Energy News Monitor | Volume XIV; Issue 40

     Energy Monitor,ENM,March

    Solar Panels in Vellakoil, Tamil Nadu

    SOLAR SHIFTING FROM COMPETITIVE BIDS TO TENDERS

    Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: February - March 2018

    India

    Solar installations in India are expected to fall by 22 percent to around 7.5 GW in the 2018, Mercom Communications India, a subsidiary of Mercom Capital Group has said. Mercom forecasts total installations to fall by 22 percent year-on-year to approximately 7.5 GW in 2018, it said in a report. Large-scale solar projects accounted for the bulk of installations in 2017, nabbing about 90 percent of the total, with the remaining 10 percent coming from rooftop solar installations, Mercom found. Approximately 10.6 GW of large-scale solar projects were under construction, with another 4.3 GW of tenders pending auction as of December 31, 2017.

    After successfully completing bidding to source 500 MW solar power last year, GUVNL has floated another tender to procure 500 MW from grid-connected solar photovoltaic power projects through competitive bidding. There is also a greenshoe option for the purchase of an additional 500 MW. GUVNL invited bids for solar power to fulfil its renewable power purchase obligations and to meet future requirements of distribution companies. The minimum project capacity has been set at 25 MW. The last date for submission of bids is March 19, 2018, while technical and financial bids will be opened on March 20 and March 26, respectively. The date for the reverse e-auction will be intimated to eligible bidders after the bids are evaluated. The shift from competitive bidding to tenders may be a sign that the solar sector is losing momentum, experts said.

    Notwithstanding the loss in momentum the Government continued to remain optimistic on meeting targets for renewable energy.  India would achieve the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacities well before 2022, according to the MNRE. Over the years renewable energy has become cheaper and is set to replace conventional energy, which is a healthy development, and added that India has one of the fastest growing renewable energy programmes in the world. International Solar Alliance shall help mobilise sufficient funds for solar energy projects.

    The WTO's dispute settlement body has agreed to set up a panel to determine whether India has complied with its ruling in a case against the US regarding domestic content requirements for solar cells and modules. In 2016, New Delhi had lost a case against the US at the WTO after the global trade body stated that power purchase agreements signed by the Indian government with solar firms for its National Solar Mission did not meet international trade norms. The US, which is of the opinion that New Delhi continues to apply the "WTO-inconsistent measures", had in December last year approached the Geneva-based multi-lateral organisation demanding action against India for non-compliance of the WTO ruling. India, however, has been maintaining that it has complied with the WTO's ruling. India had requested the WTO to set up a panel to determine its compliance with the rulings of the dispute. The US in its complaint before the WTO had in 2014, alleged that a clause relating to domestic content requirement for the procurement of solar cells and modules under Phase-I and Phase-II of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission were discriminatory to American solar power developers. On January 11, 2010, India had launched its national solar policy, named Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The country has an ambitious target of generating 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. Many US companies are interested in supplying solar equipment to tap the growing sector in India.

    The ISMA said it has withdrawn its anti-dumping petition on solar equipment and will soon file a fresh plea with a different reference period of investigation. The ISMA feels there was a jump of 33 to 45 percent in imports of solar equipment from China, Taiwan and Malaysia during July to December last year. ISMA has said it will soon be approaching the commerce department and the honourable authority to file a fresh petition with a more relevant and more recent period of investigation. Meanwhile, India had 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.

    The ₹ 480 billion KUSUM scheme to promote the use of solar power among farmers would be placed before the Cabinet by next month. KUSUM aims to incentivise farmers to run solar farm water pumps and use barren land for generating solar power to have extra income. The total cost of the capacities under this scheme would be ₹ 140 trillion. The Centre will provide ₹ 480 billion financial assistance under the scheme. KUSUM will also improve the present scheme for rooftop solar systems. The government is enlarging the scope of the existing scheme and its mechanism. The government is thinking of beginning KUSUM with 750,000 solar pumps. As much as 30 percent of the cost of solar pumps was provided by the government in the earlier scheme. The new scheme would be more broad-based like incentives for distribution companies to buy power from farmers and financial assistance of 60 percent to buy solar pumps which would be equally shared by the Centre and state. The ₹ 480 billion incentives under KUSUM will aid total solar power generation capacity of 28,250 MW entailing an investment of ₹ 140 trillion over the next 10 years.  Experts were unsure if this massive scheme of converting farmers into power generators through subsidies is desirable and achievable.

    As the government continues to focus on increasing renewable energy capacity, solar and wind power tariffs are likely to dip below ₹ 2/kWh in the next 2-3 years, Sterlite Power said. The solar power tariff fell to an all-time low of ₹ 2.44/kWh during the auction of 500 MW of capacity at Bhadla (III) in Rajasthan. The government had offered viability gap funding for the project. Wind power tariff, on the other hand, dropped sharply to ₹ 2.43/kWh during an auction conducted by GUVNL last year. Sterlite Power said with abundant solar and wind potential, southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have the opportunity to become exporters of power.

    Renewable energy will start replacing coal-fired power as solar tariffs are poised to fall below ₹ 2/kWh in seven years and storage costs fall, while cheaper international supply can lead to imports of 20 million tonnes, posing a big challenge to domestic suppliers, a document issued by CIL said. The competitiveness of domestic supplies will be a challenge as costs such as wages rise, according to the document prepared with the help of a consultant hired by the monopoly to assess the future of coal in the era of plunging renewable energy costs and rising concerns about polluting fossil fuels such as coal. The report, on which CIL is seeking public comments, said that unless costly mines are retired and prices of coal corrected downwards, domestic supply may remain stagnant or even fall.

    The MNRE said it has distributed one million solar study lamps under a scheme for states including Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and UP. A new project for distribution of 7 million solar study lamps in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand Odisha and UP which was sanctioned by the MNRE in December 2016, is currently under implementation. The scheme which was sanctioned in January 2014 for empowering under-served communities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra has been successfully completed. Following this, the ministry sanctioned 500,000 solar study lamps in various states in May 2016. In Rajasthan a total of over 300,000 solar study lamps have been distributed and 927 persons including 360 women have been trained for local assembly and repair of the solar study lamps. The MNRE also has a separate skill development programme Surya Mitra for imparting training in the field of solar energy for installation and repair and maintenance of solar power systems.

    E-rickshaws can now be charged on the go, thanks to a solar charging system designed by the Centre for Green Energy at IIEST. The ministry of human resources development-funded project is aimed at improving the battery life of the vehicles by ensuring less energy depletion. The product is ready to hit the market following a collaboration that IIEST has entered with a solar panel giant and an entrepreneurial venture of two Phd students, who were also part of the project. The solar panel, developed by the IIEST faculty and researchers, can charge e-rickshaws through the day even as passengers are being ferried. Currently, each vehicle has to be charged for about 10 hours at a stretch for a run of maximum 85 km if a proper procedure is followed; the electric chargers are provided at the time of the purchase. IIEST has tied up with Arc, a company that manufactures solar panels. The panels will be installed on the institute’s rooftop to help produce grid power to run the appliances.

    Karnataka inaugurated a solar power park with a 2,000 MW capacity at Pavagada in Karnataka's Tumakuru district, about 70 km. In future, Karnataka aims to be an energy-surplus state. Built on 13,000 acres spread across five villages, the park entailed an expenditure of ₹ 165 billion. The solar park generated 600 MW power as of January 2018 while an additional 1,400 MW is expected to be generated by December. Even as the southern state claims that this solar park is the largest, Rajasthan's Bhadla solar park coming up in Jodhpur district will have a capacity of 2,255 MW when fully operational.

    In a bid to tap its full resources and become a 100 percent renewable energy powered city, the Chandigarh administration has asked the union ministry of power to increase the quota of renewable power plants. The administration has also urged the ministry to waive-off fixed charges to the tune of ₹ 500 million that it owes for using non-renewable power plants. MNRE has set December 31 as deadline for UT to transform into a 100 percent renewable energy powered city. The department has purchased the required power from central generating stations, which include hydro, thermal and nuclear power stations as the UT electricity department does not generate power on its own. For this purpose, it has inked long-term purchase pacts with the power stations for which it will be liable to pay fixed charge to each generating station in addition to actual cost of power purchased. Chandigarh electricity department caters to more than 200,000 consumers with an annual energy consumption of around 1,600 million units. In order to meet the power demand, which is estimated to be around 400 MW, the department has purchased about 202 MW from hydro stations, 80 MW has been inducted from thermal power plants, while 10 MW is procured from nuclear power stations. The electricity department has written to power ministry to transfer the power quota, which it gets from non-renewable power stations to renewable power stations. The administration has also requested the MNRE to provide 40 MW of wind energy. MNRE has directed administration to prepare a master plan for achieving the target, including solar wind, biomass and waste for energy projects.

    Beating all Indian states, Telangana has topped the country by achieving 3,250 MW solar power capacity. Telangana is followed by Rajasthan with 2,250 MW, Andhra Pradesh with 2,045 MW and Gujarat with 1,715 MW solar power. Gujarat has decided to call for auctions for another 500 MW of solar power. Telangana is now planning to develop solar power storage with the help of battery assisted system. Since, there is a mismatch between peak demand and electricity generation period for solar power, the state needs new technologies to store solar energy and utilise it at the time of increased demand. Solar panels cannot produce energy at night or during cloudy periods but rechargeable batteries can solve this problem. The photovoltaic panels charge the battery during the day and this power can be accessed in the evening. Currently, coal-fired power plants compete with solar panels during off-peak periods with rates hovering around ₹ 1 to ₹ 1.50/kWh. Solar panels operate at a nominal cost as no fuel cost is involved and maintenance cost is the only operational cost. Of late, solar is seen as the cheapest form of electricity, as the latest auctions show that it could be available at less than ₹ 3.5/kWh and hence one can imagine a situation where solar power price go down to ₹ 1-1.5/kWh in the near future.

    Clean energy firm ReNew Power said it has signed a pact with the Maharashtra government to facilitate a proposed investment of ₹ 140 billion in the state for commissioning renewable energy plants. The proposed investment has the potential to create direct employment for 7,000 people. As per the MoU, in the next five years, ReNew Power Ventures proposes will invest in three broad categories solar power (₹ 60 billion), wind power (₹ 60 billion) and waste to energy (₹ 20 billion).

    GUVNL has invited bids to procure 500 MW of power from grid-connected wind power projects. The apex power utility in the state has also kept a green-shoe option for the additional purchase of 500 MW. This is the second such tender by GUVNL within a year’s time. GUVNL will enter power purchase agreements with successful bidders for a period of 25 years from the scheduled commercial operation date of the project. All wind power projects will be set up in Gujarat and the minimum project capacity is 25 MW. The last date for submission of bids is April 2, 2018. At present, installed wind power capacity in Gujarat is 5,339 MW. It may be mentioned that early this month, the power utility also floated a tender to purchase 500 MW of power from solar photovoltaic projects along with a green-shoe option for an extra 500MW. GUVNL had invited separate bids for 500 MW each from wind and solar developers. Six companies were selected by GUVNL in December to supply it 500 MW of wind power.

    Fall in wind power tariffs seem to be have bottomed out as the price inched up to ₹ 2.44/kWh unit in the latest auction for 2000 MW capacities. The auction was conducted by SECI. As many as six firms, including Torrent Power, Inox Wind Infrastructure Services, Green Infra Wind Energy, and ReNew Power emerged as the lowest bidders for 2000 MW wind capacities. They said these four firms quoted a tariff of ₹ 2.44/kWh while Adani Green Energy and Alfanar Company quoted ₹ 2.45/kWh. Earlier in December, the wind power tariff had dropped to an all time low of ₹ 2.43/kWh in an auction conducted by GUVNL. The tariff last year started its descend to touch a low of ₹ 3.46/kWh in the first round of auction for 1 GW capacity by the SECI. The price fell further to ₹ 2.64 in the second round of auction for 1 GW by the SECI in October 2017. The firming up of wind tariff will boost clean energy in view of India's target of having 60 GW wind energy capacities by 2022. At present, India has an installed wind capacity of 32.7 GW. The government has planned to auction 10 GW each in 2018- 19 and 2019-20.

    J&K has exploited only about 16 percent of the estimated 20,000 MW of hydropower potential even as the energy demand has been growing gradually creating a wider demand-supply gap, the state economic survey 2017 said. The estimated hydropower potential of J&K is 20,000 MW, of which about 16,475 MW have been identified. However, PDD is committed to exploiting the available hydro potential to an optimum level to meet the growing demand. Various reforms are underway at the level of the state government and the Centre for making the power sector more efficient and more competitive. PDD said the biggest problem is on the distribution front as AT&C losses of the state are on the higher side. The main reasons for such high losses are technical as well as commercial. To minimize losses, the system needs up-gradation and improvements, especially in existing outdated distribution network. However, with the efforts of the government the AT&C losses, which were estimated at 61.30 percent in 2014-15 were reduced to 58.82 percent in 2015-16.

    First getting villagers to collect and treat it, then tapping entrepreneurs to set up plants to generate bio-gas and bio-CNG, pushing it to market through oil and gas marketing and then selling it online through e-commerce platforms— a 360 degree plan is in the works to convert cattle dung to energy and organic manure and the government is dead serious about it. Called Gobar-Dhan, the scheme roadmap is not just meant as a means to convert waste to wealth, but is an ambitious effort to clean India’s villages. According to estimates, India has about 300 million cattle population and approximately 3 million tonnes of cattle dung is generated daily.

    The state cabinet cleared the UP Biofuel Policy which is expected to address the crop residue burning issue to a large extent. An MoU worth ₹ 80 billion has already been signed under this policy, the details of which will be revealed during the upcoming UP Investors’ Summit.  The policy would look at converting crop residue, bagasse and agricultural waste into electricity and biogas. Crop burning has also become a massive problem in the state which is resulting in a spike in air pollution taking it to hazardous levels. Firms could explore the possibility of extracting crop stubble from the fields, an expensive and laborious process because of which farmers usually burn it, and then use it to produce power and biogas.

    ETC, in a report last year suggested India not to make any new investment in the coal sector. ETC is now willing to work with policymakers and redesign policies, which traditionally have been ‘coal-centric’. ETC is launching two major initiatives this year, one is de-carbonising core infrastructure sectors globally and other is to take the vision of transition to renewable in India. ETC is a diverse international group that has members across the energy landscape. It was convened to help identify pathways for change in energy systems to ensure both better growth and a better climate. This is inspired by the work of the New Climate Economy. ETC has collaborated with TERI in India to publish the report, which focuses on de-carbonisation of core manufacturing sectors such as steel, thermal power, manufacturing, automobiles etc and also suggest a transition in the Indian electricity space. In India, ETC is expecting to face the dilemma of energy access and renewable based energy security, along with cost efficiency. ETC and TERI in their report bat for renewable as the cheaper and more efficient option than coal. In the Paris Climate Change commitment, India has set a target of 40 percent of its energy demand would come from non-fossil fuel sources. The Indian government, however, has maintained that coal would remain the primary source and base power for the country The ETC report observed that India has a 10-year window of opportunity to overcome the challenges to large-scale and economically preferential adoption of renewable energy.

    A new research by US based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis showed how nine major global power markets, including India's Tamil Nadu, have achieved an outsize share of wind and solar generation while assuring the security of supply. They are providing compelling examples of the fast-moving evolution of electricity generation. The report, 'Power-Industry Transition, Here and Now', includes case studies of markets -- ranked by relative share of reliance on variable renewables -- that include Denmark, South Australia, Uruguay, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Texas, California and the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Wind and solar accounted for 14.3 percent of Tamil Nadu's total electricity generation in 2016-17. The state leads India in variable renewables market share. It also leads India in installed renewable energy capacity. Of the total 30 GW of installed capacity across the state as of March 2017, variable wind and solar power accounted for 9.6 GW or 32 percent of the total. Firm hydroelectricity added another 2.2 GW or seven percent, nuclear eight percent and biomass and run of river three percent. As such, zero emissions capacity represents a leading 50 percent of Tamil Nadu's total. With much of Tamil Nadu's renewable energy coming from end-of-life wind farms installed 15-25 years ago, average utilisation rates are a low 18 percent, making the contribution of variable renewables to total generation even more impressive, the report said. Tamil Nadu was the host of the largest single-site utility-scale solar project operational in the world at the end of 2016. Built by Adani Green Power in just 18 months, this facility has a total capacity of 648 MW.

    The government has accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of 12 nuclear power reactors in the country. Out of these, 10 will be indigenous PHWRs with a capacity of 700 MW each and the remaining two will be LWRs. The PHWRs will be set up in fleet mode and the LWRs will be established in cooperation with the Russian Federation. Two PHWRs each will be set up in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana, while four will be established in Rajasthan, adding that the two LWRs each having a capacity of 1,000 MW will come up at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. The security aspects are being reviewed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board before giving clearance for various stages of the projects. Currently seven nuclear power projects are being constructed in the country with a combined capacity of 5300 MW of capacity. Besides work for the construction of two nuclear reactors with total capacity 1,400 MW at Gorakhpur in Haryana has commenced.

    Rest of the World

    China will strictly control the expansion of solar power production capacity and encourage more innovation, the industry ministry said in new guidelines, to improve technology and cut production costs in its fast-growing solar sector. The guideline, issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, follows the US placing steep tariffs on solar panel imports in late January. The guidelines set a minimum research and development investment amount for solar companies of 10 million yuan ($1.58 million) each year, and set minimum performance standards such as solar cell efficiency and the attenuation rate of the solar products. Over the past three years, China has been promoting a “Top Runner Program” to encourage solar companies to produce high-efficiency products by granting subsidies and offering government contracts. China, the world’s biggest solar products maker, produced a total of 87 GW of silicon wafers and 68 GW of solar cells last year. It currently has a total of 130.3 GW of installed solar capacity.

    Global levels of fossil fuels ethane and propane in the atmosphere have been underestimated by more than 50 percent, a study has found. These hydrocarbons are particularly harmful in large cities where, through chemical reactions with emissions from cars, they form ozone - a greenhouse gas which is a key component of smog and directly linked to increases in mortality. Ethane and propane escape into the air from leaks during natural gas extraction and distribution, including from fracking - the process of drilling down into the earth and fracturing rock to extract shale gas. The new study involving scientists at the University of York in the UK shows that global fossil fuel emissions of these hydrocarbons have been underestimated and are a factor of 2-3 times higher than previously thought. The researchers are now calling for further investigation into fossil fuel emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas which is emitted along with ethane and propane from natural gas sources. The study used data collected from 20 observatories world-wide.

    The US government doubled its financial support for solar power projects overseas last year under a climate-friendly investment policy written in the last days of the Obama administration. The growing US support for foreign solar projects comes despite an ongoing federal investigation into past US solar loans abroad. It also deepens confusion about President Donald Trump’s position on government support for renewable energy as his administration downplays the global warming threat and aggressively promotes fossil-fuel development. The OPIC, the government’s international finance institution, loaned more than $630 million to foreign energy projects in 2017, 90 percent of which were solar, wind, or other low-carbon ventures. That compares to $797 million in total OPIC energy financing in 2016, 61 percent of which went to clean energy. Renewable energy projects that received OPIC funding last year include a Honduras geothermal plant sponsored by Ormat Technologies, a solar array in Zambia backed by First Solar Inc and solar facilities in Jordan and El Salvador by power plant owner AES Corp.

    US farm groups urged The US President not to weaken the nation’s biofuels policy requiring corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline, calling it a critical engine of rural American jobs. Trump is due to meet with senators and cabinet members to discuss potential tweaks to the law, called the RFS, that would help oil refiners who have increasingly complained the program costs them a fortune. The RFS requires oil refiners to cover the cost of blending increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s fuels each year. The policy was adopted during President George W. Bush’s administration to help farmers, cut petroleum imports and lower pollutant emissions. Under the program, refiners must earn or purchase biofuel blending credits called RINs to prove that they are complying. As biofuels volume quotas have increased over the years, so have prices for the credits – meaning refiners that must buy them are facing rising costs.

    Indonesia plans to challenge the latest ruling by the US on anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Indonesian biodiesel at the WTO, the trade ministry said. The US Commerce Department imposed more import duties on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, adding anti-dumping duties to already steep anti-subsidy duties on the fuels. The latest duties make it virtually certain that biodiesel from the two countries will not be sold in the US market, with combined rates of up to 159 percent on Argentine fuel and up to 341 percent on Indonesian product. The ministry said the US Commerce Department in its argument against Indonesian biodiesel used the same methodology applied by the EU, which Indonesia said “blatantly violates WTO law.” The WTO ruled in favour of several challenges by Indonesia to anti-dumping duties imposed on its biodiesel exports to the EU and asked that measures be changed. Indonesia has not exported biodiesel to the US since last year due to the import duties, according to the Indonesian Association of Biofuel Producers. The Argentine Chamber of Biofuels (CARBIO) said the increased US duties were “arbitrary and illegal” and it expected the government to take the matter to the WTO.

    A team of researchers, including scientists from the University of York in the UK has discovered a set of fungal enzymes that has potential to be used to sustainably convert wood biomass into chemical commodities such as biofuels. The new set of enzymes called LPMOs found in fungi have potential to break down one of the main components of wood that could hold be used to make renewable energy. The LPMOs are capable of breaking down xylans, the carbohydrate molecules which are commonly found in wood biomass and are resistant to degradation, the researchers said.

    Germany’s network regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA) agreed to pay higher prices for onshore wind power in its latest capacity auction, it said, reflecting a new set of rules that made it harder for citizens’ co-operatives to compete. The average price BnetzA awarded for onshore wind projects came in at €4.6 cents/kWh up from the €3.8 cents/kWh it agreed to in its last auction in November. In the past, BnetzA’s auctions had favoured co-operatives over big commercial players to raise acceptance for wind power technology, often the subject of controversy in affected regions, within local communities. BnetzA said it had accepted 83 bids for a combined volume of 709 MW, with small and medium-sized businesses among the winners, including Germany’s Enercon, the world’s fifth-largest wind turbine maker. In total, 132 bids were submitted with a total capacity of 989 MW.

    A 35 MW portion of the 250 MW Ashalim solar park in Israel was completed in late 2017 using mono PERC solar modules supplied by JA Solar, the Tier-1 Chinese solar company confirmed. The 35 MW PV (photovoltaic) plant is the first part of the project to be connected to the grid, with the remaining 215 MW of solar energy to be produced using CSP. The hybrid CSP-PV plant will be one of the largest of its kind in the world once completed. Located in the Negev Desert, the 250 MW Ashalim project is being pieced together by some of the solar industry’s most reliable and recognized names. Once the Ashalim project is completed, it will meet 2% of Israel’s electricity demand. Germany’s Belectric, which realized the PV segment of the plant ahead of schedule, has now developed around 200 MW of solar projects in Israel, across 17 individual projects. The EPC is currently working on a 120 MW solar PV plant near to the community of Tze’elim, also in the Negev Desert.

    France has made proposals to the European Commission which could accede to long-standing demands by the EU executive for France to privatize its hydro power concessions mostly operated by state-controlled utility EDF, CGT union said. The mines and energy branch of the hard left CGT, said that it had learned of the proposals following a meeting between unions and the French Prime Minister’s office. The CGT said the government had secretly made proposals to Brussels without discussing them, primarily with workers who would be impacted by the privatization plans. The European Commission has asked France to privatize some hydro power concessions so as to open the sector to competition. About 80 percent of state-owned hydro power concessions are managed by EDF and another 15 percent by French energy group Engie. France has 25,519 MW of installed hydropower capacity, second behind nuclear energy. Hydro power covered 10 percent of French electricity demand in 2017. The CGT, which has argued against the privatization saying it could jeopardize French energy security, said that it would organize a riposte against the plan. The union had called for strikes in the past to protest the privatization plan.

    NATIONAL: OIL

    India's oil imports from Venezuela hit lowest in over five years

    March 13, 2018. Indian imports of oil from Venezuela have fallen to their lowest levels in over half a decade, shipping and industry data showed, as a severe economic and political crisis hits crude output in the South American OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) member. India’s oil imports from Venezuela averaged around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) between November, 2017 and February, 2018, a drop of about 20 percent from the same period a year earlier and the lowest such level since 2012, according to shipping and industry data. Venezuela’s oil production plunged to the lowest in decades last year, with the country racked by quadruple-digit inflation, a lack of hard currency and a crippling recession. The five-year average of Venezuelan crude oil to India is around 440,000 bpd, the shipping and industry data showed. India’s oil supplies continue to be dominated by Middle East members from the OPEC, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia prominent. Key for Venezuela’s drop-off in shipments to India are supply obligations to other countries which, amid its overall declining output, leave fewer cargoes available for sale elsewhere.

    Source: Reuters

    It's Centre vs state over LPG scheme in Congress-ruled Karnataka

    March 13, 2018. The Centre and the Congress-ruled Karnataka are engaged in a tussle over free cooking gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to the poor, with the state recently launching a scheme similar to the Narendra Modi government’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). The Siddaramaiah-led government’s move to introduce the Mukhyamantri Anila Bhagya Yojana (MMAY) comes months before the state is scheduled to go to the polls. The oil ministry has written four letters to the state government in the past two months, seeking clarifications and asking for a joint scheme, which the state has rejected. The Centre is of the view that such a scheme should not be routed through LPG dealers but oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) for transferring the benefit. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah had announced the MMAY, seeking to provide a free gas connection with a twin-burner stove and two annual refills each to 3 million beneficiaries with an expenditure of Rs 13.5 billion. This scheme will compete with the PMUY, which has been the high point of Modi’s election campaign in states since its launch in May 2016. Under the central scheme, the number of beneficiaries in Karnataka is 880,000. While the Centre is providing Rs 1,600 each to a family under the PMUY, Karnataka’s MMAY allots Rs 2,154 to distributors and Rs 550 to beneficiaries for a second refill.

    Source: Business Standard

    Nearly 80 percent of Indian households now have access to LPG

    March 9, 2018. Nearly 80 percent of Indian households now have access to clean cooking gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), a big jump from 56 percent three years ago, as state-run oil firms are enrolling new customers at a record pace to meet the target set by the Modi government. These firms added as many as seven crore LPG customers between April 2015 and December 2017, expanding the active customer base by about 50 percent, an unheard-of rate in the past. The key driver of such expansion has been the government determination to wean all homes off hazardous traditional cooking fuel such as firewood and coal. Prodded by Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, state-run oil firms have worked on a war footing to induce demand for fresh connections through a mix of actively reaching out to potential customers, simplifying subscription process and using official subsidy scheme to tap poor households. The government had set a target for oil firms to enrol three crore new customers in 2016-17, another three crore in 2017-18 and four crore in 2018-19. Companies are close to achieving the targets for the first two years. About 2.27 crore new customers were added between April and December 2017, with backward states of West Bengal (29 lakh), Bihar (26.36 lakh) and UP (26.32 lakh) receiving maximum fresh connections. At the beginning of 2018, the cooking gas coverage reached 79.2 percent of the country’s households, with states in the south (94 percent) and north (89 percent) faring better than the national average while those in the west (73 percent), east (62 percent) and northeast (57 percent) averaging lower. Goa (137 percent), Delhi (126 percent) and Punjab (123 percent) are the top three states in terms of cooking gas coverage – the numbers being above 100 as they are based on the 2011 census data, since when the population has risen in these places as well as the rest of the country. Jharkhand (44 percent), Odisha (51.5 percent), Bihar (56 percent) and Chhattisgarh (57 percent) figure among states with the lowest coverage. With massive addition of customers in recent years, cooking gas penetration in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has risen to 78.5 percent. One reason southern states have fared better is due to years of incentives by state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu to poor households for cooking gas subscription. A few other states too offer subsidy to new subscribers. About 1.17 crore poor households have benefited from such subsidy schemes in different states. About 70 lakh connections to poor families have also been released in the past with support from the corporate social responsibility fund of state-run oil companies. Under the central government’s Ujjwala scheme, launched in May 2016, 3.2 crore fresh connections have been issued to poor families till December 2017.

    Source: The Economic Times

    PEU demands inspection committee set up for ONGC offshore sites

    March 9, 2018. Petroleum Employees Union (PEU), which claims to represent 2,500 workers of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), has demanded the company’s management set up an internal committee for inspection of working and safety conditions at its offshore sites. Five senior ONGC executives and two Pawan Hans pilots had died after a Dauphin N3 helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast on 13 January. The centre holds 51 percent stake in Pawan Hans while ONGC holds 49 percent in the country’s flagship helicopter service provider of the government.  Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said ONGC has strengthened its operational and safety systems and processes based on recommendations of earlier inquiry reports in addition to statutory compliances. Pradhan said that ONGC has already conducted a meeting with helicopter operators to reiterate strict compliance to regulatory requirements and best industry practices in operation and maintenance of the helicopters in offshore. PEU informed the Western Offshore Unit of ONGC has over 6,000 employees and most of them are posted at offshore installations.

    Source: The Economic Times

    India's fuel demand rose 7.7 percent in February

    March 9, 2018. India’s fuel demand rose 7.7 percent in February compared with the same month last year. Consumption of fuel, a proxy for oil demand, totalled 16.73 million tonnes, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the oil ministry showed. Sales of gasoline, or petrol, were 9.4 percent higher from a year earlier at 2.08 million tonnes. Cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sales increased 7.9 percent to 1.95 million tonnes, while naphtha sales fell 10.7 percent to 0.96 million tonnes. Sales of bitumen, used for making roads, were 10.7 percent up, while fuel oil use edged up 0.2 percent in February.

    Source: Reuters

    Government to consult ONGC, OIL before auctioning fields

    March 7, 2018. The government will now consult Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) before taking away their discovered small fields for next round of auction to private players, in a bid to avoid row between state firms’ executives and the oil ministry officials as has happened in the past. The government auctioned 67 discovered small fields in the first round in 2016, and is preparing to launch the second round soon with 60 fields on offer. The selection of fields for the second round by the oil ministry officials invited complaints and criticism from senior ONGC executives who didn’t want some of their fields included in the auction since they already had prepared development plans for those. The differences of views between officials and company executives ran deep, resulting in verbal clashes, at times, between ONGC executives and officials of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the oil ministry arm that prepared the list of fields for auction. The government now plans to have a panel comprising senior oil ministry officials, the chief of DGH, and chairmen of ONGC and OIL, to pick discovered small fields for the next rounds as and when they happen. The 67 fields offered in the first round of auction were discovered by ONGC and OIL but not developed for years. The government took these away from the state firms and auctioned them under a new policy that allows contractors the freedom to market natural gas and cuts out bureaucratic micromanagement by introducing revenue sharing between companies and the government. With new incentives in place, ONGC and OIL thought it attractive to bid for some of these fields but a government directive prevented them from placing any bid.

    Source: The Economic Times

    NATIONAL: GAS

    'India's deal on import of LNG from US to be milestone in ties'

    March 7, 2018. India's 20-year deal on import of natural gas from the United States (US) would be a "milestone" in bilateral ties and go a long way in strengthening and reinforcing trade relations between the two countries, Consul General of India Anupam Ray has said. GAIL (India) Ltd has contracted 3.5 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass liquefaction facility in Louisiana. GAIL had signed a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with the US LNG exporter Cheniere Energy in December 2011. The SPA went into effect March 1. Under terms of the agreement, Cheniere will sell and make available for delivery to GAIL about 3.5 million tonnes a year of LNG.

    Source: Business Standard

    NATIONAL: COAL

    Centre to get around Rs 80.4 bn of dividend from CIL

    March 11, 2018. The Centre is expected to get around Rs 8,044 crore on account of dividend from Coal India Ltd (CIL) as the miner's board approved payment of interim dividend for the financial year 2017-18 at a rate of Rs 16.50 per share. The miner's total payout on account of this would be to the tune Rs 10,242 crore. The government holds 78.55 percent of share in the company and the rest is public shareholding. In addition to dividend amount, the Central government is also expected to get around Rs 2,085 crore on account of tax.

    Source: Business Standard

    Railways' first coal corridor to unlock Rs 100 bn revenue window

    March 9, 2018. The first of the three dedicated rail corridors planned for large coal mines in Jharkhand will become operational, unlocking the prospect of raising coal production by 149 million tonne a year and bringing railways closer to mopping up additional annual revenue of Rs 10,000 crore. Coal And Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is scheduled to inaugurate the Tori-Balumath section of the Tori-Shivpur dedicated railway link in Jharkhand’s North Karanpura area through video conferencing. The project will allow Central Coalfields Ltd to ramp up production from Magadh, and Amrapali mines as well as start production at Chandragupta and Sanghamitra blocks in North Karanpura area. To put the rail corridor’s importance in perspective, consider the fact that just Magadh and Amrapali, where mining operations have been restricted due to constraints over evacuation facility, can fuel generation capacity of 20,000-25,000 MW by providing 102 million tonne of coal a year. Chandragupta and Sanghamitra can another 47 million tonne peak production once they mines are opened.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Coal output from private miners unlikely to rise in medium term: ICRA

    March 9, 2018. Coal output levels from private commercial miners are unlikely to go up considerably in the medium to short term, given the issues related to land acquisition and regulatory clearances, rating agency ICRA said. The statement comes in the wake of government deciding to open up coal sector to commercial mining by private entities. However, the power plants already having fuel supply pacts with state run miners are unlikely to switch over to meeting their requirement from commercial miners in the medium term as such FSAs (fuel supply agreement) have been contracted at competitive rates, the rating agency said. The coal ministry had last month came out with the methodology for auction of coal mines, which largely aims at opening up the coal sector for private commercial mining and also looks at allowing 100 percent foreign direct investment in order to create an efficient and competitive coal market.

    Source: Business Standard

    Adani rethinks Abbot Point options after debt refinancing stalls

    March 8, 2018. India’s Adani Enterprises Ltd is looking at new options to refinance debt for its coal terminal in Australia after struggling to attract lenders wary of its controversial Carmichael mine project. Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd (AAPT) launched a loan of up to A$500 million ($391 million) last August to partially refinance A$580 million due in October. Adani is looking at alternate sources of funding from markets such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, where coal from the port goes, and it is now seeking a smaller A$300 million loan. AAPT had A$976 million in bonds and loans due by November, according to rating agencies. The A$580 million being refinanced is part of a A$790 million loan signed in 2013. Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine has been the target of a campaign by environmental and indigenous groups concerned about climate change and damage to land and water.

    Source: Reuters

    NATIONAL: POWER

    Spot power price in India nearly doubles in past one month

    March 13, 2018. India’s daily average spot electricity price has nearly doubled over the last one month and is close to Rs 5 per unit, according to India Energy Exchange, the country’s biggest electricity exchange. Gujarat and Haryana are states that have been hit by unit outages. Some units in these states have stopped generating as their tariffs are not supporting their cost of generation. Data furnished by the Central Electricity Authority shows that coal stocks at 25 power generating stations are at critical level. These units are, however, non-pit-head plants, meaning they are far from the mining pits and require the railways to supply coal.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Power Grid inks pact with SBI for Rs 50 bn loan

    March 12, 2018. Power Grid Corp said that it has entered into an agreement with State Bank of India (SBI) for Rs 5,000 crore term loan for meeting its capital expenditure. Power Grid has planned a capital expenditure of Rs 250 billion in the next fiscal. Its budgeted capital expenditure for the current fiscal is also Rs 250 billion. The company is mainly into power transmission and is a central transmission utility of the country.

    Source: Business Standard

    In Bijnor, entire village will lose power if 80 percent residents don’t pay bills

    March 10, 2018. With an aim to maximise its recovery, the power corporation (Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd) in Bijnor has now decided to severe power connections of an entire village if more than 80% of its residents are found to be not paying bills. Around 4 lakh families in the district have power connections and the pending dues have reached Rs 300 crore. A majority of defaulters are from rural areas and a list of such people is being put together. The power corporation has been facing 30% technical and commercial losses in the district and the unpaid amount by consumers has been increasing with each passing day. Apart from other measures, Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd teams have started conducting raids to curb power thefts, 4,253 cases of which have been detected in the past one year. FIRs have been registered in 4,148 of these cases. The corporation will first issue notices to the defaulters and then take action against them.

    Source: The Times of India

    Dedicated police stations to check power thefts to come up in UP soon

    March 8, 2018. Dedicated police stations for checking power thefts to be run by the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL) would come up in the state soon, Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma has said. Officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Inspector, Sub-Inspector along with Assistant Sub Inspector and Head Constable cadre from the state police department will be taken on deputation to facilitate functioning of these police stations. Dedicated police stations to crackdown on power theft were announced last year but due to some objections from the Home department, they could not be set up. On the need for such police stations, Sharma said that in order to check power theft, a stern approach was needed and therefore these special police stations would be set up. Talking about other initiatives to check power theft, the Minister said the number of vigilance squads have been increased to 88 from 33. Power import has been increased from 8,100 MW to 10,500 MW and grid capacity has also been increased from 18,500 MW to 21,000 MW. Highlighting his department's achievements, Sharma said that they have provided about 33 lakh power connections including 11.25 lakh to the below poverty line (BPL) families, and over 2.5 lakh transformers were changed.

    Source: Business Standard

    Tata Power achieves its record power generation in February

    March 8, 2018. Tata Power said it has registered the highest ever gross power generation at 4,647 million units in February 2018. Tata Power along with its subsidiaries registered strong operational performances across its plants to achieve this remarkable feat. All of its power generation stations, including Trombay, Jojobera, Haldia, Maithon, IEL, CGPL, TPREL, WREL, Cennergi, ITPC, Dagachu, Hydro, and TPCL Wind witnessed higher plant availability.

    Source: Business Standard

    Peak power demand to touch 7 GW in Delhi: Jain

    March 8, 2018. Delhi is expected to witness its highest ever peak power demand of 7000 MW this summer, but the availability of electricity is more than this anticipated demand, Delhi Power minister Satyendar Jain said. Announcing the action plan for electricity supply arrangements in summer months, Jain said last year Delhi recorded the lowest percentage of power cuts (0.6) and the Power Department was determined to bring it down further. The peak power demand had breached the 6000 MW mark last year, settling at the highest ever level of 6526 MW in June. With the weatherman forecasting average temperatures to soar in North India from March to May the demand for electricity supply is expected to go up. The Met office has said that average temperatures in Delhi, along with neighbouring states can soar over 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal levels. The power demand for summer months is expected to be 6000 MW, April, 6450, May, 7000 MW, June, 6500 MW, July, 6400 MW, August, and 6000 MW in September, Jain said. The arrangements for summer months include drawing up more power from Bawana plant and running the closed Badarpur thermal power plant for three months after March. The three power distribution companies in Delhi -- BYPL, BRPL and TPDDL -- have also made arrangements to prevent power outages due to local faults. Control rooms with multiple phone lines have been set up to address complaints of consumers, he said. The government has also ensured supply of enough electricity for the national capital by purchasing 1000 MW green power that would be available within next one year, he said. Jain reiterated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's stand that the power tariff should not be hiked for next ten years.

    Source: Business Standard

    NATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    NTPC commissions third 800 MW unit of Kudgi super thermal power plant in Karnataka

    March 13, 2018. NTPC Ltd announced it has commissioned the third 800 MW unit of the Kudgi super thermal power plant at Bijapur in Karnataka. The company accounts for around 24 percent of the country’s total power generation and plans to increase installed power capacity to 130,000 MW by 2032.  NTPC said, in line with the government’s thrust on renewable energy, it is increasing its green energy footprint and has already generated 912 million units from its solar and wind stations so far during the current financial year, a three-fold growth over the generation in the same period last fiscal.

    Source: The Economic Times

    70 percent solar safeguard duty to dampen investor sentiment: Parliamentary panel

    March 13, 2018. A Parliamentary panel has flagged the proposed 70 percent safeguard duty on solar equipment saying there is no valid ground for it and would affect the viability of existing projects and dampen investor sentiment. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy in its 39th report tabled in Parliament also advised the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to take up the issue of confusion over GST (Good and Services Tax) on renewable energy sector and refund of input credit with finance ministry. It stated that there is a need to encourage domestic manufacturing, but it is hard to believe that domestic manufacturing will reach the production and efficiency level required to meet the target of 100 GW of Solar Energy in the next 2-3 years. So, in the opinion of the Committee, there are no valid grounds to take such emergency measures which having the potential to cripple the entire Solar Sector. At present customs duty on Solar Cells/Modules/ Panels is levied at the rate of 7.5 percent. Further, a Safeguard Duty to the tune of 70 percent has been recommended. The Committee noted that the GST rates for the renewable energy sector differ from 5 percent on solar modules to 18 percent on inverters to 28 percent on batteries. It opined that this prevailing confusion regarding applicability of the GST rate and uncertainty over refund of input tax credit are not healthy for the Renewable Energy Sector. The panel recommend that the ministry should work on mission mode to get ready the Green Energy Corridor within the stipulated time if they are serious about the project. About wind energy, it stated that the ministry's performance in 2017-18 is not up to the mark because as against a target of 4000 MW, only 597.91 MW capacity has been installed as on January 31, 2018. The panel said that the achievement is even less than 15 percent of the wind energy target and the budget allocated for each of the three years i.e. 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18, has reportedly been fully utilised.

    Source: Business Standard

    India's solar financing may have peaked for now at $10 bn in 2017

    March 13, 2018. India’s solar industry more than doubled its fund raising to $10 billion in 2017, clean energy consultancy Mercom said, but activity is likely to slow this year as New Delhi plans to slap high tariffs on imports. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of raising India’s solar power generation to 100 GW by 2022, five times current levels. The government says India will need to raise at least $125 billion to reach its goal of generating 175 GW of energy from all renewable sources in five years. New large-scale and rooftop solar installations in India jumped to 9.63 GW last year, compared with the addition of 4.31 GW in 2016, Mercom said, but predicted additional installations will fall by 22 percent to 7.5 GW this year. India aims for renewable energy to make up 40 percent of installed power capacity by 2030, compared with 18.2 percent at the end of 2017, and the ministry of new and renewable energy said in January it was looking to address issues facing solar companies.

    Source: Reuters

    Waaree to set up 1k centres for solar solutions

    March 13, 2018. In a first-of-its-kind initiative to support the government’s efforts in achieving its ambitious solar power generation target of 100 GW by 2022, Waaree Energies, the Indian arm of global renewable major Waaree Group, plans to open around 1,000 solar experience centres in the next one year across India. The plan is to meet the growing requirement of electricity from the rural and un-electrified regions across India. The company sees an addition of Rs 500 crore to its topline from these centres in FY19. Waaree’s total manufacturing capacity will grow to 1.2 GW at the end of March from the existing 750 MW of panel manufacturing capacity.

    Source: The Financial Express

    Suzlon bags 75 MW order through MSEDCL bid

    March 12, 2018. Wind turbine maker Suzlon said it has bagged an order for development of 75 MW wind energy project from an independent power producer through Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) bid. Suzlon will install around 36 units of S111-140m wind turbine generators (WTGs) with rated capacity of 2.1 MW each. The project will be located in Maharashtra and will be commissioned as per MSEDCL bid guidelines, the company said. Suzlon said it will execute the entire project on a turnkey basis and will also provide comprehensive operation and maintenance services for the complete project lifecycle.

    Source: Business Standard

    PM Modi calls for concessional, less-risky financing for solar projects

    March 11, 2018. Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi called for concessional financing and less-risky funds for solar projects to raise the share of solar power in the energy basket, provide cheaper electricity and cut carbon emissions. Speaking at the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), he said India will generate 175 GW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2022. Modi, the chief architect of ISA that seeks to bring together 121 nations, presented 10 action points including making affordable solar technology available to all nations, raising the share of electricity generated from photovoltaic cells in the energy mix and framing regulations and standards to support the initiative. He said better and cheaper solar technology should be easily available to all nations. The ISA's major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000 GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over $1 trillion into solar energy by 2030. He said India has launched the "world's biggest renewable energy programme with a target to generate 175 GW of electricity from renewable sources." Of these, 100 GW is to come from solar and 60 GW from wind.  As a demonstration of India's commitment to ISA, Modi said 500 training slots will be created for member countries and a solar technology mission will be started to lead R&D in the sector. To supplement solar energy generation, India has distributed 28 crore LED (light emitting diode) bulbs in the last three years which have helped save USD 2 billion and 4 GW of electricity, the Prime Minister said. ISA, headquartered in Gurgaon, is now a treaty-based inter-governmental organisation that was established following the Paris Declaration as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries. The Prime Minister said of the 121 countries associated with ISA, 61 have joined the alliance and 32 have ratified the Framework Agreement.

    Source: Business Standard

    IREDA, EIB ink €150 mn loan agreement for renewable energy

    March 10, 2018. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and European Investment Bank (EIB) have inked a €150 million loan agreement, a move that will benefit over 1.1 million households with clean energy. IREDA, which is the financing arm of new and renewable energy ministry, has signed the loan agreement for a second line of credit (LoC) on non-sovereign basis. It said that the line of credit is for tenure of 15 years, including a grace period of three years and will be used for financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in India.

    Source: Business Standard

    Nuclear power project junked due to Fukushima disaster: Gujarat CM

    March 9, 2018. Gujarat Chief Minister (CM) Vijay Rupani told the Assembly the proposal to set up a nuclear power plant in Bhavnagar district has been scrapped owing to a movement by panic-stricken locals following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. The project was proposed to be set up at Mithivirdi village in Bhavnagar district, Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said. Rupani said though the state government had signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL) in 2007, the project was eventually scrapped by the PSU (Public Sector Undertaking) after villagers raised apprehensions about their safety in the wake of radioactive "leak" from the Fukushima nuclear plant following a tsunami. Patel said some locals were not ready to give land for the project.

    Source: Business Standard

    'Pollution free power generation through hydrogen possible'

    March 9, 2018. Current ways of generating electricity is becoming a bane for the whole world, be it conventional or non-conventional source. Dumping of coal ashes, radioactive used fuel rods among many others are highly dangerous to the environment and humanity. Latest research done in India has given hope to the world to generate electricity without damaging self or the environment. The recently patented hydrogen Power for producing electricity has become one of the best ways to generate electricity. The latest hydrogen powered electricity generation is based on the principle that when molecules of hydrogen and oxygen combine, they generate some amount of energy which can be used move the turbine to extract power. Water and hydrogen are very common and abundant in the atmosphere and our environment. Hydrogen power is the logical and environmental friendly resource available in India (and in any part of the world) with no bad effects on the environment. Many experiments have been conducted throughout the world to extract energy from hydrogen and water, but the reason for their failure was the presence of pollutants in the earlier experiments. Many cars running on hydrogen power also failed to pass the pollution test due to the fact that the source of hydrogen used as input was not substantially pure. But the latest research done in India makes use of substantially pure oxygen and pure hydrogen which combines and produces energy to eventually become electricity without pollution. The feasibility of this method has already been validated by the IIT Delhi and the government of Australia has granted patent. The team is all set to get patented worldwide subsequently with practical experiments and further R&D.

    Source: Business Standard

    BHEL bags Rs 117 bn thermal power plant contract in Jharkhand's Ramgarh

    March 9, 2018. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) said it has won Rs 117 billion order for setting up a 3x800 MW thermal power plant in Jharkhand. Located at Patratu in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand, the project will be executed by BHEL on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, it said. BHEL said the commissioning of the project would also lead to phasing out of the old fleet of sub-critical units presently installed at Patratu.

    Source: Business Standard

    Ola's sputtering electric vehicle trial a red flag for PM Modi plan

    March 9, 2018. Ola’s pilot project to test a fleet of electric vehicles in Nagpur was expected to herald a coming revolution in the Indian automobile industry. So far, it has only exposed fractures in Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s ambitions to make all new vehicles electric by 2030. With an initial investment of about $8 million, SoftBank-backed Ola launched the project last year at an event that had all the trappings of a state function, including a flag-off by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. But nine months later, the program has hit a snag: Ola drivers, unhappy with long wait times at charging stations and high operating expenses, want to return their cars and switch to fuel-guzzling variants. Out of 20 Ola electric car drivers, more than a dozen said they have either returned their electric taxis and switched to diesel, or are planning to do so. Ola had said it would make 50 charging points available across four locations in Nagpur for its fleet of 200 electric vehicles, but on a visit to the city in late January, Reuters found only about a dozen charging points. Ola has since added 10 additional charging points but is still short of its target. Ola did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Getting infrastructure built in the world’s biggest democracy where a not-in-my-backyard culture proliferates is a barrier for a lot of businesses in India. And it is proving to be the same for charging stations — Ola was forced to close one in Nagpur last year after protests by residents angered by traffic jams caused by drivers. Global auto makers have warned that India is not ready for electrification, saying the government must first lay down a clear, long-term policy, provide incentives to encourage manufacturing of electric vehicles to bring down their cost and create infrastructure. Electric car sales in India made up less than 0.1 percent of annual sales of more than 3 million passenger cars. The lack of demand is mainly because they are expensive — due to high battery costs — and as their range is limited and there isn't a charging infrastructure. The cars are owned by Ola and leased to drivers for Rs 1,000 a day, but many complain that the amount is too high and they need to work for 12-16 hours to make a decent living, given they waste 3-4 hours a day on charging. One of the drivers said that after paying Ola the rent for the car and shelling out Rs 500-600 per day for charging, he is left with about ~500 rupees at the end of a 14-hour day giving him little time to rest or spend with his family. Ola founder and chief executive officer Bhavish Aggarwal said that the company would pilot a few thousand electric vehicles in several Indian cities in 2017 and then scale up. However, it has still to take the experiment beyond Nagpur.

    Source: Business Standard

    Tamil Nadu plans to add 3 GW green energy this year

    March 8, 2018. TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp) has sought nod from Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) to float tenders to purchase 1500 MW of solar power at a cost of 3 per unit and 1,500 MW of wind power at a cost of 2.65 per unit. By April first week, the tenders will be floated for solar and wind. After solar power, wind power tariff has been on the rise every year. In the last few years, investments in wind power in Tamil Nadu has been on the rise. Tamil Nadu has a total wind capacity of 7,858 MW and more than 1,000 MW is in the pipeline after the tenders were finalised last year. Solar power capacity is around 1,800 MW and more than 1,000 MW is in the pipeline. While Tamil Nadu is far ahead of all other states with regard to wind power capacity, in solar it is behind other states. Meanwhile, more wind power companies are showing interest in investing in Tamil Nadu, which is at ninth place across the world in terms of wind power generation. The investments in wind power will also increase the tax revenue for the state government. The coming year's base tariff is likely to be the lowest for wind power in the country. Last year, it was 3.42/unit. TANGEDCO has evacuated more wind power during the summer season in recent years. The state's wind power season starts in May but the distribution company started evacuating wind power in March this year.

    Source: The Times of India

    EESL to float tender for another 10,000 electric cars: Singh

    March 8, 2018. Power And Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said that the Energy Efficiency Service Ltd (EESL) will float another tender for 10,000 electric cars. He said the policy for electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be out in the next 15-20 days. The policy will provide that charging e-vehicles would be a service and not sale of electricity. Thus, all those setting up charging stations would not require a licence. In August last year, the EESL had floated a tender for procuring 10,000 electric cars for which Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra qualified. As of now, both players have supplied around 500 electric cars to the EESL which would be offered on lease to government departments and ministries with or without drivers.

    Source: Business Standard

    India to achieve 20 GW solar power capacity in current fiscal: Singh

    March 8, 2018. India is close to achieving 20 GW grid connected installed solar power generation capacity this fiscal itself with 19.58 GW already in hand till February end. The government had revised the target of grid connected solar energy capacities from 20GW to 100GW by 2022. However, Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said that at present, the indigenous manufacturing capacity is not adequate and therefore the country is dependent on both imported as well as domestically manufactured solar panels/equipments. The government has decided to auction 30 GW solar energy capacities each in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to achieve 100 GW grid connected capacities by 2022. Besides, the government would also auction 10 GW capacities each in the two fiscal years to achieve 60 GW of wind power generation capacities by 2022. India's wind power generation capacity is 32.8 GW as per Central Electricity Authority data. Total renewable energy capacities was 62.8 GW by February, 2018.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Inox Wind bags 50 MW in Maharashtra auction

    March 8, 2018. Wind energy solution provider Inox Wind said it has won 50 MW in the Maharashtra state auctions concluded recently at tariff of Rs 2.86 per unit. The 50 MW project would be executed over the next 12-15 months. Inox Wind will be responsible for the development, construction and commissioning and will provide long term operations and maintenance services.

    Source: Business Standard

    Nuclear fuel production to rise 10-fold in 15 yrs: Government

    March 7, 2018. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) would achieve a ten-fold rise in uranium production in three phases by 2031-32, the government informed the Lok Sabha. Jitendra Singh, the Union minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office that directly looks after the DAE, sought to assuage concerns by saying there is no shortage of nuclear fuel for atomic plants in the country. After completion of the first phase, it is expected to produce 3.5 times the existing uranium production by the 12th year (2029), he said. India has 22 operating nuclear power plants. Ten foreign reactors -- six in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, and four in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu -- have been approved. The government has recently approved 10 more indigenous reactors. The move is also expected to fuel these new reactors.

    Source: Business Standard

    INTERNATIONAL: OIL

    Qatar Petroleum renews shared oilfield concession pact with UAE

    March 13, 2018. Qatar Petroleum said it had renewed a concession agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the development and operation of their joint Al-Bunduq offshore oilfield, despite a diplomatic crisis between the Gulf states. The agreement was signed with Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Japan’s United Petroleum Development Company, and Bunduq Company Ltd, QP said. The Al-Bunduq offshore oilfield started production in 1975. Its oil production is exported to Japan and other Asian markets.

    Source: Reuters

    Libya's Zawiya oil port loadings resume after strike ends

    March 13, 2018. Libya’s Zawiya oil terminal returned to normal operations after workers who were blocking ships from docking agreed to end a one-day strike. Zawiya exports crude from Libya’s giant El Sharara oilfield, which produces 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than a quarter of the North African country’s output. Production at El Sharara had not been affected by the strike at Zawiya. The field is operated by Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) in partnership with Repsol, Total, OMV and Statoil.

    Source: Reuters

    Venezuela's PDVSA sues oil traders over corruption scheme

    March 9, 2018. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has sued a group of oil trading companies through a US trust over a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme to buy petroleum products below market value, the lawyer representing the trust said. The lawsuit accuses a small Miami-based company called Helsinge Inc of obtaining inside information and rigging bid proceedings by bribing PDVSA officials including current Vice President Ysmel Serrano in a scheme that yielded billions of dollars in illicit gains, according to the lawsuit. Helsinge also provided inside information to trading companies including Lukoil Petroleum Ltd, Colonial Oi1 Industries, Inc, Glencore Ltd, Vitol SA and Trafigura AG, which the lawsuit describes as “Oil Company Co-Conspirators” that also benefited.

    Source: Reuters

    Iran's March oil exports fall to two-year low as Asia demand eases

    March 9, 2018. Iran’s crude and condensate exports are set to fall to a two-year low this month as loadings for its main Asian buyers will tumble by one-third from the previous month. Global buyers are scheduled to lift 1.94 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in March, down 21 percent from the previous month. That is the lowest since March 2016. Compared to a year ago, March liftings from Iran, the third-biggest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), will be down 26 percent. The decline is occurring despite its efforts to entice customers, including reducing official selling prices and offering to raise the freight discounts to India. Iranian exports in March are set to fall below year-ago levels for the third month in a row. That should help OPEC to tighten global supply, supporting slumping oil prices that have dropped recently on growing concerns about soaring output from the United States. Iran, which has been working hard to regain market share after Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program were lifted in January 2016, aims to raise its crude output capacity by 700,000 bpd to 4.7 million bpd within the next four years, Deputy Oil Minister Amir Zamaninia said.

    Source: Reuters

    2018 global oil demand still on track for growth: Goldman Sachs

    March 8, 2018. Goldman Sachs re-issued its 2018 global oil demand growth forecast of 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd), despite recent signs of a slight slowdown, citing a strong start to the year and a pattern of second-quarter demand acceleration. Goldman attributed the recent slide in oil prices to seasonality, saying data from the past decade suggested weakness in demand could now be witnessed during the first quarter of the year, whereas historically it occurred in the second quarter. While a slew of economic data releases came in below market expectations, and trade disputes and tariffs could dampen oil demand, the impact is likely to be gradual and could be offset by a weaker dollar, the bank said.

    Source: Reuters

    Vietnam revokes $3.2 bn oil refinery project license

    March 8, 2018. Vietnam has revoked the investment license for a foreign-owned $3.2 billion oil refinery project in the country’s central province of Phu Yen. The 160,000 barrel per day facility was due to be built through investments from UK-based Technostar Management Ltd and Russia’s Telloil Group to produce liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel, gasoline and diesel. Vietnam has one operational oil refinery which meets around one-third of the country’s demand for fuels. A second oil refinery will start commercial production from next month.

    Source: Reuters

    China's February oil imports fall as tax rules curb buying by independents

    March 8, 2018. China’s February crude oil imports fell sharply from January’s record as independent refineries curbed buying amid worries about new tax rules, while natural gas imports held at high levels to heat homes during a bitter winter. China’s February crude oil imports of 32.26 million tonnes, or 8.41 million barrels per day (bpd), were 12 percent below January’s record high of 9.57 million bpd, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. For the first two months of the year, China brought in 72.9 million tonnes of crude oil, or 9.02 million bpd, compared with an average of 8.4 million barrels bpd throughout 2017. China issued new tax rules in January that aimed to address a long-held complaint by China’s state-owned oil companies that privately owned refiners and blenders, known as teapots, have grabbed market share by undercutting their prices through tax avoidance.

    Source: Reuters

    Mexico's Pemex eyeing partners for heavy oil projects: CEO

    March 7, 2018. Mexico’s Pemex might bring partners into two heavy crude oilfields in the Gulf’s shallow waters, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carlos Trevino, a move that could help ease a lack of heavy barrels in the Atlantic basin. After nine bidding rounds in just three years and with a presidential election scheduled in July, Mexico’s oil regulator has started a campaign to convince Pemex and foreign investors that this is the moment to develop much needed extra-heavy oil reserves. He said Pemex will look for partners for two deepwater blocks it just won in a January auction. He also said that this year the company will offer partnerships for its offshore projects Nobilis-Maximino and Ayin-Batsil, which failed to bring foreign capital last year. Mexico’s heavy oil activity is currently concentrated in the Pemex-operated Ku-Maloob-Zaap region in the Bay of Campeche, which produces 850,000 barrels per day (bpd), nearly half of the country’s output. The volume is expected to start declining in the coming year, according to the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH).

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: GAS

    New York loses appeal to block Millennium natural gas pipeline

    March 13, 2018. A federal appeals court denied New York State’s petition to review orders from federal energy regulators that authorized Millennium Pipeline Co to build a natural gas line to a power plant in Orange County, New York. The United States (US) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) determined the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) waived its authority to provide a water quality certification under the Clean Water Act within one year, as required by statue. The 0.13 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) pipeline will connect Competitive Power Ventures’ (CPV) 680 MW Valley Energy Center, which entered service in February using diesel as its fuel. CPV said it will switch to natural gas once it is available.

    Source: Reuters

    Start of Golar's floating LNG in Cameroon may draw more Africa clients

    March 12, 2018. Golar LNG said it had started production at its floating LNG (FLNG) platform in Cameroon, the world’s second working example of the nascent technology and a milestone likely to boost its Fortuna project in Equatorial Guinea. As the cost of land-based LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants more than tripled in the decade to 2013, Golar pioneered the conversion of aging LNG tankers into giant refrigerators capable of chilling gas into its liquid form at minus 162 Celsius. By starting up the pilot floating plant in Cameroon, Golar is removing uncertainty about the risks associated with squeezing equipment into a fraction of the space occupied by an LNG plant on land. Success in Cameroon could speed up Golar’s progress in Equatorial Guinea, where a final investment decision on Fortuna FLNG was delayed after three Chinese banks pulled out last year.

    Source: Reuters

    Algeria's Sonatrach to invest $250 mn to boost output at Tinhert gas field

    March 12, 2018. Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach will invest $250 million to boost output at the Tinhert gas field to 20 million cubic metres per day by 2020 up from currently 5 million cubic metres, its CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Abdelmoumen Ould said. This is an important project that will push our gas output up, CEO said. Algeria’s total gas output is around 100 billion cubic metres per year, of which 55 billion cubic metres go into exports.

    Source: Reuters

    Serbia, Russia revive gas pipeline plans

    March 9, 2018. Russia and Serbia have revived an idea of building a gas pipeline in the Balkan country, a project that would enable Gazprom to step up its gas supplies to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. The Serbian pipeline will be linked to Bulgaria and Hungary via two interconnectors to ship Russian gas from the TurkStream pipeline. Serbia, which had given Russia’s Gazprom Neft majority stake in its oil company in exchange for its inclusion in the South Stream project, imports more than 90 percent of its annual gas needs from Russia via Ukraine. The EU (European Union) candidate country, together with its traditional ally Russia is looking now for ways to secure gas supplies bypassing Ukraine. Gastrans, in which Gazprom holds a 51 percent stake and Srbijagas the remainder, invited parties interested in using the pipeline, to submit non-binding capacity reservation bids by April 15. The public call was issued to determine demand for natural gas and characteristics of the pipeline more precisely, Gastrans said. The EU halted the South Stream project saying the owner of the pipeline and gas supplier need to be separated. But analysts said it wanted to prevent Russia from shipping gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine, downgrading its geopolitical significance.

    Source: Reuters

    SDX announces gas discovery in Morocco

    March 9, 2018. North Africa focused oil and gas company SDX Energy Inc announced that a gas discovery has been made at its SAH-2 well on the Sebou permit onshore Morocco. The SAH-2 well was drilled to a total depth of 4,278 feet and encountered 17 feet of net conventional natural gas pay across two zones in the Guebbas and Hoot formations. The well was said to have come in ‘on prognosis’ but with a reservoir thickness above pre-drill expectations. SAH-2 will now be completed, tested and connected to existing infrastructure, SDX revealed. The company said it expects to provide a further update on testing results in early April. Oil and gas analysts at GMP FirstEnergy said market reaction to SDX’s news was ‘positive’.

    Source: Rigzone

    Shell looks to meet growth in LNG trucking in Asia

    March 9, 2018. Royal Dutch Shell is planning to build a truck loading facility at its Hazira liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on India’s west coast as it looks to meet demand from industrial users, the company said. The facility, which could be ready by next year, will be used to supply industrial demand through trucking in places that can’t access supply from the grid, Steve Hill, executive vice president at Shell Energy, said. Shell Gas B.V, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, holds a majority stake in the Hazira LNG Terminal and Port in a venture with a unit of France’s Total SA. LNG trucking works well for locations off-grid, with China and India the two obvious markets, Hill said. Gas hauled by trailers is seen growing to a tenth of China’s total gas consumption of around 240 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2017, from 5.6 percent in 2014, but is a new development in India. Shell expects LNG demand to rise again in China this year as the world’s second-largest importer of the super-chilled fuel extends a program to switch from coal to cleaner gas beyond the capital Beijing to large industrial cities, Hill said.

    Source: Reuters

    EU gives Poland two months to address gas storage violations

    March 9, 2018. Poland’s law on natural gas storage violates the European Union (EU)’s rules on security of gas supplies, the EU said, giving Warsaw two months to address its concerns. Poland amended a bill on obligatory oil and gas reserves in the summer of 2017 to set conditions requiring private gas companies that want to import gas to maintain some reserves. Under the bill, gas importers with inventories abroad will have to book transmission capacity at cross-border links to be able to send gas to Poland in case of emergency. Poland’s energy ministry played down the Commission’s concerns, saying they were part of a “routine analysis” of compliance of national laws with EU regulations. Some smaller Polish players in the gas market have criticized the bill, saying it is unfair and will result in gas prices rising in Poland.

    Source: Reuters

    Israel expects decision on East Med gas pipeline to Europe in 2019

    March 9, 2018. Israel expects a decision to go ahead with the construction of a 2,000 kilometre pipeline linking vast eastern Mediterranean gas resources to Europe to be made by early 2019, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said. The pipeline, which will cross from Israel and Cyprus into Greece and Italy in deep waters, would mark a major milestone for the rapidly developing gas industry in the Levantine Basin in the east corner of the Mediterranean, offering access to a large market. The European Union considers the pipeline, estimated to cost $7 billion, as “extremely competitive” as the four partner countries continue construction plans for the technically complex line, Steinitz said. The pipeline, known as East Med, will be able to transfer between 9 to 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually, he said. The project owners are IGI Poseidon, a joint venture between Greece’s natural gas firm DEPA, and Italian energy group Edison. More than 900 bcm of gas have been discovered offshore Israel while Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field holds an additional 128 bcm. Both areas are expected to hold more reserves. Israel, where gas consumption has risen sharply over the past decade, will have 400 to 500 bcm available to export, Steinitz said. The vast amounts of gas discovered since the early 2000s in Israel have transformed the region’s economic reality as it signed a number of deals to sell natural gas to neighbours Jordan and Egypt. Israel is also considering the construction of a pipeline to Turkey, where gas demand is rapidly growing, although the project appears to have stalled in recent years amid political tensions between the two countries. Israel plans to launch this summer a new auction for 20 to 30 exploration offshore blocks to trigger the development of further gas resources, Steinitz said.

    Source: Reuters

    China's energy giants return to Asian LNG market as sellers

    March 9, 2018. Falling industrial demand and mild weather have turned China’s energy giants into sellers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia for the first time since last year’s massive import spree. Chinese players were on the receiving end of last year’s doubling of LNG prices, largely driven by their rapid shift to gas to combat coal smog as well as elevated regional demand for the fuel. LNG producer profits soared in tandem with spot prices hitting three-year highs above $11 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) as China’s buying spree peaked in December and January. But a slump set in as milder weather settled over Japan and other major gas consumers in the region and expectations that Chinese buyers returning from the Lunar New Year break would take up the slack fell through. Plunging demand turned national oil companies (NOCs) like CNOOC, Sinopec and PetroChina into sellers and they are now offering cargoes for late March and April delivery, trade sources said. Meanwhile, spot LNG prices have sunk to the mid $8 per mmBtu range.

    Source: Reuters

    Saudi Aramco signs preliminary gas deal with Shell

    March 8, 2018. State oil giant Saudi Aramco signed a preliminary deal to pursue international gas opportunities with Royal Dutch Shell as part of top crude exporter Saudi Arabia’s diversification drive before the listing of Aramco. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in London between the two companies was during the official visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Britain, and would include gas upstream and liquefaction projects. Last year, Saudi Arabia and international oil companies had discussed gas venture opportunities inside the kingdom and abroad. The kingdom has a long-term goal of increasing the use of gas for domestic power generation, thus reducing oil burning at home and freeing up more crude for export. Expanding its gas portfolio inside the kingdom as well as abroad could help increase Aramco’s valuation as it generates more revenue from exports than selling oil at lower domestic prices - Saudi Arabia is the world’s fifth-biggest oil consumer despite being only the 20th-biggest economy. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, who is also Aramco’s chairman, had said Aramco was interested in investing in international upstream ventures, particularly gas, and could invest in importing gas into the kingdom.

    Source: Reuters

    Fortuna project could produce first gas by early 2022

    March 7, 2018. Ophir Energy, the independent upstream oil and gas company focused on Asia and Africa, confirmed that the Fortuna project, located offshore Equatorial Guinea, could produce first gas by early 2022. The company has not yet achieved the final investment decision (FID) for the project, but Ophir Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nick Cooper revealed in the company’s latest results update that delivering the Fortuna FID was a priority for 2018. Although Ophir conceded that the completion of project financing on the Fortuna project has taken ‘longer than expected’, a number of Fortuna milestones were achieved in 2017, such as the award of upstream and midstream construction contracts and the nomination of a preferred supplier for LNG offtake.

    Source: Rigzone

    Shell's gas production could be triple oil by 2050: CEO

    March 7, 2018. Royal Dutch Shell could boost its share of natural gas production to triple that of oil in order to meet self-imposed goals to halve carbon emissions by 2050, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ben van Beurden said. Shell is even rolling out a program charging customers 1 to 2 cents at the gasoline pump to be used to plant trees around the world to offset carbon emissions, he said. Van Beurden said that the energy sector will need gas production operations to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, or the case for the fuel as a lower carbon alternative would be “fatally undermined.” Shell, the world’s top trader of liquefied natural gas (LNG), currently produces around 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, of which roughly half is natural gas.

    Source: Reuters

    Noble, Delek seek rights to EMG pipeline for Egypt natural gas supply

    March 7, 2018. The partners in the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas site off Israel’s coast are in talks to buy the rights to use the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) pipeline to supply gas to customers in Egypt. Delek said there was no certainty a binding agreement would be signed. Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings said it would buy $15 billion of Israeli natural gas in two 10-year agreements from Leviathan and Tamar.

    Source: Reuters

    Australia's Woodside drops Grassy Point LNG plan in Canada

    March 7, 2018. Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has dropped plans to build a liquefied natural gas export plant at Grassy Point on Canada’s west coast, choosing to focus on another Canadian LNG (liquefied natural gas) project, Kitimat, run by Chevron Corp. Woodside’s rights to develop the Grassy Point LNG site, about 30 km north of Prince Rupert, expired on January 15, and the company said it had decided not to renew the agreement. The company had done little work on the Grassy Point project to export up to 20 million tonnes a year of LNG, and did not mention it in growth plans outlined last May. The decision to scrap Grassy Point adds to a string of LNG projects that have been delayed or shelved in Canada due to a global LNG supply glut. Woodside flagged last year that Kitimat, which has a 20 year, 10 million tonnes a year export license, was part of its growth plans for beyond 2026.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: COAL

    Indonesia caps domestic coal price for power stations, could hit miners

    March 9, 2018. Indonesia has capped the price of domestic coal for power stations at $70 per ton for two years, in new rules issued, the government said. The Southeast Asian nation is the world’s biggest exporter of the dirty fuel and the rules could hit miners currently enjoying coal prices at their highest level in five years. With elections looming in 2019, the government plans to keep electricity tariffs unchanged this year and next, and the cap on thermal coal for power is intended to shield state-owned utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) from price fluctuations. That price is based on coal with a calorific value of 6,322 kilocalories, the same specification as in the Indonesian Coal Benchmark Price (HBA). The rule will be applied retroactively to January 1, 2018, and will be reviewed in December 2019. Where the HBA drops below $70 per ton, the domestic thermal coal price for power stations will revert to HBA, the energy ministry said. The new rule allows coal miners supplying PLN to apply for an increase to their approved production quota for the year of up to 10 percent. Under the new rules, PLN, which uses coal with a calorific value of between 4,200 and 4,500 kilocalories, will pay around $37 per ton for coal while the HBA remains above $70. At the current HBA price, PLN pays around $55 per ton, he added. PLN expects its coal demand to climb 18 percent this year to 90 million tonnes. The government has been working on plans to regulate domestic coal prices since late 2017, under pressure from PLN, and the discussions have knocked back some coal miners’ share prices. The government has said national coal output could reach 485 million tonnes in 2018, up from a realized output of 461 million tonnes in 2017.

    Source: Reuters

    Rio Tinto's last two coal mines set to attract bids over $2.5 bn

    March 9, 2018. At least three bidders are expected to submit final offers for global miner Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek and Kestrel coal mines in Australia, which could fetch up to $2.5 billion. The Anglo-Australian mining company made a strategic decision in 2017 to exit coal and focus on growth in iron ore, copper and its aluminium division. Hail Creek and Kestrel are Rio Tinto’s last two coal mines, following the $2.7 billion sale of its Hunter Valley coal operations in Australia to Yancoal last year. Australia’s Whitehaven Coal is expected to bid, as well as Australian private equity firm EMR Capital along with Indonesia’s Adaro Energy.

    Source: Reuters

    Chinese firms interested in coal-fired plants sale: Greece's PPC

    March 8, 2018. Several Chinese firms have expressed interest in acquiring coal-fired plants Greece’s power utility Public Power Corp (PPC) will divest to comply with an EU (European Union) court ruling, the company said. Athens has agreed with its foreign creditors that PPC, which is 51 percent state-owned, will sell plants equal to about 40 percent of its capacity after a European court ruled the utility had abused its dominant position in the coal market. In a market test conducted by the European Commission’s directorate general for competition, fifteen investors have expressed interest in acquiring the plants. Athens is expected to pass relevant law by April in order for PPC to launch a tender by June.

    Source: Reuters

    INTERNATIONAL: POWER

    German power deal sets template for EU utilities M&A

    March 13, 2018. An all-German deal to split Innogy between RWE and E.ON looks set to create a template for European utilities M&A that includes the demise of the integrated model, no more big cross-border deals and a quest for emerging market growth. Under the deal, announced, German utility RWE will combine the renewables businesses of rival E.ON with Innogy’s, while E.ON will acquire Innogy’s regulated energy networks and customer operations. The deal continues the break-up of E.ON and RWE, which were two vertically integrated utilities before they split their renewables and grids from their thermal generation assets. A decade ago, the European Union (EU) tried to drive politics out of utilities with a push for privatization and the unbundling of monopoly-owned grids. But politics has returned via the back door.

    Source: Reuters

    ORES gets €550 mn EIB loan to optimize Belgian power and gas distribution

    March 9, 2018. ORES, a Belgian utility has secured a loan of €550 mn from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to optimize its electricity and gas distribution networks in the Walloon Region in southern Belgium. Every year, ORES puts in an average of about €250 mn in the 198 municipalities it serves in Walloon. The company plans to invest over €1.15 bn in the 2018-2022 period for maintenance, upgrades and development of its electricity and natural gas distribution networks. The EIB loan will cover almost half of the utility’s investment requirements over the next five years. The EIB loan is expected to help the company to continue adapting and developing its power distribution infrastructure by incorporating new regulation and remote control tools while ensuring improved security of supply. ORES, which provides electricity and gas to over 1.3 million homes and businesses in Walloon, will draw the EIB funds over a period of five years and will pay them back at a fixed or floating interest rate within 20 years.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    Fugro starts geotech project for TenneT’s high capacity grid development

    March 7, 2018. Fugro has been awarded a contract to undertake geotech project for TenneT’s high capacity grid development in Germany. Fugro is about to commence a new site characterisation campaign following a second contract award from TenneT, the leading European electricity transmission system operator. The new contract is part of TenneT’s grid development in northern Germany and involves detailed site characterisation services for a 38 kilometre long section from Husum to Niebüll in North Germany.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    INTERNATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    Desert sun to power upper Egypt with $2.8 bn solar park

    March 13, 2018. Egypt inaugurated the first solar power plant at a remote desert complex where the government plans to generate as much as 1.8 GW from the sun, cutting the most populous Arab nation’s reliance on dirty and expensive fossil fuels. The plant, developed by Germany-based Ib Vogt GmbH and a local company called Infinity Solar S.A.E., began supplying the national grid in December, Ib Vogt Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anton Milner said. The 64 MW facility is the first of 32 units that the government targets for construction at Benban Solar park in southeastern Aswan province. The project, with all the plants, is to be completed next year at a cost of $2.8 billion. Benban Solar park, along with other projects in planning, should help Egypt scale back its use of hydrocarbons as the country targets generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2022.

    Source: Bloomberg

    Saudi cabinet approves nuclear power program national policy

    March 13, 2018. Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved the national policy of the atomic energy program. The national policy includes limiting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, wants nuclear power to diversify its energy supply mix. Riyadh is interested in reaching a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Washington, and has invited US (United States) firms to take part in developing the kingdom’s first atomic energy programme.

    Source: Reuters

    US biofuels sector blasts EPA settlement with bankrupt Philadelphia refinery

    March 13, 2018. The United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to grant a bankrupt Philadelphia refiner relief from biofuel laws drew criticism from the country’s biofuels sector and its allies, who said it sets a bad precedent. The EPA and the Carlyle Group-backed Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery agreed that the refiner will have to satisfy only roughly half of its $350 million in outstanding compliance obligations under the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS requires refiners to blend biofuels such as ethanol into their fuel or buy credits, known as RINs, from those that do.

    Source: Reuters

    Sudan, Russia to sign accord to develop nuclear power

    March 12, 2018. Sudan will sign a “roadmap” with Russia to build nuclear power stations during a visit to Moscow by Water Resources, Irrigation, and Electricity Minister Moataz Mousa. The trip comes four months after Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin he wanted to discuss nuclear power cooperation with Russia.

    Source: Reuters

    France wants to renegotiate offshore wind projects

    March 10, 2018. The French government wants to renegotiate and possibly cancel offshore wind projects on the French west coast that were awarded in 2012 and 2014. The government, as part of a package of laws submitted to the Senate, had included an amendment proposing the renegotiation or possible cancellation of the tender awards for a combined 3,000 MW of wind power on six sites. France awarded tenders in 2012 for a combined offshore capacity of 2,000 MW, representing investment of about €7 billion, to two consortia, one led by EDF and one by Spanish utility Iberdrola. It was followed by a 2014 tender for 1,000 MW, worth some €4 billion, won by Engie. The projects were expected to produce their first power early in the 2020s, but fierce local opposition has blocked progress and none of the utilities have yet decided to proceed. Both tenders were awarded with contracts to sell power at around 200 euros per MW. But since then, prices for offshore wind power have more than halved and French energy regulator CRE has criticized the high cost of the planned subsidies.

    Source: Reuters

    Norway's wealth fund may expand emissions blacklist to more companies

    March 8, 2018. The ethics watchdog for Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth may blacklist more companies that produce too much greenhouse gas by scrutinizing more industry sectors, including shipping and power. Carbon emissions became a criteria for exclusion from the fund in 2016 and last year the watchdog recommended that “a small handful” of firms be excluded from the fund for producing too much greenhouse gas emissions in either the oil, cement and steel industries. Johan H. Andresen, chair of the fund’s publicly appointed Council on Ethics, said the watchdog would look at more firms in the energy, steel and concrete industries and add more sectors, including shipping and power producers. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund was created from the proceeds of Norway’s oil industry and operates under ethical guidelines set by parliament. Johan H. Andresen, chair of the fund’s publicly appointed Council on Ethics, said a company that is a big emitter of climate gases must show what plans it has to cut emissions by 2030 to remain in the fund’s portfolio, revealing for the first time what factors the watchdog takes into account. The proposal is currently under review at Norway’s finance ministry and will be voted on by parliament at a later date. Even if it goes ahead, the ethics watchdog will still have plenty of high polluters to examine.

    Source: Reuters

    US refinery workers head to Washington to urge biofuels reform

    March 7, 2018. A delegation of workers from US (United States) oil refining companies that oppose the nation’s biofuels policy converged on Washington to lobby lawmakers to find a way to lessen the regulation’s costs without hurting corn farmers and makers of the alternative fuels. The trip, organized by the United Steelworkers union, marks the latest move in a battle between Big Oil and Big Corn over the fate of the US Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring corn-based ethanol in gasoline that the refining industry says is costing it hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Environmental Protection Agency currently limits gasoline to 10 percent ethanol during the summer months, a policy intended to reduce ozone emissions and smog during the peak driving season.

    Source: Reuters

    DATA INSIGHT

    Indian Renewable Sector & Investments

    Sector-wise Investments in Renewable Energy

    Financial

    Year

    % Share in Total Investments

    Total Contribution/

    Investments

    (in Rs Crore)

    SolarWindSmall HydroBiomass & Bagasse Cogeneration
    2013-1425.5556.207.1011.1522, 195.16
    2014-1526.3054.699.139.8925, 363.40
    2015-1641.8247.345.305.5443, 282.60

    Renewables Installed Capacity & Generation

    Source: Rajya Sabha Un-starred Questions & Central Electricity Authority


    Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

    Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

    Editor: Akhilesh Sati

    Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar

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