MonitorsPublished on May 02, 2022
Energy News Monitor | Volume XVIII, Issue 42
Quick Notes Solar Energy in India: Contestation of Land Rights


The Government of India’s budget for 2015-16 revised the target for Renewable Energy (RE) power generation capacity to 175 GWp (gigawatt peak) by 2022, which included 100 GWp of solar power, 40 GWp roof top, 60 GWp of wind, 10 GWp of biomass, and 5 GWp of small hydropower. At COP 26 (26th conference of parties) in Glasgow in 2021, the target for RE-based power generation capacity in India was increased to 500 GWp by 2030. The expansion of RE power generation capacity targets is causing concern over the availability of land and related issues for developing RE projects. For project developers, the key concerns are the availability of suitable land and acquisition of vast tracts of land from a number of poor rural title holders, and for the policymakers the challenge is to find the right balance between meeting targets for decarbonisation, ensuring food security, and finding viable alternatives for those displaced from the land for RE development. For poor landowners, problems include obtaining fair compensation for land appropriated for RE projects and relocating to areas where they can find alternative livelihoods.

Land use patterns

The largest land use category in India is agriculture with net sown area (cropped area minus area sown more than once) accounting for over 45 percent (139.42 million hectare [m ha]) of land covered by data (93 percent of geographic area) in 2015-16. Forests accounted for over 23 percent (72.02 m ha) and non-agricultural uses 9 percent (27.84 m ha).  Fallow land accounts for over 8 percent (26.36 m ha) and barren land is over 5 percent (16.99 m ha). Land used for pasture and grazing, and waste land account for over 3 percent each (22.58 m ha in total). The remaining 1 percent is covered by tree crops (3.12 m ha).

Empirical studies suggest that most of the areas favourable to solar radiation throughout the year coincide with wasteland in India. However, most projections locate only 11-12 percent of solar projects in deserts and dry scrublands in India in most scenarios. Wasteland is also not favoured by project developers. Developing projects in wastelands increase costs partly because of the inhospitable terrain and partly because of the lack of supporting infrastructure. Transmission infrastructure required to move power generated to consuming centres also increase cost. However, the socio-economic costs imposed on small land holders as well as the ecological costs involved in diverting agricultural land for RE projects are lower. In 2015-16 over 68 percent of land holdings were with marginal farmers who owned less than 1 ha land. Acquiring land from a number of small owners involves high transaction costs (temporal and financial), but both the law governing land acquisition and the discourse of development and decarbonisation favour the investor.  Millions of poor landowners and their rights are treated as collateral damage in a mission for a cleaner and better world.

A widely quoted figure for land required for India to meet the goal of 175 GW of RE is 55,000 square kilometres (km2) to 125,000 km2 based on power density of 2 MWp/km2 for wind projects and 26 MWp/km2 for solar photovoltaic projects. The projected area is not large as it accounts for only 1-3 percent of the total surface area of the country, but it is almost 50 to 100 percent of waste land.  Another study concludes that if 78 percent of electricity generation in India is accounted for by solar PV, and about 3 percent is derived from roof top solar PV in 2050, the land area required would be more than 137-182 percent of urban land area in 2010 and a maximum of 2 percent of crop area in 2050. The study finds that for every 100 ha of solar PV panels, 31 to 43 ha of unmanaged forest may be cleared throughout all the world. The same amount of land for solar projects in India would clear 27 to 30 ha of unmanaged forest.

Due to the higher irradiance and lower latitude of India, absolute land use per unit of solar output is almost half as in Japan and South Korea, and a third of that in Europe. In addition, as current and projected crop productivities in India are below the global average, the impact of solar expansion on the competition for land is less significant. However, solar expansion scenarios until 2050 will lead to net land-use change (LUC) carbon emissions, although there can be net carbon sequestration in India if land used in solar parks is managed as pastures. If all previous vegetation is permanently cleared, the total LUC emissions related to solar expansion in India are expected to be higher.  Even in the absence of land management practices specifically aiming at carbon sequestration, LUC carbon emission in India is estimated to be below 12 gCO2/kWh (grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour) compared to 13 to 53 gCO2/kWh in Europe.

Contestation of Land Rights

The contestation of land rights is not new in India. The opening line of the chapter on land (chapter 6) of India’s 12th five year plan observes that ‘India has a long history of social discrimination closely linked with denial of access to land’. Land acquisition from the rural poor for large industrial and mining projects are in general skewed in favour of industrial developers. Official estimates suggest that over 60 million people were displaced by development projects and less than a third were resettled. Land for industrial projects is acquired on the principle of eminent domain where the State is entitled to forcibly acquire land for public purposes, often below market prices. A new bill on land acquisition passed in 2013 defined eight categories of public purposes, that included land for power generation projects and private projects for the production of public goods.  RE projects qualify both as power generation projects as well as projects that produce public goods. Amendments to the new land acquisition bill have diluted provisions that protected landowners and made it more capital friendly. This partly explains why reporting on the widespread discontent over the acquisition of large areas of land for solar parks has increased in the last few years.

Notable among these is conflict over land acquisition for the Pavagada photovoltaic park in Karnataka that leased over 5260 hectares (ha) of land from about 1,800 farmers from 5 villages for 11 corporations to collectively develop 2,050 MWp (megawatt peak) of solar power generation capacity since 2017. The dispute over land acquisition for the Bhadla Solar Park described as the world’s largest spanning over 5665 hectares (ha) to host a solar power generation capacity of 2245MWp (megawatt peak) has also been reported by the wider media since 2018. Similar stories may emerge from other large solar parks planned in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and other states in India. According to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), the government aims to develop 40,000 MWp of solar power generation capacity under a funding scheme for solar parks and ultra-mega solar power projects.

Mediating Conflicts

The trade-off in outcomes (social, economic, and ecological) between using waste land and agricultural land must be mediated by setting policy priorities.  One suggestion is to locate solar PV (photovoltaic) projects on abandoned thermal power plant sites.  A crude estimate suggests that this will not cover land required for RE: A 10 GW coal plant will generate 60 billion kWh of electricity a year at 70 percent load factor.  In a subcritical plant 0.63Kg of coal (4000Kcal/kg [kilocalories per kilogram]) will be needed for generating 1 kWh (heat rate 2530 Kcal/kWh).  A switch to USC (ultra-supercritical) plant (heat rate 1870kcal/kWh) will save 0.165Kg of coal for every unit of electricity.  60 billion kWh will save 9.9 million tonnes of coal. The plant will take up roughly 57 km2 of land.  Each unit of electricity generated with solar will displace 0.63Kg of coal.  To save 9.9 billion tonnes of coal, 15.6 billion kWh of solar electricity will have to be generated.  This will require 100 GW installed capacity (assuming each kW installed capacity generates 1500 kWh).  If this electricity is generated using solar thermal plants land required will be about five times that of the coal plant and if it is PV based land required will be nine times.

Agri-Photovoltaics (APV) is amongst the many recommended co-benefit policies for mediating the conflict in land use.  It proposes the use of land simultaneously for agricultural crop production (photosynthesis) and PV electricity production (photovoltaics). It ranges from intensive crops with dedicated PV mounting systems to extensive grassland with marginal adaptations on the PV side and high potential for ecosystem services. APV could potentially increase land efficiency and enable expansion of PV power, while preserving fertile soils for agriculture or in combination with the creation of species-rich ecosystems.  The challenge here is that the offer of lucrative feed in tariff and land leasing rates to landowners could reduce or even eliminate incentives for food production.  This dynamic may aggravate the conflict between land for fuel and land for food.  Another technological solution is integration of PV panels on road infrastructure, building walls and in electric vehicles but this is not likely to be sufficient to meet industrial scale demand for electricity.

A paper on land grabbing by private investors following the hyped discourse on the jatropha plantation in India for biodiesel production is informative in mediating the land rights conflict. The national mission on biodiesel in 2003 and the biofuel policy in 2009 were essentially bets on the positive narrative around jatropha cultivation.  This led to a race to acquire vast tracts of mostly unirrigated and waste land by eager private investors. The yield of jatropha seeds was far below expectations that made biodiesel production unviable without inputs of fertilizer and water. The fall in oil prices further reduced the incentive for biodiesel production from Jatropha.  Today, India’s jatropha saga is merely a case study on policy formulation that depends on hype. As in the case of jatropha, the government approach to land acquisition in the 1990s for hydropower and thermal power generation project development excluded all discourses on land use that did not favour government policy.  Land acquisition for industrial projects (RE and other projects) continues to be read as development and any questions on land acquisition and use are treated as anti-development.

Devolved federalism in the land use context where land policy comes under state governments contributes to the disconnection between land use and energy policy set at the federal level. Land use is treated as a separate and secondary issue in energy policy and land access becomes a matter of local accommodation rather than federal policy.  Policy options to address these issues include identifying least harm RE zones, maximising on-site and small-scale potential, and coordination of investment in transmission infrastructure in RE project siting.


Monthly News Commentary: NON-FOSSIL FUELS

States Compete to invest in Solar Power Generation


Utility Scale Solar Projects

In a bid to increase renewable energy resources, reduce the quantum of power being purchased from private companies, and cut the State’s carbon footprint, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) is planning to install a total of 20,000 megawatt (MW) capacity of solar plants at an approximate cost of INR700 billion (US$ 9.2 bn) across Tamil Nadu by 2030. TANGEDCO has floated a tender inviting consultants for the project. TANGEDCO said that for generating 1 MW of solar power, at least five acres of land is required and the corporation had already requested collectors to identify land parcels.

Rajasthan has got another big success in solar energy sector. Two new solar parks of 1,800 MW capacity will be developed in Jaisalmer and Bikaner. At present, the credit of developing the world’s largest solar park of 2,245 MW capacity in Bhadla of Jodhpur district goes to Rajasthan. Similarly, a solar park of 925 MW capacity is being developed by Renewable Energy Corporation at Nokh in Jaisalmer district. 800 MW solar parks will be developed in Jaisalmer by Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam and 1,000 MW capacity in Bikaner by Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation in the first phase.

SJVN said Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has approved development of 400 MW solar park by the company at Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. According to the company, an in-principle approval has been accorded by the Ministry for Development of this project under Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Parks of its solar park scheme. SJVN is the Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD) for all renewable energy projects in Himachal Pradesh. SJVN is gearing up for preparation and submission of Detailed Project Report (DPR) at the earliest in accordance with the timelines of the solar park scheme. SJVN is already preparing DPR for 880 MW Kaza Solar Park in Himachal Pradesh. Presently, SJVN has a portfolio of more than 16,400 MW and with this latest addition, the renewable energy portfolio is now 3054.5 MW.

RE Policy and Market Trends

The economic survey report mentioned that Maharashtra ranked fifth in India when it came to electricity generation from renewable energy. Meanwhile, electricity distribution losses for Tata Power have gone up by 5 percent in 2021-22 whilst those of MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd), Adani Electricity and BEST saw a drop in the past one year, the report showed.

Assam tea industry is looking at various ways and means to set up solar projects in the plantation areas and in the barren lands available inside the estates. The New and Renewable Energy (NRE) wing of the APDCL (Assam Power Distribution Company Limited) elaborated on several modes of execution of solar projects in the tea industry – rooftop solar power plant, setting up of solar power plant by leasing out uncultivated barren tea land, captive solar power plant and setting up solar parks by way of leasing out land to the power distribution company APDCL.

The Indian Railways’ solar power plant set up near Bina station in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh has been shortlisted for an international award. The area where the plant operates falls under the West Central Railway (WCR). This solar power plant is the first of its kind initiative of the Indian Railways to promote the use of green energy. The International Union of Railways recently shortlisted this green initiative of the Indian Railways for an award in ‘Best Use of Zero-Carbon Technology Category’. The plant is going to generate 1.8 million units of power per year.

Hydro Power

Telangana is likely to lose generation of power from one of the units in Srisailam Left Bank Hydroelectric Power Station (SLBHPS) for the third consecutive year. Even after 18 months, Telangana Genco has not been able to restore the power station fully.

SJVN Ltd inaugurated the river diversion arrangement of 66 MW Dhaulasidh Hydro Electric Project at Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. As per the company, the construction activities at various components, excavation works at power house, stripping works at right and left banks, construction of office building and bachelor accommodation are in full swing. The 66 MW Dhaulasidh Hydro Electric Project is a run-of-river scheme on river Beas at Dhulasidh, Distt Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. On completion, it will add 304 million units of energy in 90 percent dependable year, said the company  of the view that the project will lead to the overall upliftment of the area with infrastructure development and generation of direct and indirect employment. Currently, SJVN has a portfolio of over 16,400 MW and is executing multiple projects in hydro, thermal and solar in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Rest of the World


China is expected to add 75 to 90 gigawatts (GW) of solar power in 2022, its solar manufacturing association said, far higher than a record increase in capacity last year. The world’s biggest solar products maker and solar power generator brought 54.88 GW of new solar power into operation in 2021, taking the total installed capacity to 306 GW despite a supply disruption of raw materials. According to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), China could add an average of 83 to 99 GW of new capacity each year during 2022 to 2025. China plans to boost rooftop solar power in central and eastern parts of the country that are close to consumers and offer easier access to the grid. Projects to build more large-scale solar stations in the Gobi and other desert regions in the west are also in the pipeline, with construction for about 100 GW of solar power capacity already under way in the area. CPIA warned that the booming pace of solar manufacturing in the United States and certain European countries would challenge the industry in China. The US (United States) President Joe Biden, in early February extended Trump-era tariffs on imported solar energy equipment by four years. Beijing’s energy consumption curbs on industrial plants that use more than 50,000 tonnes of standard coal equivalent could also slow China’s solar manufacturing development.

South & North America

Germany and the US clashed over whether nuclear power should be part of the energy mix as rich countries race to cut emissions to limit the impact of global warming. The US Special Climate Envoy said that cutting emissions fast required some reliance on nuclear energy, adding that without carbon capture technology relying on gas as a stop-gap fuel amounted to ignoring the root cause of the climate crisis.

Other Asia Pacific

Australia’s Victoria state set targets of at least 2 GW of offshore wind power by 2032, and 9 GW by 2040, setting up ambitious goals to help fill a gap in power supply as coal-fired plants shut down. Australia, heavily dependent on coal-fired power, currently has no offshore wind farms, although it has 7.4 GW of onshore wind power capacity. Victoria’s offshore wind plan, which includes a 2035 target of 4 GW, follows a commitment last November by the Victorian government to provide A$40 million (US$29 million) to run feasibility and pre-construction studies for three projects, which could generate a total 4.7 GW. The most advanced of those is the A$9 bn (US$7 bn) Star of the South project, aiming for a capacity of up to 2.2 GW, led by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Victoria’s coal-fired power plants are due to shut by 2045, but industry experts expect them to close well before that as coal-fired power becomes increasingly uncompetitive amid rapid growth in wind and solar capacity.

EDP Renewables (EDPR), the world’s fourth-largest renewable energy producer, said it plans to invest up to S$10 bn (US$7.4 bn) by 2030 to establish a clean energy hub in Singapore for the Asia Pacific region. Apart from solar and wind projects, EDPR and Sunseap intends to explore opportunities for co-operation in energy storage and green hydrogen, the companies said. EDPR said the recently closed deal allows the company to establish a headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region through Sunseap, which has a portfolio of close to 10 GW of renewable projects at different stages of development across nine markets including Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, and Taiwan.

The EU & UK

Denmark pledged to build up to six GW of electrolysis capacity to convert renewable power into green hydrogen as it looks to wean itself off fossil fuels and boost its energy security. Hydrogen is categorised ‘green’ when it is made with renewable power and is seen as key to help decarbonise industry, though the technology remains immature and costly. Danish lawmakers agreed subsidies worth 1.25 billion Danish crowns (US$184.83 million) through one tender aimed at supporting production and making green hydrogen more commercially viable. Denmark’s target hinges on massive development of solar and wind energy, but Jorgensen declined to say if the new agreement would trigger new renewable tenders and referred to political negotiations due later this year.

Wind power generation in Sweden is expected to increase by some 70 percent by 2024 compared with last year’s level amid a boom in capacity additions, the Swedish Energy Agency said. Wind power generation is expected to rise from 27.4 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2021 to 46.9 TWh in 2024, driven by a strong expansion of installed capacity. In 2021, Sweden installed 2.1 GW of new wind power capacity, equating 6.8 TWh of normal annual production. Total net electricity production will rise from 165.7 TWh to 183.5 TWh over the same period, which will also see a tripling of solar output from 1.1 TWh to 3 TWh, the Swedish Energy Agency data showed. Hydropower and nuclear power will remain Sweden’s largest and second-largest sources of electricity generation, at a steady 66 TWh and 52 TWh over the period.

The Czech Industry Ministry will order the launch of a tender for a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The previous government last year sent security questionnaires to three potential bidders – Westinghouse of the United States, France’s EDF and South Korea’s KHNP – after candidates from China and Russia were excluded on security grounds. Czech state-controlled electricity producer CEZ operates four units of 510 MW each at the Dukovany plant, built from 1985 to 1987. The new unit is meant to replace facilities set to retire in the coming decades. Under the tender plans, a supplier for the new Dukovany unit could be picked in 2024 and construction permits obtained by 2029. It was necessary to launch the unit by 2036. Nuclear power is an important energy source in the Czech Republic, accounting for 40 percent of its energy mix.

Russian military forces have seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – Europe’s largest – in Ukraine’s southeast, the regional state administration said. Ukraine has said Russian forces attacked the plant, setting an adjacent five-story training facility on fire. Ukrainian emergency services said one of six nuclear power units was working.

Germany aims to fulfil all its electricity needs with supplies from renewable sources by 2035, compared to its previous target to abandon fossil fuels “well before 2040,” according to a government draft paper. Europe’s top economy has been under pressure from other Western nations to become less dependent on Russian gas, but its plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and to shut its nuclear power plants by end-2022 have left it with few options. Economy Minister Robert Habeck has described the accelerated capacity expansion for renewable energy as a key element in making the country less dependent on Russian fossil fuel supplies. According to the paper, the corresponding amendment to the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is ready and the share of wind or solar power should reach 80 percent by 2030. By then, Germany’s onshore wind energy capacity should double to up to 110 gigawatts (GW), offshore wind energy should reach 30 GW – arithmetically the capacity of 10 nuclear plants – and solar energy would more than triple to 200 GW, the paper showed.

Russia & Far East

South Korea’s nuclear power industry is at an inflection point after Yoon Suk-yeol triumphed in the nation’s presidential vote, as a platform pledge to revive the fortunes of a once-dominant sector faces stiff business hurdles. It’s the second U-turn in less than a decade for the industry, which has been left in tatters with major talent and business losses during liberal President Moon Jae-in’s policy to “exit” nuclear energy. Yoon has rejected the idea of phasing out nuclear energy and made it a key pledge of his campaign to boost investment in the industry and restore its earlier pre-eminence as an exporter of lean and safe reactors. The rethink of the country’s energy mix comes at a time the crisis in Ukraine has highlighted the risks of over-reliance on imports of oil and gas and the EU (European Union)’s inclusion of nuclear power in sustainable carbon neutrality goals. However, policy uncertainty caused by a constitutional limit of a single five-year presidential term has magnified the business risks in an industry that relies on long-term investment and commitment. Yoon has promised to lift nuclear power’s contribution to 30 percent by restarting construction and extending reactors’ lives, and export 10 nuclear power plants by 2030.

Africa & Middle East

The used tyres and plastic containers that litter the back streets of cities and towns in Zambia might be an eyesore, but for one company they are also an opportunity to make fuel that could slash the nation’s energy import bill whilst cleaning up its trash. The project by Zambia’s Central African Renewable Energy Corporation currently processes 1.5 tonnes of waste to make 600-700 litres of diesel and gasoline per day on a pilot basis. Plastic and rubber are made of long chains of hydrocarbons that can be heated and broken down into something resembling crude oil — which, in the case of plastic and synthetic rubber, is what they were to begin with.

News Highlights: 16 – 22 March 2022

National: Oil

Kerala HC refuses to stay fuel price hike by state’s OMCs

22 March: The Kerala High Court (HC) refused to stay the state-owned Oil Marketing Companies’ (OMCs) decision to increase price on bulk diesel purchases. The Court also declined to restrict the companies from further increasing the rates. However, it has sought an explanation from the companies about their pricing mechanism. The Court issued the order based on a plea by Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) challenging the decision to hike price by the OMCs. The Court also told companies like Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd that the OMCs should have given a concession to public services like KSRTC. The Court further observed that KSRTC chose to be considered as a ‘bulk purchaser’ and had been using the option to purchase diesel in bulk at discounted prices, as it was providing a public service.

Petrol, diesel price hiked by 80 paise, LPG at record high after INR50 rise

22 March: Petrol and diesel prices were hiked by 80 paise a litre each while domestic cooking gas LPG rates were increased by INR50 per cylinder as state oil firms ended an over four-and-a-half month election-related hiatus in rate revision. Petrol in Delhi will now cost INR96.21 per litre as against INR95.41 previously while diesel rates have gone up from INR86.67 per litre to INR87.47, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers. In Mumbai, the petrol price has been hiked by INR0.84 per litre to INR110.82 per litre, and diesel by INR0.86 to INR95 per litre. The rates, which differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT (Value Added Tax), are likely to continue to rise over the next few days as state oil firms recoup losses from keeping prices on hold for a record 137 days. According to CRISIL Research, a hike of INR15-20 per litre is required to fully pass through a US$30 per barrel increase in the cost of raw material (crude oil).

Project of supplying piped cooking gas to houses launched in Maharashtra’s Latur

20 March: The project of supplying cooking gas through pipeline has been launched in Latur city of Maharashtra’s Marathwada region by the local civic body. Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh, who is Latur’s guardian minister, inaugurated the project, under which 101 houses in the city are being supplied piped cooking gas on a pilot basis. The project, which has been initiated by the Latur Municipal Corporation, is being rolled out by Ashoka Gas (Unison Enviro Pvt Ltd).

India’s oil imports from US to rise, amid criticism for Russian purchases

19 March: India’s oil imports from the United States (US) will rise by 11 percent this year, as the severely energy-deficient country looks to secure supplies from producers around the world, including heavily sanctioned Russia. The surge in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month threatens to fan Indian inflation, stretch public finances and hurt growth just when it was emerging from a pandemic-induced slowdown. New Delhi faces criticism from the West for its long-standing political and security ties with Moscow, with some saying that engaging in business with Russia will help fund its war. India has urged an end to the violence in Ukraine but abstained from voting against Russia. India buys most of its oil from the Middle East, but the US has emerged as the fourth-biggest source and this year supplies will rise substantially.

National: Gas

Vedanta seeks minimum US$19 for gas from Gujarat block to cash in on surge in global energy prices

22 March: Vedanta Ltd is seeking a minimum US$19 price for natural gas produced from a field off Gujarat as it looks to cash in on the recent surge in global energy prices. The firm has called for bids for the sale of 0.25 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) of gas produced from CB/OS-2 block located in Suvali, Surat district of Gujarat, according to Vedanta’s tender document. Bids have been sought based on the average monthly price of Brent crude oil and Platts’ West India Marker (WIM) for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments. The sale price will be lower of Platts LNG WIM + 1.0 or a premium over 16.67 percent average Brent crude oil price, the tender document said. Vedanta, the operator of the block, is seeking buyers for 0.25 mmscmd of gas for 14 months starting 1 May 2022. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) had sold natural gas produced from a coalfield in Madhya Pradesh for over US$24 to firms, including GAIL (India) Ltd, GSPC and Shell. RIL sold 0.65 mmscmd of gas from its coal-bed methane (CBM) block SP-(West)-CBM-2001/1 at a US$8.28 premium over 13.2 percent of the prevailing Brent crude oil prices.

National: Coal

Part of Asia’s largest coal conveyor belt has become operational: NTPC

16 March: At a time when efforts are on for gradual phasing out of coal, India’s largest thermal power producer, the NTPC Ltd, has decided to make coal and associated operations in Jharkhand as clean as possible. As part of the move, the coal and power major has started operating on a part of Asia’s longest conveyor belt — 21km long and 12-feet wide — to ferry coal from its Pakri-Barwadih mines in Hazaribag to the Banadag railway siding. From the Banadag railway siding, coal is transported to various destinations across the country. The Public Relations Executive (corporate communications) at NTPC Hazaribag, Arpit Parashar, said the conveyor belt will reduce pollution by trucks — both in terms of gaseous emissions and dust. This is the first time that the NTPC is using a conveyor belt to transport coal from its coal mine to the railway siding. So far, 6.5km of the total length is operational and owned by Thriveni-Sainik Mining Pvt Ltd, a mining partner of NTPC. The remaining 14.5km is owned by NTPC and trial runs are on. To manage the curves on the 21 km route, 10 transit points have been added. The length of the belt has been reduced, thereby increasing its efficiency. Each transit point has coal stacking facilities.

National: Power

Karnataka faces power cuts with usage hitting record high

20 March: Karnataka achieved its highest energy consumption post-COVID in the first week of March (14,800 MW), signifying that economic activity has returned to pre-pandemic levels after a two-year slowdown. This has resulted in unscheduled power cuts across the state. Electricity companies are resorting to one or two hours of unscheduled outages in urban areas every day and the duration is around six hours in rural areas.

TANGEDCO signs power procurement agreements for 2.9 GW

17 March: Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANEGDCO) signed power procurement agreements for the supply of 2900 MW of electricity from various players including NLC. The agreements were signed between TANGEDCO and NLC among others in the presence of Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. The agreements were aimed at purchasing power at “lesser rates”. TANGEDCO entered into an agreement for the supply of 1500 MW of electricity with NLC from its Talabira (Odisha) 3×800 MW project, as allocated by the union power ministry. Further, TANGEDCO signed four mid-term power procurement agreements with Power Trading Corporation of India Ltd for the supply of 400 MW at INR3.26 per unit. The agreement is valid for three years.

44 deals with private power developers scrapped in Arunachal Pradesh

17 March: Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said progress in many projects could not be achieved due to various reasons and hence the termination. Terminated projects offered to central PSUs for development, Mein said. The Arunachal Pradesh government has scrapped 44 memorandums of agreements signed with private power developers more than a decade ago for failing to start working on them. Mein said the terminated projects have been offered to the central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) considering their performance and reliability. Mein said the long-pending issue of land acquisition of the 2,880 MW Dibang multipurpose project had been resolved.

Torrent Power inks pacts to acquire 51 percent stake in power distribution utility of Dadra and Nagar Haveli

16 March: Torrent Power has inked agreements to acquire 51 percent equity of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Power Distribution Corporation Ltd. The SPV will be responsible for the distribution and retail supply of electricity and holds distribution licence in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (DNH & DD). With the addition of DNH & DD, Torrent will distribute nearly 24 billion units of electricity per annum to over 3.85 million customers and cater to a peak demand of over 5,000 MW. The Torrent Power, the integrated power utility of the diversified Torrent Group, with its total revenue of INR205 bn and a market cap of INR710 bn, is one of the largest companies in the country’s power sector with a presence across the entire power value chain of generation, transmission and distribution.

National: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

Demand, policy bolster solar panel manufacturing in Gujarat

21 March: Gujarat — one of the early entrants in both manufacturing as well as adoption of solar power — is slowly gearing up to become the frontrunner in solar module and ancillary manufacturing. Riding on robust demand on industrial and residential fronts, coupled with a policy push from the state and Central governments, Gujarat is set to witness a capacity addition of an estimated 15 gigawatts (GW) in Solar PV (photovoltaics) manufacturing over the next couple of years, from the prevalent 6. 2GW capacity. For instance, Reliance New Energy Solar is all set to build a 4GW manufacturing facility in Jamnagar, which will eventually be scaled up to 10 GW. Similarly, last year, a leading renewable energy firm, ReNew Power, announced its intention to develop a solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Dholera Special Industrial Region (DSIR) with a 2GW capacity. Solex Energy Limited will also set up a solar module manufacturing facility with a 1.5 GW capacity.

Banks must monitor companies with fossil fuel links: RBI

21 March: The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has said that lenders need to be watchful of industries that are subject to green transition risks as countries across the world move towards decarbonisation targets. According to an RBI report, whilst banks have relatively small exposure to companies that have direct links to fossil fuels, there are hidden risks in the form of companies that have indirect exposure. Electricity, chemicals, and automobiles have direct exposure to fossil fuels and account for around 24 percent  of credit to the overall industrial sector. However, their share in total outstanding non-retail bank credit is only 10 percent. This limits the risks to the banking system. Basic metals absorb a significant proportion of total credit disbursed by the banking sector but have moderate exposure to fossil fuels. Cement has a large exposure to fossil fuels but a relatively lower share of bank credit. The sectors having high input intensities of fossil fuel through indirect exposure are cement, basic metals, paper products, and textiles. Green transition risks for India are seen to be much higher because of the lower penetration of automobiles. India currently ranks quite low in terms of domestic transport kilometres powered by zero-emission fuels among the major emitters.

India adds 1.2 GW of new solar open access capacity in 2021

20 March: India added 1.2 GW of new solar open access capacity in 2021, marking a growth of 222 percent  year-over-year (YoY), according to a Mercom India report.  The cumulative installed solar capacity in the open access market crossed 5 GW. The country added 298 MW of new solar open access capacity in the fourth quarter (Q4) of calendar year 2021, a 75 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020. Solar power through Open Access is an arrangement where a power producer establishes a solar power plant and signs a medium/long-term power purchase agreement with a consumer. The top five states with the highest QoQ growth are Telangana (329 percent), Karnataka (102 percent), Andhra Pradesh (88 percent), Maharashtra (52 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (4 percent). The country added 298 MW of new solar open access capacity in the fourth quarter (Q4) of CY 2021, a 75 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020. The top five states with the highest QoQ growth are Telangana (329 percent), Karnataka (102 percent), Andhra Pradesh (88 percent), Maharashtra (52 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (4 percent). The report mentioned that the development pipeline of solar open access projects stood at 1.5 GW at the end of 2021. Of the pipeline, 75 percent is spread across the three states~ Karnataka, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Kolkata airport to adopt electric vehicles to lower carbon footprint, focus on green energy

18 March: Kolkata airport is working towards an ambitious plan to reduce its carbon footprint by not only phasing out diesel-powered vehicles in its operational area with electric ones, but also producing all the electricity they require from renewable sources. The move is aimed at making the airport more carbon compliant and to make other stakeholders reduce their carbon footprint. The most ambitious project lined up is to increase the airport’s solar power generation from 17 MW now to 57 MW by adding a 40-MW plant at an airport-owned land in Badu, Madhyamgram, North 24 Parganas.

How India lost nearly a third of solar power potential to foul air

17 March: Air pollution is not just taking a toll on health but also holding India back from achieving its solar energy goals, Indian Institute of Technology study said. It said the country lost 29 percent of its utilisable ‘global horizontal irradiance potential’, or the radiation that generates solar power, due to air pollution between 2001 and 2018. This gap in harnessing potential solar energy is equivalent to an annual loss of US$245-835 million. IIT considered both the ‘soiling effect’, or presence of solid dust, and ‘atmospheric attenuation’, or the scattering of light due to gaseous pollutants in the air, to assess pollution. The study asserts that India could have generated more clean energy and relied less on fossil fuels for power had it met its clean air targets. As it is, the study says, urban haze caused an 11.5 percent loss in solar radiation falling on a surface in Delhi during 2016-17, causing a loss of about US$20 million.

JSW Cement inks pact with PRESPL for biomass-based fuel

16 March: JSW Cement has inked a pact with Punjab Renewable Energy Systems to use agricultural waste as biomass energy in its cement-manufacturing operations. According to the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), Punjab Renewable Energy Systems PVt Ltd (PRESPL) will build a sustainable supply chain of agricultural waste to be utilized as biomass energy in the clinkerization and grinding process at the manufacturing units of JSW Cement. The pact with PRESPL is an important step for JSW Cement to offer sustainable cement products with the lowest possible carbon footprint. JSW Cement, as a member of Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), is committed to ‘Climate Ambition 2050’ to deliver carbon neutral concrete by 2050. The company is also planning to reduce its carbon emissions intensity by almost half in 11 years from FY15 to FY26. The use of biomass as fuel is an important part of this decarbonization plan.

International: Oil

Oil prices jump again as EU considers Russian oil ban

21 March: Oil prices jumped US$3, with Brent above US$110 a barrel, as European Union (EU) nations consider joining the United States in a Russian oil embargo, while a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities caused jitters. Prices moved higher ahead of talks between the EU governments and the US President Joe Biden for a series of summits that aim to harden the West’s response to Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. The EU governments will consider whether to impose an oil embargo on Russia.

UK’s Johnson fails to secure public oil rise pledges after talks with Saudi, UAE

16 March: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks about energy security with the de facto leaders of Gulf oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but secured no public pledge to ramp up production. Johnson’s trip to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh was aimed at securing oil supplies and raising pressure on President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to sweeping Western sanctions on Moscow and soaring world energy prices. After his talks in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Johnson was asked whether the Kingdom would increase oil production.

International: Gas

Germany in talks with Qatar on long-term gas supplies to reduce Russian dependence

20 March: Germany and Qatar are negotiating a long-term energy partnership, as Europe’s biggest economy seeks to become less dependent on Russian energy sources. Germany said a partnership had been clinched, but Qatar stopped short of saying a deal had been finalised. Russia is the largest supplier of gas to Germany, and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has launched several initiatives to lessen his country’s energy dependence on Russia since it invaded its neighbour Ukraine. Qatar said that for years it had sought to supply Germany but disc

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