amount of energy produced and stored, they managed to reactivate a process in the algae that has been dormant for millennia. The findings will enable new innovative model systems for solar energy conversion to be developed.

Source: Business Standard

Austria plans to appeal EU ruling on UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant

3 September. Austria plans to appeal against a ruling by Europe’s second-highest court which rejected its objections to Britain’s plans for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, the country’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said. French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corp aim to have the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on line in 2025 with costs for the project seen at 19.6 billion pounds ($25.3 billion). One aspect Vienna objects to is a guaranteed price for electricity from the plant which is higher than market rates. It also opposes state credit guarantees of up to 17 billion pounds being provided for the project. Opposition to nuclear power is widespread in Austria, which built a nuclear reactor but never brought it on line. Voters rejected plans to bring it into operation in a referendum in 1978 and the reactor, at Zwentendorf on the Danube northwest of Vienna, now serves as a training center.

Source: Reuters

EU ends trade controls on Chinese solar panels

31 August. The European Union (EU) will end restrictions on the sale of solar panels from China in a move that EU producers said would lead to a flood of cheap imports. The EU first imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures for Chinese solar panels, wafers and cells in 2013 and extended them by 18 months in March last year, signaling that they should then end. Chinese manufacturers have been allowed to sell solar products in Europe free of duties if they do so at or above a progressively declining minimum price. SolarPower Europe, which represents importers and installers, described the move as a “watershed moment” for Europe’s solar industry and that it removes the biggest barrier to growth of the sector. The EU has faced a delicate balancing act between the interests of EU manufacturers and those such as importers and installers pressing for a reduction in the cost of solar power generation.

Source: Reuters

China’s solar subsidy cuts erode the impact of Trump tariffs

30 August. A move by China to slash subsidies for domestic solar installations has unleashed a flood of low-cost Chinese-made panels onto the global market – pushing down prices and eroding the impact of US (United States) President Donald Trump’s tariff on solar equipment imports. That’s good news for US companies that purchase and install imported solar panels, including Inovateus Solar and Pine Gate Renewables, which had expected that the protectionist policy would raise their costs and slow their business. The falling prices, however, will hurt panel manufacturers including China’s Jinko Solar and Korea’s Hanwha Q CELLS, which had announced hundreds of millions of dollars in US solar manufacturing investments in the expectation that tariffs would boost their profits. Trump announced a 30 percent levy on all imported solar panels in January, his opening salvo in an escalating global trade war that he says is aimed at helping US manufacturers and other businesses rebound from years of decline. The prospect of solar tariffs initially sent US panel prices soaring, making domestic manufacturing more profitable and drawing a handful of new investments. But the tax on imports cooled the red-hot pace of US solar installations by raising panel costs. The US solar industry employs more than 250,000 people, with about 40 percent of those people in installation and 20 percent in manufacturing, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The solar panel market shifted in June after China – the world’s top solar installer and a major critic of the Trump tariff – announced a plan to cut the amount of installed solar capacity this year nearly in half by cutting subsidies for such projects. While the move could undermine the effectiveness of Trump’s tariffs on panels, China’s National Development and Reform Commission has said the subsidy cuts were motivated mainly by domestic concerns about the industry’s rapid growth. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade group representing both solar developers and panel manufacturers, opposed the tariffs as a net loss of industry jobs and revenue. The falling prices mitigate some of the pain but still amount to a drag on growth, SEIA said.

Source: Reuters

Japan eyes deregulation to boost wind power plants

30 August. The government is set to loosen restrictions on building wind power plants in Japan to boost the introduction of the renewable energy. The environment ministry plans to only require larger wind power plants to undergo environmental impact assessment. While the deregulation will reduce the time and financial burden on plant constructors, conservation groups worry the measure could lead to deforestation and more endangered birds striking windmills. Under the current system, wind power plants with an output of 10,000 kilowatts or more are required to undergo the assessment. The ministry plans to raise the output from the current level. The Japan Wind Power Association said the environmental assessment requirement has been a major hurdle to the widespread introduction of wind power as the procedure takes four to five years and forces a business operator to shoulder hundreds of millions of yen in costs. The government is seeking to achieve 10 million kilowatts of wind power generation by fiscal 2030, but the output as of late December stood at about a third, or 3.39 million kilowatts. In its basic plan on energy approved by the Cabinet in July, the government pledged to promote wind power toward the goal of expanding the introduction of renewable energy. But environmental groups have warned that the impact of constructing new wind power plants with less stringent regulations could be significant.

Source: The Mainichi

Indonesia’s 2018 biodiesel exports seen at around 1 mt: APROBI

30 August. Indonesia’s exports of unblended biodiesel this year is seen at around 1 million tonnes (mt), up from around 300,000 tonnes last year, Indonesia Biofuels Producer Association (APROBI) said. Up to July, APROBI members have exported 716,599 tonnes of the fuel. Indonesia resumed shipments of biodiesel to Europe after European Union in March removed duties on biodiesel imports for 13 Indonesian and Argentine producers.

Source: Reuters

Canada’s Silfab to invest $40 mn in US solar panel factory

30 August. Canada’s Silfab Solar, a leading North American solar panel producer, said it will spend $40 million to purchase and expand Itek Energy’s solar panel production facility in Bellingham, Washington. The announcement marks the latest in a handful of investments by panel producer companies in the United States (US) since President Donald Trump announced a four-year tariff on panel imports in January to boost local manufacturing. Privately owned Silfab hopes to raise production capacity at the Bellingham factory from 150 MW a year to as much as 350 MW per year “as soon as possible”. Silfab currently produces 700 MW of solar panels at a facility in Ontario, nearly all of which is sold to customers in the US.

Source: Reuters

Norway’s Equinor bets on offshore wind as European oil firms push green agenda

29 August. Norway’s Equinor is focusing its green efforts on offshore wind, a goal it is already on its way to achieve, but some investors are concerned about the impact this shift will have on the company’s bottom line. European oil and gas companies are diversifying their portfolio to include less-emitting sources of energy as a result of the Paris 2015 agreement, which outlines a shift from fossil fuels this century. Equinor, formerly Statoil, is betting on offshore wind, leveraging its expertise in operating offshore platforms and its ability to scale up small projects into industrial ones. Last year Equinor opened the first floating offshore wind farm, off Scotland. Equinor also plans to build three large, bottom-fixed wind projects off the coasts of the United States, Poland and Britain. The three projects alone could cost around $11.7 billion to build at current prices, which already fulfils the announced budget of 100 billion crowns, or $11.8 billion. By comparison, Repsol has gone into operating hydropower plants, Total is developing solar power and owns a battery producer, while BP bought Britain’s largest electric vehicle charging company. Equinor has said it aims to dedicate up to 20 percent of its capital expenditure by 2030 to renewables.

Source: Reuters


Electricity Generation Scenario for 2017-18

As on 31 March 2018

Fuel Type Electricity Generation (Billion Units)
Coal 986.59
Oil/Diesel 0.39
Gas 50.21
Nuclear 38.35
Hydro 126.12
Renewables 101.84
Total Generation (Utilities) 1,303.49

Electricity Generation: Utilities and Captive (2017-18)

e: Estimated

Source: Central Electricity Authority

Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

Editorial Advisor: Lydia Powell

Editor: Akhilesh Sati

Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar


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