MonitorsPublished on Jun 15, 2021
Energy News Monitor | Volume XVII; Issue 49

Quick Notes

Political economy of access to modern cooking fuels in India

Causality of Development

The transition from biomass to modern cooking fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Indian households followed a much slower pace than that of the transition from oil lamps to electric bulbs. In the early years of independence, almost all households used firewood and dried animal dung as fuel for cooking. The discourse amongst policymakers over household cooking fuels reflected priorities of the ruling elite. For the educated elite planners who formulated policy, household cooking fuel needs were just collateral damage in the larger project of nation-building. Rural cooking fuels were sources of inefficiency and pollution and their use had to be curtailed to allow industrialisation and development to progress.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the use of dried animal dung as cooking fuel was seen as wasteful because animal dung was thought to be more valuable as manure to strengthen food production. Wood used as household fuel was blamed for rapid deforestation by government planners and by environmental groups. One expert recommendation was that “social forests” be developed by allocating 50 acres of land per village for cultivation of fuel wood so as to limit externalities such as deforestation.

None of the narratives around household cooking fuels acknowledged the need for modern cooking fuels that could substitute for wood and dung in rural households to produce positive externalities such as better quality of life especially for women who spent hours collecting firewood resulting in overall welfare loss for the household and also for the nation. The current climate change literature reflects a similar sentiment where pollution caused by rural cook-stoves that burn biomass (wood or dried animal dung) in India (and elsewhere) is highlighted without acknowledging political, economic, social, and geographic marginalisation that has left rural households with little choice over cooking fuels. In these narratives, the rural poor become perpetrators of pollution and climate change rather than victims of political, economic, and social marginalisation.

Rise of Clientelism

In the 1970s, LPG stoves started replacing kerosene stoves in urban households when new refineries in India started producing bottled LPG. In 1977, there were only 3.2 million LPG connections across India (or 2.5 percent of the households).  In 1984, the number of LPG connections tripled to 8.8 million (5 percent of the households) and in 1990, the number of LPG connections increased to 19.6 million (11 percent of the households).  LPG connections grew at over 14 percent in the period between 1977 and 1990 which was above the rate of growth for electricity connections, but the starting base for LPG was very small. Subsidy offered by the government that amounted to roughly half the cost of an LPG cylinder was the primary driver behind this growth which benefited middle class families in cities and towns. Adoption of LPG in rural households was very low as the initial cost of connection was relatively high compared to rural incomes. The difficulty in getting replacement cylinders also inhibited adoption in rural areas as dealers were mostly located in towns and cities. In the 1980s and early 90s, getting an LPG connection even in cities and towns was more a privilege reserved for wealthy households rather than a public good made available to all.  When LPG shortage eased in the late 1990s, a number of southern state governments launched dedicated programmes for distribution of subsidised or free LPG connections to households ‘below poverty line’ (BPL). This substantially increased the number of households with access to LPG in the southern states. This model was successful in galvanising political support for governments dispensing LPG programmes at the state level and was adopted by the centre in the form of the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitran (RGGLV) scheme in 2009. RGGLV more than doubled LPG dealers in rural areas. While the increase in adoption of LPG in middle class urban households was a positive development, it initiated clientelism in the provision of LPG, a model that was already well established in the case of electricity.

According to household level surveys conducted in 2015-16, 40 percent of households in India had access to LPG but most of these households were in urban areas. About 18 percent of rural households used LPG as their primary fuel for cooking along with other fuels, dried animal dung, and kerosene.  Domestic LPG consumption grew at over 9 percent per year since 2011 and by over 15 percent in 2016-17. Overall LPG consumption grew at an average of 7 percent between 2010 and 2019 and by about 8 percent to 10 percent between 2014 and 2017.  Growth has since slowed down to just over 6 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019. Once again most of the growth in LPG adoption in households since 2014 was driven by clientelist programmes that offered subsidised access to LPG connections to poor households (targeting women) in election bound northern states.  As the number of women voters outnumbered men in many of these states, the translation of LPG connections to votes was substantial.

Today, data on household connections registered by retail LPG dealers is used to claim that 99 percent of the households have secured access to LPG. This figure must be read with some caution as it assumes that LPG connections are distributed equally amongst households which is not necessarily true. Subsidised residential LPG connections are diverted to commercial use and a number of ghost connections are set up to appropriate subsidies meant for residential LPG connections.

Unsustainability of Clientelism

As pointed out by noted economist and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India in a seminal speech in 2008, bureaucratic systems of provision of public goods such as LPG is biased against the poor in India. This opens up an opportunity for the politicians to fill in as the provider of goods such as LPG connections with gratitude to be expressed in votes. Studies by political economists have shown that economic reforms reduced the opportunity for political rent seeking through licences and permits but replaced it with mass voter appropriation through the dispensation of public resources (sources of energy like electricity and LPG) to the poor who far outnumber the rich in India.

In the last two decades, political parties in electoral contests rarely competed in the space of economic or social policies but rather competed on the basis of promises to use state resources to deliver targeted private benefits such as LPG connections to potential support bases. Distributing public goods such as LPG connections as private transfers to individual citizens (voters) was a much more certain means to secure votes than providing broad-based services to which many would simultaneously have access. Distributing LPG cylinders to poor households with the short-term goal of winning elections partly explains the impotency of LPG access programmes in the longer term. Inconsistent or lack of delivery of LPG cylinders (especially replacement cylinders post-election) on account of ambiguities in institutional accountability and underfunding of programmes enables the re-launch of plans many times over around multiple electoral cycles.

Programmes to distribute subsidised LPG cylinders to poor women in rural areas is projected to be giving “respect and dignity” to women because it will “free women from the drudgery of collecting fuel”. These women-centric narratives lead to international acclaim with news outlets presenting these programmes as “socially transformative” because women from lower and marginalised castes in India are said to benefit. Development funding agencies hold up LPG access programmes as evidence of “politics working for women”, but in reality, these programmes are about “women working for politics”.  Women become clients of the party dispensing private goods at public expense.  But the exchange of LPG connections for votes often ends with elections. The government offers no guarantee on free replacement cylinders post elections, given the dire state of public funds and the women return to dependence on firewood.

The rhetoric of redistribution and social justice that is used to promote LPG access programmes offers social legitimacy for the ruling parties in India that has always been, at its core, an alliance of state and capital. Imperfect design of these programmes offers comfort to pro-market, neo-liberal stakeholders that the effort is likely to fail or have low impact eventually and consequently, not drain public resources to the extent presumed. The sweeping claims of social transformation through LPG access programmes also oversimplifies complex social, economic, and political challenge in India. The claim that technologies (such as LPG and also electricity) can mediate deep-rooted social cleavages such as caste, gender, and embedded poverty that have resisted even the most committed and determined interventions is simplistic. The visual and rhetorical narratives of inclusion through LPG access are compelling but this does not constitute evidence of social transformation in the longer term. For genuine transformation in energy access, initial provision of energy access should be accompanied by long term investment in education, employment, industrialisation, and urbanisation.

Source: PPAC 

Monthly News Commentary: NON-FOSSIL FUELS

Second wave slows down renewables growth momentum


RE Policy and Market Trends

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country has pushed several states under curfews and lockdowns, which is expected to result in project commissioning delays for solar projects. According JMK Research, if the government grants solar developers another three-tofour-month extension, an estimated 4 gigawatt (GW) of solar and wind projects with planned commissioning in 2021 will be delayed and will be expected to get commissioned in 2022. Solar developers have already asked for a three-to-four-month blanket extension from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) owing to disruptions in labour and supply chain as a result of the ongoing wave of COVID-19COVID-19 infections. Solar industry body National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), had requested for a three-month blanket extension over scheduled commissioning date and for financial closure on the execution of the current projects until a stability in module prices and steel prices was observed. The ministry had clarified through an order issued on 30 March that the total extension provided by implementing agencies on account of COVID-19 should in no case be more than six months including the five-month blanket extension given in August 2020. In case an extension beyond six months is required, the agency will have to justify it to MNRE. In August 2020, the renewable Energy Ministry had granted a five-month blanket extension to all ongoing projects to deal with disruptions caused by the lockdown. Every aspect of project development activity including site preparation, engineering, financing, procurement, and construction is being hit because of the far greater spread of infection.

The Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA) has urged the MNRE to give three more months for commissioning solar projects amid the raging pandemic. The association has highlighted the continued challenges that the solar power industry is facing for the last year. It has requested MNRE for a blanket extension of an additional three months in SCoD (scheduled date of commissioning) of solar power projects in addition to five months granted by MNRE earlier.

The CEA and CEEW's Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF) launched the India Renewables Dashboard. The dashboard is a joint effort to provide detailed operational information on renewable energy (RE) projects in India. The dashboard, supported by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, captures daily generation data at the state, regional, and national levels for the aggregate 93 GW of installed RE capacity in India. Previously, such data required manual aggregation and was not easily accessible. The India Renewables Dashboard addresses this challenge by automating the process of updating daily RE generation. According to the India Renewables Dashboard, India’s solar power generation on 20 April 2021, was 172.3 million kilowatt hour (kWh) and its total wind power generation on the same day was 168.3 million kWh. The highest daily generation figures recorded in the past 12 months for solar and wind are 216.5 million kWh and 444.5 million kWh, respectively.

Roof Top /Distributed Solar Projects

In a partial relief to the rooftop solar industry, the Union Power Ministry proposed to allow net metering benefits to projects having loads up to 500 kW. In the December Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, it had restricted the net metering benefits to projects with load of 10 kW which invited an avalanche of representations from the industry for a review. Following the ministry guidelines issued earlier, Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) had also capped the net metering to projects up to 10 kW which triggered widespread protests by the industry.

Utility Scale Solar Projects

CIL (Coal India Ltd), which is betting big on solar power generation with a view to diversifying its portfolio, is looking to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the same. The country’s largest coal miner plans to generate close to 3,000 MW (megawatt) of solar power by 2024 at an estimated investment of around INR 135 billion. While part of it would be funded through the company’s internal accruals, the remaining would be met through the SPV and bank loans. CIL is developing necessary in-house expertise and has created a team of competent officers for its solar power initiatives. CIL, which recently won a 100 MW solar power bid in the auction held by Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd, will participate in more such auctions to ramp up its solar power initiatives moving forward. In its maiden venture into solar power, CIL announced it had signed a first-of-its-kind power purchase agreement for the sale of 100 MW solar power with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL). The company had won a 100 MW solar power project in March in a reverse auction conducted by GUVNL. The tenure of the agreement period is for 25 years. CIL has rolled out a plan for 3,000 MW of solar power generation by 2024.

Adani Solar Energy Chitrakoot One Ltd, a subsidiary of Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL), has commissioned a 50 MW solar power plant at Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh. The plant has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL) at INR 3.07/kWh. The commissioning takes AGEL’s total operational renewable capacity to 3,520 MW, a step closer to its vision of 25 GW capacity by 2025. With the commissioning of this plant, AGEL has an operational solar generation capacity of over 3 GW. AGEL has total renewable capacity of 15,240 MW, including 11,720 MW that has been awarded and is at different stages of implementation. With this 50 MW, AGEL marks the beginning of this year’s commissioning plan with full commitment from its team, amidst continuing challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Torrent Power Ltd will set up a 300 MW capacity solar power plant in Gujarat at an estimated cost of INR12.50 billion. Torrent has signed an agreement to sell electricity generated at INR2.22/kWh for a period of 25 years. The project shall be commissioned within 18 months from the date of execution of the power purchase agreement (PPA). Torrent Power is a INR 136.41 billion integrated power utility of the INR 215 billion Torrent Group. It has presence across the entire power value chain—generation, transmission, and distribution. The company has an aggregate installed generation capacity of 3,879 MW comprising 2,730 MW of gas-based capacity, 787 MW renewable and 362 MW of coal-based capacity. It distributes nearly 16.66 billion kWh to over 3.65 million customers in the cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Dahej SEZ, and Dholera SIR in Gujarat; Bhiwandi, Shil, Mumbra and Kalwa in Maharashtra and Agra in Uttar Pradesh.

The government's e-governance services arm CSC announced a collaboration with Tata Power to set up solar-powered micro grids and water pumps in rural areas across the country. To begin with, Tata Power has proposed to set up 10,000 micro grids to support rural consumers through Common Service Centres (CSCs). Under the partnership, over 375,000 CSCs will be involved in supplying solar water pumps to farmers and help in setting up micro grids in residential and commercial establishments in rural areas.

The Indian Army inaugurated its first solar energy harnessing plant of 56 kilovolt-ampere (kVA) in North Sikkim. Indian Army in its quest for harnessing renewable energy for its troops inaugurated the first green solar energy harnessing plant of 56 kVA using Vanadium-based battery technology in North Sikkim, at an altitude of 16,000 feet. A team of eminent faculty from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, led by Prof Prakash Ghosh and troops of the Indian Army completed the project braving extreme climatic conditions.

Speciality chemical company Anupam Rasayan India will invest INR 430 million to set up a 12.5 MW solar power plant. The size of the proposed solar power plant will be 12.5 MW and will cater to the energy requirements of Anupam Rasayan’s major units. The company operates six manufacturing facilities in Gujarat.

ReNew Power has commissioned a 110 MW solar generation facility in Rajasthan. As part of the project, ReNew has signed a power purchase agreement with Solar Energy Corporation of India at a tariff of INR 2.49/kWh and will provide clean energy to the state. The solar project in Jaisalmer district is a part of an eventual 2,300 MW of solar capacity that ReNew is bringing in Rajasthan. The balance of the 2,300 MW capacity will generate electricity to be fed into the national grid, helping India achieve the target of 450 gigawatts of clean energy by 2030. With this commissioning, ReNew’s total solar capacity in Rajasthan stands at 500 MW.

Ladakh begins its quest for carbon-neutral status with a first-of-its-kind battery storage-based solar project of 50 MW capacity to make Leh, the union territory’s nerve centre, self-sufficient in power. SECI (Solar Energy Corp of India), the central agency implementing the National Solar Mission, and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council signed land agreement for the project that will supply power at INR 2/kWh amongst the cheapest in the country. The project will ensure a minimum of 16 hours of supply in non-sunny condition.

Solar Manufacturing

Goldi Solar has completed the supply of over 24 MW of solar modules to LS Mills, a leading textile company based in Tamil Nadu. The modules will be used in a project based in Aviyoor, Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu, commissioned in March 2021. Goldi Solar’s 71,690 high-efficiency solar panels Goldi 72 GN polycrystalline modules of 335 Wp was used in the project. LS Mills is expected to save approximately 37.668 GWh of electricity per annum and help offset over 35,040 tonnes of CO2 per year. Goldi Solar's current production capacity is 500 MW and the manufacturer is looking to expand it to 2.5 GW with a second facility soon.

Solar power equipment maker Gautam Solar has installed solar pumps at 1,000 locations in Haryana under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme. According to the company, the government has set a target of installing 15,000 standalone solar pumps in Haryana within the first year of the scheme. The PM-KUSUM scheme aims to provide subsidies on solar pumps to the farmers, under which they have to bear 40 percent of the pump’s cost, while the Central and state governments subsidise the remaining 60 percent for solar pumps that have a capacity of up to 10 HP. In states such as Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, the state governments have provided additional top-up on the subsidies, which has reduced the farmer’s share to 10 percent.

Nuclear Power

French energy group EDF took a key step towards helping to build the world’s biggest nuclear power plant in India, a project blocked for years by nuclear events and local opposition. The company had filed a binding offer to supply engineering studies and equipment to build six, third-generation EPR reactors in Jaitapur, western India. Once finished, the facility would provide 10 GW of electricity, roughly enough for 70 million households. The construction is expected to take 15 years, but the site should be able to start generating electricity before its completion. At present, there are 22 functioning nuclear reactors in India, most of them pressurised heavy water reactors, providing about three percent of the country's power.

The fourth 1,000 MW atomic power plant coming up in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district attained a milestone with the installation of core catcher or core melt localisation device by Russian company Rosatom. According to Rosatom, the core melt localisation device, or core catcher, has been installed in the design position under the reactor pit of power unit 4 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) which under construction. The reactor is of VVER-1000 design, similar to the two 1,000 MW units that have started commercial power generation long back. The core catcher weighing over 160 tons is a unique equipment that is supposed to contain the molten core material (corium) in case of a nuclear reactor meltdown. India’s atomic power company, the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building four more plants - Units 3, 4, 5 and 6 - of 1,000 MW each at Kudankulam.

Hydro Power

NHPC Ltd will form a joint venture with JKSPDCL, 'Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corp Ltd', to implement an 850 MW hydroelectric project in Chenab river basin. Under the pact, the parties have decided and agreed to jointly establish a company under the name of 'Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corp Ltd' for the implementation of Ratle hydroelectric project. It will have an installed capacity of 850 MW in the Chenab River basin and any other project that may be entrusted to the company in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

CEA has approved the uprating of JSWs Karcham Wangtoo hydro power plant to 1,091 MW from 1,000 MW. This capacity uprating has been done by 9 percent to 1,091 MW without any additional capital expenditure, and is a significant boost to the earnings potential of this key asset of JSW Energy Ltd.

Wind Power

Facebook has signed a deal to buy renewable energy in India from a local firm’s wind power project. The 32 MW wind power project, located in southern Karnataka state, is part of a larger portfolio of wind and solar projects that Facebook and Mumbai-based CleanMax are working together on for supplying renewable power into India’s electrical grid.

Rest of the World

Rest of Asia & Asia Pacific

Singapore is betting on floating solar farms and vertical panels to increase its clean-energy supplies and cut carbon emissions, a model that could work in other densely populated cities. With renewable energy options such as wind, hydro, nuclear and biomass ruled out, solar photovoltaic (PV) is the most viable option for Singapore, despite limited land for large-scale farms, and challenges such as frequent cloud cover. Singapore inaugurated a 5 MW offshore floating PV system on the Johor Strait, part of its goal to install at least 2 GW of solar power by 2030 - five times current capacity - and halving its carbon emissions by 2050.

Thailand is close to completing one the world's biggest floating hydro-solar hybrid projects on the surface of a dam, a step toward boosting renewable energy production after years of criticism for reliance on fossil fuels. About 144,417 solar panels are being installed on a reservoir in the northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani, where workers are completing the last of seven solar farms covering 121 hectares of water. The Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is touting the pilot project as one of the world's largest hybrid hydro-solar power ventures and aims to replicate it at eight more dams over the next 16 years. Thailand has long relied on coal for power, but plans for new coal-fired projects have been met with opposition over health and environmental risks, and two proposed southern coal plants were shelved in 2018. It is aiming to draw 35 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2037, according to its latest Power Development Plan. Since November, EGAT has been putting together floating solar platforms at the Sirindhorn dam, one of the country’s largest hydropower sites, which it says should be able to generate 45 MW of power.

Genex Power has secured all funding needed for what will be Australia’s first new pumped hydro project on the grid in about 40 years, and expects construction to start towards the end of the month. The power generation company will receive a AUS $610 million (US $471.16 million) loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for the 250 MW Kidston project, which is being built at an abandoned gold mine in Queensland. Australia's renewable energy agency will give AUS $47 million in grant, while government-owned green bank the Clean Energy Finance Corp will provide a further AUS $3 million of subordinated debt funding.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia has inaugurated the Sakaka IPP PV power plant, the country’s first renewable energy project. The launch of the Sakaka plant, with an output capacity of 300 MW, in northwestern Al-Jouf region represents the kingdom’s "first steps to utilise renewable energy in the Kingdom". The opening also witnessed the signing of power purchase agreements for seven other renewable energy projects in a number of regions with 12 Saudi and international companies. The new projects are in Al Madinah, Sudair, Qurayyat, Shuaibah, Jeddah, Rabigh, and Rafha. The total capacity of these projects, in addition to the two projects of Sakaka plant and Doumat Al Jandal wind energy project, is 3,670 MW. The Minister affirmed the role of the private sector in the kingdom’s renewable energy sector that aims to reduce the use of liquid fuel in electricity generation and to optimise the national energy mix.

USA and North America

The Biden administration has approved a major solar energy project in the California desert that will be capable of powering nearly 90,000 homes. The US $550 million Crimson Solar Project will be sited on 2,000 acres of federal land west of Blythe, California. It is being developed by Canadian Solar Unit Recurrent Energy and will deliver power to California utility Southern California Edison. The announcement comes as President Joe Biden has vowed to expand development of renewable energy projects on public lands as part of a broader agenda to fight climate change, create jobs and reverse former President Donald Trump's emphasis on maximising fossil fuel extraction. Crimson Solar will create 650 construction jobs but just 10 permanent and 40 temporary jobs in operations and maintenance for the 30-year life of the project. The project will include a battery storage system and will be sited on land designated for renewable energy development by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, an agreement hatched between the state of California and the Obama administration that set aside areas for wind and solar projects.

US (United States) Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen released details of a tax hike proposal that would replace subsidies for fossil fuel companies with incentives for production of clean energy in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. A Treasury Department office estimated that eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel companies would boost government tax receipts by more than US $35 billion in the coming decade. One of the top fossil fuel breaks is called intangible drilling costs, which allows producers to deduct most costs from drilling new wells. The Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan congressional panel, has estimated that ditching it could generate US $13 billion over 10 years. The Biden tax plan would advance clean electricity production by providing a 10-year extension of the production tax credit and investment tax credit for clean energy generation, such as wind and solar power, and energy storage such as advanced batteries. It also creates a tax incentive for long-distance transmission lines to ease movement of electricity from clean energy generators. The plan would restore a tax on polluters to pay for Environmental Protection Agency costs associated with Superfund toxic waste sites, addressing harm caused by fossil fuel production. Unwinding tax breaks on fossil fuel companies could face opposition from Biden’s fellow Democrats in the US Congress from energy-producing states. According to Greenpeace, the plan does not go far enough, citing a study here calculating that US fossil fuel companies get US $62 billion a year in implicit subsidies for not having to pay for damage their products do to the climate and human health.

Three-quarters of Canada’s oil and gas sector workers—450,000 people—could lose their jobs by 2050, urging action to ensure they find other types of work. The extraction and distribution of oil and gas accounts for more than one-quarter of Canada’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, making it a prime target for job cuts in the shift to renewable energy and clean fuels. Canada has committed to reach netzero by 2050—meaning any climate-warming emissions that cannot be eliminated will be removed from the atmosphere, such as by planting trees or using technology to capture and store the gases.

South America

Power utilities and developers are rushing to register solar projects in Brazil, one of the most promising markets for renewables, as it prepares to cut subsidies for new solar installations and wind farms, according to a report by consultancy ePowerBay. Spain’s Iberdrola, France's Voltalia, EDF, Italy’s Enel and Portugal’s EDP Renewables are amongst the main players developing solar projects in Brazil, as well as Atlas Energia, controlled by the British private equity firm Actis. Oil majors are also betting on the Brazilian renewables market with Royal Dutch Shell registering solar projects totaling 1.5 GW, while Total Eren, owned by France's Total, has already obtained approval for 49 MW in solar projects.

EU and UK

The European Commission approved 400 million euro (US $480.12 million) Danish state aid supporting the production of electricity from renewable sources. This Danish scheme will contribute to substantial reductions in greenhouse emissions, supporting the objectives of the Green Deal, the commissioner in charge of competition. According to the statement, Denmark intends to support energy generation from onshore and offshore wind turbines, wave power plants, hydroelectric power plants and solar technology with a scheme designed to guarantee stable prices to electricity producers.

Germany will expand the energy capacity tendered in renewable power project auctions to help decarbonise electricity, and will relieve the burden on consumers by reducing a fee charged to support wind and solar operators. The coalition government, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats, agreed on both measures to help achieve a 65 percent share of renewable sources within the power mix by 2030, versus just under 50 percent in 2020. Permitted new onshore wind power capacity will be raised to 4 GW from 2.9 GW in 2022 tenders, and solar capacity to 6 GW from 2 GW, according to the agreement.

Wind farm developer Orsted plans to submit a joint bid with Danish pension fund ATP to finance and build the world's first energy island in the North Sea. The artificial island, which will produce and store enough green energy to cover the electricity needs of 3 million European households, was approved by Danish lawmakers in February as part of the country’s ambitious climate targets. The energy island, which will cost about 210 billion Danish crowns (US $34 billion), will be located 80 km (50 miles) off Denmark's west coast. Its surrounding wind turbines will have initial capacity of 3 GW and is expected to be operational around 2033.

Ingka Group, the owner of most IKEA stores world-wide, has agreed to buy a 49-percent stake in eight solar parks in Russia from Solar Systems LLC, marking its first investment in renewable energy in the country. The total book value for the eight parks is more than 21 billion roubles (US $272.16 million), Ingka Investments. IKEA aims to be climate positive by 2030 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than the entire IKEA value chain emits, from raw material production to customers' disposal of their furniture. To help reach the target, Ingka Group is looking to accelerate investments in renewable energy, eyeing Russia and China in particular. Ingka Group has invested 2.5 billion euro (US $2.97 billion) in renewable energy since 2009 and recently surpassed a target to produce as much renewable energy as the energy it consumes in its own operations. IKEA operates through a franchise system, with Ingka Group the biggest franchise to brand owner Inter IKEA.

Estonian utility Eesti Energia and Danish project developer European Energy have signed a 10-year PPA for deliveries from wind farms in Lithuania. Starting in 2023, the agreement covers total deliveries of 3.8 TWh (terawatt hour) over the 10-year period. The agreement secured renewable energy equivalent to half of Estonia's annual electricity consumption and was the largest PPA signed in the Baltics to date. The electricity will be used in the Baltic states and come from three wind farms with an expected installed capacity of 190 MW being developed by European Energy in Lithuania.

Northland Power has made its first foray into Spain’s fast-growing renewable energy generation market with a deal to buy a portfolio of wind farms and solar parks. A wave of global targets to cut carbon emissions are stoking investor interest in renewable energy businesses, and Spain’s sunny plains, windy hillsides and political enthusiasm for the sector have made it a focus for the market in Europe. The solar and wind parks in question were built under a previous regulatory regime, which fixes the returns the owners receive for their output for an average of 13 years across the portfolio.

News Highlights: 5 – 11 May 2021

National: Oil

COVID-19 second wave: India’s oil demand in 2021 to fall below 2019 levels

11 May: With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting India with increasing lockdowns across multiple states, the country's oil demand in 2021 is likely to fall below the level of demand seen in 2019, according to research firm S&P Global Platts. The firm has revised down India’s oil demand growth for 2021—still positive—to 350,000 barrel per day (bpd), after a sharp contraction of 470,000 bpd last year. As a result, the country's oil demand in 2021 is expected to remain below the level of 2019. The oil demand in 2021 has been revised down in India, Western Europe, and Latin American due to more restrictions stemmed from second and third waves of COVID-19 but progress in vaccination offers hope and global oil demand growth in 2021 is expected to stand at 5.5 million bpd.

Source: The Economic Times

Petrol, diesel price rise again, petrol above INR 100-mark in many districts of MP, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan

11 May: Petrol and diesel prices were hiked for the sixth time this month, propelling prices to cross the INR 100-a-litre-mark in places from Nanded in Maharashtra to Rewa in Madhya Pradesh (MP) to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Petrol price was hiked by 27 paise a litre and diesel by 30 paise per litre, according to a price notification by state-owned fuel retailers. The increase took petrol and diesel prices to their highest-ever level across the country. In Delhi, petrol now comes for INR 91.80 per litre and diesel is priced at INR 82.36. Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT (Value Added Tax) and freight charges. Rajasthan levies the highest VAT on petrol in the country, followed by MP. Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan had the costliest petrol and diesel in the country at INR 102.70 per litre and INR 95.06 a litre respectively. Also in Rajasthan, petrol crossed the INR 100-mark in Jaisalmer (INR 100.71) and Bikaner (INR 100.70) while it neared that mark in Barmer (INR 99.82). Oil companies, who have in recent months resorted to unexplained freeze in rate revision, had hit a pause button after cutting prices marginally on 15 April. This coincided with electioneering hitting peak to elect new governments in five states including West Bengal. No sooner had voting ended, oil companies indicated an impending increase in retail prices in view of firming trends in international oil markets. Central and state taxes make up for 60 percent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 percent of diesel. The Union government levies INR32.90 per litre of excise duty on petrol and INR 31.80 on diesel.

Source: The Economic Times

India offers to lift regular Saudi oil volumes in June after May cuts

7 May: Indian state refiners placed orders for regular supplies from Saudi Aramco for June, after reducing purchases this month, drawn by lower prices by the world’s top oil exporter. The refiners—Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL)—normally buy 14.8 million-15 million barrels of Saudi oil a month. India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, imports more than 80 percent of its oil needs and relies heavily on the Middle East. Earlier this year, New Delhi blamed cuts by the Saudis and other oil producers for driving up crude prices as its economy tries to cope with the pandemic and advised state refiners to cut purchases. India urged refiners to diversify crude sources to cut reliance on the Middle East and directed them to reduce intake of Saudi oil. The refiners cut purchases by over a third in May. Indian refiners cannot continue with the cuts from Saudi Arabia on a sustained basis as the companies have to lift the volumes under annual contracts.

Source: The Economic Times

IOC renews medical insurance for petrol pump attendants, LPG delivery boys

7 May: Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has renewed insurance cover for petrol pump attendants and LPG  delivery boys as it looked to secure its frontline workers against health emergencies. IOC said besides renewing medical insurance for frontline workers, the company will continue to provide ex-gratia assistance to the family of the deceased. The medical insurance will continue to cover the personnel along with their spouse and two children. Claims up to INR 1 lakh can be availed for expenses on hospitalisation and COVID-related diseases. On accidental death of an insured, the family will be eligible for compensation of INR 2 lakhs. IOC said the Karma Yogi Swasthya Bima Yojana was launched in March 2020 to provide a safety net to the field force, who were braving the pandemic to cater to the fuel needs of the country.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Gas

RIL, affiliates buy three-fourths of KG-D6 gas volumes

10 May: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and its affiliates have picked up more than three-fourths of the new gas volumes from the firm’s eastern offshore KG-D6 block which at current government dictated price will cost it less than half of the imported rate. RIL and its partner UK’s BP Plc last week auctioned 5.5 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) of incremental gas from the newer discoveries in the KG-D6 block, benchmarking it to a gas marker. RIL’s oil-to-chemical (O2C) business unit picked up 3.2 mmscmd gas in the auction. India Gas Solutions (IGS)—a gas sourcing and marketing joint venture of Reliance and BP—picked up another 1 mmscmd. The remaining volume was picked by Adani Gas (0.15 mmscmd), IRM Energy (0.10 mmscmd), GAIL (30,000 cubic meters per day) and Torrent Gas (20,000 cubic meters per day). The price discovered in the e-auction came at a US $0.06 discount to the JKM (Japan-Korea Marker) LNG price. At current prices, this translates into a price of US $8-9 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu) but the buyers will end up paying less than half of this rate. The government sets a cap or ceiling rate at which natural gas from difficult fields like deep sea can be sold. This cap for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021 is US $3.62 per mmBtu.

Source: The Economic Times

Rajasthan State Gas to participate in PNGRB bids for nine districts

6 May: Rajasthan State Gas Ltd (RSGL) will participate in the bidding for piped gas distribution lines in nine districts of the state. RSGL said that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is soon going to open bidding process for domestic gas distribution through pipelines to many cities of the country, including Rajasthan. RSGL said that at present, different institutions are working in 19 districts of the state for distribution of gas through pipe lines. RSGL is doing the work of distribution of gas pipes in Kota city and Gwalior and Sheopur in Madhya Pradesh.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Coal

Coal India’s fuel allocation through spot e-auction rises 43 percent in FY21

8 May: Coal India Ltd (CIL) allocated 42.51 million tonnes (mt) of coal in 2020-21 under spot e-auction scheme, registering a year-on-year increase of 42.5 percent. CIL had allocated 29.83 mt of the dry fuel in 2019-20, according to government data. Fuel allocation by CIL under the scheme also increased to 5.30 mt in March, from over 2.53 2 mt in the corresponding month of 2019-20, it said. Coal distribution through e-auction was introduced with a view to providing access to coal for such buyers who are not able to source the dry fuel through the available institutional mechanism, according to CIL. The purpose of e-auction is to provide equal opportunity to all intending buyers for purchasing coal through single window service. CIL, which accounts for over 80 percent of domestic coal output, is eyeing one billion tonne of production by 2023-24.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Power

PPA termination will create power crisis in state: Punjab power utility

8 May: Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL), in reply to a letter sent by the state government, has claimed that termination of power purchase agreements (PPAs) with independent power purchasers (IPPs) will lead to a power crisis in the state. PPAs have been blamed for high electricity tariffs in the state. Now, the view of the Punjab’s sole power of distribution company could trigger a fresh round criticism for Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh and the Congress government in the state. PSPCL said the rise in demand for power was nearly four times the increase in transmission capacity in the last six to seven years in the state.

Source: The Economic Times

Moody’s maintains negative outlook on Adani Transmission

7 May: Moody’s Investors Service affirmed an investment grade rating of Baa3 with negative outlook on senior secured bonds of Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL). According to Moody’s global rating scale, obligations rated Baa are subject to moderate credit risk. They are considered medium-grade and as such may possess speculative characteristics. Thus, Baa3 is an investment grade rating and a negative outlook indicates downward pressure on the issuer. The servicing of ATL’s bonds is supported by an obligor group that includes ATL and two of its fully owned subsidiaries—Maharashtra Eastern Grid Power Transmission Company and Adani Transmission (India) Ltd—which operate four transmission lines of more than 5,000 circuit kilometre. The negative outlook on the senior secured bond ratings reflects the likely weakening in ATL's financial metrics as a result of the incremental debt it would require to complete its substantial capital expenditure programme over the next four to five years. Moody’s said it has affirmed the Baa3 senior secured bond rating of Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd (AEML).

Source: The Economic Times

COVID-19 second wave to disrupt India’s power demand recovery

6 May: The sustained pace of recovery in India’s energy demand growth witnessed over the past many months is set to be disrupted in the ongoing quarter ending June 2021 while the demand during the three-month period will still be higher as compared to the same period last year on account of low base effect, India Ratings and Research said in a report. In March 2021, the all-India energy demand was higher by 22.8 percent year-on-year at 122 billion units. The early onset of summer season also contributed to the higher demand, according to a report.

Source: The Economic Times

Speed up electricity tariff orders: Centre to States

5 May: The power ministry has written to 18 states and union territories, asking them to issue electricity tariff orders for the current year in line with provisions under the Electricity Act immediately. The Centre had asked state regulatory commissions to issue tariff orders of all distribution licensees before 1 April of the tariff year and report compliance to the union power ministry by 31 May every year. Nearly 14 states have issued tariff orders in March while some others are in the process. Union Power Secretary Alok Kumar has written to additional chief secretaries and electricity regulators of states like Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Rajasthan,, and Punjab. The states also include West Bengal, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh and UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The move is aimed at correcting the financial position of power distribution utilities in the country. Kumar has sought immediate issuance of tariff orders for 2021-22 by these eighteen states. Nearly 14 states have issued tariff orders in March this year, while some are in the process. The Central government has recently asked regulatory commissions to issue tariff orders of all distribution licensees before 1 April of the tariff year and report compliance to the Union power ministry by 31 May every year. In a communication to chairpersons of central and all state power regulatory bodies, the power ministry has sought compliance of legal provisions in the Electricity Act 2003 and the Tariff Policy 2016, which mandate timely determination of the adequate power tariffs by the electricity commissions.

Source: The Economic Times

Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission urged to review power tariff

5 May: Three review petitions have been filed with the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) regarding the proceedings to determine the average cost of supply (ACoS) of electricity for the 2021-22 financial year. Ananda Mohapatra, who works for the rights of power consumers, has filed the review petitions on April 26 against the retail supply tariff (RST) order of the four distribution companies (discoms), bulk supply price (BSP) order of Gridco and transmission tariff (TT) order of Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) issued by the OERC on 26 March seeking review of the increased RST by 30 paisa/unit, BSP by eight paisa/unit and TT by three paisa/unit for the ongoing fiscal. For the first time, a respondent has filed three review petitions on behalf of the state and consumers at large for review of the commission’s order, he said. He said people of the state have shown displeasure over the power tariff hike by 30 paisa per unit on 26 March. He said he has cited 10 mistakes in the RST order, five mistakes in BSP order and three mistakes in TT order passed by OERC. The petitioner has prayed at the end of the petitions to keep the increased tariff order in abeyance till the disposal of the review petitions by the commission. Revised power tariff had come into effect from 4 April.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

Ujaas Energy’s 7 MW solar plant in MP breaks down

11 May: Ujaas Energy said its seven MW solar power plant, located at Baroda in Madhya Pradesh, has broken down. Ujaas Energy has installed power generation capacity of 235 MW, as per its official portal. The company claims to be the first to generate and sell solar renewable energy certificate (REC) in the country from its solar power plant of 2 MW commissioned in March 2012 at Rajgarh (MP).

Source: The Economic Times

Solar PLI scheme to benefit incremental demand till FY30: Ind-Ra

11 May: Centre’s solar modules manufacturing production linked incentive (PLI) scheme will benefit incremental panels demand till FY30, India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) said. According to the ratings agency’s estimates, the allocation of INR 45 billion towards modules manufacturing by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MILLIONRE) can benefit the sales of 20 GW from the capacity developed under the PLI scheme. Moreover, the PLI benefit will be available till five years from the scheduled date of commissioning only, meaning that winning bidders will be at risk of losing benefit of the scheme, if they overcommit on the level of integration.

Source: The Economic Times

JSW Energy planning to have 55 percent installed capacity from renewable energy

11 May: JSW Energy, an arm of the US $12 billion JSW Group is planning to have more than a half—around 55 percent—of its total installed capacity contributed by renewable energy projects in two-and-a-half years. Currently, the company has a total installed capacity of around 4.6 GW. Renewable energy projects account for around 30 percent of this capacity. JSW Hydro, and arm of JSW Energy, raised US $707 million (around INR 52 billion), from an international green bond issue that was oversubscribed by over four times. The company engaged with several investors on a global deal roadshow across Hong Kong, Singapore, London, New York, and Los Angeles. The proceeds from the issuance will be used towards repayment of existing green project-related Rupee-denominated indebtedness.

Source: The Economic Times

MNRE amends guidelines for 12 GW CPSU phase-II solar project scheme

11 May: The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has amended the guidelines for implementation of Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) scheme phase-II for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected solar projects with viability gap funding (VGF). According to the amended guidelines, power produced by the government producers could be used on payment of mutually agreed usage charges of not more than INR 2.45 per unit. Earlier, it was mutually agreed usage charges of not more than INR 2.80 per unit. Further it said that the maximum permissible VGF has been kept at INR 5.5 million per MW, which was kept at INR 7 million per MW earlier. VGF is provided under the scheme with the objective of covering the cost difference between the domestically produced solar cells and modules and imported solar cells and modules. Regarding project commissioning timelines, the fresh guidelines state that solar power projects would have to be commissioned within a period of 30 months from the date of letter of award. Earlier guidelines had set a projects commissioning timeline of within 24 months from the date of letter of award for projects upto 500 MW capacity and for projects more than 500 MW it was 24 months while for the balance capacity it was to be commissioned within next six months.

Source: The Economic Times

Andhra Pradesh commissioned 8.7 GW renewable energy capacity till 30 April 2021

10 May: Andhra Pradesh, a major producer of renewable energy (RE), had an installed RE capacity of about 8,723 MW till 30 April 2021, according to the latest data. The state had an installed renewable energy capacity of about 8,646 MW till 31 March 2021. Of the 8,723 MW capacity installed, wind energy projects took the largest share with 4,084 MW capacity, followed by solar energy with a capacity of 4,047 MW commissioned which was 3,970 MW till 31 March 2021, according to the latest status report by the state’s nodal agency for implementation of RE programmes, New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh. During 2020-21, the total capacity of solar commissioned stood at 76.50 MW. The state commissioned a total of 103 MW capacity till 30 April 2021 in small hydro projects, while biomass, biomass energy co-generation, and bagasse projects contributed a total of 443 MW to the state’s renewable energy capacity. The share of municipal solid waste and industrial waste capacity stood at 47 MW till 30 April 2021.

Source: The Economic Times

NTPC Renewable Energy inks pact to sell power from 150 MW solar project

6 May: NTPC Ltd said its arm NTPC Renewable Energy has entered into a power purchase agreement with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) to sell electricity from its 150 MW solar project. The project will sell power at a tariff of INR2.20 per kWh (kilowatt hour), the company said. With this successful bid, the company’s total capacity under TBCB (tariff-based competitive bidding) tenders has reached 1.4 GW. The company has also been allocated land in Rann of Kutch by the Gujarat government for developing a solar park with a capacity of 4,750 MW. The seven-month-old 100 percent subsidiary, floated with the purpose of developing renewable energy projects is currently building 6 GW solar capacity in the country.

Source: The Economic Times

Diesel doped with biodiesel made from used cooking oil rolled out

5 May: India began experimenting with doping diesel with a small portion of biodiesel extracted from leftover cooking oil in kitchens to cut reliance on imports as well as reducing carbon emissions. Diesel, India’s most used fuel, is made from crude oil, for which the nation is 85 percent dependent on imports. Imports can be reduced if a portion of diesel extracted from fossil oil is supplemented by an equally combustible diesel. Bio-diesel that can be produced from vegetable oil, animal fat, tallow and waste cooking oil, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman S M Vaidya said at a function to launch diesel doped with used cooking oil (UCO). To start with, 7 percent biodiesel extracted from UCO is being doped in diesel and the supply of such fuel was started. As much as 23 million tonnes (mt) of edible oil is consumed in the country annually. Out of this, 3 mt of oil is discarded after use and is called used cooking oil, he said. To encourage this, the oil companies floated an expression of interest (EoI) seeking biodiesel made from UCO, offering a fixed price for five years and a guaranteed offtake for 10 years. India consumed 72.7 mt (80 billion litres) of diesel in the fiscal year ended 31 March 2021. The first lot of used cooking oil-based biodiesel blended diesel was flagged off by Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Oil Secretary Tarun Kapoor said with this flag off, a new era of Bioenergy has been ushered in that will revolutionise the Indian petroleum sector.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Oil

Saudi to supply full June crude volumes to most buyers in Asia

11 May: Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude oil exporter, will supply full volumes of crude to most Asian refiners in June. The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) kingpin started easing supply cuts to buyers in May as OPEC, Russia and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, stuck to plans for a phased roll-back of oil production restrictions from May to July. Most Asian refiners received their allocations while Saudi Aramco has cut supplies to Europe. Despite Saudi Aramco cutting prices for its Asian supplies in June for the first time in six months, some buyers had requested lower volumes as the price of flagship Arab Light crude was relatively higher than similar grades in the spot market such as Upper Zakum from Abu Dhabi.

Source: The Economic Times

China’s April oil imports fall 0.2 percent y/y as refining margins narrow

7 May: China’s crude oil imports in April fell 0.2 percent from a year earlier as refiners curbed production to relieve a squeeze in profit margins brought about by rising crude oil prices and bulging inventories. The world’s biggest crude oil buyer brought in 40.36 million tonnes (mt) of crude oil in April, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed. That was the lowest since December and was down from 11.69 million bpd of imports in March. Data showed China’s refined fuel exports fell 14.8 percent over April 2020 to 6.82 mt, despite the bulging inventory at dominant state refiners.

Source: The Economic Times

Global crude oil prices rise on buoyant China, US economic data

7 May: Oil prices recovered after a 1 percent dip in the previous session, on buoyant economic data from China and the United States (US) even as the surging pandemic in India capped prices. Brent crude futures for July were at US $68.47 a barrel, up 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June rose 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, to US $65.09. Both Brent and WTI are on track for a second weekly gain as easing restrictions on movement in the US and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand, while pent-up summer travel is likely to give gasoline and jet fuel consumption a further boost. In the US, the world’s largest oil consumer, jobless claims have dropped, signalling the labour market recovery had entered a new phase amid a booming economy.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Gas

US gas producer EQT Corp to buy private driller Alta Resources for US $3 billion

7 May: US (United States) natural gas producer EQT Corp said it will buy Blackstone-backed Appalachian basin rival Alta Resources for US $2.93 billion in cash and stock, making an entry in the Northeast Marcellus shale play. Dealmaking in the oil and gas space has been heating up as crude prices have jumped on a vaccine-led recovery in travel demand. Natural gas, in particular, hit record highs earlier in February when a winter storm swept parts of the US. The deal, which adds around one billion cubic feet equivalent gas production to EQT's portfolio, is expected to be accretive to free cash flow and net asset value per share, the company said. EQT said it will pay US $1 billion to Alta in cash and the rest in stock. It expects to fund the cash portion partly by drawing on its credit facilities and new debt.

Source: The Economic Times

Total presses ahead with Papua LNG, sees 2023 investment decision

6 May: French energy group Total said it had agreed with the Papua New Guinea government to proceed with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the country, which had been delayed due to the pandemic, with a final investment decision due in 2023. Total said that it would re-mobilise teams involved in the project. Total and its partners ExxonMobil Corp and Oil Search Ltd had initially planned to develop Papua LNG in tandem with an expansion of Exxon's PNG LNG in a US $13 billion project adding three new production units at the PNG LNG plant, to help save billions of dollars. However, Exxon has not agreed to terms sought by the Papua New Guinea government for the P'nyang gas development that was going to help feed the expansion, as Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape pushed for bigger benefits for the country from the deal. Instead, Totals ‘Papua LNG project will go ahead with two new production units to be built at the PNG LNG site, fed by the Elk Antelope gas fields, Marape said.

Source: The Economic Times

Total shared gas revenue with Myanmar military

5 May: Myanmar's military has received hundreds of millions of dollars from gas sales through a financial scheme linked to a pipeline exploited by French energy giant Total. Total and the military-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise hold stakes in Moattama Gas Transportation Company (MGTC), which owns the pipeline linking the Yadana gas field and Thailand. MGTC, which was created in 1994 and incorporated in Bermuda, has set exorbitant prices for the transport of gas. The scheme reduced the amount of royalties received by the state since transporting gas is taxed at a lower rate. This allowed the military to directly receive money from gas transport via its oil and gas company, with turnover of US $523 million in 2019 against just US $11 million in charges. The French energy giant said the creation of separate companies to exploit the pipeline and transport the gas was not unusual, adding that similar arrangements exist in the North Sea and other countries.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Coal

Malaysia’s Maybank to stop financing new coal activities under new strategy

6 May: Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) said it will no longer finance new coal activities as part of a five-year strategy that will also see the bank committing 50 billion ringgit (US $12 billion) in sustainable financing. Maybank’s announcement comes after criticisms from a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Malaysia and Indonesia for funding coal plants despite making environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. A growing number of global banks have been exiting coal financing in recent years amid pressures from green groups and a global energy transition. Last year, smaller rival CIMB Group Holdings Bhd committed to phase out coal from its portfolio by 2040, saying it was the first banking group in Malaysia and Southeast Asia to do so. Maybank said coal financing comprises only 0.2 percent of its total portfolio.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Power

Power generation woes in Ivory Coast and Ghana hit industry and neighbours

11 May: A drop in electricity generation in Ivory Coast and Ghana has left households and businesses fuming as well as cutting power supplies to neighbouring West African countries Mali and Burkina Faso. A prolonged dry season has reduced water levels at hydropower dams in both countries that in some cases could take months to resolve, hampering productivity, raising costs, and hitting the economies of the world's biggest cocoa producers. In Ivory Coast, which exports power to six countries, the national power company faces a generation deficit of about 200 MW, or nearly 10 percent of its 2,230 MW capacity, director general Ahmadou Bakayoko said. Most power companies in the country were producing at reduced capacity. Electricity imports from Ivory Coast had fallen 30 percent, causing repeated outages and leading to a 100 MW generation deficit. Burkina Faso's utility blamed its power shortages and cuts on generation constraints in Ghana and Ivory Coast. In Ghana, which exports to Burkina Faso, the national utility is carrying out rolling outages until 17 May. The power regulator blamed the problem on several issues including work on transmission lines and a lack of rain that has left reservoirs depleted in the north of the country.

Source: The Economic Times

Myanmar’s junta approves US $2.8 billion investment, including gas power plant

9 May: Myanmar's military rulers have approved new investment in projects worth nearly US $2.8 billion, including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant that will cost US $2.5 billion, the country's investment body said. Approvals for 15 projects were given by the Myanmar Investment Commission, according to a statement on the website of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. The announcement comes with much of Myanmar's economy paralysed by protests and strikes since the army seized power on 1 February. International credit rating agency Fitch Solutions has forecast the economy will contract by 20 percent this year. In addition to the plant to generate power for local needs, other projects approved included for livestock, manufacturing and services sectors. Most of Myanmar’s electric power is currently generated from hydroelectric projects, but LNG has been seen as increasingly important for a country whose economy had boomed during a decade of democratic reforms, leading to erratic electricity supplies.

Source: The Economic Times

Pakistan: Circular debt hits flagship CPEC power projects

9 May: Pakistan’s flagship CPEC power projects are hit by the circular debt and the Imran Khan government has failed to clear PKR 188 billion due payments in breach of an energy framework agreement with China. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s energy ministry has submitted a comprehensive circular debt management plan to a cabinet, recommending to clear PKR 435 billion worth principal loan of power plants under CPEC in the next 13 years instead of making immediate payments. Aside from this, Islamabad is set to seek debt restructuring of US $3 billion for the CPEC energy projects and requests China to consider restructuring of the repayments for 10 to 12 years in a bid to eliminate the need for increasing power tariff in the country. China has set up two dozen power plants under the CPEC and the repayments of the Chinese debt are included in the electricity tariffs.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

US solar company GAF Energy moving production back home from Asia

11 May: A small US (United States) solar company, GAF Energy, said it would move its manufacturing out of Asia to a new facility in Silicon Valley as it seeks to develop a next-generation technology to integrate solar panels with roof shingles. The company's move represents the reverse of the years-long trend in the solar industry of moving production to Asia to capitalise on lower-cost labour. The rise of cheap, foreign-made panels over the past decade has enabled solar energy to become cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the US. The facility will employ about 400 people in manufacturing, engineering and research and development and be capable of producing about 50 MW of solar panels a year. That is far smaller than the solar factories in places like China and Malaysia that produce in the hundreds of megawatts.

Source: The Economic Times

Renewable energy capacity additions increased 45 percent in 2020, highest since 1999: IEA

11 May: In 2020, annual renewable energy capacity additions increased 45 percent to almost 280 GW, the highest ever year-on-year increase since 1999, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s latest renewable energy market update for 2021 and 2022. It said that the 45 percent extra power is equal to the total installed capacity of ASEAN, a grouping of 10 dynamic Southeast Asian economies. It said that the increase in 2020 was set to become the ‘new normal’, with about 270 GW of renewable capacity on course to be added in 2021 and almost 280 GW in 2022, despite a slowdown in China after an exceptional level of additions last year. According to the report, global wind capacity additions almost doubled last year to 114 GW, which would slow down a bit in 2021 and 2022, but the increases will still be 50 percent larger than the average expansion during the 2017-19 period. China is at the centre of global renewable demand and supply, accounting for around 40 percent of global renewable capacity growth for several years. In 2020, China’s share rose to 50 percent for the first time due to a rush to complete projects before government subsidies were phased out. The report said that in 2021-22, renewables growth in China is set to stabilise at levels that are below the 2020 record but still over 50 percent above where it was during the 2017-19 period.

Source: The Economic Times

Dutch government grants US $2.4 billion in subsidies to huge carbon storage project

10 May: The Dutch government has granted a consortium that includes oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil around 2 billion euros (US $2.4 billion) in subsidies for what is set to become one of the largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the world, the Port of Rotterdam said. Shell and Exxon requested the subsidies in January together with industrial gas suppliers Air Liquide and Air Products for a project which aims to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by factories and refineries in the Rotterdam port area and store it in empty Dutch gas fields in the North Sea. This clears the most important hurdle for the project, which is set to become operational in 2024 and is expected to reduce emissions in the industrial cluster surrounding Europe’s largest sea port by around 10 percent. The government has said it will grant a total of 5 billion euros in subsidies in 2021 for technologies that will help it achieve its climate goals. It received applications for a total sum of 6.4 billion euros. The CCS subsidies are meant to compensate the companies for the extra costs of capturing the greenhouse gasses instead of emitting them, while the port will provide the necessary infrastructure to transport the CO2 to the empty offshore gas fields. Home to many large industries and Europe’s main seaport, the Netherlands is amongst the countries with the highest emissions of greenhouse gasses per capita in Europe. It aims to lower emissions by 55 percent relative to 1990 levels by 2030. Emissions were down 24.5 percent from 1990 levels last year.

Source: The Economic Times

Poland’s PGE and Denmark’s Orsted complete Baltic wind power deal

7 May: Poland's biggest power group PGE and Denmark’s Orsted have finalised a deal to jointly develop two offshore wind projects in the Baltic Sea, PGE said. Under the terms of the deal, Orsted bought 50 percent in each of two PGE units developing two offshore projects totalling 2.5 GW. The transactions were worth a combined 686 million zlotys (US $181 million). PGE, which produces most of its electricity from coal, has been discussing the projects with Orsted, the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind, since the end of 2019. The companies struck an initial deal in February. PGE expects to have at least 6.5 GW in offshore wind capacity by 2040 as part of a shift to clean energy sources. It expects power from Baltic Sea wind farms to account for 40 percent of its generation in 2040, provided its coal assets are split off into a separate company as planned. Poland was the only member of the European Union (EU) not to commit to climate neutrality by 2050 when the bloc set the target in 2019, but it has encouraged more investment in clean energy under EU pressure to cut emissions.

Source: The Economic Times

Norwegian oil company Equinor and Italian rival Eni to collaborate on floating North Sea wind power

7 May: Norwegian oil company Equinor and Italian rival Eni plan to collaborate on development of floating wind farms in the North Sea as part of their expansion within renewable energy production, the companies said. The Norwegian government has earmarked two areas in the North Sea for up to 4.5 GW of floating and bottom-fixed wind turbine capacity and plans to present further details to parliament no later than next month. Equinor said it had teamed up with Vaargroenn, 69.6 percent owned by Eni and 30.4 percent by Norway’s HitecVision, to apply for offshore wind acreage at Utsira Nord, one of the two areas promoted by the government. Floating wind farms are more expensive to develop than turbines that are fixed to the seabed but can be located in deeper waters. Equinor already operates one such facility off the coast of Scotland and is building a further pilot project in Norway. However, developing floating offshore wind power in Norway remains unprofitable without subsidies, analysts have said. The Vaargroenn joint venture has also previously announced that it was working with southern Norwegian utility Agder Energi to seek offshore wind acreage in Norway.

Source: The Economic Times

Carbon emissions from energy dropped 10 percent in the EU last year

7 May: Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion dropped 10 percent in the European Union (EU) last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to estimates from the EU's statistical office. Eurostat said that emissions fell in all of the EU’s 27 member nations compared to 2019 as governments imposed lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus. CO2 emissions from energy consumption account for about 75 percent of all man-made greenhouse gases in the EU. The amounts produced are influenced by many factors, including economic growth, transportation and industrial activities. As part of the "European Green Deal," the EU has committed itself to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Source: The Economic Times

Germany aims for net-zero emissions by 2045, 5 years earlier

6 May: German officials proposed that the country could bring forward the date for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to "net-zero" to 2045, after Germany's top court ruled that existing plans place too much of the burden for curbing climate change on young people. Under the proposal announced by Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the country would increase its emissions reduction targets from 55 percent  to 65 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and to 88 percent by 2040. The timetable would enable Germany to stop adding further planet-warming gases to the atmosphere five years earlier than the previous target of 2050. Experts maintain that to speed up the process of cutting emissions, Germany would have to phase out coal-fired power plants sooner than the planned date of 2038, amongst other measures. Germany’s climate law, passed two years ago, set specific targets for sectors such as heating and transportation to reach a 55 percent reduction by 2030, but not for the long-term goal of cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050.

Source: The Economic Times

White House eyes subsidies for nuclear plants to help meet climate targets

5 May: The White House has signalled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks that it supports taxpayer subsidies to keep existing nuclear facilities from closing, bending to the reality that it needs these plants to meet US (United States) climate goals. The new subsidies, in the form of "production tax credits," would likely be swept into President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar legislative effort to invest in the nation's infrastructure and jobs. Biden wants the US power industry to be emissions free by 2035. He is also asking Congress to extend or create tax credits aimed at wind, solar and battery manufacturing as part of his US $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. The US has more than 90 nuclear reactors, the most in the world, and the business is the country’s top source of emissions-free power generation. But these aging plants have been closing, some as recently as last month, due to rising security costs and competition from plentiful natural gas, wind and solar power, which are rapidly becoming less pricey. Losing more nuclear plants could make Biden’s zero-emissions goal challenging, if not impossible, analysts have said. The Biden administration has also supported a Clean Energy Standard (CES) in the infrastructure plan, a mechanism that could support existing nuclear plants.

Source: The Economic Times

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