MonitorsPublished on May 28, 2018
Energy News Monitor | Volume XIV; Issue 50

Monthly Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: April – May 2018


The Haryana government is going to make it mandatory for all public buildings, like schools, health centres, offices etc., to have rooftop solar panels as part of a state-wide project that will be first implemented in Gurugram and Faridabad. Haryana, made the announcement, days after a WHO report listed Gurugram as the 11th most polluted city in the world. And one of the main culprits behind the city’s high pollution levels is diesel gensets that are used as backup at a large number of residential societies, government offices and commercial complexes. The government wanted every public office to have its own solar power generation system, and would ensure “solarisation” of the entire state in a phased manner. Tangible change would be visible in that direction in next six months. In Gurugram, the installed capacity of solar power reached 25 MW earlier this year — far less than what is required (a peak demand of 1,600 MW on a summer day) — almost four years after the government made it mandatory for every new home with an area up to 500 square yard or more to install solar panels. The Haryana government in September 2014 had announced a grid-connected solar rooftop policy and made it mandatory for every new home across the state with an area up to 500 square yard or more to install a solar power system. The policy was all applicable for commercial and industrial consumers, besides hospitals, malls and hotels. Buyers of solar rooftop panels would eventually get the subsidies, even if late. To help residents procure rooftop panels, Gurugram First has launched a help desk.hough solar panels and related equipment attract GST at a concessional rate of only 5%, solar developers who employ contractors to supply the panels and set up their projects are getting a ‘service’ performed for them, and hence should pay 18% GST, the rate applicable for services, the MAAR has ruled. Since solar developers hardly ever build their own projects but use contractors, the ruling, which is almost certain to serve as a precedent for other states as well, in effect takes away the advantage of the concessional GST rate for solar panels from them. It will increase their tax burden and in turn may well raise solar tariffs at future auctions. The petition filed before MAAR by Fermi Solar Farms had noted that setting up solar projects usually involve two separate contracts with the developer – one for supply of goods, which includes solar panels and related equipment and the other for setting up the plant, erecting civil works, connecting transmission lines, etc. MAAR noted that a solar plant consisted of a host of equipment – solar panels and inverters merely being the most prominent – which were put together on the site by the contractor to form a solar power generating system. India installed a record 10 GW of solar electricity capacity in 2017-2018, twice the rate logged in the previous year and nearly double the country’s entire solar base US based IEEFA said. The gains put India at 22 GW of total cumulative capacity and the trend is continuing. A number of announcements in this April show momentum building. Solar technology continues to advance, with floating solar, hybrid wind-solar-battery and blended solar-thermal tariff developments now underway, an IEEFA analysis said. Renewables now account for 20 percent of total installed capacity in India and 7.7 percent of electricity generation. While the surge in new renewable generation has increased concerns about grid constraints, the right level of ongoing investment will make those issues manageable even as renewable energy installs double to more than 20 GW annually by 2020, the IEEFA said. Tying new solar tenders to domestic manufacturing investment aligns both strategies, with the likely outcome that the world’s leading solar module manufacturers will set up operations in India, bringing employment opportunities and, more important, world-leading solar technology at scale, the analysis said.

Haryana said that the state government is mulling to implement a solar based tubewell scheme in the state. The scheme aims to benefit the farmers as they would be able to generate electricity and earn income. He said that under this scheme, 600,000 tubewells in the State would be linked with solar energy. The farmers would be able to utilize the solar energy as per the requirement and also sell the surplus power available with them. The aim of the scheme is to make the farmer producer besides the consumer. The power subsidy of ₹ 70 billion to be given under this scheme would also be borne by the state government.

Delhi electricity discom BSES-Rajdhani announced it has installed the first grid-connected 100 KW solar rooftop plant in a residential housing society in Dwarka locality of the city as part of its Solar City Initiative to “solarise” the area. Shiv Bhole Cooperative Group Housing Society in Dwarka has become the first such housing society to install a 100 KW grid-connected rooftop solar plant, BSES said. Solarise Dwarka initiative, launched in January, is being implemented by BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ India) under its Indo-German Solar Partnership project, it said.

India is making significant strides towards meeting climate commitments and is on course to surpass its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets before 2030, an independent study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water said. Non-fossil fuel energy sources, largely due to the rapid growth of solar energy, will garner a share of at least 48 percent in India’s electricity generation capacity by 2030, according to the study. However, India will need to bear the cost of integration which will increase as the share of solar and wind increases. India’s economy and power generation sector has changed significantly since 2015. The change has been mainly driven by a rapid ramp-up of solar energy deployment, substantial decline in the costs of solar and wind-based electricity, and multiple developments in the end use-sectors. The study identifies the cost of integrating variable renewable energy into the electricity grid as a key element of India’s energy transition to a low-carbon economy.

TNERC has given the go ahead for TANGEDCO to float tenders for adding new solar and wind power capacity in the state in 2018. Tenders for adding a total of 3000 MW of solar and wind power capacity will be floated soon, with the upper limit on tariff fixed at ₹ 3/kWh for solar and ₹ 2.65/kWh for wind. As per TNERC nod, the discom will be able to launch three separate consecutive tenders for grid-connected solar power capacity, of 500 MW each. The regulator has also given permission for an equal 1500 MW capacity in wind power in multiple phases and tenders, with the minimum capacity per project of at least 25 MW. The wind power tariff has also been on a downhill like solar, with the lower bid for wind power at ₹ 3/kWh last year, but this year fixed at ₹ 2.65/kWh. Tamil Nadu has a total wind capacity of 7,858 MW and more than 1000 MW is in the pipeline after the tenders were finalised last year. Similarly, solar power capacity is around 1800 MW and more than 1000 MW is in the pipeline. Meanwhile, more wind power companies are showing interest in investing in Tamil Nadu, which is at 9th place across the world in terms of wind power generation. Tamil Nadu will need an additional 743 MW of solar power capacity to fulfil its solar RPO requirement of 4,553 MW for the current fiscal year. It will also need about 1,679 MW of wind power to achieve the non-solar RPO requirement of 10.25% for 2018/19.

The front posts of BSF in Sri Ganganagar district along the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan have now been fitted with solar power equipment to help the jawans recharge their communication and safety gear. Gurgaon-based power back-up solutions company Su-Kam announced it has solarized each BSF post along the international border with a 1.5 KW solar system comprising a solar inverter along with 500 watt solar panels and batteries which provide energy to power lights and 2-3 fans in each of these locations. The batteries store electricity to power these posts even after sunset and the jawans, who had to earlier travel 4-5 km to their base camps to get their gadgets charged, can now recharge their wireless systems and mobile phones at their posts. Su-Kam claims it is India’s largest power solutions company and has presence in 90 countries globally. The firm manufactures power solutions products including solar products, UPS, batteries and customized solar solutions.

MSEDCL has given a big boost to solar power in state by deciding to buy 2,000 MW for next 25 years. This power will come from new solar plants. At present, it buys 850 MW against the peak demand of about 20,000 MW. When additional solar power starts flowing in the state grid MSEDCL will meet more than its 10% requirement from solar. All farm pumps would run on solar power by 2025. MSEDCL said that 1,000 MW solar power would be purchased at the rate of ₹ 3/kWh or less.

Scientists at the NCL have designed a solar-powered kitchen system for their own canteen, which caters to about 700 employees serving them breakfast, lunch and tea. A team from NCL’s Solar Thermal Lab had first conducted a study to understand the washing and cooking needs of the canteen before planning the project. The solar-powered kitchen — which cost about ₹ 600,000 has reduced electricity consumption of the canteen by 60-70% and LPG consumption by 55%. The scientists said this cooking system can also be used in other canteens, in schools to cook mid-day meals, at orphanages, old-age homes etc. The system delivers hot water in the range of 45°C-50°C to the washing section of the canteen and in the range of 85°C-95°C to the cooking section separately. The system uses ETC and CPC solar technologies along with storage tanks, steam cooking vessels, electric boiler and piping. The system includes two ETC solar panels to provide hot water for washing and three CPC solar panels that cater to the requirement of cooking water. The capacity of the rooftop tank is around 300 litre.

SECI is set to launch its second hybrid tender – for projects combining wind and solar energy – in May. It has issued an advertisement alerting developers that it will be inviting sealed bids for “1000 MW of wind power projects in existing solar power projects” as well as “1000 MW of solar power projects in shadow free areas of wind power projects”, the details of which will be available on a particular website from May 14. This is much larger than the first tender for 160 MW issued by SECI in January this year, which envisaged setting up a greenfield hybrid project in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The results of this bid, which also included a small storage component, are yet to be announced. Hybrid power projects have several advantages over standalone ones, especially saving on land and transmission cost. Solar projects in particular need large swathes of land with a single megawatt of capacity requiring five to seven acres – so if some solar modules can be installed in the spaces between wind turbines, the saving on land costs can be considerable. SECI is hopeful that the saving of costs and increased efficiency of hybrid projects will in turn lead to lowered tariffs. Both solar and wind tariffs fell steeply in the last three years, with solar touching a record ₹ 2.44/kWh at an auction held in May 2017, and wind dropping to ₹ 2.43/kWh at an auction in last December. Since then, however, both tariffs have been rising in subsequent auctions. Only one commercial hybrid project has been commissioned so far, though there have been a few other pilot ones. In mid-April, Hero Future Energies added a 28.8 MW solar plant to its existing 50 MW wind plant in Raichur, Karnataka. The Hero project is a group captive one, supplying power to private buyers at a privately decided tariff. Draft guidelines related to hybrid projects were indeed circulated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in September 2016, but no final ones have been issued.

Swedish-Swiss multinational giant ABB announced it has commissioned India’s first industrial solar microgrid at its Vadodara manufacturing facility in Gujarat. Microgrids with integrated battery energy storage allow cutting down of planned and unplanned power outages. When are often connected to renewable energy sources and provide more control to companies on how and when to deploy the stored power. A key benefit is the reduction in overall operational costs and reduced electricity bills. The Vadodara factory is ABB’s largest facility in India with over 3,000 employees and among its biggest manufacturing hubs in the world. The microgrid’s rooftop photovoltaic field and its battery-energy storage system will support the factory’s productivity and enable green power supply. A sophisticated control and automation system serves as the brain of the microgrid which ensures maximizing renewable energy use. The facility’s carbon footprint is expected to be reduced by around 1,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year. ABB India Managing Director Sanjeev Sharma said reliable, resilient and cost-effective power supply through microgrids is key to achieve Make in India targets, speed up industrial development and realize the vision of round-the-clock power for all.

India’s decision to impose safeguard duty on imported solar cells drew criticism from the EU and Japan at the WTO, with the two trade giants criticising the conduct of investigation and the initial findings even as New Delhi joined seven WTO members to back China in lodging a protest against US  import duty on steel and aluminium products. Safeguard duties are imposed temporarily on products which cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the industry. At a meeting of the WTO’s Safeguards Committee, the EU recalled that safeguard measures should only be imposed under exceptional circumstances, particularly if the imports causing problems come from predominantly one source.

Sunsure Energy finished FY18 with commissioning of their largest turnkey solar plant project – a 20 MW (15 MW + 5 MW) solar power plant. Situated in the Harpanhalli Taluka of Davangeri district, this project is spread over 75 acres of land and will generate enough clean energy to power more than 8,000 urban households in Karnataka every year for the next 25 years. Sunsure led the development of these plants right from the competitive bidding stage through land acquisition and clearances all the way to successfully synchronizing the plants with the Grid. Sunsure is now tasked with ensuring these plants perform optimally. Sunsure will be deploying its operations & maintenance systems at both the sites in FY19. Started in 2014 by a team of IIT-Delhi alumni with a vision to build solar assets to bridge the energy gap in India, Sunsure has commissioned over 40 MW solar plants across 9 Indian states. Sunsure is head quartered in New Delhi and is the preferred solar partner for companies like Merino Industries, Hindware, Mazagaon Dock, Cochin Shipyard, Enrich Agro (Coca Cola Bottlers), Minda Group, Cleantech Solar, Machino Plastics (A Maruti JV Company), Surya Roshni and many others.

Solar energy majors are making a beeline for putting up units in Odisha after Gridco, the state’s bulk power trader, invited bids to select 200 MW of grid-connected solar power projects. Companies like Acme, ReNew Power, Tata Power, IBC Solar, Sahara Power, Essel Group and Adani Green Energy have already evinced interest. Witnessing a strong response, Gridco is expecting to garner at least 20 bids. The project will be developed in a non-solar park model, where bidders are given a free hand to choose their land. The capacity may be allotted to bidders with lowest tariffs discovered under the competitive bidding process followed by e-reverse auction. Gridco will enter into a PPA with the successful bidder for 25 years from the date commercial operations begin. The project will help the state achieve the cumulative solar target of 2,378 MW under the national target of 100 GW of solar power by 2022. The latest tariff rate in Odisha for solar is ₹ 4.5/kWh under a scheme of the new and renewable energy ministry. Recently, Essel Green Energy, part of the Essel Group, won bulk of the 270 MW tender for solar capacity at Odisha floated by the SECI. Essel Green Energy was awarded 240 MW, Jyoti Infrastructure bagged 10 MW and IBC Solar Ventures bagged 20 MW from the tender. Private sector interest in Odisha’s solar power sector had not seen enough traction till now as opposed to central PSUs that have been interested in putting up projects in the state. After NTPC, NLC and NEEPCO, SJVN, a mini-ratna PSU, has evinced interest in participating in the state’s solar park programme. Odisha recently cleared a plan by NEEPCO to invest ₹ 9.44 billion to set up a 200 MW solar power plant. The unit is scheduled to start operations in December 2019. It has also provided in-principle clearance for 250 MW solar power project proposed by NLC at the cost of ₹ 45 million/MW. The government has also offered to sign a PPA with NLC.

The Diu Smart City has become the first city in India that runs on 100 percent renewable energy during the daytime, setting a bench-mark for other cities to follow. Diu had been importing 73 percent of its power from Gujarat till last year. The city has developed a 9 MW solar park spread over 50 hectares rocky barren land, besides installing solar panels on the rooftops on 79 government buildings, generating 1.3 MW annually, the housing and urban affairs ministry said. Diu also offers its residents a subsidy of ₹ 10, 000-50,000 for installing 1-5 KW rooftop solar panels. The city is saving about 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year and due to low-cost solar energy, power tariffs have been cut in residential category by 10 percent last year and 15 percent this year, the ministry said.

Mundra Solar PV, the solar photovoltaic manufacturing arm of diversified Adani Group, looks to become a $1 billion company over the next 2-3 years. The company is also hoping to scale up its manufacturing capacity of modules and cells from the current 1,200 MW to around 3,000 MW in the next 2-3 years. Currently, Mundra Solar has a manufacturing facility with a capacity of 1,200 MW in the Special Economic Zone at Mundra in Gujarat.

A batch of solar power projects with a total capacity of 7,670 MW is set to be put out to tender in the next two months where the benchmark tariff will vary according to location. Also, there will be no viability gap funding for bidders, like earlier auctions, to quote lower than the market rate. For a 3,000 MW project cluster (250MWx12), the maximum tariff payable is set at ₹ 2.93/kWh for 25 years. Bidders will have to quote below the benchmark rate. Location of the projects and sale of power will be managed by SECI, the nodal agency for tendering solar projects. Another tender for a batch of 2,000 MW solar projects (250×8) as well as the Kadapa Solar Park (750 MW) in Andhra Pradesh and the Pavgada Solar Park (200 MW) in Karnataka will also be offered at the same rate, according to tender documents. The tariff of ₹ 2.97/kWh was discovered during bidding for the 750 MW Rewa Solar Park last year. Uttar Pradesh, which will host 1,650 MW of these projects, consisting of six solar parks of 275 MW each, will have a higher ceiling rate of ₹ 3.43/kWh. The same ceiling tariff will apply to a 70 MW solar power project in Assam. Solar power tariffs have been falling constantly and touched a record low of ₹ 2.44/kWh last year, before climbing to ₹ 2.65-3.36/kWh in an auction in Gujarat. As tariffs fell faster than commissioning older projects, states have been reluctant to purchase costlier renewable power, with some even going back on their purchase agreements. Sector experts said the benchmarking had come at a time when players had become unsure of the cost of solar power. Indian solar panel makers have moved the DGS for a duty on solar imports. The DGS has suggested a preliminary duty of 70 percent. If confirmed, this could increase the cost of solar power to almost ₹ 3/kWh.

Lightsource BP and Indian private equity fund Everstone Group announced the creation of a 500 million pound ($711 million) fund to invest in renewable energy and clean technology in India. The fund aims to increase its investment to 500 million pounds which will be raised from institutional investors as well as a “significant investment” from Lightsource and Everstone, Lightsource BP. The investments will span across renewables such as solar and wind as well as low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles charging stations. India is one of the fastest-growing markets for clean energy. India currently has around 60 GW of installed renewable capacity, but plans to add a further 115 GW by 2022 which could cost at least $125 billion.

Goa will soon have two solar-powered Ro-Ro ferry boats along the lines of the Kerala module where such alternate energy ferries are operational. In May 2017, the government is in the process of introducing Ro-Ro ferries, which are bigger sized ferries with two ramps and two engines that can go to-and-fro from one jetty to another without the need to turn around. The total cost of the newly procured ferries is ₹19 million. On an average, there are about 11,000 commuters and over 5,000 two-wheelers travelling on the Panaji-Betim ferry route every day. More ferries cannot be added on the Panaji-Betim route owing to navigational issues due to casinos and other marine traffic.

The capacity addition in the wind power sector is expected to improve to about 3 GW in FY2019, after witnessing a weak performance in FY2018. The wind energy sector witnessed a capacity addition of only 1.7 GW in FY2018, which is a significant drop from the 5.5 GW capacity added in FY2017, according to rating firm ICRA. ICRA said that the lower capacity addition in FY2018 was due to the transition of the industry to a competitive bid-based power purchase agreement regime. Earlier the practice was a feed-in-tariff regime where rates were fixed by the respective state electricity regulators. ICRA said that since February 2017 Solar Energy Corp of India Ltd and state distribution utilities in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had issued bids for wind power capacity of 7.5 GW.

The NPCIL plans to hold the spent nuclear fuel from the two units at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant at the site itself till the AFR is ready. According to a status report submitted by the NPCIL to the AERB last December, the revised schedule for the completion of construction of the AFR is April 2022. In the report, the NPCIL said the spent FAs would have at least five years of cooling in the fuel pool prior to the transfer from the pool to outside the reactor. Considering that the transfer of the first batch of FAs from the reactor core to fuel pool was completed in September 2015, the transfer of FA to AFR could be done only after September 2020, according to the report. According to the report, the total capacity of the fuel pool is 565 cells for spent fuel assembly and 64 cells for sealed cans for storing defective fuel assemblies. As per the report, the AFR will be needed in operational status at the end of the eighth operational year of Unit-1, which is before August 2023.

The Supreme Court asked the NPCIL to file an affidavit indicating the progress made on safety features of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought the report from NPCIL, after it was informed that the nuclear plant has advanced safety features. The bench was hearing an application filed by NPCIL seeking an extension of time to complete the AFR facility for spent fuel according to the top court’s directions passed in a judgment in May 2013. NPCIL sought extension until April 2022 for the construction of an AFR facility for the Kudankulam plant.

The Himachal Pradesh government approved amendments in the hydropower policy with a view to reviving 737 stalled projects of 5,500 MW capacity and attracting investors for new projects. The state cabinet in its meeting decided to make it mandatory for State Electricity Board to purchase power produced by hydro projects with capacity up to 10 MW gave approval to the proposal that the generic tariff applicable in case of Hydro Electric Projects up to 25 MW will be from the date of the commissioning and not from the date of implementation agreement. The state cabinet decided to rationalise royalty rates for allotment of new projects and keeping in view the provisions of national hydropower policy and bordering hilly States of Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Himachal Pradesh decided to defer 12 percent free power for first 12 years in case of already allotted projects.

Rest of the World

Builders in California will be required to fit solar panels on most new homes from 2020 under new building standards adopted, a move that is the first in the US and could provide a big boost to the solar industry. The decision, adopted unanimously by the five-member CEC, is part of the state’s effort to fight global climate change. It came despite estimates it would raise the up-front cost of a new home by nearly $10,000 in one of the most expensive parts of the country. The Commission estimated the standards will add about $40 to monthly mortgage payments but will compensate for that by saving residents $80 a month on energy bills. The new building codes include updates to building ventilation and lighting standards. They are collectively expected to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over three years, a level equal to taking 115,000 cars off the road. California has one of the most ambitious renewable energy mandates in the country, with a goal of sourcing half of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. At the end of 2017, it had reached about 30 percent, according to the CEC.

China’s GCL Group has signed an MoU with Egypt’s ministry of military production to build a solar panel facility at a cost of up to $2 billion. Under the MoU, which was signed, the facility will manufacture panels capable of producing 5 GW annually, it said, without mentioning the location or timeframe of the project. Egypt in 2014 announced extensive plans to develop renewable energy targeting 4.3 GW of wind and solar projects to be installed over three years, but many investors pulled out following contract disputes. Egypt aims to meet 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2022.

German utility Uniper launched a pilot scheme at its Falkenhagen site to produce methane gas from wind power as the country seeks wider uses for renewable energy. The Falkenhagen plant, set up five years ago in Germany’s wind-swept Brandenburg state, already produces green hydrogen by running wind power through water to split it into oxygen and hydrogen. Methane gas would provide a higher quality material with more diversified uses. Germany is looking at new ways to use and store renewable energy at a number of power-to-gas sites as a boom in wind and solar power in the country has led to excess production. Under the two-year pilot scheme, the company will set out to produce green methane by using carbon dioxide from a bio-ethanol plant and mixing it with the hydrogen, creating a gas-like substance. If Uniper engineers can show the technology is viable, they hope that Germany can lead the way in providing the renewables sector with an entirely new raw material.

Statoil is working with its partner SSE to develop the Dogger Bank offshore wind project so it can take part in Britain’s renewable energy subsidy auction in 2019. The planned 4.8 GW Dogger Bank project, which has approval from the British authorities, is set to become the world’s largest offshore wind park and could deliver more than five percent of Britain’s electricity needs, Statoil said. Britain has replaced direct subsidies with a CfD system. Qualifying projects are guaranteed a minimum price at which they can sell electricity and renewable power generators bid for CfD contracts in a round of auctions. Statoil has a 50 percent stake in the partnership developing 3.6 GW of the approved capacity at Dogger Bank. Last year, Statoil built the world’s first floating offshore wind park off Scotland, using in-house technology. Its plans also include developing a 1.5 GW offshore wind park in the US outside New York. Statoil also entered the first project to build a 162 MW solar power plant in Argentina last year.

Iberdrola has bagged rights to build two offshore wind farms in the German part of the Baltic Sea with a combined capacity of 486 MW. The projects – 476 MW Baltic Eagle and the 10 MW Wikinger Süd offshore wind farms – were awarded by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) to the Spanish energy company during Germany’s second public tender for offshore wind energy. Both the offshore wind farms will be developed simultaneously by Iberdrola to maximize cost efficiency. The Baltic Eagle and the Wikinger Süd wind farms along with the 350 MW Wikinger offshore wind farm, located in front of Rügen island, will constitute an offshore wind complex of nearly 850 MW capacity. It is also claimed to become the largest offshore wind power project in the Baltic Sea. Overall, Iberdrola said that its renewable power capacity as on 31 March 2018 is more than 29,000 MW with two thirds of its total generation capacity being entirely emission-free.

Researchers from the Stanford University in the US have developed a water-based battery that could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy. The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery, which stands just three inches tall, is designed to generate 20 milliwatt hours of electricity. However, the researchers expects to scale up the technology to an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge up to 10,000 times, creating a grid-scale battery with a lifespan exceeding a decade. The battery will be able to store wind or solar energy, which can later be fed back into the electric grid and be redistributed when demand is high.

Stanford materials science professor Yi Cui said that the manganese-hydrogen battery technology has potential to store unpredictable wind or solar energy which in turn reduces the need to burn reliable carbon-emitting fossil fuels in the absence of renewable sources. Cui said the team is seeking patent for the process through the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing. The team is also planning to form a company to commercialize the system. As per the recommendation made by the US Department of Energy, batteries for grid-scale storage should be capable of storing and then discharging at least 20 kilowatts of power per hour.

Demand for new solar capacity is expected to slow this year from the record growth achieved in 2017, putting manufacturers under mounting pressure at a time when government subsidies are in decline. The China Photovoltaic Industry Association said that installed solar generation capacity was forecast to rise by about 40 GW in 2018, against last year’s 53 GW increase. China’s total solar capacity hit 130 GW in 2017, accounting for 32.4 percent of the global total. Manufacturers have ramped up production over the past two years as governments commissioned hundreds of new projects to meet targets for clean energy, but the industry might now be suffering from overcapacity. The rapid growth in China’s solar sector has relied on generous state subsidies, including higher tariffs paid to renewables companies for each kilowatt-hour they supply to the grid. But with solar power costs cut by 90 percent from 2007 to 2017, and the government struggling to find the funds required to pay the subsidies it owes to vast numbers of new projects, China is switching to other forms of support. China is considering a quota system that will force grids to source a stipulated percentage of power from local renewable generators.

Global wind energy capacity could increase by more than half over the next five years, as costs continue to fall and the market returns to growth at the end of this decade, a report by the GWEC shows. The GWEC said cumulative wind energy capacity stood at 539 GW at the end of last year, 11 percent higher than the previous year. Around 52.5 GW of new wind power capacity was added worldwide last year, down slightly from 54.6 GW in 2016. The GWEC expects the market to be flat this year but start growing again from 2019. Wind power has become more competitive over the past few years, with a move from government subsidies to auctions which has brought costs down further. China continues to be the biggest wind market in the world, adding nearly 19.7 GW of new capacity in 2017, though this was 15.9 percent lower than the previous year. The pace of China’s wind development is gradually slowing down and growth is expected to be flat to 2020. India experienced record wind installations last year, adding over 4 GW, but GWEC expects this to slow this year due to a transition period between old market incentives and moving towards an auction-based system, the GWEC said.

US conglomerate GE will test the world’s largest wind turbine in a facility in northeast England, it said. GE Renewable Energy, the renewable arm of the US firm, and the British government-funded Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult signed a five-year agreement to test GE’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine in Blyth, Northumberland. Britain is aiming to be a leader in offshore wind technology and its capacity could grow by five times current levels to 30 GW by 2030. The largest wind turbines currently in operation are MHI Vestas’ 9 MW turbines installed at Vattenfall’s windfarm off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Researchers from the UT Dallas have developed a new way to extract more power from the wind farms, using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. According to the researchers, the new method has the potential to generate $600 mn in added wind power in the US. Several years ago, UT Dallas mechanical engineering associate professor Stefano Leonardi and his team created models capable of integrating physical behaviour across a wide range of length scales from 100m-long turbine rotors to centimeters-thick tips of blades. The models are intended to predict wind power with accuracy using supercomputers. However, in order to model the variability of wind for a given region at a specific time, the team integrated their code with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, a weather prediction model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The new researches have tested their control algorithms using their modeling capabilities to manage the operation of dynamic systems at wind farms. The researchers are due to carry out field testing to validate the application of extremum seeking control to wind farms. The team, however, applied the method to a single turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

GE Renewable Energy and Hawa Energy have inaugurated the Hawa Power Project, a 50MW wind farm in the Gharo-Keti Bandar Wind Corridor in Jhimpir in the Pakistani province of Sindh. The project is installed with 29, 1.7-103 wind turbines, with implementation of the project undertaken by Power China, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. The 50 MW project is the fourth in Pakistan to feature GE’s advanced wind turbines. In addition to the provision of wind turbines, GE will also provide 10 years of operations and maintenance services as part of the contract, making it a one-stop shop for Hawa Power Project. GE Renewable Energy is one of the world’s leading wind turbine suppliers, with more than 35,000 wind turbines installed globally. GE is focused on supporting Pakistan’s socio-economic growth, with technologies that generate more than 1/3 of the country’s electricity. The Government of Pakistan has tasked the Alternative Energy Development Board to ensure 5 percent of total national power generation capacity to be generated through renewable energy technologies by the year 2030, following the US Agency for International Development and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that Pakistan has over 132 GW of wind energy capacity.

IDB Invest, the private sector institution of the IDB Group, finances the construction and operation of Porto do Sergipe, a 1,516 MW combined cycle thermoelectric plant and its associated infrastructure in the state of Sergipe, in Brazil. The project is developed by Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe SA, a company run by EBRASIL of Brazil and Golar Power Ltd. Once operational in 2020, CELSE will sell electricity to 26 distribution companies in Brazil, becoming the largest and most efficient thermoelectric plant in Latin America and the Caribbean. Sergipe will use natural gas as fuel, the fossil fuel with the lowest carbon emissions. Brazil can benefit from the abundance and historically low prices of this fuel internationally. The installed power of this plant will help the country increase its energy security while continuing to expand in renewable energy, such as solar and wind. IDB Invest has collaborated with CELSE in the implementation of the best environmental and social practices for this project, with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of the investment and mitigating its impact.

The US EPA has granted a financial hardship waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, exempting the Oklahoma facility from requirements under a federal biofuels law. The waiver enables Icahn’s CVR Energy Inc to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the US RFS program. The regulation is meant to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports and support corn farmers by requiring refiners to mix billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel each year. The Small Refiners Coalition said the EPA is required by law to help small refineries struggling with these regulations and that such exemptions are crucial to their financial well-being. It applauded EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for protecting small refineries, regardless of ownership, from the RFS requirements. Icahn is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department for his role in influencing biofuels policy while serving as Trump’s adviser.

BP CEO Bob Dudley urged Cambridge University not to yield to pressure from hundreds of students and academics to cut its investments in fossil fuels and pointed to BP’s donations to the university. BP did not immediately disclose how much it has been donating to the university. In 2015/16 it gave grants worth around 1.4 million pounds, according to Cambridge, and in 2000 a 22 million pound donation from BP helped to create the BP Institute for Multiphase Flow, which focuses on research in surfaces and particles and fluid dynamics. Cambridge said the University Council will publish its decision on whether it will change its investments after years of campaigning by students and academics after a meeting next month. About 350 Cambridge academics signed a letter to the university and its colleges, which enjoy a certain degree of independence from the university’s central administration, to excise fossil fuel investments from the roughly 6.3 billion pounds ($8.81 billion) at their disposal. Activists in the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society said they received a letter from vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope which stated the university had a leadership role in understanding and tackling climate change. The world’s top oil and gas companies are facing rising pressure from investors to shift to cleaner energy and renewables in order to meet international targets to sharply reduce carbon emissions by the end of the century. Dudley said that BP was going to invest around $500 million per year in renewables in the coming years, but that the world will need oil and gas “for many years to come.”

US President Donald Trump told a group of Republican senators that he is considering allowing exported ethanol and other biofuels to count towards the annual volumes mandated by the EPA. Trump also backed off plans to put a price cap on compliance credits refiners must submit to the EPA and supports lifting restrictions on the sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline. Trump hosted a meeting with a group of senators and administration officials to outline a plan to help refiners with regulatory cost of the US RFS while boosting demand for corn-based ethanol.

The Trump administration will scale back the use of biofuels waivers for small refineries and count ethanol exports toward federal biofuels usage quotas as part of a broad overhaul of the nation’s renewable fuel policy. The changes are aimed at easing tensions between the oil and corn industries, rivals that have been clashing for months over the future of the US RFS – a law that requires refiners to add increasing amounts of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel. While the RFS has helped farmers by creating a 15 billion gallon a year market for corn-based ethanol, oil refiners have increasingly complained that complying with the law costs them a fortune and threatens the very blue-collar jobs President Donald Trump has promised to protect. The biofuels changes include cutting back on the number of waivers that the EPA can provide to small refiners to free them from the regulation, and to ensure that any waived obligations are redistributed to other refiners.

President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would remain committed to a multinational nuclear deal despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement designed to deny Tehran the ability to build nuclear weapons. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the full name for the nuclear deal, struck in 2015 between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and Germany. Trump’s decision to exit the deal could tip the balance of power in favour of hardliners looking to constrain Rouhani’s ability to open up to the West. Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to resume its curbed nuclear activities after consultations with the other world powers which are part of the agreement. Under the deal, Iran stopped producing 20 percent enriched uranium and gave up the majority of its stockpile in return for most international sanctions on it being lifted.

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said he was “optimistic” about South Korea being shortlisted to build nuclear power plants for the Middle Eastern kingdom. Falih said that South Korea could expect a “good result” when asked about outcome of bidding on the project, without going into details. Saudi Arabia plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the US, Russia and China for the tender. Should South Korea win the bid, it would be the country’s second nuclear exports deal. In 2009, a consortium led by state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp clinched its first nuclear exports deal with the United Arab Emirates. Falih met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu to expand bilateral cooperation in energy and other sectors.

The Trump administration plans to kill a project it says would have cost tens of billions of dollars to convert plutonium from Cold War-era nuclear bombs and burn it to generate electricity, according to a document it sent to Congress. The Department of Energy submitted a document to Senate and House of Representative committees saying that the MOX project at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina would cost about $48 billion more than $7.6 billion already spent on it. The US has never built a MOX plant. Instead of completing MOX, the administration, like the Obama administration before it, wants to blend the 34 tonnes of deadly plutonium – enough to make about 8,000 nuclear weapons – with an inert substance and bury it underground in a New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Burying the plutonium would cost about $19.9 billion, according to the document.

Centrus Energy has agreed to expand its supply arrangements with French nuclear fuel cycle company Orano Cycle. Under an agreement signed on April 27, 2018, Orano will provide Centrus with a substantial long-term supply of SWU beginning after 2020. The supply from Orano provides Centrus with access to over 6 million SWU through 2030, a quantity that is equivalent to more than 50 reactor-years of nuclear fuel.

GST: Goods and Services Tax, MAAR: Maharashtra Authority for Advance Ruling, GW: gigawatt, IEEFA: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, WHO: World Health Organization, MW: megawatt, discoms: distribution companies, KW: kilowatt, TNERC: Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission, TANGEDCO: Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp, kWh: kilowatt hour, RPO: renewable purchase obligation, BSF: Border Security Force, MSEDCL: Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, NCL: National Chemical Laboratory, LPG: liquefied petroleum gas, ETC: evacuated tube collectors, CPC: compound parabolic concentrator, SECI: Solar Energy Corp of India, EU: European Union, WTO: World Trade Organisation, FY: Financial Year, JV: joint venture, PPA: power purchase agreement, PSUs: Public Sector Undertakings, NEEPCO: North Eastern Electric Power Corp, PV: photovoltaic, DGS: Directorate General of Safeguards, NPCIL: Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd, AFR: away from reactor, FAs: fuel assemblies, US: United States, CEC: California Energy Commission, CfD: contracts for difference, GWEC: Global Wind Energy Council, GE: General Electric, UT Dallas: University of Texas at Dallas, CELSE: Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe SA, EPA: Environmental Protection Agency, CEO: chief executive officer, MOX: Mixed Oxide, SWU: separative work units, RFS: Renewable Fuel Standard,  MoU: Memorandum of Understanding,  Ro-Ro: roll on, roll off


ONGC, OIL face risk of subsidy sharing: Moody’s

22 May. As oil prices rise, Moody’s Investors Service said state-owned oil producers ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp) and OIL (Oil India Ltd) face increasing risk of the government once again requiring them to share the fuel subsidy burden. ONGC and OIL had for more than 13 years paid as much as 40 % of the under-recoveries arising from fuel retailers selling petrol, diesel, cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene at a government-mandated price, which was way below the cost. This subsidy sharing ended in June 2015 with global oil prices plummeting. But the risk of them being asked to once again bear a part of the subsidy is looming with the recent rise in international oil rates, Moody’s has said. Government could intervene to address record high prices of petrol and diesel by reducing the excise duty on these products, especially if oil prices stay high, Moody’s said. ONGC and OIL have not contributed to fuel subsidies since June 2015, but have in previous years paid for over 40 % of the country’s annual subsidy bill. The government freed petrol price from its control in June 2010 and diesel in October 2014. It now provides a limited subsidy on LPG and kerosene. Moody’s said if ONGC and OIL are obligated to contribute the entire subsidised amount exceeding the government’s budgeted figure for 2018-19 fiscal, such a requirement would constrain their net realised prices to $52-56 per barrel, which is only marginally lower than or equal to the $56 for fiscal 2018. It estimated that fuel subsidies could total ₹ 34,000 crore to ₹ 53,000 crore in current fiscal, the highest since fiscal 2015, assuming Brent crude oil prices average $60-80 per barrel. The government has budgeted for ₹ 25,000 crore of fuel subsidies in 2018-19, leaving a shortfall of ₹ 9,000-28,000 crore, which could be met by ONGC and OIL entirely, or in part, if the government increases the budget allocation for these subsidies. As for the oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), Moody’s says that these companies have been asked to share less than 1 % of total fuel subsidies since fiscal 2012, and it is unlikely that the proportion of such costs will rise. On the issue of price deregulation, Moody’s says the government is unlikely to reverse fuel pricing deregulation because it remains committed to reforms. It noted that most petroleum products are sold at market-linked prices in India, except liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene.

Source: The Hindu

Expect government to come out with solution to rising oil prices in 3-4 days: BJP President

22 May. BJP President Amit Shah said the government is taking the issue of rising petroleum prices seriously and will soon announce measures to deal with the matter. He said that Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is meeting representatives of oil companies and that he is hopeful that a solution will be worked out soon. More than a week after the state-owned oil firms ended a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll hiatus on revising fuel prices, petrol and diesel rates have touched record highs. Petrol costs ₹ 76.87 per litre in Delhi and diesel costs ₹ 68.08 a litre. In the past nine days, petrol price has risen by ₹ 2.24 a litre and diesel by ₹ 2.15. Rates vary from state to state depending on the incidence of local sales tax or VAT (Value Added Tax). The prices in Delhi are the cheapest among all metros and most state capitals.

Source: Business Standard

Petrol, diesel should be brought under GST: Congress

22 May. The Congress attacked the Modi government over rising petrol and diesel prices, and demanded they be brought under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The Congress also demanded reduction in excise duties on petroleum products imposed by the Centre and the VAT (Value Added Tax) by various state governments. Congress leader Pawan Khera said to protest against the NDA government’s action of “looting” the common people by raising prices of petrol and diesel, despite a fall in international crude oil prices, the Congress took out rallies across the country. Khera said the entire agriculture sector and the transport sector depended on diesel.

Source: Business Standard

Pradhan appeals Odisha government to reduce tax on petrol, diesel

21 May. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that they have appealed to the Odisha government to reduce the tax on petrol and diesel for the benefit of people. Pradhan said the hike in the fuel prices is due to the less production of oil in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and hike in crude oil price in the international market. The prices of petrol and diesel touched an all-time high causing inconvenience to the public. The petrol and diesel prices have been increased by 17 paise a litre and 21 paise per litre respectively in Delhi. With this, petrol prices hit a 56-month high of ₹ 76.24 per litre while diesel prices touched a record high of ₹ 67.57 in the national capital. In April, Pradhan said the Centre and the state governments have been considering bringing the petroleum products under the ambit of Goods and Services Tax.

Source: Business Standard

Diesel zooms past  70 per litre mark in Kolkata, petrol at record high

21 May. Diesel, the fuel that powers public transport and goods vehicles, has breached the ₹ 70 mark for the first time in Kolkata. Petrol, too, has reached an all-time high of ₹ 78.91 a litre in Kolkata and is inching towards breaching the ₹ 80-a-litre mark, but it is the hike in diesel price that has the transport sector more worried. Truck operators have called an emergency meeting for an imminent strike as they will be hit the hardest by the diesel price hike. The diesel price hike is expected to have a direct impact on the prices of food items. Bengal imports coconut from Kerala, medicines from Mumbai, onion from Nasik and textile from Gujarat and Punjab. Oil PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) are estimated to have lost about ₹ 500 crore on absorbing higher cost resulting from the spike in international oil rates and fall in rupee against the US dollar during the nearly-three-week hiatus because of the Karnataka assembly polls. The bad news is that diesel prices will travel north further to match current international prices.

Source: The Times of India

At over  84 per litre, petrol costliest ever in India

21 May. The price of petrol in Mumbai touched a historical high of ₹ 84.07 per litre and will, with yet another marginal increase of 33 paise, reach ₹ 84.40. Similarly, the diesel price which touched ₹ 71.94 per litre, will reach a new high of ₹ 72.21. These record price levels come on the back of fuel retailers raising prices every day after resuming daily revision from May 14, two days after the Karnataka elections got over. They had stopped revising prices since April 24, ahead of the state polls, after the government informally nudged them to hold the price line. The prices of fuel in Mumbai are the highest in the country as Maharashtra levies a surcharge on fuel (₹ 9 per litre for petrol and ₹ 1 on diesel) over and above the VAT (Value Added Tax), which is 26% on petrol and 24% on diesel. Meanwhile, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan raised hopes of the government cutting excise duty to soften the impact of bubbling oil prices.

Source: The Times of India

Petrol prices highest ever in Delhi, Mumbai

21 May. Spiralling petrol prices touched fresh record levels in Delhi and Mumbai, at ₹ 76.57 and ₹ 84.40 per litre respectively. The fuel price breached the all-time high levels touched in 2013 and was priced at ₹ 76.24 and ₹ 84.07 per litre in both the cities. In the other major cities like Kolkata and Chennai, the price of the fuel rose to near five-year high levels, at ₹ 79.24 and ₹ 79.47 per litre. According to observers, this rise in transportation fuel prices can be attributed to the recent surge in global crude oil prices and high excise duty in the country. Diesel prices, which have already reached unprecedented levels, set new records across the country. In Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, diesel was sold at ₹ 67.82, ₹ 70.37, ₹ 72.21 and ₹ 71.59 per litre, respectively.

Source: Business Standard

Solution to combat surging fuel prices soon: Pradhan

20 May. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the increase in fuel prices was due to reduced production of oil in Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and hike in crude oil price in the international market. Petrol prices touched a record high of ₹ 76.24 per litre and diesel climbed to its highest-ever level of ₹ 67.57 as the oil PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) passed on four weeks of relentless rise in international oil prices to consumers. Noting that people, especially the middle-class, have to suffer due to price hike of oil, the Minister Said the government would try to work out a solution soon to deal with the situation. Stressing the need for stable and moderate oil prices, he said the surging fuel prices have negative impact on consumers and the Indian economy. With global crude prices soaring, the Minister has already pressed OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia to keep prices stable and moderate, saying that spike in rates would have a negative impact on Indian consumers as well as on the economy. Pradhan had conveyed India’s concerns when Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih called him recently.

Source: Business Standard

BPCL to commission  1 bn LPG bottling unit by March 2020

18 May. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) aims to commission the LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) bottling unit at Balangir, its second in Odisha, by March 2020. The new bottling unit is being built at a cost of ₹ 1.03 billion. The facility is to be spread over 23 acres at Barkhani village, around 12 kilometre (km) from the Bolangir railway station. The unit would have the capacity to produce 4.2 million LPG cylinders per year and cater to the requirement of the consumers in 14 districts – Balangir, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Boudh, Kandhamal. Rayagada and Nuapada. BPCL alone has an LPG customer base in Odisha of 1.53 million who consume 7.8 million cylinders in a year. By 2020, the LPG consumption in the state is poised to touch 10.5 million cylinders. LPG demand in the state is markedly growing in western and southwestern parts of the state. This geographic demand prompted BPCL to set up the new LPG bottling plant at Balangir, given the logistics advantage of the location.

Source: Business Standard

Pradhan asks Saudi Arabia for stable, moderate oil prices

18 May. With global crude prices touching $80 a barrel, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has pressed OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) kingpin Saudi Arabia to keep prices stable and moderate, saying that spike in rates would have a negative impact on Indian consumers as well as the economy. The rally is being attributed to a combination of factors — renewed US (United States) sanctions on third-largest OPEC producer Iran, shrinking supplies from Venezuela and the International Energy Agency saying that a global surplus has finally been eliminated due to output cuts by the OPEC and its allies.

Source: Business Standard

At $76.43 a barrel, Indian basket of crude oil rises highest since December 2014

17 May. On a day when the Indian basket of crude oil touched its three-and-a-half year high of $76.31 a barrel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report that following a growth of 125 kilo barrels per day in 2017, India will see an acceleration in oil demand to 300 kilo barrels per day in 2018. This is despite a drop in global demand for oil. The Indian basket price touched its highest point since December 1, 2014, when it was seen at $76.43 a barrel. However, since the rupee value against dollar is much depreciated since then, the impact on India’s trade balance would be higher. The rupee is at 67.53 a dollar currently against ₹ 61.80 on December 1, 2014. However, India could expect some moderation in global prices if the global demand falls in the second half of 2018, according to IEA report.

Source: Business Standard

DGH proposal to allow private oil firms explore producing fields rejected

16 May. The oil ministry has rejected the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH)’s recommendation that companies be permitted to carry out exploration in their producing fields irrespective of its effect on the government’s share of the profit. The recommendation by DGH was debated for months in the oil ministry, with officials also seeking guidance from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the matter. Officials felt the current guidelines, which are in line with a previous observation by the national auditor that such a petroleum operation could be supported only if it raised government take, didn’t need to be amended. The PMO too wasn’t persuaded by the proposal that could have helped Vedanta, RIL and other explorers in the country. Under the older licensing rules, companies first receive Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) for a ‘contract area’. After the exploration licensing period expires, the operator must relinquish entire contract area to the government except places where discoveries have been made. Once discoveries have been appraised, a ‘Development Area’ is carved out for which operator gets Petroleum Mining Lease (PML) that allows it to produce oil and gas from that area. Private players have been demanding permission to undertake exploration in ‘Development Area’, or PML area, after the exploration license has expired. In February 2013, the government unveiled a policy, allowing exploration in PML area in a ring-fenced manner, and permitting cost recovery only when the contractor proved exploration activity wouldn’t reduce the government take.

Source: The Economic Times


RIL gets green nod for expansion of petrochemical complex in Maharashtra

20 May. Reliance Industries (RIL) has received environment clearance for the expansion and optimisation of its petrochemical complex at Nagothane in Raigad district of Maharashtra at an estimated cost of ₹ 2,338 crore. The proposal is to expand the gas cracker and downstream plants located at Nagothane village in Raigad district by way of debottlenecking, expansion and change of fuel in captive power plant (CPP) along with expansion and rebuilding of residential township. The company manufactures wide range of products such as Ethylene Oxide, Ethylene Glycol, Linear Low Density High Density Polyethylene (LLHDPE), Hexene-1 and others along with a gas-based CPP. Presently, RIL Nagothane uses a mixture of ethane and propane to produce downstream products and by-products. The proposal is to modify its feedstock ratio in its gas cracker plant owing to availability of imported shale gas ethane.

Source: Livemint

Deadlock over GAIL’s Kochi-Bengaluru LNG pipeline project ends

16 May. Ending the deadlock over Kochi-Bengaluru LNG (liquefied natural gas) pipeline project, the GAIL (India) Ltd has awarded the work to lay 94 kilometre (km) pipeline along the Koottanadu-Walayar stretch to Corrtech International Private Ltd. The completion of the stretch is vital for Kerala as the state would get domestic LNG at half the existing price if it is connected to national gas grid in Bengaluru. Though the Kochi-Koottanadu-Bengaluru-Mangaluru LNG pipeline project was started in January, 2013, the GAIL had to terminate the contractors in November, 2013 as they couldn’t make any progress in the laying of pipes. The main reason for delay was the objection from land owners.

Source: The Economic Times


Tamil Nadu asks Centre to increase supply of coal

22 May. Tamil Nadu asked the Centre to increase the supply of coal to make thermal power stations in the state attain full capacity. State Electricity Minister P Thangamani, who met the Union Minister of Coal, Railways and Finance Piyush Goyal in New Delhi, requested him to supply the required coal through seven additional goods trains. Thangamani said 72 tonnes of coal a day were required to meet the production of thermal power stations in the state.

Source: Business Standard

CIL set to boost supplies by at least 15 mt annually

22 May. Coal India Ltd (CIL) is set to increase supplies by at least 15 million tonnes (mt) annually in the next few weeks, with three new rail projects linked to high-capacity mines almost complete, the company said. The additional supply will be enough to fuel almost 4,000 MW of power plants through the year, which will rise as more coal is transported, the company said. The increased availability comes as demand for power rises with temperatures climbing in the summer. The new rail links will benefit mines belonging to CIL subsidiaries Central Coalfields, Mahanadi Coalfields and South Eastern Coalfields. To begin with, the first two subsidiaries will load seven additional rakes, which will be increased to 13 over the next few months. Each rake can typically carry about 3,800 tonnes of coal and an average of 1.4 million tonnes of coal annually. This near 44 kilometre (km) stretch of railway track in Jharkhand will facilitate transportation of coal from Central Coalfields’ Magadha and Amrapali open cast mines in Jharkhand’s Latehar and Chatra districts, respectively. The second rail project would facilitate supplies from Mahanadi Coalfields’ Basundhara and Kulda open cast mines in Odisha’s Sundargarh district. This 52 km stretch between Jharsuguda and Sardega is complete and is already carrying two rakes a day. It can be increased to five rakes a day within a short span, CIL said.

Source: The Economic Times

Coal imports by power plants fall 22 percent in April

20 May. Coal imports by power utilities fell by 22.23 percent to 3.73 million tonnes in April mainly due to decline in shipments by imported coal based power projects in the country. According to the CEA (Central Electricity Authority) data, coal imports by the power utilities came down to 3.731 million tonnes (mt) in April this year from 4.798 mt in April 2017 mainly due to lower deliveries at imported coal based plants. In April 2018, however, the total coal imports by power utilities for blending with domestic coal rose to 1.427 mt from 1.078 mt in April last year. The scope of reducing coal import is always more at power plants using domestic coal as they use high gross calorific value imported fuel for blending. The data shows that the coal imports came down by imported coal based power plants in April this year. These plants imported 2.304 mt of coal in April 2018 down from 3.720 mt in the same month a year ago. Experts think that higher international coal prices may have been affecting imports by the power plants based on imported coal.  During April, among imported coal based plants, Tata Power’s Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project received 0.509 mt compared to 0.689 mt in the same month a year ago. Similarly, Adani’s 4620 MW Mundra Plant received 0.091 mt imported coal down from 1.322 mt a year ago. Essar’s 1200 MW Salaya plant and Simhapuri Energy 600 MW plant did not get any imported coal during April this year. However, the two plants had received 0.109 mt and 0.004 mt imported coal during April last year. Coal imports by power utilities in January, February and March this year stood at 4.339 mt, 4.060 mt, 4.396 mt respectively, which indicates a good start in April this year. However, the power sector experts said that there may be increase in coal imports by not only power utilities but by other sectors as well mainly due to transportation issues. The government, however, is doing everything needed to reduce dependence on coal imports particularly by power sector in view of shortage of the dry fuel faced by those.

Source: Business Standard

Government clears coal linkage methodology for power producers

16 May. The government said it has finalised the methodology for rationalisation of coal linkages for independent power producers (IPPs). Under the new methodology, dry fuel can be supplied to IPPs plants by a coal company other than the one with which they have signed the pact. The methodology was approved on the basis of the recommendations of a an inter-ministerial task force to optimise transportation cost, among other benefits. It said an Inter-Ministerial Task Force (IMTF) was constituted to undertake a comprehensive review of existing coal sources of IPPs having linkages and consider the feasibility for rationalisation of these sources with a view to optimise transportation cost, given the various technical constraints. This linkage rationalization shall be considered only for IPPs having linkages through allotment route. It said the Fuel Supply Agreement (FSA) of the rationalized source from any coal company would be signed/implemented only after the appropriate Electricity Regulatory Commission approves the supplementary agreement. On disputes, the government said these will be resolved as per the provision of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. It said the reduced landed price of coal will lead to savings in the cost of power generated as well as coal transportation.

Source: Business Standard


India’s spot power price rockets to 5 year high of  11.41 per unit

22 May. Spot power price touched 5-year high of ₹ 11.41 per unit at IEX (Indian Energy Exchange), which experts attributed to aggressive bidding by captive units following government’s decision to ramp up coal supplies to power plants. The government decided to augment coal supplies to centre/ state power plants and independent power producers (IPPs) from May 19 to June 30 to overcome shortage of the dry fuel and check power crisis. The decision was taken in a joint meeting of power, coal and railways ministries on May 17, 2018. Power sector has been witnessing coal shortage since last year, resulting in surge in spot prices to as high as ₹ 10.80 per unit in September 2017. In October, the government said the issue of coal supply to power plants is being addressed in a co-coordinated manner by the ministries of power, coal and railways. According to an expert, ₹ 11.41 per unit is a five-year high rate of power at IEX which is mainly triggered by government’s decision to stop supplies to captive power producers till June 30. However, the average spot power price was ₹ 6.28 per unit at IEX. The expert said spot power price went up by ₹ 1 to ₹ 1.25 per unit mainly due to outage of transmission line in north India due to storm warnings, which resulted in lower import (or availability) of power from other regions.

Source: The Economic Times

Power engineers to hold national convention

21 May. The All-India Power Engineers’ Federation (AIPEF) has decided to hold a national convention of electricity employees and engineers from across the country at New Delhi against the enactment of Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014 on June 8, alleging exploitation of power sector workers under the grab of new amendment. Power sector engineers and employees are opposed to the bifurcation of wire and content and privatisation of power sector through multiple licensees. AIPEF said the Electricity Act 2003 made a concurrent subject more central government-centric, thus curtailing the powers of state governments.

Source: The Times of India

20 UP sugar mills sold electricity worth  2.1 bn to government in 2016-17

21 May. Twenty sugar mills, including six from Muzaffarnagar district, sold surplus electricity worth ₹ 214 crore to the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL) in 2016-17. Six sugar mills from Khatauli, Titawi, Budhana, Mansurpur, Tikola and Khaikheri areas in Muzaffarnagar accounted for electricity worth ₹ 78 crore, District Cane Officer (DCO) O P Yadav said. Sugar mills generate electricity by burning sugarcane waste and after using the requisite amount, sell the surplus to the government.

Source: Business Standard

20 lakh prepaid smart electricity meters to be installed in Bihar

20 May. Work on installation of 20 lakh prepaid smart electricity meters in urban areas of the state, including Patna, Ara, Aurangabad and Bhagalpur, is set to commence from September. These 20 lakh meters will cover both high tension and low tension power consumers. Energy department said installation of smart meters would ensure convenience of consumers and control power thefts. The department said the total cost of the project was estimated at ₹ 800 crore. The installation work will start in September. In the first phase, around 20 lakh meters will be installed in all the urban areas of the state.

Source: The Times of India

HP plans to set up power sale control room

19 May. Himachal Pradesh (HP) is planning to set up a power sale control room to monitor real time electricity generation and revenue of the state government. Himachal Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Tarun Kapoor directed Director Energy to set up the control room. Reviewing the progress of power generation, he said that it would be appropriate that monitoring of all projects, including up to 5 MW Projects be carried out by one agency, the Directorate of Energy and the monitoring of all hydro electricity projects be web based.

Source: Business Standard

24k transmission towers, electric poles uprooted in 4 dust storms that swept UP

18 May. Hit by four rounds of thunderstorms in Agra and its surrounding districts, the Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd (DVVNL) is found to have lost 24,000 transmission towers and electric poles. The findings came to light after the discom (distribution company)’s latest audit which has pegged the damages at over ₹ 24 crore. High-speed winds accompanied by rain on April 11, May 2, 9 and 13 had crippled power supply infrastructure across west UP (Uttar Pradesh), especially Agra district. DVVNL is expected to reinstate all the affected areas. They have already installed 22,500 towers in Agra, Mathura, Auraiya, Firozabad, Kanpur Nagar and others. Over 5 lakh people in around 300 villages of Agra district were living in darkness for nearly 11 days following the thunderstorm on May 2. With no power supply, villagers were also forced to travel long distances for water as well. More than 100 substations and 300 feeders were affected after high-velocity winds swept across the region.

Source: The Times of India

Power generation hit as cold conditions prevail in HP

18 May. With Himachal Pradesh (HP) witnessing less generation of power in summers, the state government is worried as it would not only cause huge revenue losses to the exchequer, but also create power crisis in the state. With rains and snow in higher reaches, less discharge of water is taking place in rivers that is directly affecting power generation. State Power Minister Anil Sharma said electricity generation has not picked up even in the month of May. In winters, missing rain had affected power generation while now prolonged cold spell in the higher reaches with frequent rain and snow is affecting melting of glaciers due to which very less discharge of water is being witnessed in the rivers. He said that government was also providing around 20-22 lakh units power to Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd seeing current power scenario. He said that selling electricity to other states during summers was biggest source of income for the HP government. He said at present market price of electricity was good as prices have increased but state has failed to reap the benefit as power generation was very low. He said that the state government had tie-ups with other states. While electricity is being supplied to Bihar at the rate of ₹ 5.41 per unit and Uttar Pradesh is being supplied electricity at the rate of ₹ 4.26 per unit.

Source: The Times of India


Azure Power wins 200 MW solar projects in Maharashtra

22 May. Azure Power announced it has bagged four 50 MW solar projects for a cumulative capacity of 200 MW in Maharashtra. The company has “crossed the 2 GW milestone solar portfolio” by winning these projects, Azure said. The solar power projects were auctioned by Maharashtra State Power Generation Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MAHAGENCO). Azure Power will sign a 25-year power purchase pact with MAHAGENCO at a tariff of ₹ 3.07 per kilowatt hour (kWh). The projects are expected to be commissioned in 2019. With a pan India portfolio of over 2 GW across 23 states, Azure Power has developed, constructed and operated solar projects of varying sizes.

Source: Business Standard

Kudankulam-3 generator to be ready in 3 months

22 May. The ‘lifeline’ of the third unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu — a 360-tonne giant steam generator — is expected to be ready in another three months. This would mean that equipment supply for Kudankulam-3 would start well before the 2018-end deadline. Three more such steam generators would be assembled for the third unit of India’s biggest nuclear power plant. Thereafter, four more will be assembled for Kudankulam-4. While work on four more Kudankulam units, which have a combined capacity of 4,000 MW, is well on track, there are indications that six more reactors are likely to come up in Andhra Pradesh with Russia’s support. Nuclear energy is at the core of India-Russia ties.

Source: The Times of India

India poised to join China as global leaders in renewables

22 May. India is poised to join China as the two global leaders in the renewable energy technology-led transformation, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said. India doubled solar installs to 10 GW in 2017-18 and is rapidly up-scaling capacity to strive towards the ambitious and transformational 100 GW of solar by 2022, IEEFA said. The world’s largest solar project to-date at 2,225 MW is under construction at the Bhadla Industrial Solar Park in Rajasthan.

Source: Business Standard

Chandigarh residents to get 6 more months to install solar panels

21 May. In a major relief to residents of the city, Chandigarh administration is going to extend six months’ period to install solar panels in the houses of 1 kanal and above. Chandigarh administration, on the request of the residents, discussed the matter and finally decided to give this one-time relief to the resident. According to records of Chandigarh administration, till date around 1,300 residents have come forward to install the solar panels on their rooftops, as per the notification issued two years back. Significantly, the Chandigarh administration on May 18, 2016 issued the notification through which, it made it mandatory to install the solar panel on the rooftops of the houses, having an area of 1 Kanal and above by including this segment in the building bylaws. The central government has been providing 30% subsidy to the residents for installing the solar panel and it is a good opportunity for the residents.

Source: The Economic Times

Amethi to get solar-powered street lights

20 May. As many as 1,700 solar-powered lights will be installed at street-corners and parks in Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, using the MP Local Development (MPLAD) fund. According to District Congress Committee president Yogendra Mishra, the lights will be installed soon and necessary directions have been issued to the authorities concerned to maintain quality of work.

Source: Business Standard

Response of developed nations to tackle climate change ‘not adequate’: Environment Minister

20 May. Noting that the world is at a critical stage in combatting climate change, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the response of the developed nations to tackle the issue is still “not adequate”. He said this in his intervention at the 26th BASIC Ministerial Meeting of Environment Ministers in Durban. The grouping is a bloc of four countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – formed by an agreement on November 28, 2009. He stressed that developed nations take the lead in terms of mitigation and providing means of implementation to developing countries. He told his counterparts from BASIC countries and Michal Kurtyka of Poland, who will take over as next president of Conference of Parties (COP-24), that India has shown the vision and the political will to act. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision is to ensure sustainable development while protecting the most vulnerable from the effects of climate change. Vardhan said the BASIC group has decided to preserve the integrity of the historic Paris Agreement, including the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity.

Source: Business Standard

NTPC puts off solar projects auction amid developers concerns on evacuation

19 May. NTPC Ltd has deferred auction of 2,000 MW solar capacities to the first week of June as developers have sought resolution of inter-state connectivity issue before going ahead with the sale. Besides, the Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI) is likely to extend the bid submission for 2,000 MW solar capacities scheduled for the first week of June, industry sources said. The sources said that the NTPC’s 2,000 MW solar bid submissions scheduled on May 21, 2018, has been deferred to June first week after considering concerns expressed by developers about difficulties being faced for getting power evacuation connectivity through the inter-state transmission system. The Solar Power Developers Association had written to the Ministry of New and Renewable (MNRE) to extend solar auctions till the issue related to grant of connectivity through inter-state transmission system is not resolved.

Source: The Indian Express

PM Modi inaugurates hydro project in Kashmir, Pakistan protests

19 May. Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi inaugurated a hydroelectric power plant in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, amid protests from neighbour Pakistan which says the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies. The 330 MW Kishanganga hydropower station, work on which started in 2009, is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the volatile state amid frosty ties between the nuclear-armed countries. India has said the hydropower projects underway in Jammu and Kashmir are “run-of-the-river” schemes that use the river’s flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the treaty.

Source: Reuters

Tamil Nadu CM lays foundation stone for  18.5 bn Kundah hydro project

19 May. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (CM) Edappadi K Palaniswami laid the foundation for the Kundah pumped storage hydro-electric project (4×125 MW), which would come up at Kattukuppai in Nanajanad village in the Nilgiris. The project is estimated to cost ₹ 1,850 crore. Under the project, Tangedco’s Porthimund and Avalanche-Emerald reservoirs in the district would be utilised as the upper and lower reservoirs respectively, according to TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp). Pumped storage hydro-electric project was first installed in Tamil Nadu at Kadamparai in 1984. And the Kundha pumped storage hydro-electric project is the second of its kind in Tamil Nadu. Porthimund and Avalanche-Emerald reservoirs in the Nilgiris were established in 1965. Funded majorly by Rural Electrification Corp (REC), the project is likely to be completed by 2022. While ₹ 1,460 is funded by REC, the balance will be borne by TANGEDCO.

Source: The Economic Times

Visakhapatnam warming up to rooftop solar grids

19 May. As per Andhra Pradesh Central Power Distribution Company Ltd (APEPDCL) statistics, till February 2018, 563 rooftop solar grids were synchronized with the grid providing a total capacity of 6,837 KW with another 736 units of 3,651 KW capacity which were yet to be installed. People are being more conscious and realising the need to switch to energy efficient and clean renewable energy sources, which is touted to be a reason behind this trend. Adding to the momentum, the Greater Vijayawada Municipal Corp (GVMC) has recently initiated construction of first of its kind floating solar farm of two MW capacity at Mudasaralova reservoir and has a similar plan of constructing a three MW solar farm at Meghadrigeda reservoir. Currently Visakhapatnam Port Trust is the largest producer of solar power in the district with a 10 MW plant near the airport.

Source: The Times of India

Renewable energy outpaces fossils in India

18 May. Wind and solar energy in India are now outpacing fossil fuels as investment opportunities providing on average 12 percent higher annual returns, 20 percent lower annual volatility and 61 percent higher risk-adjusted returns than coal and natural gas, a new series of reports titled “An Assessment of India’s Energy Choices” led by Climate Policy Initiative, the Indian School of Business (ISB), Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi said. Investors also increasingly see renewable energy as less risky than fossil fuel energy, even though wind and solar are new entrants in the energy mix. This is predominantly because of shortcomings that impact profitability of the fossil fuel energy sector in India, such as sourcing issues, import dependency, long construction periods, environmental regulations and more recently low plant load factors and stranded coal and gas power plants. Econometric analysis of realistic renewable energy deployment out to 2042 shows that India could add between two million and 4.5 million jobs in wind and solar. Despite these strong economic signals, however, the studies indicate that to meet the official target of renewable energy capacity of 175 GW by 2022, India needs to focus more on strong renewable energy policies and also on strong macroeconomic policies. Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation works to facilitate India’s transition to a cleaner energy future.

Source: Business Standard

Merchant renewable energy plants get fillip from regulator CERC

17 May. Power regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has paved way for serious merchant renewable power plants by issuing guidelines for long-term transmission access while prescribing stringent rules against squatting and line underutilisation. The commission has issued detailed procedure for grant of long- and medium-term transmission access to renewable energy project that has acquired half of its land requirement and achieved financial closure. The bank guarantee amount for granting grid connectivity has also been raised. The connectivity procedure had became as because earlier renewable energy projects were connected to state transmission units and not directly to the inter-state transmission system.

Source: The Economic Times

India may not achieve clean energy target

17 May. India could fall short of its target of adding 175 GW of clean energy by the end of 2022 due to uncertainty around safeguard duty and weak financial position of power distributors, a survey by renewable energy consultancy firm Bridge to India shows. The survey, which covered top executives of over 40 Indian and international companies, also points to prospects for domestic solar manufacturing remaining bleak, which could cap growth of India’s total integrated module manufacturing capacity at below 3 GW by 2022. Clean energy players including Hero Future Energies, Engie, Aditya Birla Group, Sembcorp, Azure Power, Trina Solar, Schneider Electric and Larsen & Toubro participated. More than 70% of respondents said the current bidding environment is “irrationally aggressive”. Tariffs for wind and solar energy hit ₹ 2.43 and ₹ 2.44 per unit, respectively, last year, making renewable energy cheaper than thermally-generated power. Though green energy tariffs have shown a northward trend in recent auctions, they still hover below ₹ 3 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Tariffs ought to move up particularly in view of increasing tender issuance, but it remains to be seen whether distribution companies are willing to accept that. According to the survey, solar capacity addition would reach 50-75 GW by 2022, as against the government’s target of 100 GW. Of the 100 GW from solar, 40 GW is to come from the rooftop segment and the remaining from ground-mount projects.

Source: The Economic Times

MSEDCL to buy cheapest solar power

17 May. Efforts of Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule to go for renewable energy are paying dividends with two private companies agreeing to supply MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd) the cheapest solar power in the country. Four other companies will supply solar power at a rate 1 paise per unit higher than the minimum rate. MSEDCL had floated tenders for purchasing 1,020 MW solar power from private producers. Two companies JLTM Energy and Mahoba Solar agreed to supply 20 MW and 200 MW, respectively, at the rate of ₹ 2.71 per unit. Four companies Renew Solar Power (250 MW), Acme Solar Holdings (250 MW), Tata Power Renewable Energy (150 MW) and Ajure Power India (150 MW) have quoted ₹ 2.72 per unit. The discom (distribution company)’s average power purchase cost approved by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for 2017-18 is ₹ 4.01 per unit. About 10-12 years ago, the cost of solar power was as high as ₹ 18 per unit and MSEDCL was reluctant to buy it. Now it is cheaper than coal-fired thermal power. MSEDCL had put a cap of ₹ 3 per unit.  MSEDCL plans to purchase another 1,000 MW through distributed generation.

Source: The Times of India

Wind power bid submission deadline extended by Gujarat utility

​​16 May. The Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) has once again extended the last date for submitting bids for supplying wind power to the state-run company. This is the fourth time the deadline has been extended ever since GUVNL floated a tender in February to procure 500 MW wind power through competitive bidding. The last date for wind power developers to place their bids was May 14, which has now been extended to June 15.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s energy mix will be substantially complemented by renewable energy: Pradhan

16 May. India’s energy mix will be substantially complemented by renewable energy and the country is going to generate around 175 GW of energy from such sources, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. He said India was a leading player in the renewable energy movement and has positioned itself in this arena in a short span of time. On US (United States) President Donald Trump’s decision to snap nuclear deal with Iran, he said it is too early to come to a conclusion and that he doesn’t see any disruption in fuel supplies to India.

Source: Business Standard

Guwahati now has India’s first solar powered railway station

16 May. Guwahati now has India’s first railway station run by solar power. The project of installing solar panels was commissioned last year in April 2017. Around 2352 solar modules with a capacity of generating 700 kilowatt peak (kWp) has been set up over the roof of the Guwahati railway station. have been installed at the roof-top solar power plant. The solar-powered station is aimed at reducing carbon-footprint as well as cut down power costs drastically. Around 6.3 lakh  kilogram  (kg) carbon dioxide emissions have been cut off between April 12 last year to May 10 this year. The project cost is estimated to be ₹ 6.7 crore, as per Indian Railways. The solar power plant will save ₹ 67 lakh worth of electricity. With an average power generation capacity per day is 2048 kilowatt hour (kWh), the solar panels till date have generated a total of 7,96,669 kWh of electricity.

Source: Business Standard


Oil producers boost 2019 hedging: Goldman Sachs

22 May. Oil producers have picked up the pace in hedging against further production in 2019, with an average price at about $60 a barrel, which limits upside but protects against volatility, according to Goldman Sachs. For 2018, about 48 percent of oil production is hedged at an average price of $57 a barrel, Goldman said. Sixteen percent of 2019 oil production is hedged at $60 a barrel, versus 9 percent at the end of the fourth quarter, in line with the historic average for hedging several quarters in advance. Oil producers use futures contracts to hedge their exposure to production, in an effort to keep themselves protected from losses should the price of US (United States) crude fall suddenly. Both hedging levels are below current futures contracts prices, which are averaging around $70 for the second half of 2018 and $66 a barrel for 2019. Hedging at lower levels limits the ability of producers to take advantage of a subsequent rally in prices – but it also protects them if the price of oil should fall to lower levels. In 2018, oil has been steadily rising, which presents a risk for producers if they hedge at levels below the current price, so some companies elected not to hedge.

Source: Reuters

Egypt sets deadlines for O&G exploration bids

22 May. Egypt has set October 1 and October 8 deadlines for two major international tenders for oil and gas (O&G) exploration spanning 27 onshore and offshore blocks, the oil ministry said. Bids for 11 blocs offered by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EPGC) must be submitted by October 1, the ministry said.

Source: Reuters

Russia does not rule out extension of OPEC oil production cut

22 May. Russia’s energy ministry does not rule out a global oil production cut deal led by OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and Moscow being extended to 2019, Roman Marshavin, head of its international cooperation department, said in the text of a speech. In the speech, which was dated May 22, Marshavin said that the question will be discussed at a meeting between OPEC and other producers. The next meeting of OPEC members plus Russia and other non-OPEC producers is scheduled for next month in Vienna.

Source: Reuters

OPEC looking closely at Venezuelan oil output drop

21 May. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is looking closely at a drop in oil output from Venezuela to see if the loss of supply from the member state warrants action by the group. Falling Venezuelan output due to an economic crisis has helped the OPEC deliver a bigger cut than intended under its pact with Russia and other producers to curb supplies and remove a global glut. The pact, which began in January 2017 and runs to the end of 2018, will be reviewed when OPEC meets on June 22 to review policy. OPEC’s compliance with the deal reached an unprecedented 166 percent in April, meaning it has cut well above its target. Global inventories have eased back close to their five-year average, the measure originally targeted by OPEC and its allies. The output reductions combined with worries about supply disruptions due to US (United States) sanctions on Iran pushed oil prices above $80 a barrel last week, the highest since November 2014. Oil output in Venezuela hit a long-term low of 1.505 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, almost 500,000 bpd below its OPEC output target.

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia assures on supply as oil hits $80 a barrel

18 May. Saudi Arabia said it is consulting other oil producers in and outside OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to ensure the world has adequate supplies to support economic growth after prices hit $80 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that he had called his counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Russia, as well as major oil consumer South Korea, to “coordinate global action to ease global market anxiety”. Falih also said he had reassured the executive director of the International Energy Agency of “commitment to the stability of oil markets and the global economy” and that he would contact others over the next few days. The Saudi energy ministry said that the kingdom together with other producers would ensure the availability of adequate supplies to offset any potential shortfalls.

Source: Reuters

British Columbia delegation pushes for stalled oil pipeline in Alberta

18 May. Nearly 100 British Columbia business, labor and aboriginal leaders went to Edmonton in Alberta to show support for an oil pipeline expansion stalled by opposition from environmentalists, other aboriginals and the British Columbia government. In April, Kinder Morgan halted all non-essential work on the C$7.4 billion ($5.8 billion) expansion, which would nearly triple capacity on an existing line from Edmonton to the Vancouver area, citing the vehement opposition in British Columbia. Oil prices climbed above $80 for the first time since 2014, prompting renewed optimism from energy producers around the world. But Canadian oil trades at a steep discount to the US (United States) benchmark CLc1, made worse in recent months as rising output ran up against transportation bottlenecks.

Source: Reuters

BP CEO sees shale, OPEC cooling oil markets

18 May. BP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Dudley expects a flood of US (United States) shale and the reopening of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) taps to cool the oil market after crude rose above $80 a barrel. US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit an international nuclear deal with Iran and revive sanctions on the OPEC member country, as well as Venezuela’s plummeting output, has helped to lift oil prices to their highest since 2014. But BP sees oil falling to between $50 and $65 a barrel due to surging shale output and OPEC’s capacity to boost production, the CEO said. Crude exports from Iran, the third-largest member of the OPEC, could drop by 300,000 to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) as a result of US sanctions, the CEO said. The 30 percent recovery in crude prices since February has given strong tailwind to oil companies such as BP, whose profits recovered last year after a three-year slump in the market.

Source: Reuters

Argentine invites oil companies to submit offshore proposals

18 May. Argentina has called on oil companies to submit proposals for offshore exploration areas, the country’s official gazette said, looking to exploit under-explored parts of the country’s continental shelf and other potential oil basins. Oil companies, including Shell and Statoil, have said they are mulling bidding in auctions to be held later this year. The country faces fierce competition to attract the billions of dollars of investment needed to develop deepwater reserves. Several other Latin American countries are auctioning offshore blocks this year. For Big Oil, the potential access to Latin American energy reserves is unprecedented. In many countries now opening, including Argentina, resource nationalism has long barred their entry or limited opportunities.

Source: Reuters

IEA warns global oil demand may suffer as crude nears $80

16 May. Global demand for oil is likely to moderate this year, as the price of crude nears $80 a barrel and many key importing nations no longer offer consumers generous fuel subsidies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. The Paris-based IEA cut its forecast for global demand growth to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) for 2018, from a previous estimate of 1.5 million bpd. Oil inventories in the world’s richest nations, the most transparent and easy to track, have now fallen 1 million barrels below the five-year average, the level targeted by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners, as the group restrains crude output for a second year. Iran, which produces around 3.8 million bpd and is OPEC’s third-largest supplier behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, could face severe disruption to its exports. The IEA said the previous round of sanctions, which were lifted in early 2016, cut Iran’s crude exports by more than 1 million bpd. The IEA estimates demand for OPEC’s crude will average 32.25 million bpd for the rest of 2018, compared with output of 32.12 million bpd in April. World supply, meanwhile, rose 1.78 million bpd in April from a year earlier, driven predominantly by non-OPEC production. The IEA, which advises Western governments on energy policy, expects non-OPEC supply to rise by 1.87 million bpd in 2018, up from a previous forecast of 1.8 million bpd.

Source: Reuters

Conoco aims to seize oil cargoes near Citgo’s Aruba terminal

16 May. US (United States) oil company ConocoPhillips has brought new court actions to seize two cargoes of crude and fuel near a terminal operated by PDVSA subsidiary Citgo Petroleum in Aruba, the Aruban government confirmed. Conoco is moving aggressively to enforce a $2 billion arbitration award over the 2007 expropriation of two oil projects in Venezuela, creating unease in the Caribbean, where many islands depend on fuel produced by state-run PDVSA. The cargoes seized included 500,000 barrels of crude oil on the Grimstad and about 300,000 barrels of jet fuel, gasoline and diesel on the Atlantic Lily, according to the Aruba terminal and vessel tracking data. Citgo, the US refining unit of PDVSA, has leased the 209,000 barrel per day (bpd) Aruba refinery and its 13 million-barrel terminal from the government since 2016 to store Venezuelan and other crudes for supplying its US refineries.

Source: Reuters

Mexico’s Pemex says testing crude for import could start in July

16 May. Mexican state-run oil company Pemex expects to begin testing light crudes as soon as July for possible import, looking to boost margins at its domestic refineries, its Chief Executive Officer Carlos Trevino said. Pemex has for decades exported crude oil but has hardly ever imported the commodity, preferring to process domestic crudes at its six refineries in Mexico. Trevino said the company would likely seek imports resembling its proprietary Isthmus grade of light crude, the production of which has been declining in Mexico. The company, one of the largest in Latin America, has said it was looking for lighter crude grades for its refining network, which is currently operating at around 48 percent of its 1.54 million barrel per day (bpd) capacity. Trevino reiterated that importing could be a temporary strategy, partly because of the oil it has been producing at its new Ixachi field in Veracruz. Trevino said Pemex’s annual crude oil hedging program is set to cover about a third of annual production at a price of $51 per barrel, but he declined to elaborate.

Source: Reuters


US LNG, ethanol sellers buoyed by China trade talks

22 May. China’s interest in reducing its trade surplus with the United States (US) through increased energy imports could advance plans for US liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and ethanol sales, analysts and energy executives involved in developing new LNG facilities said. Washington and Beijing stepped back from the brink of a full-blown trade war after talks last week, with the US appearing to set aside for now its demands that China revamp key planks of its industrial policy. The LNG and ethanol markets are not big enough by themselves to meet President Donald Trump’s goal of reducing the Chinese trade deficit by $200 billion per year. Cheniere Energy Inc said its board approved financing for an LNG unit, the first new approval in the US since 2015. The decision adds a third unit capable of producing 0.7 billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas to its Corpus Christi, Texas, plant. China overtook South Korea in 2017 as the world’s second biggest buyer of LNG behind Japan. The country, which imported 5.6 billion cubic feet per day last year, is looking to buy more low-cost sources of energy, like gas, to reduce its use of coal and cut pollution.

Source: Reuters

Cuadrilla applies for consent to frack UK’s first horizontal shale gas well

21 May. Cuadrilla has applied to the British government for consent to frack the country’s first ever horizontal shale gas well at its site in Lancashire, the company said. The drilling of this well at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road exploration site was completed in April and the firm has all the necessary permits required for hydraulic fracturing. The drilling of a second horizontal shale gas exploration well is nearing completion and an application for hydraulic fracturing will then be submitted, Cuadrilla said.

Source: Reuters

Race on to boost gas supply to Australia’s east coast

21 May. A pipeline across Australia and gas imports from as far away as the United States (US) are on the drawing board as the country races to plug a domestic supply gap that is driving up east coast gas prices and threatening jobs. Although Australia is the world’s No. 2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, much of its east coast gas is tied up in long-term export contracts while mainstay supplies in the populated southeast are drying up more quickly than expected. The government is under fire from angry household gas users and industry, particularly big gas users such as petrochemical and fertilizer manufacturers which have warned that high prices are making some businesses uncompetitive. Coal seam gas from Queensland, which now supplies around 30 percent of the east coast market, costs around A$6 ($4.50) a gigajoule (GJ) to produce, then has to be piped at a cost of around A$1.85-A$2.45 per GJ, which has driven up gas prices to well above A$8. Shortages will grow from 2022 due to a steep output decline in the main gas field that has supplied southern Australia for five decades, the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned. In the longer term, gas is expected to flow from developments around the country, including more coal seam gas from Queensland, new finds off the coast of Victoria, and shale gas from the Northern Territory, but these are years from development. At least two groups – AGL Energy and a consortium led by iron ore mining tycoon Twiggy Forrest – are looking to import LNG to eastern Australia to meet demand from around 2021. Woodside Petroleum and Chevron Corp, the two big LNG producers in Western Australia, have expressed interest in supplying AGL’s proposed floating storage and regasification facility.

Source: Reuters

UK’s top Qatari LNG importer seeks to broaden supply as cargoes slump

18 May. Britain’s busiest liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal, South Hook, is seeking to broaden its sources of supply as robust Asian demand diverts cargoes from Qatar – the world’s biggest exporter and the terminal’s majority shareholder. Volumes to the terminal, in which Qatar Petroleum owns a controlling stake, have halved so far this year from a year ago to 1.2 million cubic meters (mcm) and amount to just 15 percent of 2016 volumes for the same period. The terminal, with ExxonMobil and Total as minor shareholders, has been importing LNG from Qatar since it was fully commissioned in 2010. With capacity of 15.6 million tonnes a year, it is one of the biggest in Europe.

Source: Reuters

Anadarko seeks to raise $14-$15 bn for Mozambique LNG project

18 May. Anadarko Petroleum is seeking to raise a record $14-$15 billion from banks and export credit agencies for its huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique. Fast-growing gas demand from China and Southeast Asia is reassuring export project developers sitting on huge untapped gas discoveries in Mozambique and elsewhere that the market cycle is turning after three years of low prices. The full amount would be the largest loan ever in the LNG sector. French bank Societe Generale, the financial adviser on the $20 billion Mozambique LNG project, has already received interest for a combined $12 billion in cover and direct lending from export credit agencies (ECAs) in China, South Africa, Italy and Japan. Asian and Chinese ECAs in particular have provided billions of dollars in loans and cover to Africa’s largest energy and infrastructure projects in recent years, paving the way for additional commercial bank financing. In all, Anadarko has agreed commercial terms including volume and price for 5.1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG supplies from Mozambique, closing in on the 8.5 mtpa target needed to trigger its final investment decision on the project.

Source: Reuters

PetroChina cuts gas supplies to major users to prevent shortages

18 May. PetroChina has curbed supplies of the fuel to some industrial users in northern and western regions, in the first sign of emerging tightness only two months after China experienced one of its worst winter gas crunches. PetroChina started from early May limiting gas supplies and hiking prices for major customers, including city gas distributors and inland gas liquefaction plants in some western provinces. China’s natural gas consumption rose almost 14 percent in the first four months of the year to 71.1 million tonnes. China operates more than 100 small inland LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants that source gas from state producers PetroChina and Sinopec and supply super-chilled fuel to steel mills, glass makers and residential compounds, users that are not covered by the pipeline grid.

Source: Reuters

Russia-Germany gas pipeline raises intelligence concerns

17 May. The planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany raises US (United States) intelligence and military concerns since it would allow Moscow to place new listening and monitoring technology in the Baltic Sea, Sandra Oudkirk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy, said. Oudkirk said the US Congress had given the president new authority to impose sanctions against a variety of Russian pipeline projects. Oudkirk said Washington’s objections included past Russian moves to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine and other countries, adding that it would perpetuate “vulnerabilities” in Russian-European ties for another 30 to 40 years. Oudkirk rejected suggestions that Washington is opposing the pipeline to help US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The Nord Stream 2 project has said it will tap banks for financing in the fourth quarter of 2018 or early next year. Oudkirk said Washington supported the planned Danish-Polish Baltic Pipe because it would diversify sources and routes. The pipeline, to be built by 2022, is aimed at reducing reliance on Russian gas.

Source: Reuters

UK announces extra measures to support shale gas development

17 May. The British government announced measures to speed up planning applications to support development of the country’s shale gas industry. Increasing reliance on imported gas as Britain’s domestic North Sea output declines is one of the driving forces behind government support for hydraulic fracturing, which involves extracting gas obtained from rocks broken up or fractured with water and chemicals at high pressure. However, it is impossible to know exactly how much shale gas might be underground – and, more importantly, how much can be extracted – until fracking has started in earnest. Commercial production of shale gas in Britain is not expected for two years and developers complain that progress has been slowed by protests and regulatory processes. The government will introduce measures to streamline and improve the regulation process for shale gas planning applications so decisions are made more quickly. Shale gas developers say it can take up to three years to obtain permission to drill a test well in Britain, compared with only a month in the United States. The government will also launch a new 1.6 million pound ($2.2 million) shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity and expertise in local authorities dealing with shale planning applications and set up a shale environmental regulator. The government also said it will open a consultation on whether exploration wells will be allowed to be drilled without the need for a planning application. However, shale gas developers such as IGas, Cuadrilla and Ineos, welcomed the measures, particularly those to speed up the planning process.

Source: Reuters

France’s Total to quit Iran gas project if no sanctions waiver

16 May. Total will pull out of a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran if it cannot secure a waiver from US (United States) sanctions, the French energy company said. Total signed a contract in 2017 to develop phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars field with an initial investment of $1 billion – a contract Tehran repeatedly hailed as a symbol of the accord’s success. Total’s announcement comes after German insurer Allianz and Danish oil product tanker operator Maersk Tankers said they were winding down their businesses in Iran. Italy’s Eni, which last June signed a provisional agreement with Tehran to conduct oil and gas feasibility studies, said after Washington’s decision to quit the nuclear deal that it had no plans for new projects in Iran.

Source: Reuters

LNG Canada committed to starting construction on project in 2018: CEO

16 May. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andy Calitz of the LNG Canada project on British Columbia’s northern coast said that the company was committed to starting construction on the C$40 billion ($31.1 billion) liquefied natural gas export project this year. An investment decision on the terminal was delayed in 2016, due to sagging oil prices that hit cash flows, along with an unfavorable supply-demand outlook, but remains on track for 2018, Calitz said.

Source: Reuters


Germany could shut down half of its coal capacity

21 May. Germany could reduce its coal-fired power generation capacity by half in the coming years if planned grid expansion and the addition of new gas-fired plants come online on schedule, Jochen Homann, president of the Bundesnetzagentur or Federal Network Agency, said. He said the lack of grid capacity is likely to have raised the cost of ensuring a stable energy supply system to a record of more than €1 billion ($1.18 billion) in 2017.

Source: Reuters

Netherlands to ban coal-fired power plants in blow to RWE

18 May. The Netherlands will ban the use of coal in electricity generation in the coming decade and shut down two of its five coal-fired plants at the end of 2024 unless they switch fuels. The law announced by Economy Minister Eric Wiebes applies to plants build in the 1990s, while newer ones will have to shut by the end of 2029, and marks the first step towards the government’s goal of shutting all coal-fired plants by 2030. The first two plants are run by Germany’s RWE and Sweden’s Vattenfall in Geertruidenberg and Amsterdam, respectively, and have been in operation since 1994. The remaining three were built in 2015 and 2016. RWE, which also operates one of the newer coal-fired plants, said it was displeased by the decisions, as they offer no compensation for the ban on coal and for the €3.2 billion ($3.8 billion) RWE said it invested in its newest plant at the request of the government.

Source: Reuters

China’s NDRC to curb coal prices, boost output

18 May. China will take steps to bring down coal prices because the recent rally is not supported by market fundamentals, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said. Two major coal-fired power producers banned spot purchases of thermal coal above certain prices amid a bearish outlook for the market in the coming months. Benchmark thermal coal futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange have gained more than 7 percent over the past month, reaching 643 yuan ($100.83) a ton, the highest level since late February. To bring coal prices back within a “reasonable price range”, the NDRC will encourage miners to boost output — adding at least 300,000 tonnes a day from mines in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia. NDRC puts reasonable coal prices at 500-750 yuan a ton. NDRC expects coal output in the three regions to increase by about 250 million tonnes this year. Combined coal production in these area was 2.3 billion tonnes last year, accounting for two thirds of the country’s total coal output. Plans are also being made to improve rail capacity for coal transportation from miners in the western part of the country to coal-fired power plants in eastern regions.

Source: Reuters

China’s Huaneng, Huadian ban purchase of overpriced spot coal

18 May. Two major Chinese coal-fired power generators have banned spot purchases of thermal coal above certain prices as they expect the market to fall in coming months. China Huaneng Group and China Huadian Corp Ltd, blamed the rally in coal prices since mid-April for “irrational market expectations”, according to internal notices from the two firms. Benchmark thermal coal futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange have gained more than 7 percent over the past month, reaching 643 yuan ($101) a ton, the highest level since late February. China’s coal output rebounded from a five-month low in March to 293 million tonnes as miners ramped up domestic supplies after import curbs were tightened. Most of Huaneng’s coal supplies this year have come from long-term contracts with coal miners, with prices lower than spot cargoes. Huaneng and Huadian also called on customs to speed up cargo checks to support coal imports and asked local governments to boost coal output. The eastern Chinese province of Fujian has temporarily banned foreign coal imports into the small port of Luoyan from April 1.

Source: Reuters


UK’s Ofgem investigates National Grid’s electricity demand forecasting

22 May. UK (United Kingdom) energy regulator Ofgem has launched an investigation into National Grid Electricity Transmission’s demand forecasting for the UK electricity market. Inappropriate forecasting can lead to inefficient investment decisions by market participants, Ofgem said. The investigation is to examine whether NGET breached rules relating to its duty to operate the system in an economic and efficient manner, Ofgem said. NGET is the system operator for the high voltage transmission network in England, Scotland and Wales and is owned by National Grid. It ensures that supply and demand are balanced in real time and provides demand forecasts to the UK electricity market.

Source: Platts

1.1 GW Bhikki plant starts full power generation

22 May. Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power (Private) Ltd, Harbin Electric International Company Ltd and GE Power have announced the completion of combined cycle commissioning activities and the start of full-fledged commercial operations at the Bhikki Power Plant. The facility is now adding up to 1,180 MW of power to the national grid – the equivalent power needed to supply up to 2.4 million Pakistani homes. GE’s HA technology also equips the Haveli Bahadur Shah (HBS) and Balloki power plants. Together, HBS, Bhikki and Balloki power plants are a significant component of the government’s strategy to enhance access to electricity to over 90 percent of the population and are expected to add a total of up to 3,600 MW to national grid.

Source: The Nation

Puerto Rico power grid braces for hurricane season

18 May. The US (United States) federal agency tasked with restoring electricity to Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean last year, is leaving the island though thousands still have no power heading into the next hurricane season starting next month. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last September, leaving 1.5 million homes and businesses in the dark. Both the island’s power utility and the Trump Administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency were criticized for a slow response. Most power has been restored by the US Army Corps of Engineers but the electricity grid remains unreliable, and suffered an island-wide blackout last month. The Army Corps, a unit of the US armed forces, has said its task is largely complete now that most people have power. About 22,000 customers are still without electricity, most in remote areas, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Source: Reuters

US power grid ready for summer, but California & Texas are concerns: FERC

17 May. Most US (United States) regions are prepared to meet power and natural gas demand this summer, but shortages are possible in Southern California due to low hydropower and gas supplies and Texas following the retirement of several coal plants, federal energy regulators said in a report. In Southern California, staff at the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said lower-than-average hydro generation may create challenges as natural gas-fired generation – the replacement for hydro production shortfalls in past years – may be limited due to reduced gas storage capacity and local pipeline outages in the region. Nationwide, the staff said North American reliability coordinators forecast demand for electricity from the grid would be about the same as last summer due to increased use of demand response programs to reduce usage and distributed energy resources like home solar panels. The report said energy firms were expected to add over 25,000 MW of mostly gas and renewable generation through the end of the summer. That new capacity will replace much of the roughly 14,000 MW of generation that has retired since May 2017, including about 10,800 MW of coal-fired capacity. In California, the grid operator said it also expects to use demand response programs and consumer conservation to mitigate tight supply conditions this summer.

Source: Reuters

Uganda power distributor Umeme to spend $1.2 bn to expand grid

16 May. Ugandan power distributor Umeme Ltd plans to spend $1.2 billion in the next seven years to revamp and expand the grid and has hired an adviser to explore options for raising the money, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Selestino Babungi said. The investments will be used to prepare for an expected rise in power expected to come online by 2020, CEO said. The East African country is developing two new hydropower plants on the Nile – Karuma and Isimba – and when completed, they are expected to add a combined 780 MW of power to the grid. When the two China-financed and constructed plants come online, they will roughly double the country’s existing generation capacity which currently stands at about 700 MW. Uganda’s energy market is largely seen as underexploited and holding significant potential for growth. The grid reaches just 23 percent of the country’s 40 million people and power consumption, according Umeme, stands at 85 kilowatt hours per capita annually. Last year Umeme, Uganda’s sole electricity distributor, saw its pre-tax profit plunge 77 percent, hammered by debt servicing costs.

Source: Reuters


Bank of England urged to act on lenders’ climate change risks

22 May. The Bank of England has been urged to introduce strict rules on how banks deal with the risks of climate change by activist investor Christopher Hohn, who warned that failing to act could endanger the long-term stability of Britain’s banking system. The hedge fund manager, who runs TCI Fund Management, wrote to Mark Carney, BoE governor, arguing that while UK banks are exposed to a wide range of “serious climate-related risks” through their loan books, the current disclosure regime means there is inadequate information for investors. Banks have come under particular pressure from shareholders and environmental groups because of their role in financing fossil fuel projects.

Source: Financial Times

Philippines’ Ayala looks to sell big stake in coal unit, turn to renewables

21 May. AC Energy Inc, part of Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp (AC.PS), said it could sell a stake of up to 50 percent in its coal-fired energy unit, using funds from the deal to boost its renewables business in Southeast Asia. AC Energy is in talks with potential partners that could be interested in taking a stake in its wholly-owned AC Thermal unit, the company said. AC Energy’s assets are 80 percent thermal and 20 percent renewable, with a total value of 135 billion pesos ($2.6 billion), according to a recent CLSA report. Its thermal assets include the 632 MW GNPower Mariveles coal plant, a partnership with Aboitiz Power Corp’s subsidiary Therma Power and Power Partners, and the 552 MW GNPower Kauswagan, in which it has an 85 percent economic stake. The company expects to expand its overall energy capacity to more than 5,000 MW by 2025 from 1,600 MW currently. Following its acquisition of Salak and Darajat geothermal assets in Indonesia in 2017, AC Energy is assembling a portfolio of renewable energy assets in the region this year, including a 75 MW wind project in Indonesia and over 300 MW of solar projects in Vietnam. AC Energy nearly doubled its net profit to 593 million pesos in the first quarter of this year, boosted by robust contributions from its Indonesia investment and from its coal and renewable platforms.

Source: Reuters

Czech firms look to sweep up profits from dirty power

18 May. Two Czech power companies are targeting fossil fuel-fired plants in Germany as part of a contrarian strategy to snap up older, polluting assets on the cheap from European energy giants going green. EPH and Seven Energy have submitted rival offers for French group Engie’s plants near Munich and Bremen, as well as its 52 percent stake in a plant in Wilhemshaven. Fossil fuel, or thermal, power still accounts for almost half of the EU (European Union)’s electricity. EPH and Seven Energy are betting the plants will need to remain operational over the next 20 years for back-up power to stabilize grids when demand outstrips supply from less predictable wind and solar. Governments or regulators, aiming to meet tough pollution targets, could also decide to limit power generation from coal plants. This happened to EPH in Britain where it announced in February it would close the Eggborough plant after failing to secure an agreement to provide back-up capacity. EPH and Seven Energy are not alone in targeting thermal power assets, although the field of potential buyers is small because such companies need to be free from political pressure to reduce carbon footprints, according to analysts.

Source: Reuters


State-wise Captive Electricity Consumed by Industries through Diesel Generators

Million Units

State/UT 2016-17*
Northern Region
Chandigarh 2.18
Delhi 2.17
Haryana 382.84
Himachal Pradesh 42.54
J&K 2.25
Punjab 369.45
Rajasthan 677.61
Uttar Pradesh 536.75
Uttarakhand 169.67
Western Region
Chhattisgarh 522.36
Gujarat 1562.4
Madhya Pradesh 251.79
Maharashtra 1528.78
Daman & Diu 1.92
D&N Haveli 2.65
Goa 94.75
Southern Region
Andhra Pradesh 59.08
Telangana 104.13
Karnataka 843.57
Kerala 7.78
Tamil Nadu 540.68
Puducherry 9.24
Eastern Region
Bihar 1.23
Jharkhand 5.8
Odisha 463.45
West Bengal 106.96
North Eastern Region
Assam 5.75
Meghalaya 17.59
Total (All India) 8315.36

*for industries having captive capacity of 1 MW or above

Source: Lok Sabha Starred Q. No. 548

This is a weekly publication of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It covers current national and international information on energy categorised systematically to add value. The year 2017 is the fourteenth continuous year of publication of the newsletter. The newsletter is registered with the Registrar of News Paper for India under No. DELENG / 2004 / 13485.

Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

Editor: Akhilesh Sati

Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar

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