MonitorsPublished on Feb 18, 2021
Energy News Monitor | Volume XVII; Issue 33

Quick Notes

Coal Production: Will India Become Self-Sufficient?

Domestic Coal Production

As part of the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ programme, the Government aims to substitute coal imports with domestic coal production. The goal of increasing domestic production of coal predates the launch of the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ programme. In 2014, the Government of India set a target of increasing coal output to 1.5 billion tonnes (BT) by 2019-2020 with 1 BT coming from Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries.  In 2019, the target date for increasing coal production to 1.5 BT was revised to 2023-24. In December 2020, the Ministry of Coal (MOC) reiterated the goal of 1 BT coal production by CIL in 2023-24. According to the MOC, coal demand will grow from 955.26 million tonnes (MT) in 2019-20 to 1.27 BT in 2023-24 and domestic production will increase to make India self-sufficient.

To achieve the goal of 1.5 BT, domestic production of coal must grow at close to about 7 percent annually. This is not an impossible target. Between 2008-2010, domestic coal production grew at an annual average rate of about 7 percent.  In the decade 2001-02 to 2009-10, coal production grew at over 5 percent on average.  However, in the decade 2010-11 to 2019-20, production growth fell to an average of about 3 percent. This is despite the fact that investment in coal supply nearly doubled from 2010‐19. Slowdown in the economy was among the key reasons.  In 2019-20, the production of raw coal in India was 729.1 MT with a minuscule growth of 0.05 percent over the previous year. In the period April-October 2020, coal production declined by 3.3 percent year on year to 337.52 MT. Import of coal grew at a much faster rate.  In 2019-20, total import of coal grew by 5.6 percent to 248.54 MT compared to 235.35 MT in 2018-19.  Import of non-coking coal grew at 7.2 percent to 196.704 MT in 2019-20 compared to 183.510 MT in 2018-19. The cost of imports was over ₹1.5 billion in 2019-20. Notwithstanding these trends, the CIL and the Government remain optimistic over the prospect of increasing domestic coal production.

CIL’s report “Roadmap for Enhancement of Coal Production” seeks technical and administrative interventions at the supply end to increase coal production. The report lists investment in railway lines, mechanisation of mining, large scale contract mining along with quick land acquisition, faster environmental clearance and state level approvals as the means to achieve the goal of increasing domestic production.

The Government has a broader perspective.  According to a government appointed high level committee headed by the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog that had the mandate to liberalize the coal sector, coal was not to be viewed as a source of revenue but instead be considered as an input to economic growth through the sectors consuming coal.  Under this new paradigm, the committee recommended that the government should focus on early and maximum production of coal and work towards its abundant availability in the market. The Government is optimistic that increase in domestic production of coal will bring faster economic development to the ‘aspiring regions’ of the country. The MOC has stated that increasing domestic coal production will not only reduce imports and save precious foreign exchange but also create jobs in economically challenged coal rich states. With investment in resource (coal) rich states, the Government believes that economic development will follow. To attract investment, the Government has opened coal resources for commercial mining and it expects that commercial production of coal to have a positive impact on the production and processing of steel, aluminium, fertilizers and cement.

The Government is also expanding the market for domestic coal through exports and through diversification into non-coal businesses. The Government has extended the right to exploit coal bed methane (CBM) from India’s large coal seams to the private sector.  In addition, it is promoting surface coal gasification (a cleaner option compared to burning of coal) to produce synthetic gas (syngas) that could be used to produce energy fuels such as methanol & ethanol, urea (fertiliser) and also chemicals such as acetic acid, methyl acetate, acetic anhydride, di-methyl ether, ethylene, propylene, oxo chemicals and poly olefins. The Government has set a target of 100 MT coal gasification projects by 2030. Two gasification projects, one on high ash coal blended with pet coke (Talcher Fertiliser plant) and the other from low ash coal (Dankuni Methanol Plant) have been established on pilot basis.  

Peak Coal?

One of the biggest hurdles in increasing domestic coal production is at the demand end that predates the Covid-19 related downturn of 2020. Lower than expected growth in electricity demand combined with aggressive competition from policy supported renewable power (particularly solar power) that gets priority access to the grid (‘must run status’) has resulted in significant overcapacity in the coal and power value chain. 100 GW of approved coal-based power generating projects are in the pipeline but these power plants may not be built if demand for power does not grow significantly. Annual investment in the Indian power sector has halved in 2019 compared to its peak in 2010.  The global outlook for coal far more discouraging.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global coal demand peaked in 2014 and coal use in power generation is likely to peak before 2030. Coal use in China, that accounts for 50 percent of global coal consumption, is expected to peak around 2025. Global coal demand is not expected to return to its pre-COVID 19 levels and coal’s share in the global energy mix is expected to fall below 20 percent for the first time since the industrial revolution. In 2020, global coal demand fell by about 7 percent because of the lock-down across the world and the consequent decrease in demand for electricity that consumes roughly 65 percent of global coal production. Policies designed to phase out coal, supportive policies for renewables along with cheap natural gas also contributed to coal’s decline in western economies.

Though coal demand in India is likely to increase in the foreseeable future accounting for 14 percent of global demand by 2030, growth of coal demand is likely to be substantially lower than what was expected earlier. The IEA expects demand for coal (for power generation) in India to increase only by 2.6 percent annually till 2030. This means that even if production does hit the target 1.5 BT by 2024, demand from non-energy sectors will be required to absorb the increase in domestic production.  Some recent reports suggest that demand for coal for power generation in India peaked in 2018 and is unlikely to return to pre-Covid-19 levels in 2018-19 given the high target set for renewable energy by the Government. This view may reflect the hope of green activists than reality, but a predominantly supply-oriented perspective on coal that ignores demand end challenges is not likely to produce the best outcome.

Source: Provisional Coal Statistics 2019-20, Coal Controllers Organisation, MOC

Monthly News Commentary: Power

Winter Boosts Power Demand


Demand Revival

India’s power consumption grew by 6.1 percent to 107.3 bn kWh in December, showing spurt in economic activities. Power consumption in December 2019 was 101.08 bn kWh. After a gap of six months, power consumption recorded a year-on-year growth of 4.5 percent in September and 11.6 percent in October. In November, the power consumption growth slowed to 3.12 per cent to 96.88 bn units compared to 93.94 bn units in the same month last year mainly due to early onset of winters. The 6.1 percent growth in power consumption and all time high peak power demand of 182.88 GW in the month of December suggest that there is considerable spurt in economic activity in the country. Power demand growth would be more stable in coming months. Power consumption started declining from March due to fewer economic activities in the country. Power consumption was recorded at 48.04 bn kWh during December 1-15 last year, according to the power ministry data. For the full month of December 2019, power consumption was 101.08 bn kWh. Therefore, the extrapolation of half-month data clearly indicates that power consumption is likely to record a year-on-year growth for the fourth month in a row. After a gap of six months, power consumption recorded a year-on-year growth of 4.4 percent in September and 11.6 percent in October. In November, the power consumption growth slowed to 3.7 percent to 97.43 bn kWh compared to 93.94 bn kWh in the same month last year mainly due to early onset of winters. The growth in power consumption in the first half of this month shows that there is consistency in improvement in commercial and industrial demand due to easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company said it supplied 15,083 MW of electricity, which is the highest-ever demand on a particular day in the state. Since the past 25 days, over 14,000 MW demand was being made in the state because of an increase in the agriculture area, development of new resources for irrigation, expansion of rural and urban areas, and improvement in lifestyle of the people. The demand of 15,083 MW was fulfilled with the help of getting 3,487 MW from the thermal and hydro power plants of MP Power Generating Company, 1,176 MW from Indira Sagar, Sardar Sarovar and Omkareshwar power projects, and 4,019 MW from NTPC Ltd.

Delhi’s peak power demand clocked 5,265 MW, the highest so far this winter, due to the continuing chilly weather. The peak power demand of the city has increased by over four percent since 1 January. It registered an increase of over 50 percent since 1 December and by 67 percent since 1 November 2020. BSES discoms — BRPL and BYPL — successfully met the power demand of 2,187 MW and 1,093 MW in their respective areas. Delhi’s peak power demand had crossed the 5,000 MW for the first time this winter on 1 January. On 1 December 2020, Delhi’s peak power demand was 3,504 MW. Since then, the city’s peak power demand has increased by over 50 percent. According to BSES It is the first time this winter that the national capital’s peak power demand has crossed the 5,000 MW mark. Last year, the peak power demand on 1 January was 5,226 MW. BRPL and BYPL successfully met the electricity demand of 2,054 MW and 1,145 MW in their respective areas. On 1 December, Delhi’s peak power demand was 3,504 MW, according to BSES. Since then, it increased by over 43 percent. Since 1 November, Delhi’s peak power demand has increased by nearly 60 percent. Delhi’s highest peak power demand last month was at 4,671 MW recorded on 30 December 2020. In two days, the demand increased by over 7 percent to 5,021 MW. Peak power demand in the city last winter touched 5,480 MW. The peak power demand last winter in the BRPL and BYPL areas had reached 2,020 MW and 1,165 MW, respectively. This year, it is expected to reach 2,200 MW and 1,270 MW, respectively.

Discom Privatisation

Tata Power has taken over the management and operations of Western Electricity Supply Company of Odisha (WESCO) and SOUTHCO Utility upon completion of sale process. Now WESCO and SOUTHCO will operate under the companies named as TP Western Odisha Distribution Ltd (TPWODL) and TP Southern Odisha Distribution Ltd (TPSODL) respectively. As per order issued by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), Tata Power holds 51 percent of equity with management control and the Grid Corporation of Odisha will have the remaining 49 percent. TPWODL will be responsible for the distribution and retail supply of electricity in five circles of WESCO covering 2 million consumers with annual input energy of 7,520 mn units in areas of Rourkela, Burla, Bhawanipatna, Bolangir and Bargargh. TPSODL will be responsible for the distribution covering 2.3 mn consumers with an average energy input of 3,470 mn units and retail supply of electricity in six circles of SOUTHCO in areas of Ganjam City, Berhampur, Aksa, Bhanjannagar, Jeypore and Rayagada.

The Chandīgarh administration has challenged the Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) order to stay the privatisation of the power department in the Supreme Court (SC) by filing a special leave petition. The move comes following a letter from the ministry of the power to the UT adviser on 28 December last year making the recommendation. The date of hearing is yet to be fixed. The administration will take the services of senior lawyers of the SC to back its decision and is shoring up its defence. The HC had ordered a stay on a petition filed by UT Powermen Union, fixing the next date of hearing in February.

Subsidies & Tariff

Direct tariff electricity subsidies from the state governments have increased 32 percent since FY16, amounting to ₹1,103.91 bn ($14.96 bn) in FY 2019, an independent report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) said. The report estimates that “cross-subsidies” — high tariffs for some consumers to cover below-cost tariffs for other consumers — were worth at least another ₹750.27 bn ($10.2 bn) in FY 2019, bringing the national total to at least ₹1,854.18 bn ($25.2 bn). According to the CEEW-IISD study, 25 out of 31 states and union territories have failed to meet the requirements of the UDAY scheme to reduce AT&C losses to 15 percent. Poor collection is typically the biggest contributor to these losses. The states that have met the UDAY targets on AT&C losses in FY19 include Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh. Further, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim both stand out for a significant reduction in the power supply cost in FY2019.


India created a central power transmission utility, separating the business from Power Grid Corp of India Ltd (PGCIL). The Central Transmission Utility (CTU) of India has been incorporated and a certificate of incorporation had been issued for the same. Hiving-off of electricity transmission system planning business from PGCIL had been a long pending demand of the industry for fair bidding of transmission lines. The move will help PGCIL diversify to other businesses and comes just in time when the government has kicked off a power distribution programme starting with the union territories. The government had in June last year directed PGCIL to immediately set up CTU as a 100 percent subsidiary with separate accounting and board structure which would identify and plan transmission network in the country. Private power transmission companies have alleged that PGCIL purposefully mismanages transmission planning so that the lines get delayed and are given to the state–run firm on nomination basis.

Infrastructure company Sterlite Power Ltd and global investment manager AMP Capital announced they have joined hands to set up four power transmission projects in India with a total capital outlay of $1 bn. Under the equal partnership, the two companies will invest an initial amount of around $150 mn each and have put in place debt financing too. The power transmission projects will have a circuit length of 1,800 km of transmission lines across India.

Electricity Trade

Average spot power price at the IEX fell 3 percent year-on-year to ₹2.83/kWh in December 2020, compared to the year-ago month. With trading of 5,606 million kWh of electricity, the volume in the day-ahead market rose 29 percent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis. This consequently led to an attractive average market clearing price of ₹2.83/kWh which saw a 3 percent y-o-y decline. The ‘One Nation-One Price’ prevailed for 31 days during the month. The inter-state congestion for the remaining days was on account of import of power to southern states. The term-ahead market comprising intra-day, contingency, daily and weekly contracts traded 436 million kWh volume during December 2020. According to the data published by the National Load Dispatch Centre, the national peak demand in December 2020 saw a 7 percent y-o-y increase while the energy consumption registered 5 percent y-o-y growth. On 30 December, when peak demand touched 182.9 GW, IEX electricity markets contributed to a significant 6.9 percent of the peak demand met.

Regulation and Governance

The Government has promulgated rules for rights of electricity consumers which provide for penalties up to ₹100,000 on distribution companies for gratuitous load shedding and delay in grant of new connection or addressing a faulty meter. Distribution Companies across the country are monopolies – whether government or private – and the consumer has no alternative. The key areas are covered in the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules are release of new connection and modification in existing connection, metering arrangement, billing and payment, disconnection and reconnection, reliability of supply and compensation mechanism.

The Government approved ₹67 bn scheme for power system improvement in North East Region. The move aims at economic development of North Eastern Region through strengthening of intra – state transmission and distribution systems. The scheme is being implemented through Power Grid Corp in association with six beneficiary North Eastern states namely, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura and is targeted to be commissioned by December 2021. After commissioning, the project will be owned and maintained by the respective North Eastern state utilities. Implementation of this scheme will create reliable power grid and improve north eastern states’ connectivity to the upcoming load centers, and extend the benefits of the grid connected power to all categories of consumers beneficiaries in the region. The scheme was initially approved in December 2014 as a central sector plan scheme and is being funded with the assistance of World Bank fund and through the budget support of Ministry of Power on 50:50 basis.

As part of the Centre’s plan to set up power gear production zones in the country, the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Development Corp (MPIDC), Indore, has proposed 300 acre in Ratlam to set up the facility. The MPIDC office has sent a proposal to the head office proposing to offer 300 acre in an industrial belt at Ratlam to develop the proposed manufacturing zone for clean power equipment under ministry of power and renewable energy. The ministry has planned to set up three manufacturing zones — one each in a landlocked state, a coastal state and a hill state. Aimed at curtailing imports of power equipment, the locations for the proposed power gear production zones will be selected amongst states offering competitive rates for power, land and manufacturing incentives while the Centre has proposed to offer ₹5 bn each as assistance for establishing common facilities. Indore office has urged to submit the plan to the ministry with a competitive proposal on land rates, power charges and industry promotion incentives.

Rest of the World

Asia Pacific

Japan’s utilities called on the public to save power as electricity generators resorted to using fuel oil, instead of coal, to meet surging demand for heating with frigid temperatures gripping much of the country. Power prices again jumped to record highs above 200 yen ($1.92)/kWh highlighting a crunch not seen since the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, as providers scrambled to source supplies. Japan’s utilities federation issued a statement urging users to save power as its members squeeze as much capacity as they can out of generation units and asked industrial users to help supply the grid. The government also urged the public to conserve energy. Japan’s benchmark power price hit a record high of 222.30 yen/kWh with temperatures fell below zero in parts of the country, including Tokyo in recent days.

A breakdown in Pakistan’s national power grid plunged the country into darkness. A countrywide blackout was reportedly caused by a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system.  A transmission tower was recently set on fire by locals in Gilgit Baltistan citing it was of no use as the region was not getting any power. While a large part of the Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan receives just 5 to 6 hours of electricity in a day, the remaining parts do not get even that. Locals held a demonstration against the government as they feel they were duped into installing smart meters at their homes but never given adequate power supply. Gilgit-Baltistan, a region under Pakistan is among the top regions in the world with maximum electricity generation potential.


Consumers in Sweden and Finland may be able to look forward to lower household bills as the Swedish power grid operator expects spot power prices to fall over the next five years. But in Norway, wholesale spot power prices, a key ingredient in end-user prices together with taxes and levies, could rise according to Svenska Kraftnat. Svenska Kraftnat predicted that Finnish spot prices will fall by €5 to €34/MWh over 2021-2025. This is due to a planned startup of the 1,600 MW Olkiluoto-3 nuclear reactor which will boost supply and reduce the need for imports from Sweden and other countries. Swedish power prices are also expected to fall by €2-3 to €29-34/MWh over the same period, pushed down by an increase in wind power supply. Meanwhile, in Norway, power prices are expected to rise by €2 to €34/MWh. This follows the start of exports via a new power cable to Germany, and plans for another link to Britain next year. In Denmark, the outlook for power prices is mixed, with western Denmark expected to see a rise by €3 to €37/MWh, while prices in eastern Denmark are seen falling by €1 to €34/MWh. Price volatility will increase, with prices of below €5/MWh and above €80/MWh occurring more often. This reflects a bigger share of intermittent power sources and a smaller share of output from producers that can plan production levels. Nordic countries are expected to remain net power exporters with annual supply rise of 40 TWh more than offsetting an expected demand increase by 32 TWh from 2021 to 446 TWh in 2025.

Poland plans to scrap the obligation for power groups to sell all the electricity they generate on a power exchange, arguing that this rule, in place since 2018, negatively affects the energy companies. Polish power groups, including the PGE, Enea, Energa and Tauron have been obliged to sell all their electricity via exchange since the end of 2018. The scheme was launched to prevent a surge in power prices and was seen as a key move for the development of Poland’s energy market. Germany saw its electricity export surplus shrink by 46.2 percent in 2020 to 18.9 TWh raising the prospect that its dependency on neighbours could rise in future as it switches off more coal and nuclear power stations. Power exports by Europe’s biggest economy, which shares borders with nine countries, fell 11.6 percent to 52.5 TWh last year compared with 59.4 TWh in 2019. Meanwhile, electricity imports into Germany in 2020 increased by 38.8 percent to 33.6 TWh, compared with 24.2 TWh in the prior year. Germany also started up an interconnector with Belgium last November and a direct power cable link with Norway in December.

North America

The US Energy Secretary signed an order prohibiting electric utilities that supply critical defense facilities from importing certain power system items from China, in an effort to protect US security from cyber and other attacks. According to the Department of Energy the order prohibits utilities that supply the defense facilities at a service voltage of 69 kV or above from acquiring, importing, transferring, or installing bulk power system electric equipment. Bulk power equipment consists of items used in substations, control rooms, or power plants, including nuclear reactors, capacitors, transformers, large generators and backup generators and other equipment.

An outage in Mexico’s electricity network left 10.3 mn users without power for up to two hours. The network lost 7,500 MW because of an imbalance between load and power generation. The outage affected people in a dozen states as well as the populous capital district.

kWh: kilowatt hour, MW: megawatt GW: gigawatt, mn: million, bn: billion, discoms: distribution companies, BRPL: BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, BYPL: BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, FY: Financial Year, UT: Union Territory, UDAY: Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana, AT&C: Aggregate Technical and Commercial, km: kilometre, MWh: megawatt hour, TWh: terawatt hour, kV: kilovolt, US: United States

News Highlights: 13 – 19 January 2021

National: Oil

Petrol price rises to all-time high of ₹91.56 per litre in Mumbai

19 January: Petrol price in Mumbai hit an all-time high, with the city’s 11 lakh motorists and 23 lakh bikers bound to feel the pinch. Retail rate at over 200 city pumps rose to ₹91.56 per litre—breaching the last highest of ₹91.34 on 4 October 2018. Diesel, too, set a new record with a hike of 27 paise taking the price from ₹81.60 to ₹81.87 a litre. The price of petrol in Parbhani district continues to be the highest in the country at a revised rate of ₹93.97. Since March 2020, petrol price in Mumbai has increased by over ₹16 a litre. Transporters said this is the highest rate so far and an increase in cost of essential goods, fruits and vegetables is an inevitable fallout.  Since May 2020, petrol and diesel prices have risen by over ₹15 a litre. Petrol had escalated from ₹76.31 on April 2, 2020 to ₹90.34 on 7 December and ₹90.6 on 6 January, touching ₹91.32 on 14 January and escalating to ₹91.56. Similarly, diesel shot up from ₹66.2 in April last year to ₹80.5 in December and ₹80.7 on 6 January before touching ₹81.60 and now ₹81.87. The increasing taxes and VAT (Value Added Tax) which are the highest in Maharashtra has upset consumers.

Source: The Economic Times

India blames Saudi oil output cut for surge in oil prices

19 January: India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, complained that recent output cuts by some OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations had created uncertainty for customers and led to a surge in prices. Top exporter Saudi Arabia has pledged additional voluntary output cuts of 1 mn barrels per day (bpd) in February and March under a deal between the OPEC and its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the efforts to cut output, coordinated by OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, were creating confusion for consumer countries. Barkindo said that the steps taken were within the framework of last year’s deal to cut output by about 9.7 mn bpd, and were aimed at keeping oil markets stable on a sustainable basis. Pradhan said India was engaged on energy with the United States in many ways, and this would continue under the administration of Joe Biden, who becomes president.

Source: Reuters

Low production due to Covid-19 raising fuel prices: Oil Minister

19 January: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said fuel prices had gone up because of lower production in oil-producing nations due to the coronavirus pandemic. This lower production had caused an imbalance in demand and supply, he said. Ethanol production, which was less than 1 percent of demand when the NDA government came to power in 2014, was set to reach 9 percent this year, he said.

Source: The Economic Times

Conserving oil, petroleum products is need of hour: Bihar Deputy CM

19 January: Bihar Deputy Chief Minister (CM) Tarkishore Prasad inaugurated an oil and gas conservation awareness drive, christened ‘Saksham’, at Maulana Mazharul Haq auditorium. Various mass awareness programmes on the conservation of oil and gas will be organized as part of the month long drive till 15 February. The theme of ‘Saksham’ is ‘Green and Clean Energy’ this year. The Deputy CM emphasized on the need for conservation of petroleum products.

Source: The Economic Times

Petrol, LPG sales in Goa jump to pre-Covid levels, diesel sees slight gap

18 January: Fuel sales in Goa, including that of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), have returned to pre-Covid levels in January, even though diesel consumption continues to show a slight gap, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) said. Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) expect the gap in diesel consumption, particularly institutional sales, to be bridged as industrial activity picks up in the coming weeks. IOC said that a charging station, for private electric vehicles, will come up to cater to the 20-30 electric vehicles operational in the state. Combined diesel consumption in Maharashtra and Goa shows that sales are at around 93 percent of pre-Covid levels. In comparison, petrol consumption has shown a growth of 3-4 percent. North Goa has shown a 2.2 percent growth in petrol sales, but a 1.7 percent drop in diesel consumption. South Goa continues to lag with a 7.5 percent and 6.8 percent dip in petrol and diesel consumption respectively.

Source: The Economic Times

ONGC’s plan to merge MRPL with HPCL may have to wait till FY24

17 January: ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp)’s plan to complete the merger of its refining subsidiary MRPL with recently acquired HPCL to align its upstream and downstream operations into two verticals has got delayed. The process is now expected to be completed by FY24 as ONGC has decided to consolidate its refining and petrochemicals business around MRPL first before pushing for its merger. The process of merging ONGC’s two oil refining subsidiaries, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), will start only after the company completes merging ONGC Mangalore Petrochemical Ltd (OMPL) with MRPL.

Source: The Economic Times

Special infrastructure development fee on petrol, diesel, property purchase in Punjab

13 January: To fund infrastructure development work in the state, the Punjab cabinet gave a go ahead to levy of ‘Special Infrastructure Development (ID) Fee’ to be deposited in the development fund of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB). The special ID Fee would be imposed at the rate of ₹0.25 per litre each on sale of petrol and diesel within the state. Likewise, special ID Fee of ₹0.25 will also be levied for every one hundred rupees of the value of purchase of immovable property within the state. The special fee imposed would lead to creation of additional revenue streams of ₹2.16 bn annually into the Punjab Infrastructure Development Fund.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Gas

Nod to independent operators of gas pipelines soon: Petroleum Secretary

15 January: The Government proposes to appoint independent operators of gas pipelines in the country to operationalise the common carrier principle that will allow all consumers and producers access to fuel transport infrastructure. Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor said that the ministry was taking approvals for segregating the existing gas pipeline infrastructure to identify the portion of infrastructure that will need to support common carriers. As per the plan, a transport system operator (TSO) would be put in place to manage the common carrier part of the gas pipeline infrastructure. The TSO will be entrusted with the task of booking pipeline capacity for transport of gas from producers to the consumers on payment of fee to be decided by the regulator. The identification of a common part of gas pipeline may involve bifurcation of operations of gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd into gas transportation and marketing. The gas transportation arm may then be put under an independent TSO. The current work in the petroleum ministry also involves evaluating various ownership models that may be put in place to streamline gas transport operations in the country. Suggestions have also come to involve investors in transportation operations of GAIL, making it independent of the government and PSU (Public Sector Undertaking) oversight.

Source: The Economic Times

MNGL to launch mobile CNG refuelling pumps in Maharashtra

14 January: Maharashtra Natural Gas Ltd (MNGL) will launch mobile CNG (compressed natural gas) refuelling pumps in Maharashtra, according to a senior official of the company. MNGL is a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Gas Authority of India Ltd. The research in underway for the mobile CNG refuelling units, MNGL Independent Director Rajesh Pande said. He said that the company will launch such refuelling pumps in the next 6 months in Maharashtra. The company is already supplying gas through pipeline to 3.2 lakh houses and major industries in Pune and the Pimpri-Chinchwad region. It will also expand its operation in Nashik, Dhule, Sindhudurg, and other regions, Pande said.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Coal

CCPL to commence coal mining in Madhya Pradesh

19 January: Chowgule & Company Private Ltd (CCPL) is all set to start commercial coal mining in the Shahpur (East) coal mine in Shahdol district, Madhya Pradesh after it signed an agreement with the Union ministry of coal, mines and parliamentary affairs. The Goan conglomerate won the bid for the coal mine in the e-auctions conducted in November last year. The company signed the agreement as a part of the Coal Unleashed event in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and minister of coal, mines & parliamentary affairs Prahlad Joshi. The Chowgule Group currently has mining operations in Goa and Karnataka, and three plants with the capacity to produce and export over 5 million tonnes (mt) of the finest iron ore and pellets every year.

Source: The Economic Times

IIT-BHU signs pact with Northern Coalfields for coal research

18 January: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), BHU, with the support of the Northern Coalfields Ltd under an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with them, is going to establish a new research centre at the oldest mining engineering department in the country which came into existence in 1923. The Coal Quality Management and Utilisation Research Centre will be the first of its kind in India under an academia-industry MoU. It will be equipped with a state-of-the-art facility for conducting research on clean coal technology to enhance the quality of coal, with the facility for determining the quality and grade of coal for stakeholders and traders.

Source: The Economic Times

CBI conducts raids in Bengal in illegal coal trade case

13 January: The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) carried out raids at 10 locations in West Bengal’s Asansol, Durgapur and Raniganj areas in connection with a case of illegal coal mining and theft from Eastern Coalfield Ltd (ECL). On November 28 last year, the CBI Anti-Corruption Branch had conducted raids at 45 locations in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh in connection with the coal-smuggling racket.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Power

Government asks CERC to relieve power plants delayed due to force majeure from transmission levy

19 January: The Government has invoked special powers to direct electricity regulator to make changes in regulations freeing power plants delayed due to justifiable reasons from paying penalties to associated transmission projects. The penalties would now be borne equally by all beneficiary discoms (distribution companies) of a generation project, as per the directions issued by the Union power ministry to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) under section 107 of the Electricity Act 2003. While power generation and transmission companies welcomed the relief, distribution companies said the move asking them to pay for delay in generation projects came as a shock to them. Power transmission projects attached to delayed generation plants are considered ‘deemed commissioned’ and are liable to compensation but the complexity in arrangement makes it difficult to claim any amount. Electricity distribution companies opposed the move calling it unfair to be penalised for no fault.

Source: The Economic Times

Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda village receives electricity for first time

18 January: The Tanta village in Jammu and Kashmir’s mountainous Doda district received electricity for the first time, ending decades of darkness. The electrification of the village was taken up on the orders of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha after a group of locals put forth their grievance before him at the last ‘LG’s Mulaqaat-Live Public Grievance Hearing’ program. The LG directed the Doda district administration to ensure the electrification of the remote village within one month. Following the orders, the District Administration swept into action and the task of electrifying the remote village was completed in a record time of 10 days.

Source: The Economic Times

Farmers threaten gherao of PSPCL employees against installation of smart meters

16 January: Farmers have announced to gherao Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) employees if they come to install smart meters in their villages. In some villages, farmer unions have also got made a similar announcement. PSPCL has around 95 lakh power consumers and it was planning to install 96,000 meters in urban and rural areas of the state as a pilot project. The officials claimed that the installation work started a few days ago. Given the privatisation of electricity, farmer unions in Punjab allege a deep rooted conspiracy behind installation of digital smart meters. Farmer unions have also appealed to the farmers to not allow installation of these smart meters and protest or gherao the PSPCL employees reaching their villages to install them. PSPCL employees claimed that it has nothing to do with privatisation move or the new electricity bill.

Source: The Economic Times

JNPT signs pact with MSEDCL for power supply in port area

13 January: JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) said it has signed a pact with the MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company) for power supply in the port area. JNPT signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MSEDCL following its board of trustees’ approval on December 24, the port said in a release. The port has allotted land to Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal, Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals and Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd on a 30-year lease through a concession agreement, under which JNPT is responsible for providing electricity supply to the terminals.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Non-Fossil Fuels/Climate Change Trends

Hartek Solar commissions rooftop project in Panchkula

19 January: Hartek Solar announced commissioning of a 50 kWp (kilowatt peak) rooftop project at a hospital in Panchkula. This solar plant at Alchemist Hospital will generate 72.5 MWh of clean electricity annually, offsetting 1,397 tonnes of carbon emissions. Hartek Solar, which executed the project right from installation of solar panels and inverter to supply, design, engineering and commissioning, has synced the plant with a smart grid-interactive inverter system, which will enable the hospital to run its medical emergency services and diagnostic facilities without any glitches. The tariff rates for rooftop solar work out to be 17-27 percent cheaper as compared to commercial tariffs, and this is what is primarily driving the adoption of rooftop solar in the commercial domain. The Chandigarh-based company has an installed capacity of over 40 MW across the industrial, commercial and residential categories in more than 10 states in just four years of its inception.

Source: The Economic Times

Goa considering setting up renewable energy projects to meet power needs

18 January: The Goa government has approached the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to undertake a feasibility study and provide technical assistance to assess potential, availability of technologies and financial viability to set up power generation projects from new and renewable energy sources. The study will find out if Goa can generate power from renewable energy source to meet all its power needs. The government has proposed to generate power from renewable sources in the state to the extent possible by assessing the potential to generate power from sources like solar, wind, hydro, biomass, wave and tidal and storage of solar power etc. Goa requires approximately 540 MW of power during the day time and 640 MW during peak hours from 6pm to 11pm.

Source: The Economic Times

Cochin International Airport commissions large floating solar power plant

18 January: The Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has commissioned one of the biggest floating solar power plants in the State with a capacity of 452 kilowatt hour (kWh) in an effort to sustain the airport power positive by using green energy. With this installation, the total installed capacity of the airport has become 40 MWp (megawatt peak) helping the airport to produce around 1.60 lakh units of power a day whereby the daily consumption stands around at 1.30 lakh units, CIAL said. CIAL’s trysts with the experiments in producing green energy achieved another milestone with this installation as the company has introduced cost-effective high-density polyethylene floats; using French technology, upon which 1300 photovoltaic panels were mounted and laid over two artificial lakes located in the 130-acre CIAL golf course.

Source: The Economic Times

Conserve petroleum products for sustainable development: Rajasthan Governor

17 January: Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra urged the public to work with the idea of sustainable development along with conservation of natural resources. By ensuring conservation of petroleum products at all levels, development can benefit everyone equally, the Governor said. The Governor said development cannot sustain for a long time on the foundation of maximum exploitation of natural resources. He appealed to the general public to use public transport as much as possible, and use cycling whenever possible, to promote the use of clean fuel — LPG or PNG in rural areas. Emphasising on the use of solar and wind energy, the Governor said the initiative has been taken up to set up solar power plants in state universities.

Source: The Economic Times

Delhi government aims to reduce 5 mt carbon emissions

17 January: Efforts are being made to reduce the increasing pollution levels in the national capital by improving the transport system in the State. The Delhi government believes that by improving the transport system as well as reducing traffic jams, harmful particles such as PM10 and PM2.5 which cause air pollution could be reduced by up to 5 million tonnes (mt). Delhi’s public transport system and electric vehicle policy could prove to be a significant step in this direction. The Electric Vehicle policy focuses on making electric vehicles to 25 percent by 2024 whereas till now this number is just 0.2 percent. The clarity about the necessary measures to be taken for the transformation of electric vehicles has enabled the Delhi government to take concrete decisions.

Source: The Economic Times

To popularise solar energy, Bengal allows net metering for individual households

16 January: In a bid to popularise solar energy in the State, the West Bengal government has allowed net metering for individual household rooftop solar panels starting from 1 kilowatt (kW). Earlier institutional, commercial, industrial and cooperative housing were only allowed the benefit of net metering and that too for 5 kW capacity onward. The West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) in its recent amendments to the Cogeneration and Electricity Generation from Renewable Sources Regulations 2013 had allowed net metering for individual households from 1 kW but had restricted it to 5 kW. However, a consumer cannot install solar panels more than its own load. That means if a household has an existing electricity load of 2 kW then his installation cannot be higher than 2 kW even if he has space and interest, WBERC said. The net metering concept allows to set-off the number of units produced from the total consumption and the consumer pays electricity charges of only what he had derived from the grid or distribution company. The regulation allows set-off of up to 90 percent of his solar power generation for any month. The new amendment mandates “gross metering” facilities for solar system installation capacities above 5 kW. The commercial benefit for a consumer is far less in case of gross-metering compared to net-metering thus making adoption less commercially attractive. The Union power ministry in its model regulation had provided gross metering over 10 kW solar installations.

Source: The Economic Times

Only State discoms authorised to implement rooftop solar scheme: MNRE

​15 January: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) clarified that only State discoms (distribution companies) and not vendors were authorised to implement the rooftop solar scheme. The grid-connected rooftop solar scheme (Phase-II) provides a 40 percent subsidy for the first 3 kW and 20 percent subsidy beyond 3 kW and upto 10 kW and is being implemented in the states by local discoms. The ministry had also received complaints that some vendors were charging more prices than the rates decided by discoms from domestic consumers, which was incorrect. Almost all the discoms have issued an online process for this purpose. Residential consumers willing to set-up a rooftop solar plant under the scheme can apply online and get rooftop solar plants installed by listed vendors. It said that domestic consumers will get subsidy under the scheme, if they install rooftop solar plants only from the empanelled vendors of the discoms.

Source: The Economic Times

NTPC arm makes 50 MW solar project in Kerala commercially operational

14 January: The NTPC Ltd said that its arm THDC India has made its maiden solar project in Kerala commercially operational. With this, the commissioned as well as commercial capacity of the THDC India Ltd and NTPC group has become 1,587 MW and 62,975 MW, respectively. NTPC has planned to have a 130 GW power generation capacity by 2032. Its non-fossil fuel based capacity would be 30 percent.

Source: The Economic Times

Andhra Pradesh commissioned 8.4 GW renewable energy capacity till 31 December

14 January: Andhra Pradesh, a major producer of renewable energy (RE), had an installed RE capacity of about 8,421 MW till 31 December 2020, according to the latest data. The state had an installed RE capacity of about 8,321 MW till November-end, 8,207 MW till September-end and 8,203 MW till July-end this year. Of the 8,421 MW capacity installed, wind energy projects took the largest share with 4,080 MW capacity, followed by solar energy with a capacity of 3,749 MW commissioned, according to the latest status report by the state’s nodal agency for implementation of RE programmes, New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh. According to the renewable energy status update, total solar capacity commissioned up to 2019-20 was about 3,522 MW. It showed that out of all the segments, only solar projects of 227.75 MW capacity were commissioned during 2020-21. The state commissioned a total of 103 MW capacity till 31 December 2020 in small hydro projects, while biomass, biomass energy co-generation, and bagasse projects contributed a total of 443 MW to the state’s renewable energy capacity. The share of municipal solid waste and industrial waste capacity stood at 47 MW in December.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Oil

Resurgence in Covid-19 cases slows oil demand rebound: IEA

19 January: Oil demand recovery will take a hit from a spike in new coronavirus cases before vaccine roll-outs and stimulus measures help in the second half of the year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. Noting that an improvement to global oil demand went into reverse in December, the Paris-based watchdog lowered its forecast for the first quarter by 580,000 barrels per day (bpd) and its outlook for 2021 by 300,000 bpd. Both supply and demand are on track for recovery this year, and efforts by top producers to balance the market by reining in output helped lower stockpiles of crude and oil products worldwide, though oil stocks remained stubbornly close to a May peak. Cold Asian and European winters along with supply discipline by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies boosted crude prices, the IEA said, while the US (United States) shale industry was expected to keep production flat.

Source: Reuters

OPEC ‘cautiously optimistic’ oil market will recover in 2021

19 January: The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)’s Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said he was cautiously optimistic the oil market would recover this year from the slump in demand brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Monthly meetings of the OPEC and allies led by Russia – a group known as OPEC+ – are there to stop an imbalance from re-emerging, Barkindo said. Oil prices have rallied to an 11-month high this month, helped by a 5 January decision by most members of OPEC+ to hold production steady in February and a pledge by Saudi Arabia to voluntarily cut output. India’s Oil Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, said at the same event that the unexpected move to cut output by some OPEC nations had led to a price rally and was creating confusion for consuming countries. Barkindo, in response, said OPEC+ needed to be flexible and had stable markets as its target.

Source: Reuters

China drew on crude oil inventories in December, unlikely to become a trend

19 January: China appears to have drawn on its crude stockpiles in December, the second time in three months, as the world’s biggest oil importer uses some of the massive surplus it built up last year. China processed 1.24 mn barrels per day (bpd) more crude oil in its refineries in December than was available from imports and domestic production, according to calculations based on official data. China doesn’t disclose the volumes of crude flowing into strategic and commercial stockpiles. But an estimate can be made by deducting the amount of crude processed from the total amount of crude available from imports and domestic output. Refinery throughput was 14.13 mn bpd in December, just shy of November’s record 14.2 mn bpd, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. December crude imports were 9.06 mn bpd, the lowest on a daily basis since September 2018 and well below the 11.03 mn bpd in November.Refinitiv Oil Research estimates that January’s imports will be around 11.38 mn bpd, which includes some 706,000 bpd of crude that arrived in December, but wasn’t discharged because refiners had run out of import permits.

Source: The Economic Times

Iraqi Oil Minister sees oil at $60 a barrel in second quarter

15 January: Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar expects oil prices to reach around $60 in the second quarter of 2021.  He said Saudi Arabia’s voluntary output cut of 1 mn bpd helped to prevent oil market from collapsing.

Source: Reuters

US shale producers lock in future sales as oil prices rise to one-year high

15 January: US (United States) shale producers are taking advantage of the oil market’s rally to levels not seen in nearly a year by locking in prices for future sales. US crude futures this month jumped above $50 a barrel to the highest since February. The rally has sparked optimism among shale companies, but after a bracing year of pandemic-induced demand destruction, they are not ready to ramp up production. Instead, they are using futures markets to lock in higher sale prices. Shale producers buy and sell contracts in the futures and options markets in a process known as hedging to secure cash flows for later-dated sales. US oil production peaked at nearly 13 mn barrels per day in late 2019, but is now around 11 mn bpd after the coronavirus lockdowns crushed fuel demand and oil prices. Output is not expected to rise much in 2021, but those that hedged now are guaranteed sales of barrels at more than $50 even if prices drop again.

Source: Reuters

Venezuela proposes deals allowing private companies to operate oil fields

14 January: Venezuelan officials have met in recent months with small domestic oilfield contractors to propose letting them operate fields owned by PDVSA while pocketing part of the proceeds. The talks show President Nicolas Maduro, facing a collapse in crude output and US (United States) sanctions aimed at ousting him, is seeking to attract investments to the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) nation by offering even sweeter terms than a 2018 plan that walked back elements of the country’s nationalist oil industry platform. The government recently passed an “anti-blockade” law allowing oil deals to be signed confidentially, due to the risk of sanctions. In addition, members of the ruling socialist party – which recently gained control of the National Assembly in a disputed vote – have pledged to reform laws to allow greater private participation in the oil industry. The OPEC nation’s crude output has plunged to the lowest level in decades due to years of underinvestment and mismanagement, as well as US sanctions. The drop has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in which some 5 mn people have emigrated. The government has also been focusing on fields owned solely by PDVSA for the new arrangements, rather than its joint ventures with private companies, such as Chevron Corp and China National Petroleum Corp Ltd. However, PDVSA has recently informally granted its minority partners at the joint ventures operational control of their fields.

Source: Reuters

International: Gas

Germany approves resuming Russia gas pipeline work

15 January: German authorities gave immediate permission for work to resume on a subsea pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia. The decision by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency can be appealed, meaning there could be another halt to the construction on the Nord Stream 2 project, which has drawn major criticism from the United States, some other European countries and environmental groups. The US (United States) government has argued that the Baltic Sea pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing Washington of trying to promote its own liquefied natural gas sales. The Russian state-controlled natural gas company, Gazprom, has positioned a ship to resume work on the multibillion pipeline, which was suspended after a Swiss firm pulled its vessels out of the project amid threats of US sanctions. Because the Russian ship is of a different type than the Swiss vessels, Germany had to issue fresh authorization.

Source: The Economic Times

Energean approves Israel gas field development

15 January: Energean announced it will develop a new natural gas field off the coast of Israel at an initial cost of $150 mn. Energean said it had signed an 18-month, $700 mn loan facility with JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley to help fund the development and pay for the acquisition of a minority stake in Energean Israel from private equity firm Kerogen. The Karish North field, which was discovered less than two years ago, is expected to start production in the second half of 2023, the company said. The final investment decision had been expected by the end of 2020. The field will be connected via a 5.4 km (3.36 miles) pipeline to Energean’s 8 billion cubic metre-per-year floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit where the main Karish field is being developed and is expected to start production by year-end. The first well at Karish North is expected to produce up to 300 million standard cubic feet per day (3 billion cubic metres per year).

Source: The Economic Times

Azerbaijan set to boost gas exports via TANAP pipeline in 2021

15 January: Azerbaijan plans to raise gas exports via the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), mainly to Turkey, to 12.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) this year from 5 bcm in 2020, Saltuk Duzyol, head of the consortium, said. By boosting gas supplies via the route, Baku is raising the stakes in its rivalry with Moscow for the lucrative European market following the start of Azerbaijan’s gas sales to the region in December via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) pipeline. Duzyol said that 6.2 bcm of the Azeri gas will be shipped to Europe via TANAP. On top of that, 6 bcm will be sold to Turkey’s domestic market. TANAP comprises the longest stretch of the $40 bn Southern Gas Corridor, a series of pipelines that carries gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field. The $6.5 bn TANAP crosses the breadth of Turkey, east to west, and could transport up to 16 bcm of Azeri gas a year. The pipeline connects to the TAP, which became operational in the end of 2020.

Source: The Economic Times

IMF concerned by plan to regulate gas prices: Ukraine’s Finance Minister

14 January: Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was concerned about the government’s plan to regulate household gas prices, although the Fund has not officially commented on the plan. Such a plan would not help Ukraine start its currently stalled $5 bn loan programme with the IMF, Marchenko said. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said the government would introduce state regulation and set a uniform gas price of 6.99 hryvnia ($0.25) per cubic metre during the country’s coronavirus lockdown or throughout winter, to avoid a jump in energy bills that have already led to protests across the country. The price of gas in Ukraine has long been a political issue, and opposition parties regularly use energy price hikes as a reason to protest against the government. The government said gas prices took off last month and in January, with gas companies supplying the public at prices often exceeding 10 hryvnias ($0.36) per cubic meter.

Source: Reuters

International: Coal

Coal producer Yancoal Australia sees demand rebounding

19 January: Yancoal Australia Ltd said it expects a rebound in demand for coal-fired electricity generation in 2021 as global economic conditions are set to improve. Following China’s unofficial ban on coal imports from its major supplier Australia in the second half of 2020, Yancoal has been diversifying its customer base with sales made into India, Pakistan and South America which it intends to widen. It is believed that China, the world’s biggest coal importer, imposed the ban in retaliation for Canberra’s call for an international probe of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Yancoal warned that the influence of weather on both supply and demand along with regional trade settings would likely contribute to uncertainty regarding the direction of coal prices during the first half of 2021. The company, which has mines and projects in New South Wales and Queensland, posted annual saleable coal production of 38 metric tonnes, which met its full-year target.

Source: Reuters

French central bank to exit coal, cap oil and gas investments

19 January: The French central bank said it would exit from coal and limit exposure to gas and oil in its investment portfolio by 2024 as part of a shift towards more environmentally friendly assets. It said that by the end of this year it would no longer invest in companies which generate more than 2 percent of their revenues from coal and reduce the threshold to zero by the end of 2024. Currently the threshold stands at 10 percent.

Source: Reuters

German hard coal imports could fall by a fifth in 2021

15 January: Germany’s imports of hard coal in 2021 could drop 18.6 percent year-on-year to 26.7 million tonnes (mt), lobby group VDKi forecast, citing lower usage by steelmakers in the Covid-19 crisis and price competition with gas and renewables in power generation. The coal importers group also published preliminary data for the past year. It said imports had dropped to 32.8 mt in 2020, a 24 percent decline from 2019.

Source: Reuters

International: Power

China’s 2020 power consumption grows 3.1 percent despite Covid-19 disruption

19 January: China’s power consumption in 2020 rose 3.1 percent from the previous year, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said, despite several months of disruptions to industrial activity caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The NDRC said that electricity consumption from primary industry grew 10.2 percent from 2019, while consumption from secondary and tertiary industry increased 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. The NDRC did not give the absolute figures for power consumption last year. In 2019, China consumed a total of 7.23 tn kilowatt hours (kWh). China produced a total of 7.42 tn kWh of electric power in 2020, up 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Source: Reuters

Japan’s power market to remain unpredictable as demand surges

15 January: Japan’s tight power market will remain unpredictable as temperatures could drop again and there are risks of technical glitches at aged power plants and a further drop in fuel inventories, the head of utilities industry said. This month Japanese utilities have called on the public to save power as electricity demand for heating surged with frigid temperatures gripping much of the country, sending power companies scrambling for extra supplies, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG), to fuel power stations. Chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Kazuhiro Ikebe said the crunch came also because of lower output by solar power due to heavy snow and a lack of sunshine, as well as shortages of LNG supply due in part to a logjam in the Panama Canal, where vessels transit from the US (United States) Gulf to the Pacific. Kyushu Electric has even bought the remaining cargoes of LNG left after tankers discharged fuel at ports around Asia as it was desperate for supplies to fuel power stations.

Source: Reuters

Colombia’s EPM sues contractors for $2.84 bn in power plant dispute

14 January: Colombia’s Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) is suing designers, builders and auditors of the Hidroituango hydroelectric plant for 9.9 tn pesos ($2.84 bn) after failing to reach a compensation agreement over a construction delay and site accident, the company said. The company began talks with contractors in August over compensation for Hidroituango. The hydroelectric project, in Antioquia province, is considered the largest in Colombian history. Construction of the 2,400 MW project began in 2010, but in April 2018 part of the infrastructure collapsed, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and delaying the project’s completion.

Source: The Economic Times 

International: Non-Fossil Fuels/Climate Change Trends

US EPA to release update on biofuel blending waivers

19 January: The US (United States) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was expected to release an update on pending waivers for oil refiners that would exempt them from US biofuel blending obligations, EPA said in a notice. It was not immediately clear whether EPA would grant the pending waivers or reject them. The Trump administration recently announced a series of moves regarding US biofuel blending laws. Under the US Renewable Fuel Standard, refiners are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel mix, or buy credits from those that do. Refiners can apply for an exemption if they can prove the requirements would do them financial harm.

Source: Reuters

Major firms urge Japan to bolster 2030 renewable energy goal

18 January: Major firms including Sony, Panasonic and Nissan urged the Japanese government to make its 2030 renewable energy target twice as ambitious. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last year set a 2050 deadline for Japan to become carbon-neutral, but the country’s shorter term renewables goal has long been criticised as lagging. Japan currently aims to source between 22 and 24 percent of its power from solar, wind and other renewables by 2030, a target set three years ago and soon to be reassessed as the government revises its energy strategy. A group of 92 corporations known as the Japan Climate Initiative urged ministers to double this goal to 40-50 percent. Japan’s renewable energy use was around 17 percent in 2017. And by some estimates it may have already hit its 2030 target last year, due to a combination of growth in the green energy sector and a pandemic-related fall in demand. The country ploughed $16.5 bn into renewable energy in 2019, according to a UN (United Nations) report — making it the world’s fourth biggest investor in the sector, but still far behind China, the United States and Europe. However, Japan is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, especially after public anger over the 2011 Fukushima meltdown pushed all its nuclear reactors temporarily offline.

Source: The Economic Times

Shift to renewable energy eases key environmental burdens: EU

18 January: Europe’s shift from fossil fuel-based electricity to renewable sources has reduced environmental problems while also cutting the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said. Renewable power generation in the European Union (EU) has nearly doubled since 2005, producing 34 percent of EU electricity in 2019 compared with the 38 percent produced by fossil fuels like coal and gas. The EU’s switch from fossil fuel-based power production to sources like wind and solar since 2005 has “significantly decreased” emissions, while also yielding “clear improvements” in key environmental problems, the EEA – an EU agency – said in a study. Still, renewable energy sources are not zero impact. Producing power by incinerating waste can affect freshwater ecotoxicity, while biomass energy is associated with intensified land occupation and the formation of particulate matter, albeit a tiny amount compared with that produced by coal, the EEA said. Meeting EU emissions-cutting goals will require an even faster expansion of renewable sources, requiring a power sector based 70 percent on renewables by 2030. Given this expected growth, the EU will need to tackle the potential environmental impacts of renewables, EEA said. For example, better reuse of materials could curb the environmental impact of mining the metals and purifying the silicon used to make solar PV (photovoltaic) panels.

Source: Reuters

Global temperatures in 2020 among highest on record: WMO

14 January: Global temperatures in 2020 were among the highest on record and rivaled 2016 as the hottest year ever, according to international data compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The heat came even as a global economic slowdown from the Covid-19 pandemic cut deeply into emissions from fossil fuels, adding evidence that carbon dioxide concentrations already in the atmosphere have set the planet on a warming track. WMO said the differences in average global temperatures among the three warmest years, 2016, 2019 and 2020, were indistinguishably small. All five datasets surveyed by WMO showed that 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record, and NOAA said the seven warmest years since record-keeping began in 1880 have occurred since 2014. Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the second- leading source of the pollution after China, fell more than 10 percent last year, the largest drop in the post-World War II era, as the coronavirus crippled the economy, the Rhodium Group said.

Source: Reuters

Europeans more worried on Covid than climate change: Survey

13 January: Forty percent of Europeans would find it easiest to give up flying to fight climate change, but most of them are more worried about Covid-19, a survey on individual choices and actions said. Also, they are unwilling to give up cars. It said although most respondents are more worried about Covid-19 than climate change, they still believe their choices and actions can contribute to the fight against climate change. Seventy-two percent of Europeans and Americans, and 84 percent of Chinese people believe that their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change, the European Investment Bank (EIB) climate survey of more than 30,000 people published said. The second release of the 2020-21 Climate Survey explores people’s attitudes and views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The results from this release focus on how people intend to fight climate change in 2021, what they are willing to give up to tackle the climate crisis, and how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting their travel habits and intentions to fight climate change.

Source: The Economic Times

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 2020 is the seventeenth continuous year of publication of the newsletter. The newsletter is registered with the Registrar of News Paper for India under No. DELENG / 2004 / 13485.

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