Energy News Monitor | Volume XIV; Issue 35

     ENM, Electricity, WTO, CIL, WTO, UPPCL, ONGC, Taiwan, Petrol, NTPC, Solar, Mercom, Exxon

    TRADE WAR BREAKS OUT ON SOLAR PANELS

    Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: January 2018

    India

    As India faces heat at the WTO for giving preference to domestic solar manufacturers in its renewable energy programme, the MNRE has made changes to the content sourcing policy. This comes at a time when the domestic solar manufacturing industry has sought safeguards and anti-dumping duty on import of solar panels from China and Malaysia. CPSUs and states are open to call tender with DCR under the EPC or contractor mode. CPSUs such as NTPC Ltd would be allowed to issue tender for solar project construction with the caveat that the private domestic developer should only be an EPC contractor and not power seller. Also, the new rooftop solar projects policy promotes use of domestic content with central financial assistance and subsidy. MNRE has floated the proposal to increase the amount of CPSUs projects to 13,000 MW from current 1,000 MW. Till last year, 10 percent capacity in each of the tender issued by the central government for solar power project was kept for domestic content sourcing. Earlier it was 50 percent and was brought down after the first appeal made by the US in the WTO in 2014. Apart from this, major PSUs such as NTPC and CIL have committed to build solar power generation capacity from domestic content. The WTO ruling in September 2016 stated that solar projects which are to be taken up by the government, for the government, there should not be any commercial sale. India asked for a year’s time to close all the projects floated on DCR. The deadline expired in December 2017. As the current status of the case stands, India has sent clarification that the Solar Mission is WTO complaint and none of the solar policies flout any trade regulations.

    India has proposed to levy a 70 percent safeguard duty on import of solar power equipment from countries like China for 200 days to protect domestic industry from "serious injury". The safeguard duty would be levied if the finance ministry accepts the recommendations of the DGS. Before final duties or import taxes are levied, DGS will hold further investigation into the injury caused by cheap imports. It would also hold a public hearing on the issue. India has annual manufacturing capacity for solar cells of around 3 GW as against requirement of 20 GW. DGS said import of solar equipment jumped from 1,271 MW in 2014-15 to 4,186 MW in the next year and to 6,375 MW in 2016-17. Current fiscal imports are pegged at 9,474 MW as compared to domestic production of 1,164 MW. Reasoning its decision, it said while China's exports to India constituted a paltry 1.52 percent of its total global exports during 2012, this increased to 21.58 percent during 2016.

    The finance ministry is considering the renewable-energy ministry’s request to tax panels imported for projects won under future solar auctions while exempting those already awarded. The proposed change could imperil the goal of installing 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022, especially as developers have relied on low-cost equipment from China to push tariffs to among the lowest in the world. India is planning to offer financial incentives to boost domestic manufacturing and energy security, while probing if Chinese solar-equipment makers are hurting the domestic industry by dumping inventories and driving down prices to unfair levels. Higher global module costs have already pushed up bid rates from record lows in auctions conducted by Solar Energy Corp of India late last year and the import tax could increase prices further.

    India hit back at Washington’s latest legal assault on its solar power policies at the WTO, rejecting a US legal claim and exploring possible new protection of India’s own solar industry. The US triggered a new round of litigation at the WTO, arguing that India had failed to abide by a ruling that it had illegally discriminated against foreign suppliers of solar cells and modules. India said it had changed its rules to conform with the ruling and that a US claim for punitive trade sanctions was groundless. It said Washington had skipped legal steps, failed to follow the correct WTO procedure, and omitted to mention any specific level of trade sanctions that it proposed to level on India, leaving India “severely prejudiced”. India would be vindicated if the proper process was followed, it said. Renewable energy has become an area of severe trade friction as major economies compete to dominate a sector that is expected to thrive as reliance on coal and oil dwindles. India unveiled its national solar programme in 2011, seeking to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia’s third-largest economy without creating pollution. But the US complained to the WTO in 2013, saying US solar exports to India had fallen by 90 percent. The WTO judges agreed that India had broken the trade rules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-made cells and modules. In a separate move that could protect its solar industry from global competitors, not only US rivals, India told the WTO that it was considering the case for imposing temporary emergency tariffs on solar cells, modules and panels, after a petition from the domestic industry.

    Solar modules worth more than $150 million are stuck at various Indian ports due to a dispute over their classification and the import tax applicable to them. Indian Solar Association said that up to 2,000 solar module containers are now stranded at four major ports.  Most of the solar modules come from China, but several consignments are now held up because customs officials have demanded that some of them be classified as “electric motors and generators”, attracting a 7.5 percent duty, not as “diodes, transistors and similar semi-conductor devices” with no duty. The Indian unit of Germany’s Enerparc had 30 of its containers stuck at Chennai for three weeks as it finished some “paperwork” and paid a demurrage - a charge for failing to discharge the ship on time - of about ₹ 7 million ($110,471).  The renewable energy ministry has already asked the finance ministry to resolve the matter without disrupting business. Any duty is bad news for project developers such as SoftBank-backed SB Energy but good for local solar component makers such as Indosolar and Moser Baer. Indian manufacturers have struggled to compete with Chinese companies such as Trina Solar and Yingli and have sought anti-dumping duties as well as long-term safeguards. The finance ministry is examining a proposal from the renewable ministry to exempt projects bid earlier from paying the duty.

    The Madras High Court has issued a temporary stay on a preliminary report of the DGS recommending imposition of 70% safeguard duty on imported solar equipment. Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure, a contractor-cum-developer of solar projects and part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, had petitioned the court against the recommendation, maintaining the company was never given a chance to respond to the original petition on the basis of which DGS suggested imposing 70% duty. The DGS had on December 19 last year sent a notice to all stakeholders saying it had initiated an enquiry into the matter on the basis of a petition filed by Indian Solar Manufacturers Association claiming that large scale imports of solar panels and modules from China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore were causing "serious injury" to domestic manufacturers of similar equipment. The notice gave stakeholders 30 days to reply. However, the DGS announced preliminary findings on January 5. Solar developers prefer imported equipment because they are 25-30% cheaper than domestic ones, thanks to economies of scale and government subsidies in the exporting countries. Independent Solar Power Producers Alliance, an association of solar developers, too, has filed a petition in Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the recommendation.

    Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission rapped the six solar power companies that had proposed to set up power plants in the state, saying it could not allow them to sell solar power at a rate much higher than prevailing market prices. The companies, including Adani Green Energy, had approached the commission nearly six months after UPPCL issued them a notice seeking cancellation of their agreement with New Energy Development Authority over high cost of power and delay in setting up projects despite an agreement in 2015. The Commission noted that the cost of power proposed to be supplied by the companies ₹ 7.02/kWh was much higher than the prevailing market prices of ₹ 2.44 to ₹ 4/kWh. The six plants, with a combined capacity of 80 MW, belong to Adani Green Energy, Sahastradhara Energy, Pinnacle Air, Awadh Rubber Prop Madras Elastomers, Technical Associates and Sudhakara Infratech. According to the agreements signed in 2015, the developers had to complete the projects by January 2017. That did not happen, forcing the state government to extend the deadline till March 2017.

    Private sector lender Yes Bank said it will mobilise $1 billion by 2023 for financing solar energy projects in India. Yes Bank signed five solar energy co-financing Letters of Intent with Tata Power Delhi Distribution, Hero Future Energy, Greenko Group, Amplus Solar and Jakson Group for their solar projects in India to be completed by 2023. ISA is a treaty-based alliance of 121 prospective solar rich member nations and aims at accelerating development and deployment of solar energy globally.

    Husk Power Systems said that it has raised $20 million to scale its renewable mini-grid business both in Asia and Africa. Husk Power designs, builds, owns and operates one of the world's lowest-cost hybrid power plants and distribution network in India and Tanzania. It provides power to rural communities and businesses, entirely from renewable energy sources.

    The IFC, the World Bank's private investment arm, is set to invest $440 million (₹ 28 billion) in the 750 MW Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Park in Madhya Pradesh, paving the way for the financial closure of this project that has for the first time brought solar tariff in India on a par with thermal power. The investment by IFC will be in the form of debt to three companies that are setting up the units, each of 250 MW, Mahindra Renewables, Acme, and Actis. The deal for a $140 million (₹ 9 billion) funding with Actis has been signed, while the one with Acme for $150 million is due to be signed soon. The third one, with Mahindra, for the remaining $150 million is awaiting final approval. The solar park is being developed by Rewa Ultra Mega Solar, a joint venture between Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam, a state government agency, and the Solar Energy Corp of India. It is scheduled to be commissioned in December 2018 and is part of meeting India's renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022.

    In order to kick-start fund mobilisation under the ISA, the central government will set up a $350 million solar development fund. Nine companies and banks have agreed to develop and finance various solar projects, which include a $1-billion partnership corpus of NTPC Ltd and CLP India to the ISA. The firms are: Vyonarc Development, Greenko Solar, Gensol Group and SOLARIG from Spain, Shakti Pump, Refex Energy, Amplus Solar, TATA Power, Jackson Solar, and Zodiac Energy. CLP India and NTPC announced forging a partnership deal with the ISA and committed to making a voluntary contribution of $1 million each to the ISA fund corpus.

    ONGC has embarked on an ambitious project on innovation towards making an "Efficient Electric Chulha (Stove)”. ONGC launched a nationwide campaign to seek innovative solutions for the development of Solar Chulha. An overwhelming response with more than 1500 entries was received by ONGC in the duration of the campaign. The top three entries will receive awards of ₹ 1,000,000 ₹ 500,000 and ₹ 300,000 respectively. On successful demonstration and testing performance of the units, about 1000 units may be initially procured by ONGC for demonstration in different regions. ONGC may also provide financial support for fabrication of 1000 units, from the start up fund set up by ONGC to popularize the product amongst the masses. ONGC is working towards finding an efficient household cooking solution to ensure last-mile delivery of clean energy.

    In an initiative to promote clean energy, BSES, one of Delhi's two electricity discoms, launched the country's first solar rooftop consumer aggregation programme for residential buildings to provide the installations at a single point for the entire apartment complex. The sister discom BRPL's "Solar City Initiative", designed to maximise rooftop solar power use in south and west Delhi, was launched at an event. In the first phase of the programme, around 150 residential societies will be targeted in the Dwarka area. Listing the benefits for consumers, the discom said a 1 kW solar PV rooftop system is expected to generate 4-5 kWh of electricity per day, which corresponds to an average monthly saving on bills of about ₹ 750 for a period of 25 years for single-point delivery consumers. Besides, the scheme would help BRPL in meeting its renewable purchase obligation, as well as minimise overloading issues in congested areas during the peak summer months. BSES also announced that a portal has been launched as part of the initiative for online processing of rooftop solar applications, as well as a dedicated solar helpline for faster resolution of customer queries.

    GAIL (India) Ltd said it has commissioned the country's second largest rooftop solar power plant. The firm has installed a 5.76 MWp solar plant at its petrochemical complex at Pata in Uttar Pradesh, the company said. The plant over the roofs of warehouses covers a total area of 65,000 square meters. Tata Power Solar had in December 2015 commissioned a 12 MW solar rooftop project in Amritsar, which produces more than 150 lakh units of power annually and offset over 19,000 tonne of carbon emissions every year. India is plans to have 40 GW of rooftop PV by 2022. This is part of its target of have 175 GW of non-hydro renewables capacity by 2022 (made up of 60 GW onshore wind, 60 GW utility-scale solar, 10 GW bio-energy, 5 GW small hydro and 40 GW rooftop solar). It currently has 60 GW of renewable energy capacity. Captive solar power initiative of GAIL will reduce carbon emissions by 6,300 tonnes per annum and help India achieve climate goals.   With most of the fossil fuel companies either producing or consuming solar power it is not clear if fossil fuels are underwriting renewable energy costs.

    Adani Group has been named in the top 15 global utility solar power developers that includes likes of First Solar, Total, SunEdison and Engie. Adani, ranked 12th, is the only Indian company on the list put out by Greentech Media, a Wood Mackenzie business. Top of the list is First Solar with an operational capacity of 4,619 MW and in-development capacity of 4,802 MW. Adani has 788 MW of operational capacity and another 1,270 MW under development. Adani Renewables is targeting 10 GW of installed renewable power by 2022. The company currently has 12 MW of operational wind assets, as well as 788 MW of solar PV.

    Solar power tariff fall seems to have bottomed out and may not drop beyond an all-time low of ₹ 2.44/kWh in absence of well-structured bids and rising solar panel prices on demand pressure. The solar power tariff fell to an all-time low of ₹ 2.44/kWh in May 2017 during an auction for 500 MW capacities at Bhadla (IV) in Rajasthan. It had the viability gap funding component, as per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy data. According to data, the solar tariff rose to ₹ 3.47/kWh for 1,500 MW capacities in Tamil Nadu under a state scheme in July and then dropped again to ₹ 2.66 /kWh in an auction for 500 MW capacities in Gujarat. In an auction of state-run power giant NTPC for 250 MW capacity, the tariff was ₹ 3.14/kWh. But it dropped again with viability gap funding to ₹ 2.47/kWh and ₹ 2.48 /kWh for 500 MW Bhadla-III and 250 MW Bhadla-IV auctions in December 2017. Many experts are also of the view that solar tariff has bottomed out and may not fall further. During 2017, solar power tariff hovered around ₹ 2.4/kWh level only in auctions for capacities, where viability gap funding component was there.

    Solar developers have moved the power regulators of Haryana and Uttarakhand to smoothen out anomalies which are impeding the growth of solar capacity in these two states. In one petition, the DISPA has noted that the regulator, the HERC has yet to implement a key recommendation of the Haryana Solar Policy announced in March 2016. In another, it has appealed to the UERC to remove the limit of 500 kW it has imposed on the size of rooftop solar plants. Haryana’s solar policy clearly states that both ground-mounted and rooftop solar projects should be exempted from “all electricity taxes and cess, electricity duty, wheeling charges, cross subsidy charges, transmission and distribution charges and surcharges”. However, HERC has not yet passed any order making these concessions effective. The petition before the UERC argues that the 500 kW limit for rooftop solar plants is entirely arbitrary. Its origins lie in the guidelines issued by the MNRE in June 2014, which imposed “a limit of 500 kW in respect of installed solar capacity for projects under net metering arrangement”. DISPA had also moved the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission to provide net metering and other incentives for putting up solar rooftop plants not only to house owners, but also to solar developers so that they can lease roofs from house owners. House owners were often reluctant to set up solar rooftop projects as they were unaware of the technicalities or could not afford the initial upfront costs. That petition is still pending.

    In an attempt to provide electricity to houses in remote and inaccessible areas of the state where electrification is not possible due to difficult geographical terrain, the UPPCL will soon be providing off-grid electricity by setting up solar power plants. According to the UPPCL, the task to identify the areas that are inaccessible and have not yet been brought under the corporation's power grid has been handed over to Non-conventional Energy Development Agency. Small solar grids will be set up in the identified remote areas, which will cover one or more villages as per the requirement of load. Every house will be connected with it.

    Encouraged by the successful implementation of solar projects in states like Karnataka and Gujarat, the UP is planning to invite bids for 100 MW of solar power projects by March. The bids are for projects on open access basis to be set up in the Bundelkhand region. Leading players like Adani Group, Tata Power Solar, ReNew Power and Hero Future Energies are likely to be interested in the projects to be offered in UP, suggested an industry player. The state government has separately invited tenders for the selection of consultancy firms for establishment of a project management unit to assist UP New and Renewable Energy Development Agency in implementation of the state’s Solar Power Policy 2017. The last date for submission of e-tenders is January 14 and the online technical e-tender opening date is January 15. The financial tender opening date for qualified bidders is January 30. The UP Solar Power Policy 2017 targets implementation of 10,700 MW of grid-connected solar power projects by the end of 2022. Of the total capacity, 4,300 MW is targeted to be achieved through deployment of grid connected rooftop projects, and 6,400 MW through ground mounted utility scale power projects.

    India said it can reach a capacity of 17,000 MW in renewable energy by the year 2022. As per the share of renewable energy in the total electric power generation capacity, the addition was 52.2 percent.  This is an order of magnitude smaller than the target announced when the current government came to power.

    Haryana wants solar-based micro irrigation schemes be implemented in all districts. At present, the scheme is being implemented on a pilot basis in 14 canal outlets in 13 districts with an outlay of ₹ 246.5 million.

    The New Year has brought a fresh ray of hope in India's nuclear energy sector, with Westinghouse, the bankrupt energy company being sold to a Canadian investment major, Brookfield Business Partners. Westinghouse is supposed to build six of its AP-1000 nuclear reactors in India, a project that had been delayed after the company filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2017. The $4.6 billion acquisition is expected to get the beleaguered US-Japanese company out of hot water. Toshiba, the owner of Westinghouse had been looking to sell the nuclear business after it filed for bankruptcy. Westinghouse had, in its discussions with the Indian government, assured that it would continue to work on the six reactors which are expected to come up in Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh. The company is expected to build six reactors in India — private sector and government entities are currently exploring whether a greater amount of indigenous components can be used to build these reactors, bringing down their costs as well as giving a fillip to Indian nuclear industry. This might even help Westinghouse avert the potential liabilities of the Indian nuclear liability law, which has been singularly responsible for being a drag on the Indian nuclear industry. The government devised an insurance pool and new rules which make it easier for domestic players, but an air of uncertainty continues to hang over foreign players.

    Rest of the World

    Taiwan has joined South Korea in demanding compensation for steep US tariffs on solar panels, opening a 30-day window for negotiations, a World Trade Organization filing showed. US President Donald Trump signed into law a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, billed as a way to protect American jobs but which the solar industry said would lead to layoffs and raise consumer prices. It was among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda that has alarmed Asian trading partners producing cheaper goods. Taiwan, with no fossil fuel resources but a booming tech sector, says it ranks as the world’s second largest solar cell manufacturing base after China, putting it at the heart of an industry caught up in a global trade battle. The US, India and China are all racing to develop their solar industry, a huge growth area as the world moves toward environmentally friendly sources of energy, and are engaged in legal fights to keep their firms in pole position. The US has alleged that China and India are giving their solar sectors an illicit leg-up, and last week Trump resorted to “safeguard” tariffs, effectively shielding US solar manufacturers from foreign competition.

    US President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on solar panel imports is a blow to a booming global industry, and hit stocks in European and Asian solar groups on fears their business might suffer. Although the move was intended to help American manufacturers, some in the sector said it would slow US investment in solar power and cost thousands of US jobs. Trump approved a 30 percent tariff on solar cell and module imports, dropping to 15 percent within four years. Up to 2.5 GW of unassembled solar cells can be imported tariff-free in each year. The US has the world’s fourth-largest solar capacity after China, Japan and Germany. Globally, solar capacity soared to almost 400 GW last year from under 10 GW in 2007, according to the International Renewable Energy Administration. The US-based Solar Energy Industries Association said the decision could cause the loss of around 23,000 US jobs this year, and result in the delay or cancellation of billions of dollars in solar investments. The US government argued that its domestic manufacturers could not compete with what it said were artificially lower-priced Asian panels. The Chinese firms that are the world’s biggest makers of solar photovoltaic cells will be hit by the tariffs at their production sites across Asia.

    SMA Solar, Germany’s largest solar group, expects the industry to take a just a small hit from import tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, sending its shares to an 11-week high. Trump approved a 30 percent tariff on solar cell and module imports, dropping to 15 percent within four years. Up to 2.5 GW of unassembled solar cells can be imported tariff-free in each year. Although the move was intended to help American manufacturers, some in the sector said it could slow US investment in solar power and cost thousands of US jobs. However, SMA Solar, the world’s largest maker of solar inverters, said it expected the impact to be small, forecasting industry growth in the Americas region would average about 18 percent per year until 2020, more than the 10 percent expected globally. The US government argued that its domestic manufacturers could not compete with what it said were artificially lower-priced Asian solar panels.

    SunPower Corp said it was putting a $20 million US factory expansion and hundreds of new jobs on hold until and unless its solar panels receive an exclusion from federal tariffs. The decision to impose tariffs on cheap imported panels was intended to protect American manufacturing jobs, but many in the solar industry have argued that tariffs will raise costs and trigger thousands of layoffs in the installation end of the industry. SunPower’s project development arm has already lost business to rival First Solar Inc, which makes panels that are exempt from tariffs.

    The world's largest solar-thermal power plant has been given development approval by the South Australian government. Construction on the 150 MW Aurora plant, to be built by utility-scale solar power company SolarReserve, will begin in 2018 at an estimated cost of $509 million. The plant would create 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing positions when completed. The plant will work by using a series of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a receiver at the top of a 220-meter tower. The sunlight will then heat molten salt to 565 degrees centigrade, generating steam to drive a turbine that will produce 150 MW of electricity making it the largest single-tower solar thermal plant in the world. It will have the capacity to power 90,000 homes with eight hours of full load storage. It will join the largest lithium-ion battery, built by Tesla to complement the state's power grid during the high-demand summer, as another major renewable energy project in South Australia.

    For new projects commissioned in 2017, electricity costs from renewable power generation have continued to fall significantly compared to the fossil fuels, according to a new report from the IRENA. It estimates onshore wind is now routinely commissioned for $4 cents per kWh. The current cost spectrum for fossil fuel power generation ranges from $5-17 cents per kWh. The IRENA with more than 150 member countries says the cost of generating power from onshore wind has fallen by around a quarter since 2010, with solar photovoltaic electricity costs falling by 73 percent in that time. It also highlights that solar costs are set to fall further with another halving expected by 2020. The best onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects could be delivering electricity for an equivalent of $3 cents per kWh, or less within the next two years. Global weighted average costs over the last 12 months for onshore wind and solar PV now stand at $6 cents and $10 cents per kWh respectively, with recent auction results suggesting future projects will significantly undercut these averages. The IRENA report also highlights that auction results are signalling that offshore wind and concentrating solar power projects commissioned between 2020-22 will cost in the range of $6-10 cents per kWh, supporting accelerated deployment globally. IRENA projects that all renewable energy technologies will compete with fossils on price by 2020.

    Westinghouse Electric Co signed an agreement to deliver nuclear fuel to seven of Ukraine’s fifteen nuclear power reactors between 2021-2025, and will source some fuel components locally, Westinghouse said. Owned by Toshiba Corp, Westinghouse said the deal would help Ukraine diversify its energy supplies. The deal builds on an existing agreement to supply six reactors, which was set to expire in 2020. Kiev’s pro-Western government wants to wean Ukraine off a traditional dependence on Russia for energy supplies, including gas imports and nuclear fuel.

    French nuclear and renewable energy group New Areva has signed a memorandum of commercial agreement with Chinese partner CNNC for the construction of €10 bn ($12 bn) nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in China. In 2013, Areva and CNNC had signed a letter of intent to build a used fuel treatment and recycling facility in the Asian country. Areva said that the latest agreement reaffirms its commitment with the Chinese partner to complete the contract negotiations for the Chinese commercial used fuel treatment-recycling plant project. The Chinese treatment-recycling plant, which will have a reprocessing capacity of 800 ton of spent nuclear fuel from Chinese power plants annually, is planned to be built on the model of New Areva's two existing plants, La Hague and Melox, both located in France. A final deal on the facility is expected to provide much needed boost to the French nuclear industry, which has been struggling to gain new contracts since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

    Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom has proposed building a nuclear power station in Argentina, President Vladimir Putin said. Putin was speaking after talks with his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, in Moscow.

    EDF Energy said its Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset, southwest England, will come online by the end of 2025 and give the developer the experience to lower the costs of subsequent nuclear plants planned in the country. Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear plant built in Britain in decades. It is expected to provide 7 percent of Britain’s power needs while helping to replace the country’s ageing nuclear fleet and closing coal plants. The plant, being built by the British arm of France’s EDF with China General Nuclear Power Corp, has been beset by delays and higher cost estimates. It was initially expected to start producing electricity in 2017. The project has also been criticized over its guaranteed price for electricity, which is higher than market rates. EDF also plans to build two more nuclear reactors at Sizewell in eastern England.

    Saudi Arabia plans to prequalify for bidding firms from two or three countries by April or May for the first nuclear reactors it wants to build. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, wants nuclear power to diversify its energy supply mix, enabling it to export more crude rather than burning it to generate electricity. It plans to build 17.6 GW of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of around 16 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. A joint venture between the Saudi government and the winning developers would be signed in 2019 after the shortlisting by end of 2018. Commissioning of the first plant, which will have two reactors with a total a capacity between 2 and 3.2 GW, is expected in 2027. Saudi Arabia has sent a request for information to international suppliers to build two reactors, the first step towards a formal tendering competition. Riyadh was currently evaluating requirements from five countries; China, Russia, South Korea, France and the US. Saudi Arabia is interested in reaching a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Washington, and Riyadh has invited US firms to take part in developing the kingdom’s first atomic energy program.

    At ground zero of Ukraine's Chernobyl tragedy, workers in orange vests are busy erecting hundreds of dark-coloured panels as the country gets ready to launch its first solar plant to revive the abandoned territory. The new one-megawatt power plant is located just a hundred metres from the new "sarcophagus", a giant metal dome sealing the remains of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the worst nuclear disaster in the world. Ukraine, which has stopped buying natural gas from Russia in the last two years, is seeking to exploit the potential of the Chernobyl uninhabited exclusion zone that surrounds the damaged nuclear power plant and cannot be farmed. The installation of a huge dome above the ruins of the damaged reactor just over a year ago made the realisation of the solar project possible. Ukrainian authorities offered investors nearly 2,500 hectares (25 square kilometres) for potential construction of solar power plants in Chernobyl.

    France will not increase carbon emissions as it reduces its reliance on nuclear energy in coming years. The centrist government has launched a year-long debate about energy policy before deciding in early 2019 on the future share of nuclear energy in France’s power production. It now stands at 75 percent. To assist discussions, grid operator RTE has prepared scenarios for cutting nuclear energy’s share from 56 percent to 11 percent by 2035, and an additional scenario on reducing nuclear reliance to 50 percent by 2025. Environment activists complain that the government has withheld scenarios cutting back nuclear capacity the most, when it held workshops this month to prepare for the public debate. France would not build more plants powered by coal or fuel oil, he said, but said the government would consider whether there was a role for gas, which has lower emissions than coal or other fossil fuels. Sustainable energy advocacy group NegaWatt said the most ambitious scenarios for reducing nuclear reliance could be achieved without boosting CO2 emissions provided there was a stronger focus on energy efficiency and if the nuclear reactors had their lifespans’ extended a little beyond 40 years. The majority of EDF’s nuclear reactors were connected to the grid between 1980 and 1990. Closing them all promptly after 40 years, their scheduled lifespan, would cut so much capacity that France would have to build new gas plants to fill the gap. EDF wants to extend the lifespan of its reactors to 50 years, but will need approval of nuclear regulator ASN for each reactor. The ASN has said it will rule on the principle of lifespan extensions in 2021.

    The Trump administration announced it is doing away with a decades-old air emissions policy opposed by fossil fuel companies, a move that environmental groups say will result in more pollution. The US EPA said it was withdrawing the “once-in always-in” policy under the Clean Air Act, which dictated how major sources of hazardous air pollutants are regulated. Under the EPA’s new interpretation, such “major sources” can be reclassified as “area sources” when their emissions fall below mandated limits, subjecting them to differing standards. The EPA said the policy it has followed since 1995 relied on an incorrect interpretation of the landmark anti-pollution law.

    A team of scientists at Stanford University, including a researcher of Indian origin, has shown how nanotechnology can be used to create crystalline silicon (c-Si) thin-film solar cells that are more efficient at capturing solar energy. The discovery can reduce the cost of solar energy production globally, they noted. The team used optical modelling and electrical simulations to show that a thin-film crystalline silicon solar cell with a 2D nanostructure generated three times as much photo current as an unstructured cell of the same thickness. The longer the light spends inside the solar cell - the greater its chance of getting absorbed. The discovery reveals a simple method to improve the efficiency of all silicon solar cells.

    The California regulators have approved PG&E’s request to decommission the 2,256 MW Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by 2025. With the approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E will retire the power plant, which features two nuclear reactors, upon completion of its operating licenses. The regulator has also authorized the firm to recover $241.2 mn in costs associated with retiring the plant; $211.3 mn to retain PG&E employees until the facility is retired; $11.3 mn for retraining of workers; and $18.6 mn for Diablo Canyon license renewal expenses incurred by PG&E. However, the regulator has rejected PG&E’s request for $85 mn for a Community Impact Mitigation Program in the absence of express legislative authorization.

    New York City announced that it filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five top oil companies, citing their “contributions to global warming,” as it said it would divest fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years. The lawsuit, against BP Plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, follows similar lawsuits filed last year by San Francisco and other California cities seeking billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels due to climate impacts. The lawsuits are the latest legal challenges against oil companies over climate change and come as the firms are searching for new business models amid pressure by governments and consumers for cleaner energy.

    Denmark just set a world record for using wind power to drive its economy. Its government now predicts that anyone betting against the technology is on the wrong side of history. Denmark is positioning itself as the flag bearer for wind power. Denmark obtained 43.4 percent of its electricity from wind last year, beating its own record. The government’s goal is to derive 50 percent of the country’s entire energy consumption from renewables by 2030. Denmark is home to the world’s biggest turbine maker, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, which just raised its outlook after getting more orders than it expected in 2017. The state also holds a controlling stake in Orsted A/S, the world’s biggest operator of offshore wind parks, which this week raised its 2017 profit forecast thanks to strong winds in northern Europe.

    The US power grid regulator rejected a directive to prop up aging coal and nuclear power plants, in a setback for the Trump administration that disappointed coal miners but pleased drillers, environmentalists and renewable energy advocates. FERC said it had embarked on a new process to determine whether the grid can be strengthened. The move was a blow to the plan to reward certain nuclear and coal-fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site by paying for their operating costs through power price adjustments. President Donald Trump promised to aid the coal and nuclear industries, which have suffered shutdowns resulting from a glut of cheap natural gas. FERC’s new plan involves asking grid operators to submit within 60 days their concerns about the resiliency of the power system. The commission will then decide whether additional action is warranted, FERC said.

    Over 30 energy sector players from around the world including India converged in Nepal to explore the country’s hydropower potentials. The aim of the expo was to assist the Nepal government in achieving its objective of generating 17,000 MW of hydroelectricity in the next seven years. Over 30 hydropower generators, producers of electrical equipments, investors, consultants and designers from Nepal, India, China, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Sweden and Austria showcased their products and services at the three-day expo Himalayan Hydro Expo 2018. Italys CMC, Germanys VOITH; BFL, CRYSTAL, FLOVEL from India, VAPTECH - Bulgaria, MAVEL - Czech Republic, Powerchina, CSEC from China among others participated. President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the exhibition and said Nepal could not utilise its huge hydropower potential due to various reasons and that, it produced only 700 MW of hydro-electricity in the last one hundred years. The president urged private players to join hand with the government in harnessing Nepal’s immense hydro potentials.

    Scientists are developing a novel technology that may economically convert fossil fuels and biomass into useful products, including electricity, without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Engineers at The Ohio State University in the US devised a process that transforms shale gas into products such as methanol and gasoline - all while consuming carbon dioxide. The process can also be applied to coal and biomass to produce useful products, researchers wrote in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. Under certain conditions, the technology consumes all the carbon dioxide it produces plus additional carbon dioxide from an outside source, they said. The researchers have also found a way to greatly extend the lifetime of the particles that enable the chemical reaction to transform coal or other fuels to electricity and useful products over a length of time that is useful for commercial operation. The same team has discovered and patented a way with the potential to lower the capital costs in producing a fuel gas called synthesis gas, or "syngas," by about 50 percent over the traditional technology. The technology, known as chemical looping, uses metal oxide particles in high-pressure reactors to "burn" fossil fuels and biomass without the presence of oxygen in the air. The metal oxide provides the oxygen for the reaction. Chemical looping is capable of acting as a stopgap technology that can provide clean electricity until renewable energies such as solar and wind become both widely available and affordable, the researchers said. The engineers also developed chemical looping for production of syngas, which in turn provides the building blocks for a host of other useful products including ammonia, plastics or even carbon fibres. The technology provides a potential industrial use for carbon dioxide as a raw material for producing useful, everyday products, researchers said.

    NATIONAL: OIL

    India sees no scope for more excise duty cut on petrol, diesel for now

    February 6, 2018. India has no immediate plan to further cut factory gate tax on petrol and diesel due to its tight fiscal situation, the finance ministry said. India had cut factory gate tax on the two fuels by Rs 2 ($0.0311) a litre each while presenting the federal budget, but it did not result in lower retail prices as new taxes were added. India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations as taxes account for about up to 50 percent of the pump prices.

    Source: Reuters

    Delhi ranks third on petrol, diesel sales fraud among states

    February 6, 2018. Delhi reported 785 cases of short-delivery of fuel at petrol pumps between April 2014 and December 2017, ranking third among all the states in the number of such cases. The national capital was only behind Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (UP) with 1,560 and 913 cases, respectively, data shared by Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Parliament shows. India has a total of 61,381 retail fuel outlets. UP with 7,069 retail outlets has the highest number of petrol pumps followed by 5,684 in Maharashtra. Delhi's third rank on short-delivery assumes importance given the less number of total outlets (396) in the capital city. In terms of adulteration, Maharashtra tops the chart with 466 cases registered during the period, followed by UP with 368 cases and Karnataka with 294 cases. Overall, the country has reported a total of 10,898 cases of adulteration and short-delivery of fuel in the past three financial years (2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17) and April-December 2017. Of these, 468 cases have been reported to be caused due to installation of unauthorized chip in dispensers. Pradhan informed the three state-run Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) - Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) - had terminated the license of 107 retail outlets by 1 January, 2018 across UP, Maharashtra and Odisha on account of electronic chip manipulation in dispensing units.

    Source: The Economic Times

    States not in favour of petrol, diesel inclusion into GST: Finance Minister

    February 5, 2018. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the states are not in favour of including petrol and diesel into GST (Goods and Services Tax) at the moment, ruling out any immediate levy of the new indirect tax on these petroleum products. While GST was rolled out on July 1, real estate as well as crude oil, jet fuel or ATF, natural gas, diesel and petrol were kept out of its purview. This meant that the products continued to attract duties like central excise and VAT. The five petroleum items have been kept out of GST as they are considered cash cows, giving both the Centre and states bulk of their tax revenues. But keeping them out has created compliance issues including taking input tax credit.

    Source: The Financial Express

    State oil companies plan capex of $14 bn, 50 percent for E&P

    February 5, 2018. State oil companies have planned a capital spending of Rs 89,000 crore ($14 billion) in 2018-19, half of which will go into exploration and production (E&P). In the current fiscal, these companies had targeted an expenditure of Rs 87,400 crore, 70% of which has been spent in the first three quarters. The allocation of Rs 48,000 crore towards exploration and production in Budget 2018-19 is lower than Rs 53,960 crore planned for this year. Spending on refining and marketing would rise to Rs 35,800 crore from Rs 31,200 crore in 2017-18. Investment in petrochemicals would nearly double to Rs 3,952 crore next fiscal year from Rs 2,156 crore in the current year. Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has planned the highest investment among all state oil firms, with a capex target of a little over Rs 32,000 crore in 2018-19. This would go into developing new oil and gas fields and enhancing production from existing fields. For the current year, its planned capex is about Rs 37,200 crore, including a $1.2 billion payment for GSPC's stake in the KG Basin asset. ONGC's capex figure will get revised upward sharply after factoring in the Rs 37,000 crore purchase of government stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).

    Source: The Economic Times

    Government's 60 percent oil block sell-off plan may hit dual contract roadblock

    February 5, 2018. The government’s plan to farm out a 60 percent stake in about 15 fields of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) to private players might lead to a dual system of contracts. The two state-owned companies may have to continue to pay royalties and cess. This is a major dilemma before the policymakers as to whether two parties can have separate sets of contracts for the same fields. The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons has reportedly zeroed in on 15 fields — 11 of ONGC and four of OIL — including ONGC’s four major oilfields in Gujarat like Kalok, Gandhar, Santhal, and Ankleshwar. These 15 are estimated to have a cumulative reserve of 791.2 million tonnes (mt) of crude oil and 333.46 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas. The plan to rope in private companies is part of the government’s production enhancement policy. However, the government is yet to come up with a Cabinet note in this regard. More than 40 fields of state-run producers have been identified for production enhancement through the technical services model.

    Source: Business Standard

    Just 4 states cut VAT on petrol, diesel: Oil Minister

    February 5, 2018. Just 4 states and one union territory have cut local sales tax or VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel since the October 2017 decision of the Centre to reduce excise duty on the two fuels, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. As petrol and diesel prices soared to a three-year high, the Centre on October 3, 2017 reduced excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre each and asked states governments to match it with a cut in VAT. BJP rules as many as 19 states in the country. The states which reduced VAT following the October 3, 2017 cut in excise duty were Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The excise duty cut announced on October 3, 2017 was the only time the BJP-led government at the Centre has cut excise duty. In contrast, the government had raised excise duty on nine occasions to take away benefits of sliding international oil prices between late 2014 and January 2016. Pradhan said prices of petrol and diesel were freed from administrative control from June 26, 2010 and October 10, 2014, respectively. Petrol price touched a four-year high of Rs 73.31 per litre in Delhi and diesel is at an all-time high of Rs 64.14. The price of petrol was Rs 70.88 a litre in Delhi on October 3, 2017 when excise duty was cut. Diesel on that day was priced at Rs 59.14.

    Source: Business Standard

    ONGC completes Rs 369.15 bn HPCL acquisition, becomes first integrated oil major

    February 1, 2018. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) completed the acquisition of government-owned fuel retailer Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) through an all cash deal worth Rs 36,915 crore, the company said. The company had tied up Rs 35,000 crore with seven banks including three private and four public sector banks to fund the acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL). While ONGC has secured loans for Rs 35,000 crore through banks, the details of funding the rest of the acquisition amount, Rs 1,915 crore, are not in public domain. The combined market value of ONGC and HPCL is estimated to be around Rs 3,11,925 crore, or $49 billion, comparable with Russian energy giant Rosneft's $61 billion. The acquisition of HPCL by ONGC has paved the way for the country's first vertically-integrated oil major. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech last year, had announced the government's plan to consolidate and integrate oil and gas Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).

    Source: The Economic Times

    NATIONAL: GAS

    Punjab clears policy for providing piped natural gas for urban areas

    February 6, 2018. The Punjab government has cleared a comprehensive policy to provide gas through pipeline for every kind of usage in urban areas, state local bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said. The project will cover Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib and Rupnagar in the first phase. Work has already started in these areas after companies got permission from the regulator, Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), Sidhu said. These companies would pay rent on per year basis to the urban local bodies, leading to economic self-dependence of the urban bodies, he said. He said piped gas connection would be available for all types of consumers, be it in domestic, transportation, business or industrial category. This would eliminate chances of pilferage, he said. Sidhu said the scheme would cover all 167 cities and towns in the state. In the second phase, PNGRB (Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board) has selected Patiala, Moga, Sangrur, Barnala, Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar.

    Source: The Economic Times

    RIL-BP JV to start selling imported LNG in 12-18 months in India

    February 5, 2018. India Gas Solutions, an equal joint venture of BP and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), plans to begin selling imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Indian customers in 12-18 months to cater to the rising natural gas demand in the country, Vinod Tahiliani, the new CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the joint venture (JV) has said. Tahiliani has joined India Gas from BP India where he was most recently the Vice President, Strategy and Commercial. India Gas Solution administers the existing gas sales contracts to customers for production from the RIL-BP's KGD6 block and is actively pursuing opportunities for marketing the proposed output from R-Series field in the KG Basin. R-Series is expected to begin producing 12 million standard cubic meters a day of natural gas from 2020. He said his firm was in talks with all the players in the value chain, including customers, suppliers, pipeline owners and the regasification terminal operators, and everything would come together soon. BP has a huge presence globally in the LNG trading business, and Tahiliani is hoping to lean on that experience and network to bring Indian gas consumers a competitive deal. By entering LNG supply business in India, India Gas will directly compete with state-run suppliers such as GAIL (India) Ltd, Indian Oil and Petronet LNG. Tahiliani said his firm is also set to begin discussions with potential customers in the country for sale of natural gas from R Series fields.  Tahiliani has spent over 25 years in the oil and gas sector.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Shell India drops plan to sell 30 percent stake in Panna-Mukta

    February 5, 2018. Shell India, the operator of the Panna-Mukta-Tapti fields, a joint venture, has shelved its plan to sell its 30% stake in the Panna and Mukta oil fields. Panna and Mukta are oil fields while Tapti is a gas field located near Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC)'s Mumbai High complex. Shell and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) hold 30% stake each in the Panna-Mukta-Tapti (PMT) joint venture, while ONGC holds the remaining 40%. Production sharing contract (PSC) for the PMT fields is scheduled to expire in December 2019 and the three partners have not applied for an extension of the same. During the third quarter of this fiscal, the Panna-Mukta fields produced 1.32 million barrels of crude oil and 15.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas, a drop of 10% in crude oil and 3% in natural gas on an on-year basis. The Tapti field is being abandoned due to a significant drop in reserves. It will be the first offshore field to be abandoned in India.

    Source: Livemint

    1500 km pipeline in Assam to supply gas to North Eastern states

    February 4, 2018. Five major oil and natural gas PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) would set up a joint company for a 1500 kilometre (km) gas pipeline at an estimated cost of Rs 6000 crore stretching from Guwahati to Tinsukia via Numaligarh to supply gas to the NE states, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. The five PSUs that would form the company are ONGC, Oil India Ltd (OIL), Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Numaligarh Refinery Ltd and GAIL (India) Ltd. Pradhan said that earlier the people of Assam would complain that oil and and gas was found in the state but its benefit did not reach it. Now the Centre has decided to change the scenario with the cooperation of the state government, he said.

    Source: The Economic Times

    GAIL places 4.4 bn order for pipeline to Urja Ganga

    February 2, 2018. GAIL (India) Ltd has placed an order worth ₹ 440 crore for laying 350 km pipeline from Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh to Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh. The company said this is part of the spurline of 665 kilometre (km) from Vijaipur to Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh to the existing upgradation pipeline system. The pipeline laying contracts for the 315 km stretch from Auraiya to Phulpur was awarded in November 2016. The Vijaipur to Phulpur pipeline will provide the gas feed to the ongoing 2,655 km long Jagdispur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL) project of GAIL, also known as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’ project. Chairman and Managing Director of GAIL BC Tripathi, also said that all of GAIL’s group companies have made detailed plans for expansion of City Gas Distribution infrastructure in coming years.

    Source: The Hindu Business Line

    NATIONAL: COAL

    CCI rejects complaint against CIL

    February 6, 2018. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed allegations of unfair business practices against Coal India Ltd (CIL) with regard to sale of coking coal. The complaint filed by Jharkhand-based Industries and Commerce Association was also against Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and coal ministry, apart from CIL. Industries and Commerce Association's members, which are involved in the manufacture and sale of hard coke, were buying coking coal from BCCL under the distribution system of 'linkage' till the introduction of National Coal Distribution Policy in October 2007. Under the new policy, they were required to receive 75 percent of their coal requirement through Fuel Supply Agreement (FSA) at notified prices to be fixed by CIL and balance 25 percent through e-auction or import. The first FSA expired in 2013 and the second one is due to end in 2018. The coal ministry had issued guidelines in February 2016 to CIL regarding auction of linkages for non-regulated sectors.

    Source: Business Standard

    CIL misses coal production target in January at 56.69 mt

    February 1, 2018. Coal India Ltd (CIL) said coal output in January touched 56.69 million tonnes (mt). The production target was 63.32 mt for January, and 469.90 mt for April-January period of the current fiscal. The company said coal output was 56.69 mt during January, while its offtake was 53.70 mt in the same period. During April-January period of this fiscal, the coal output stood at 440.62 mt, while the offtake was higher at 475.12 mt in the same period, the company said.

    Source: Business Standard

    NATIONAL: POWER

    Time frame be set for production from NTPC plant: Jharkhand CM

    February 6, 2018. Jharkhand Chief Minister (CM) Raghubar Das directed that a time frame be set for the production of electricity from NTPC Patratu and North Karanpura Power Plant. Das said this during a meeting with National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) and state officials. The meeting reviewed the first phase of Patratu Thermal Station Project and North Karanpura Station Thermal Power Project. He said that 15 power stations are working in the state and more new power stations would be set up.

    Source: Business Standard

    Give power distribution to private franchisees: Singh to states

    February 6, 2018. With many states facing high aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, indicating operational inefficiencies, the union power ministry has asked the states concerned to hand over the job of power distribution to private franchisees. In a letter to all states, Minister of State for Power and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh has asked them to step up the monitoring and technical upgrade of power supply systems. Singh has also warned the states that the Tariff Policy 2018 will mandate that no state will be able to pass on the losses incurred by distribution companies (discoms) to consumers of electricity. The letter said the audit of all power supply feeders should be done regularly and the “loss-making areas should be given out on the franchisee system”, by which power is sold in bulk to the franchisee, which gets a commission per unit. The selection, the letter said, should be through open bidding. Singh had said the Electricity Act would be amended to make the tariff policy mandatory. The letter has urged the states to work towards 100% metering, reducing human interface in power supply, and honouring power purchase agreements. It also said all consumers should be metered and they should pay in accordance with the tariff policy. Subsidies given to any section of consumers will go to their bank accounts as direct benefit transfer.

    Source: Business Standard

    TPDDL launches GPS and RFID technology for quick resolution of faults

    February 5, 2018. Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), the Tata-owned power distributor in Delhi, announced it has implemented GPS mapping technology and Radio Frequency Identification Detector (RFID) Marker installation for speedy location of faults and their resolution. The company said this is the first time any power distribution company has implemented the technology in the country. TPCCL has already carried out mapping of around 1,200 cable routes using GPS technology and installation of 1,000 RFID Markers in the first phase of the project and plans to expand it to the remaining cable routes soon. The company said the technology has allowed it to reduce the effective time to locate a cable fault from an average 90 minutes to average 45 minutes. The technology is aimed at identifying the route of underground power cable network at any desired location and also to fetch the details of any joints through RFID detectors over and above the ground level. It will help to provide speedier resolutions in case any fault develops in the underground cables. GPS Mapping technology works by collecting location data tags of the routes and mapping it with the accurate location received from satellites. The data is further incorporated with existing Geographical Information System (GIS) network of TPDDL. The company is tagging its cable routes using the technology to create an accurate mapping of the cable routes along with the RFID markers on joints for faster restoration and fetching pre-fed details from the splices.

    Source: The Economic Times

    UP government offers 10 percent profit to power staff for privatization

    February 5, 2018. In a bid to take its defiant staff on board for the privatisation of some power distribution functions, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has proposed sharing 10% of the profit earned so with them. The move comes in the wake of power employees threatening to go on strike if the privatization is implemented. Principal secretary, energy, Alok Kumar confirmed that the incentive had been proposed essentially to get the support of employees for starting the privatization by March. The UP Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL) recently floated tenders to hand over the work of electricity bill distribution, revenue collection and installation, change of electricity meters to private companies — technically called Integrated Service Providers (ISPs) — in seven districts including Etawah, Kannauj, Orai, Rae Bareli, Saharanpur, Mau and Ballia. As per the tender, the process of award of contract to ISP has to be completed by March 28 and a Letter of Intent given to the ISP by that date. The power employees are still on a confrontational path and they accuse the government of introducing privatisation through back door channel for the benefit of select private companies. The All India Power Engineers' Federation (AIPEF) termed it a 'mega scam' of government. AIPEF chairman, Shailendra Dubey said that fears of privatization have proved true even before the passage of Indian Electricity (amendment) Bill) 2014 by the Parliament.

    Source: The Economic Times

    OERC begins public hearing on power tariff hike

    February 5, 2018. The Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) started public hearing on the pleas of power companies on electricity tariff revision for the year of 2018-19. On the first day of the hearing, two power generation companies—Odisha Hydropower Corp (OHPC) and Odisha Power Generation Corp (OPGC)—kept their views before the commission. Both of these companies urged the OERC to hike power tariff. Prabhakar Mohanty, director (finance) of OHPC, said they appealed to the commission to increase power generation tariff from 85.13 paisa to 98.57 paisa per unit to meet its increased expenditure. OPGC also showed several reasons before the commission to increase their power generation tariff from 196.26 paisa to 226.87 paisa per unit of electricity. Workers of Samajwadi Party also staged dharna in front of the OERC office requesting the commission not to consider plea of the power companies.

    Source: The Times of India

    Sterlite Power to invest $10 bn in transmission lines to expand business

    February 4, 2018. Sterlite Power, which last bought out its overseas PE investor from the transmission arm, looks to invest about $10 billion over the next three-four years to expand business in both domestic and overseas markets. The company had acquired the 28.4 percent stake that Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) held in its transmission business for Rs 10.1 billion, thus owning 100 percent stake. The SCPE exited the company with over 100 percent premium on its Rs 5 billion investment in made 2014. The company currently has a portfolio of 15 projects, both completed and under-construction, across India (13 in total) and Brazil worth $4 billion.

    Source: Business Standard

    Power supply to 2.5 lakh consumers cut in 4 months in Bihar

    January 31, 2018. Electricity connection of around 2.5 lakh consumers in the state were cut over the last four months as per a recent decision of the South Bihar Power Distribution Company and North Bihar Power Distribution Company not to supply power if the energy bill for more than a month remains unpaid. State energy department said power supply to altogether 2,43,973 consumers were disconnected between October 2017 and January 2018 owing to delay in payment of electricity bills by the consumers. An additional amount of Rs 200 will be required to be paid for re-connection, out of which Rs 100 will be charged as the disconnection fee and Rs 100 as the reconnection fee. Power consumers can pay their bills online by visiting www.sbpdcl.co.in (for South Bihar consumers) and www.nbpdcl.co.in (for North Bihar consumers). They can also avail an additional discount of 2.5% by paying the bills in time.

    Source: The Economic Times

    NATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    Westinghouse to hold talks for six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh

    February 6, 2018. US (United States) nuclear major Westinghouse, overcoming troubles over bankruptcy and buoyed by takeover by a Canadian consortium, will hold talks this week with the Indian government. It hopes to finally implement an Indo-American agreement for setting up six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh. Westinghouse will limit its role to supply of reactor technology, allowing construction to be undertaken by appropriate Indian firm. It will debrief India on its current position and discuss loans from US Exim Bank and procurement of components from Japan and South Korea, it has been learnt. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington last year, it was decided that Westinghouse which was proposed to set up six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh, will supply technology while construction will be undertaken by a relevant Indian partner. The proposal to set up six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh by US nuclear major Westinghouse figured in the Joint Statement after the Modi-Donald Trump summit last June. According to the initial plan, the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Westinghouse were scheduled to conclude a techno-commercial pact for the proposed plant in June last year but the US company's financial troubles had slowed down the progress.

    Source: The Economic Times

    China's Longi Solar Tech to invest $309 mn in India to avoid trade controls

    February 6, 2018. One of China's biggest makers of solar panels said it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against what it complained is a rising threat of import controls in the United States and other markets. Longi Solar Technology Ltd's announcement follows the Trump administration's January 24 decision to impose an extra 30 percent duty on imported solar modules. An Indian regulator said it is considering a "safeguard tariff" of 70 percent on solar panels from China and Malaysia.

    Source: Business Standard

    Himachal government to float global tender for 960 MW Jangi hydel project

    February 5, 2018. The Himachal Pradesh government is going to float global tender for the 960 MW Jangi-Thopan-Powari hydropower project proposed at Satluj basin in Kinnaur district. The state power department has taken the decision to invite global bids for this mega project within next three months. For the past 10 years, issue of allocating project had been hanging fire and residents of panchayats to be affected were also opposing it. The department had forwarded the file related to the allotment of project to the state government and a final decision on the mode of allotment would be taken soon. Himachal Power Minister Anil Sharma confirmed the development. Around 10 years back, project was allotted to a company but the matter reached courts.

    Source: The Economic Times

    MKU researchers device low-cost method to produce electricity from urine

    February 5, 2018. Researchers from department of physical chemistry, School of Chemistry, Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU), in collaboration with the University of Texas in Austin, United States of America have developed direct urea fuel cells that can generate electricity from human urine using low-cost catalyst materials. Currently, this research group is further working on the construction of the developed direct fuel cells in real toilet premises, to meet the power and water demands on its own by utilising human urine as fuel. The electricity generation from direct urea fuel cell is achieved through the electrochemical oxidation of urea/urine and reduction reaction of an oxidant. Until now, both of the aforesaid electrochemical reactions are strongly dependent upon the platinum catalyst, which is highly expensive. Instead, this MKU research team has developed a bi-functional cobalt oxide nano-wire catalyst that addresses the challenges using decorated nickel oxide and manganese dioxide shells, which are easily affordable. While platinum costs Rs 2,553 per gram, their catalyst material will cost only Rs 20 per gram, the researchers said.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Delhi gurdwaras to go green with solar energy

    February 4, 2018. Gurdwaras in the city will be solar powered for their day-to-day functioning in a bid to conserve energy and take care of Delhi's environment, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Manjit Singh said. The renewable energy wing of the DSGMS has initiated the one-megawatt solar energy project to be commissioned by March 31. The project will initially start at four gurdwaras in the city: Bangla Sahib, Rakab Ganj, Nanak Piao Sahab and Majnu Ka Tilla Sahib, Singh said. The solar project is expected to generate around 4,000 units per day with an annual generation of approximately 1.3 million units. The project will work with around 3,125 solar panels placed on the rooftops of the gurdwaras.

    Source: Business Standard

    India should aim for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030: Goyal

    February 3, 2018. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said India should strive for 50 percent of its power generation capacity from renewable sources by 2030 on the back of technological advancements in solar and wind energy. He said India is the first major country which is fast transitioning into a new era of carbon-free energy for its citizens. He said the country is set to exceed the target of 175 GW in renewable energy and touch 200 GW by 2022 which "shows the seriousness India attaches to climate change and environment protection."

    Source: The Economic Times

    Solar tariffs perk up in latest Karnataka auction

    February 3, 2018. Solar tariffs rose sharply from their lowest level in the latest solar auction of 860 MW conducted by Karnataka's Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL). The lowest price was Rs 2.94 per unit, way above the winning tariffs of Rs 2.47 and Rs 2.44 per unit at the last two auctions in Rajasthan in December and May last year respectively. KREDL had set a base price of Rs 3.57 per unit for the auction. In Karnataka's last solar auction in March 2016 of 1,200 MW across 60 taukas, the benchmark tariff had been Rs 6.51 per unit. Winning bids had varied between Rs 4.69 and Rs 5.81 per unit.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Budget 2018: solar module manufacturers to gain from increased demand

    February 2, 2018. The mechanisms proposed in this year's budget to boost uptake of solar power are a major positive for manufacturers of solar PV (photovoltaic) modules, research and ratings agency ICRA has said. It said that the duty reduction announced in the budget from 5 percent to nil on solar tempered glass would result in a marginal reduction in module cost and would also be a positive for domestic module manufacturers.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Farmer to pay only 10 percent cost of solar pumps under Budget scheme: Power and Renewable Energy Minister

    February 2, 2018. The Indian farmer will effectively bear only 10 percent of cost for solarising his agricultural pump under a scheme unveiled in the Budget 2018-19, Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said. Singh referred to the Rs 1.44 lakh crore scheme for solarising pumps of all farmers proposed by Finance Minster Arun Jaitley while presenting his last full budget before the 2019 general elections. The scheme provides for 17.5 lakh off grid solar pumps to begin with, he said. The government will spend Rs 48,000 crore over 10 years as central financial assistance (CFA) on the Kusum scheme which aims to encourage the use of barren land for setting up solar power plants. A similar amount will have to be given by the states and the financing institutions towards Kusum, which is to be put up to the cabinet for approval, He said. He said that the solar panels to be provided will have twice the capacity of a grid one, and so if the capacity of a grid connected pump is 5 horse power, the solar panel will generate twice that. The scheme will have four components, including setting up 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands and incentivising distribution companies to buy the electricity produced, distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps, solarising existing pumps of 7,250 MW and government tube wells of 8,250 MW capacity.

    Source: Business Standard

    Budget 2018: Budget proposes less tax on income from carbon credits

    February 1, 2018. Budget 2018 proposes to reduce the tax on income from carbon credits to 10 percent from 30 percent as an incentive to industries to reduce emissions. Carbon credits is an incentive given to an industrial undertaking for reduction of the emission of green house gases, including carbon dioxide, through measures such as by switching over to wind and solar energy, forest regeneration, installation of energy-efficient machinery and landfill methane capture. Income-tax Department has been treating the income on transfer of carbon credits as business income which is subject to tax at the rate of 30%. The Kyoto Protocol commits certain developed countries to reduce their green house gas emissions for which they are given carbon credits. A reduction in emissions entitles the entity to a credit in the form of a Certified Emission Reduction (CER) certificate. The CER is tradable and its holder can transfer it to an entity which needs carbon credits to overcome an unfavourable position.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Solar products on demand in Kashmir

    February 1, 2018. In an endeavour to cope with the irregular electricity supply, people in the Kashmir Valley are now using solar panels and solar-powered lamps. These solar products are on a high demand in the Valley due power shortage. The local markets in Kashmir are filled with solar products like, solar geysers, solar lights, solar bulbs, solar lantern, solar heating systems which are proving very useful during the winters. This concept of using solar products has been adopted by the masses. Locals have expressed their happiness over the increasing use of solar products as a substitute for electricity.

    Source: Business Standard

    Government lines up 2 GW solar power auction

    January 31, 2018. To achieve the target of achieving 100 GW of installed solar energy capacity by 2022, the Central government has invited tenders for 2,000 MW of solar power projects connected to the inter-state transmission system. The Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI) would sign 25-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the winning bidders and sell the power to electricity distribution companies (discoms). The ceiling tariff has been set at Rs 2.93 per unit. The reverse auctions would be conducted for eight projects of 250 MW each. A company can bid for a maximum capacity of 500 MW. Acquiring land, permissions and other infrastructure to connect the upcoming solar projects to the electricity grid would be the responsibility of the developer. After a brief lull in solar tendering and auctioning activities, the first month of January looks bright for the solar industry, with SECI calling for tenders of more than 3,200 MW of solar parks (275 MW in Uttar Pradesh, 200 MW in Karnataka and the current 2,000 MW inter-state). Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh had in November announced the break-up of his action plan for completing 80 GW of solar auctions by FY20, leaving a margin of two years to complete the projects by 2022. According to that agenda, another 11 GW of solar tenders can be expected by March 2018. Currently, the lowest solar tariff is Rs 2.44 per unit, discovered in May at the reverse auctions for solar plants in Rajasthan’s Bhadla.

    Source: The Financial Express

    India achieves 20 GW solar capacity milestone years ahead of target

    January 31, 2018. India has achieved 20 GW cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the target for 2022 originally set in the National Solar Mission. The achievement comes on the back of a major renewable energy push by Modi government, which after coming to power in 2014 had scaled up the target to 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. According to the latest India research report by green energy market tracker Mercom Capital, the utility-scale cumulative installations now stand at approximately 18.4 GW, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 GW. For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity additions in India during the calendar year 2017, with preliminary figures showing solar installations reaching 9.6 GW in this period and accounting for 45% of total capacity additions.

    Source: The Economic Times

    INTERNATIONAL: OIL

    Canada's Frontera suspends work at Colombia oilfield after attacks

    February 6, 2018. Canada’s Frontera Energy has suspended operations at its Cubiro oilfield in northeastern Colombia after threats and attacks against workers, the company said. Protests, attacks by National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and community and judicial efforts to ban extractive industries are widely considered the top threats to Colombia’s oil industry. The Cubiro field, in Casanare province, produces 3,600 barrels per day (bpd). Average daily output in the Andean country fell 3.59 percent year-on-year in 2017 to 854,121 bpd, largely because of attacks and operational challenges at some fields.

    Source: Reuters

    Oil group Total to sell 25 percent stake in offshore South African block to Qatar Petroleum

    February 5, 2018. French oil and gas group Total has agreed to sell a 25 percent stake in the Exploration Block 11B/12B, offshore South Africa, to Qatar Petroleum, in a deal which Total said would strengthen its ties with the Qatari group. Following the sale, the new ownership structure for the block will see Total have 45 percent, Qatar Petroleum will have 25 percent, CNR International will have 20 percent while Main Street will have 10 percent.

    Source: Reuters

    Mexico raises the bar on oil deals as Latin America vies for investment

    February 3, 2018. Mexico has raised the bar on oil contracts in Latin America after sweetening terms to attract international energy firms, luring $93 billion in future investment in the region’s first big auction this year. Mexico awarded 19 of 29 deepwater blocks onoffer, comfortably more than the seven areas expected to be assigned. Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell emerged as the biggest winner, with nine blocks. Unique for generous terms such as setting a cap on royalties that oil firms can pledge to the government in bids, Mexico faces off this year with Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay. They will all hold auctions for oil and gas fields in 2018 that require billions of dollars in investment from foreign firms. Mexico is due to hold major auctions in March and July. While Brazil’s prolific deepwater presalt oilfields are expected to attract aggressive bidding from oil majors, other regional rivals could be forced to revise the terms of their auctions if Mexico scores another win in its next auction for shallow water areas in March, analysts said. Oil prices have reached three-year highs near $70 per barrel in 2018, giving the world’s top energy companies a cash boost and improving the chances that they will have the funds needed for big-ticket projects in Latin American.

    Source: Reuters

    Saudi Aramco to launch construction tenders for oilfields expansion this year

    February 1, 2018. State oil producer Saudi Aramco is expected to launch a tender in July to build facilities to expand its Marjan oilfield while another tender for the Berri oilfield expansion is expected by the third or fourth quarter of this year. The planned projects are further proof that Saudi Aramco is pushing ahead with oil investments to maintain capacity while also meeting domestic demand for gas to fuel industrial growth. International engineering and construction firms have expressed interest in bidding to build oil and gas facilities at Marjan oilfield whose development is expected to cost more than $10 billion. The expansion will increase the capacity of Marjan, currently at 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), by 300,000 bpd of Arab medium crude.

    Source: Reuters

    Iraq plans to boost Majnoon oilfield output to 450k bpd in 3 yrs

    February 1, 2018. Iraq plans to increase production at its giant Majnoon oilfield to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) in three years, from 240,000 bpd now. Basra Oil Company is currently studying offers from three oilfield services companies to build a new production platform to boost output at the field in southern Iraq. Basra Oil is taking over operations at Majnoon from Royal Dutch Shell which announced its intention to exit the field, which entered production in 2014, by the end of June. Chevron, Total and PetroChina may form a consortium later on to take over the development of the field, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in November. With an output of 4.36 million bpd in January, Iraq is the second-largest producer of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), after Saudi Arabia. The country is producing below its maximum capacity of nearly 5 million bpd under an agreement between OPEC and other exporters including Russia to curtail global supply in order to support oil prices.

    Source: Reuters

    Goldman Sachs raises oil price forecasts on speedy market rebalancing

    February 1, 2018. Goldman Sachs raised its Brent crude price forecasts, saying oil markets have rebalanced six months sooner than expected, citing steady demand growth and continuing compliance with OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) -led supply cuts. The bank’s three, six and twelve-month Brent oil price forecasts were raised to $75, $82.50 and $75 a barrel respectively, from $62 previously. However, Goldman expects the price to dip again as US (United States) shale producers pump more oil to benefit from the price reaction to lower global inventories. Goldman sees a global oil market deficit of 0.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2018, followed by a global surplus of 0.73 mb/d in 2019. Oil prices pared early gains to stay little changed as OPEC’s strong compliance with a supply reduction pact offset news that US production topped 10 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in nearly half a century.

    Source: Reuters

    Cuba agrees Algerian fuel imports after Venezuelan oil shipment slide

    January 31, 2018. Cuba said it had signed a deal with Algeria to import fuel over the next three years, as it seeks to offset a steep decline in oil shipments from its key ally Venezuela. The Communist-run island has a close relationship with Algeria and annually imports oil products from the north African country but has relied almost exclusively on Latin American socialist partner Venezuela for crude supplies in recent years. A drop in subsidized oil imports from Venezuela however in the wake of its economic meltdown pushed Cuba last year to resume importing large quantities of oil from Russia and buy 2.1 million of barrels of crude oil from Algeria. The cash-strapped Caribbean nation exchanges medical and other professional services for oil and oil products. The expansion of services provision to Algeria could suggest the energy deal entails increased shipments.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: GAS

    US FERC allows ETP Rover natural gas pipe to recommence Ohio drill

    February 6, 2018. The United States (US) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) to recommence a horizontal drill under the Tuscarawas River in Ohio as the company works to complete its Rover natural gas pipeline by the end of the first quarter. Rover will monitor the quality of the water in the wells during and for a period of time after the drill. FERC ordered Rover to cease drilling of the second pipe under the river and asked the company to evaluate alternatives to the drill after Rover lost some drilling fluid - a mixture of clay and water - in the hole. The $4.2 billion Rover project is designed to carry up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the US Midwest and Canada’s Ontario province.

    Source: Reuters

    Chevron sells first condensate cargo from Australia's Wheatstone LNG

    February 5, 2018. Chevron Corp has sold the first condensate cargo to be exported from the Wheatstone LNG project in Australia to Thailand’s PTT. The 650,000-barrel cargo will load in February and was likely done at a small discount to dated Brent. Chevron has chartered an Aframax-sized oil tanker Maersk Princess to load condensate from Australia on February 21 and that is likely to be for the PTT sale. Condensate production capacity of the Wheatstone and Lago fields, and nearby third-party fields, is 30,000 barrels per day, Chevron has said, and original development plans called for the oil to load from the Ashburton terminal on the northern coast of Western Australia. Woodside Petroleum - one of the partners in the Wheatstone project - could market a second condensate cargo from the project for loading in April-May. Chevron said that the second train at Wheatstone LNG should come online in the second quarter this year. The project started production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in October and exported its first super-chilled gas cargo to Japan in the same month.

    Source: Reuters

    Andeavor acquires Kenai LNG facility in Alaska from ConocoPhillips

    February 3, 2018. Independent US (United States) refiner Andeavor said it had acquired a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Kenai, Alaska, from ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips said that the sale of the facility had closed and the operation had been transferred to Andeavor. Sale of the plant completed the company’s exit from the Cook Inlet region and will allow ConocoPhillips Alaska to direct its full attention to operations in North Slope region where it is investing in new projects, the company said. The facility, which entered service in 1969, last exported LNG in 2015, according to federal data. It has the capacity to liquefy 0.2 billion cubic feet per day of gas.

    Source: Reuters

    Croatia to speed up building of LNG terminal in Adriatic

    February 1, 2018. Croatia will pass a special law to speed up the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the northern Adriatic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said. Croatia produces more than half of its gas consumption, some 2.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year. Once the LNG terminal is built it hopes to be able to supply both its own market as well as central and eastern European countries. The European Union has decided to put the floating LNG terminal on the island of Krk on its list of projects of common interest since it wants to diversify sources of supply and reduce dependence on Russian gas. Brussels will invest € 101.4 million, or 28 percent of the project’s assessed value. Croatia aims to bring a final investment decision this year and plans to make the terminal operational in early 2020. Croatia’s plan is to construct a terminal with an initial capacity of 2.6 bcm of gas a year, which could be gradually expanded to as much as 7.0 bcm a year.

    Source: Reuters

    BP expects gas to overtake oil as main energy source in 2040

    January 31, 2018. BP expects gas to overtake oil as the world’s primary energy source in around 2040 as demand for the least polluting fossil fuel grows, its vice president for strategic planning, Dominic Emery, said. Emery highlighted estimates for demand growth for gas in China of around 15 percent year-on-year last year and said BP expects overall gas demand to grow around 1.6 percent a year for years to come, compared with 0.8 percent for oil. In terms of demand for gas from different sectors, Emery singled out industry as especially resilient and transport as fast-growing, albeit from a low base, at annual rates of three to four percent. BP is due to reveal more details in its next energy outlook on February 20. In its last outlook it said it saw gas overtaking coal’s share in the primary energy market to become the second-largest fuel source by 2035. BP’s previous forecast to 2035 forecast oil’s share shrinking from around 33 percent to around 30 percent and gas’ share grow from the low 20s to the mid 20-percentage range. Emery said one of the biggest challenges for the gas industry was reducing methane leakages from pipelines, which he said was estimated at around 1.3 to 1.4 percent.

    Source: Reuters

    Germany grants permit for Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline

    January 31, 2018. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has received a permit for construction and operation in German territorial waters and the landfall area around eastern Germany’s Lubmin, the project’s operator said. Nord Stream 2 said it has fulfilled all requirements and expects permits to be issued by other countries in time for construction to begin as scheduled in 2018. Nord Stream 2 would double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. Nord Stream runs on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: COAL

    ChinaCoal to add 54.7 mt of coal capacity in 2018

    February 6, 2018. China National Coal Group Corp, or ChinaCoal, expects to launch 15 coal mines with total capacity of 54.7 million tonnes (mt) in 2018, the company said. Coal mines will be in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shaanxi regions of northwestern China. The company has ordered 23 of its coal mines to keep production open during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, adding an average of 50,000 tonnes of daily output compared to the holiday last year. ChinaCoal also said it will not hike physical coal prices before early March to ensure coal supplies. Moves came after utilities warned of tight coal supplies amid soaring coal prices and heavy snow storm across the country. China's No.2 coal producing province Shanxi asked coal miners to shorten or cancel Lunar New Year holiday.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp raises profit outlook on higher coal prices

    February 5, 2018. Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp reported a 12-percent rise in April-December profit and raised its full-year forecast again, boosted by stronger-than-expected coking coal prices. Mitsubishi Corp’s Chief Financial Officer Kazuyuki Masu said that coking coal prices had been higher-than-expected, partially due to stronger appetite from Chinese buyers.

    Source: Reuters

    China aims to boost rail freight capacity to ensure coal supplies

    January 31, 2018. China will add at least 200 million tonnes of rail freight capacity in 2018, including at least 150 million tonnes of thermal coal capacity, Lian Weiliang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said. Lian also said the government is working with the national rail operator to ensure coal supplies after a surge in demand for power. China is trying to push more transportation of goods from coal to agricultural produce onto the rail network and reduce transport by road as part of its effort to reduce pollution. Lian also said the government and rail operator are prioritising current coal deliveries for power plants. Currently coal stocks at power plants nationwide are enough for 15 days, “within the safe range”, he said.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: POWER

    February the real test for Australia's shaky power supply

    February 5, 2018. Australia’s strained power supply grid has largely withstood soaring temperatures this summer, but a year after the nation’s biggest city, Sydney, was hit by blackouts, the real test comes this month. Outages in February, when demand typically peaks as schools, factories and offices return to full swing and temperatures can soar above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), could reignite a national debate over the push for renewable energy. A state-wide blackout in South Australia in September 2016 sparked a conservative backlash over the use of solar and wind at the expense of dirtier but ‘always-on’ coal-fired generation and a scramble to add back-up power. The state’s new power supply was part of an emergency A$550 million ($435 million) energy plan unveiled by last March to ensure homes would not be left in the dark and industry would not be crippled again.

    Source: Reuters

    PSEG Energy secures license to operate in Maryland

    February 5, 2018. PSEG Energy Solutions has secured approval to operate as a retail electricity supplier in the US (United State) state of Maryland. PSEG Energy Solutions currently offers competitive electric supply to commercial and industrial customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The company plans to continue to expand throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. PSEG Energy Solutions works with medium and large commercial and industrial customers to find the best energy supply product to meet the needs of a customer – a locked-in, fixed price to ensure budget certainty, a price that is indexed and floats with energy markets, or some combination of the two. PSEG Energy Solutions comprises a team of energy industry professionals with more than 100 years of combined experience in executive leadership, wholesale energy operations, customer care and sales from every part of the industry, including utilities, retail energy companies and energy consulting firms.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    GE wins contract for 4 GW HVDC transmission project in South Korea

    February 2, 2018. GE Power has been awarded $320 mn contract by electric utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) to build a 4 GW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission link to power Seoul metropolitan area in South Korea. KEPCO Alstom Power Electronics Systems (KAPES) joint venture was launched by KEPCO and Alstom in 2013 to focus on developing HVDC projects and increase the country’s transmission grid. The contract calls for the design and supply of overall HVDC system, a 500 kilovolt (kV) HVDC Bipole with two converter stations, including valves, cooling system, converter transformers, filters, switchyard, and control system. Scheduled to be completed by end of 2021, the HVDC system is claimed to lessen environmental impact compared to the traditional alternating current (AC) system. The new HVDC project will boost the stability and reliability of country’s transmission grid as it adds new routes for power supply, GE said. In 2014, GE, through its KAPES joint venture, secured contract for 1.5 GW Buk-Dangjin–Godeok HVDC connection project. Planned to be completed by the end of 2019, the project is intended to transmit energy from the Dangjin power plant west of South Korea, to the densely populated area of Pyeongtaek (Godeok) and Seoul Metropolitan.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    Polish refiner PKN examining power production options

    February 1, 2018. Poland’s biggest oil refiner, PKN Orlen, is looking at various electricity production projects, including nuclear, to benefit from an expected rise in power demand, the firm’s vice-president Miroslaw Kochalski said. Poland generates most of its electricity from coal, but is considering ways to replace it partially with cleaner sources in the long term. The energy ministry is working on a project to build Poland’s first nuclear power plant by 2030, but has not yet presented a financing model. The country’s biggest power producer, PGE, is directly responsible for the nuclear plant plan, but its financial capabilities have weakened after it took over the local heating and power assets of France’s EDF.

    Source: Reuters

    Norway's grid operator seeks to delay power link to Scotland

    January 31, 2018. A planned power cable linking Norway and Scotland, due to be operational by 2023, should be postponed as it may overburden the Nordic region’s existing infrastructure, Norwegian grid operator Statnett said in a report. The 1.4 GW link, NorthConnect, is a joint project by three Norwegian power firms and Sweden’s Vattenfall , and is currently due to be in operation by 2022 or 2023, with an investment decision expected in 2019. Norway’s average spot power price for Oslo, the capital, was at € 29.04 per megawatt hour in 2017, one of the lowest in Europe. NorthConnect project chairman Odd Oeygarden said the cable’s partners disagreed with Statnett’s report and would discuss the case with Norway’s state regulator prior to an expected decision on issuing a license.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    German renewable power expansion will need gas as back-up: Wingas

    February 6, 2018. Germany’s new target of nearly doubling renewable power’s share of its electricity mix by 2030 needs to be backed up by more gas-fired capacity as nuclear and coal-fired plants are retired, Ludwig Moehring, head of sales at Gazprom-owned wholesaler Wingas, said. The goal to raise wind and solar power’s share from a third now to 65 percent by 2030 is meant to help Germany achieve cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under its climate commitments. If the goal is taken seriously, the volatile nature of weather-driven renewables means that without gas, there would be shortfalls in steady power flows, Moehring said. Moehring said Germany’s fossil fuels-based capacity, which guarantees 24-hour electricity, is due to drop to 72 GW by 2020-23 from 94 GW in 2016. Germany’s renewable power capacity has reached 100 GW, but may produce little or nothing, depending on weather patterns. Moehring also said that policy risked remaining too lenient on the heat and transport sectors, whose CO2-cutting efforts have lagged those of heavy industry and energy utilities.

    Source: Reuters

    Dominion should show why nuclear plant needs subsidy: Connecticut

    February 3, 2018. Connecticut state regulators said Dominion Energy Inc should offer evidence that its Millstone nuclear power plant is in danger of closing before participating in a state power procurement process that could boost its profits. The regulators said in a report that the company has not yet shown Millstone is in need of financial help, but noted the plant is critical to the state and the New England region in terms of fuel security and meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets. In handing the report to the state legislature, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority concluded the procurement process for zero-carbon emissions resources, like Millstone, should go forward. The Connecticut General Assembly will review the report for possible action by March 1. If the legislature does nothing, Dominion said the state will proceed to a procurement that will need to begin by May 1. The United States (US) nuclear industry has been suffering for years as cheap and abundant natural gas from shale formations has depressed power prices, making it uneconomic for many reactors to continue operating.

    Source: Reuters

    Exxon sees global oil demand plunging by 2040 under climate regulations

    February 3, 2018. Exxon Mobil Corp said that it expects global oil demand to drop sharply by 2040 if regulations aimed at limiting the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate are fully implemented. Under this scenario, Exxon projected world oil consumption will drop 0.4 percent annually to 2040 to about 78 million barrels per day (bpd). That is about 25 percent below current levels, which the United States (US) Energy Information Administration puts at 98 million bpd. Exxon’s climate-impact report comes roughly three years after almost 200 nations met in Paris to set a goal of limiting the rise in the world’s average surface temperatures. President Donald Trump has since pulled the out of the Paris climate accord, and it was unclear whether Paris accord policies would be fully implemented around the world. Exxon’s study saw demand for natural gas, considered a cleaner-burning fuel than oil, growing 0.5 percent per year to about 445 billion cubic feet per day under the same scenario. Demand for power generated by solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable sources is expected to rise 4.5 percent annually through 2040 under this scenario, Exxon said.

    Source: Reuters

    Indonesia to file case against US anti-subsidy duty on biodiesel

    February 2, 2018. Indonesia plans to file a case against the United States (US) Department of Commerce at the US Court of International Trade over anti-subsidy duties imposed on Indonesian biodiesel shipments, Indonesia’s trade ministry said. The Indonesian government is also planning to bring a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pradnyawati, director of trade security at trade ministry. Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association said the case at the US Court of International Trade would be filed immediately to meet a February 3 deadline. The US Commerce Department set final countervailing duties over alleged subsidies ranging from 34.45 percent to 64.73 percent for Indonesian biodiesel in November. Anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations were launched against Argentine and Indonesian biodiesels last year following a spike in biodiesel imports to the US. The WTO ruled in favors of several challenges by Indonesia to anti-dumping duties imposed on its biodiesel exports to the European Union.

    Source: Reuters

    US mulls allowing more wind, solar projects on federal lands

    February 2, 2018. The administration of US (United States) President Donald Trump is considering changes to a California desert plan that had set aside areas for renewable energy development, a move it says would promote more wind and solar projects on federal lands. The US Bureau of Land Management said it would consider amending the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan as part of a broader federal effort to unwind regulations that impede energy development. Reconsidering the plan would reopen conflicts over renewable energy development, conservation and other uses of the desert while “creating a cloud of uncertainty,” Karen Douglas, a commissioner with the California Energy Commission, said. Solar and wind developers had criticized the designation of just 388,000 acres of the 10.8 million acres covered by the plan for renewable energy development. The California Wind Energy Association’s executive director, Nancy Rader, said it was “ironic” that the Trump administration had moved to expand areas for renewable energy while the Obama administration had closed them off. The Solar Energy Industries Association said it looked forward to working with the Department of the Interior.

    Source: Reuters

    DATA INSIGHT

    Coal Scenario in India

    Coal Reserves (as on April 1, 2017): 315.49 billion tonnes

    Production & Imports of Coal million tonnes

    YearTotal ImportsIndigenous Coal Production
    2011-12102.853539.95
    2012-13145.785556.4
    2013-14168. 44565.64
    2014-15217.783609.179
    2015-16203.949639.23
    2016-17190.953659.27
    2017-18118.86^396.53*

    ^ indicates figure for April to October 2017;            * indicates figure for April to November 2017

    Source: Compiled from Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha Questions


    Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

    Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

    Editor: Akhilesh Sati

    Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar

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