MonitorsPublished on Feb 25, 2021
Energy News Monitor | Volume XVII; Issue 34

Quick Notes

Wind Energy in India: Not Enough Wind Beneath its Wings?  

Potential, Capacity & Generation

As of January 2021, power generation capacity from renewable energy (RE) was 92.5 GW (excluding hydropower), accounting for about 24 percent of India’s total installed power generation capacity of 377.26 GW. Wind and solar performed well in 2020 despite the pandemic-related economic downturn, growing by 15 percent.  Between 2015 and 2020, solar power generation capacity grew at an average of 60 percent while wind capacity grew at about 10 percent.  In 2020, (calendar year) renewable power generation (excluding hydro power) accounted for about 9.3 percent of total ­generation with wind contributing over 42 percent and solar power contributing 30 percent. Recent assessment indicates a gross wind power potential of 302 GW in India at 100 meter above ground level. India has set a target of 60 GW of wind power capacity by 2022.  Roughly, 87 percent of the total potential is concentrated in the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.


Wind energy projects receive a number of incentives common to RE projects that includes but not limited to waiver of customs, excise and import duty for equipment, ten-year tax holiday, waiver of inter-State transmission system charges, low-cost financing and technical assistance, feed-in-tariff (FIT) and generation-based incentives (GIB). More recently, blended wind-solar projects (with 80 percent share for wind) have been encouraged with specific incentives.  Over 30 percent of loan portfolio of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) in 2020 went to solar projects while about 25 percent went to wind projects.


Increase in the target for wind energy (along with other RE projects) has meant a large degree of centralisation of the initiatives and programmes to increase capacity. Centralisation of decision-making has produced mixed results. On the one hand it has dramatically improved the visibility of India’s effort to decarbonise the power sector. This has attracted large overseas players and foreign investment in the sector. On the other hand, centralisation has oversimplified and generalised projects offered on auction or tender basis which has affected their technical and economic viability. While the involvement of technologically competent international players in the sector has introduced advanced technology, it has also driven out small players with domestic roots, especially in the wind sector. Most importantly, the constant pressure to drive down tariff of wind projects has favoured large international players with access to low-cost finance at the expense of smaller domestic players. In addition, the overemphasis on lower tariff has meant that tariff caps set for centrally auctioned projects are often too low to make the projects bankable or economically viable.

The operating environment for the Indian wind energy industry that has developed domestic manufacturing capabilities over the last 30 years is challenging. 4000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that manufacture equipment and components for the wind energy industry provides employment for 2 million people directly or indirectly. These industries and jobs are under threat as the downward pressure on tariff has pushed many of wind (small and medium enterprises) to the verge of bankruptcy. While solar is generally location agnostic, wind favours specific locations and this has become a major problem when tariff caps are set at low levels. Under a ‘one tariff fits all’ approach that centralised efforts pursue, wind projects crowd around few favourable locations around the country.  This limits capacity creation.

Wind (along with other RE projects) also share some of the woes of conventional power generators such as deferred revenue recovery from distribution companies (discoms), access to domestic finance and land for new projects and access to transmission lines for completed projects. Discoms owed renewable energy generators about ₹118.6 billion (~$1.6 billion) in payments (excluding disputed amounts) in November 2020.

The direct impact of wind farms on land is often cited as a challenge.  In reality, land use by wind may be lower than that of solar PV. While the land use during installation is high, the long-term physical footprint of wind farms is low as about 97 percent of the land is available for other use. By some estimates, roads take up 80 percent of land use by wind projects while the turbines require only 10 percent of the land. Offshore wind, yet to be deployed in India, could potentially eliminate land requirement.

There is need for policy to take a comprehensive view of value derived from decarbonisation of the power sector that includes not just the environmental goals of reducing national CO2 emissions and lowering urban pollution but also strategic goals of improving energy security by reducing import of fuels/technologies and the socio-economic goal of creating local jobs. Revival of state level initiatives that are tailored for local conditions, using feed-in-tariff as the key incentive mechanism especially for small projects in the wind sector can add the much-required momentum to the domestic wind energy industry.

Source: MNRE

Monthly News Commentary: NON-FOSSIL FUELS

Discoms to Implement Roof Top PV


Roof Top/Distributed Solar Projects

The MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) clarified that only State discoms 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 up to 10 kW and is being implemented in the States by local discoms. The ministry had also received complaints that some vendors were charging higher 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. Domestic consumers will get subsidy under the scheme, if they install rooftop solar plants only from the empanelled vendors of the discoms.

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 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. 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.

Hartek Solar announced commissioning of a 50 kWp 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.

RE Policy and Market Trends

The SECI (Solar Energy Corp of India) is likely to reduce the size of its latest solar tender as well as change location specifications. The size is being brought down from 2,500 MW to 1,800 MW. While earlier the projects were to be located at the solar park in Koppal district of Karnataka, SECI has now identified three other spots in the same state where the projects, once they are auctioned, can be built. SECI is the nodal agency through which the renewable energy ministry conducts wind and solar auctions. The 2,500 MW tender was issued on 10 April 2020, but SECI has extended the deadline for bid submission six times, according to renewable energy consultancy firm Bridge to India.

Tata Power announced a partnership with Small Industries Bank of India (SIDBI) to provide affordable financing scheme for MSME customers in the rooftop solar segment. The scheme will empower MSMEs to adopt sustainable energy for their businesses and promote greener. Easy and affordable financing has been one of the barriers for penetration of solar energy in the MSME sector. Tata Power and SIDBI will provide a financing solution without any collateral at an interest rate of less than 10 percent. The scheme is for MSME customers of Tata Power for both off-grid and on-grid connections.

The Goa State government has approached the 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.

Utility Scale Solar Projects

Andhra Pradesh, a major producer of 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.

The world’s largest floating 600 MW solar energy project, to be constructed at Omkareshwar dam on Narmada river in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, will begin power generation by year 2022-23. The estimated investment in this project stands at ₹30 bn. The primary feasibility study of the project has been completed in collaboration with the World Bank. The project is likely to begin power generation by year 2022-23. A tender for the study of environmental and social impact of the project area is also being issued. Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company has agreed to purchase 400 MW power from the project. The project will have floating solar panels of 600 MW power generation capacity in the backwaters of Omkareshwar dam. It is estimated that in 2 years, the project will start providing cheap and good quality power. Electricity will be produced in about 2000-hectare water area by installing solar panels in the dam. Solar panels will float on the surface of the water in the reservoir.

Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has commissioned one of the biggest floating solar power plants in the State with a capacity of 452 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 helping the airport to produce around 160,000 kWh of power a day whereby the daily consumption stands around at 130,000 kWh. 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.

NHPC Ltd has signed an agreement with IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) for assistance in setting up RE projects. NHPC has undertaken an ambitious plan to make a significant imprint on the RE landscape of the country through development of 7.5 GW of renewable energy (solar – terrestrial and floating, and wind) projects in the next three years. Besides, 155 MW solar (terrestrial and floating) capacity is under final stages of award and another 2.9 GW of solar capacity is under various stages of development.

THDC, an arm of NTPC 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.

Sembcorp Energy India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries, has won a bid for a new 400 MW solar power project in Rajasthan. The bid was won through its renewables subsidiary, Sembcorp Green Infra, in an auction conducted by SECI. The solar project in Rajasthan is expected to be ready for commercial operation by mid-2022 and added that it will be funded through a mixture of internal funds and debt. With this win, the firm now has a renewables portfolio of over 3,000 MW in operation and under development across Singapore, China and India.

Adani Green Energy has commissioned a 25 MW solar power plant at Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh through its step-down subsidiary, Adani Solar Energy Chitrakoot One. With this, the firm’s total operational renewable capacity reached 2,975 MW. The plant has a power purchase agreement with Noida Power Company at ₹3.08/kWh. With this project Adani Green now has a total portfolio of 14,795 MW renewable energy plant capacity including 11,820 MW awarded and under implementation projects.

Tata Power has received an order from the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd (KSEBL) to develop a 110 MW solar power project in the State. The energy produced will be supplied to KSEBL under a PPA valid for a period of 25 years from scheduled commercial operation date. The project has to be commissioned within 18 months from the date of execution of the PPA. The plant is expected to generate about 274 mn units of energy per year. With the latest win, Tata Power’s renewable capacity will increase to 4,032 MW.


For the first time, the Bowenpally agriculture market, the largest vegetable market in Secunderabad Cantonment, will run on electricity generated through vegetable waste. Over a hundred streetlights, 170 stalls, an administrative building and water supply network will be run on this source of energy. With the completion of a trial run recently, it is ready to launch a new power plant, built at a cost of ₹30 mn to generate electricity from vegetable waste.


The government has cleared eight hydropower projects of 144 MW on the Indus river and its tributaries in Ladakh, the highest so far. At present, there are several small projects, with a collective capacity of 113 MW on Indus in Ladakh, and the new projects will have much more capacity than those constructed so far. The new projects have been cleared by the Central Water Commission as well as the Indus Commissioner after a separate Union Territory of Ladakh was announced last year. These projects will come up in Kargil and Leh districts of Ladakh. Because of its topography, it is not feasible to construct big hydropower projects in the Ladakh region.

Rest of the World

Asia Pacific

Major firms, including Sony, Panasonic and Nissan, urged the Japanese government to make its 2030 renewable energy target twice as ambitious. Japan 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 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.

Malaysia will delay the nationwide rollout of its B20 palm oil biodiesel mandate to early 2022 to prioritise an economy that has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mandate to manufacture biofuel with a 20 percent palm oil component – known as B20 – for the transport sector was first rolled out in January last year, and was set to be fully implemented across the country by mid-June 2021. Rival and top producer Indonesia has also pushed back plans to raise the bio-content of palm oil-based biodiesel to 40 percent and instead raised export levies to finance its B30 programme after the pandemic triggered a collapse in crude oil prices. A rally in Malaysia’s benchmark crude palm oil prices to its highest in nearly a decade has also widened its premium over crude oil, making palm a less sustainable option for biodiesel feedstock.

Australia is seeking to overhaul its power grid to improve its stability as the fast uptake of renewable energy generation risks overburdening a transmission system originally built for more reliable but dirtier coal-generated energy. Connection caps on “renewable energy zones” with tender processes would help the orderly introduction of new generators, and the improved stability would reduce uncertainty for investors and benefit customers in the long-run. Nearly two-thirds of coal-fired capacity in the National Electricity Market (NEM), one of the world’s largest interconnected electricity systems, is due to close by 2040. Australia, the world’s top coal and gas exporter, faces the complex challenge of managing the rise of weather-dependent renewables and flexible power sources on its power grid as coal plants shut, while households increasingly turn to roof-top solar energy, batteries and electric vehicles. The government previously said that gas, not solar or wind projects, would be key to the country’s transition towards cleaner energy generation.


The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was expected to release an update on pending waivers for oil refiners that would exempt them from US biofuel blending obligations. 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.


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 according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). Renewable power generation in the 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 according to the EEA. 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. 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. For example, better reuse of materials could curb the environmental impact of mining the metals and purifying the silicon used to make solar PV panels.


South Africa’s state power provider Eskom will implement scheduled power blackouts, after a shutdown of its nuclear power plant prompted by a rising leak rate in one of its steam generators. Eskom shut down unit 1 of its Koeberg station, the only nuclear power plant in Africa, and another unit, earlier than planned. The power cuts were needed to recover and preserve emergency generation reserves. Eskom took Koeberg unit 1 offline for repairs after an increasing leak rate at one of three steam generators, adding that the unit is expected to return to service during May 2021.

Italy’s biggest utility Enel has signed a deal with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to develop renewable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Under the deal, the Qatar sovereign wealth fund will, as a first step, buy half of Enel’s stake in 800 MW of its existing renewable capacity in South Africa and Zambia. Enel Green Power will develop new projects in the region while funding and building will be left to the joint venture. QIA, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, has stopped investing in fossil fuel companies and is focusing increasingly on the development of green technologies.

PV: photovoltaic, discoms: distribution companies, mn: million, bn: billion, kWp: kilowatt peak, MWh: megawatt hour, kW: kilowatt, RE: renewable energy, MW: megawatt, GW: gigawatt, PPA: power purchase agreement, US: United States 

News Highlights: 20 – 26 January 2021

National: Oil

Petrol price crosses ₹100 in Rajasthan

26 January: Fuel prices in Rajasthan shot up to record high and crossed ₹100 per litre, with the price of extra premium petrol in Sriganganagar clocking ₹101.54 per litre and that of normal petrol hitting ₹97.69 a litre. In Jaipur, petrol and diesel prices climbed to record highs of ₹93.22 and ₹85.29, respectively. Rajasthan has the highest VAT (Value Added Tax) rate on fuel in the country with petrol and diesel attracting 38 percent and 28 percent respectively. The price hike forced transporters and the retailers to appeal to the government for reducing VAT which is the highest in the country. During the lockdown period, the state government had increased VAT on petrol and diesel by 10 percent each.

Source: The Economic Times

Petrol crosses ₹86 mark in Delhi, diesel above ₹83 in Mumbai

26 January: State oil companies have raised prices of petrol by ₹5 per litre and of diesel by nearly ₹6 per litre in ten weeks, sending rates to record-highs. Domestic fuel rates appear unstoppable even as international crude oil has stabilised in the last 20 days with prices ranging between $55 and $ 56 per barrel. On Republic Day, oil companies hiked rates of petrol and diesel by 35 paise per litre each. Petrol sold for ₹86.05 per litre and diesel for ₹76.23 per litre on Republic Day in Delhi. Petrol and diesel cost ₹92.62 and ₹83.03 per litre, respectively, in Mumbai. Taxes, which the government raised steeply last year, comprise about 60 percent of the fuels’ retail prices. Rising prices have triggered a strong demand for reduction in taxes on fuels whose sustained high rates can induce inflation in the broader economy.

Source: The Economic Times

UP police withdraws ‘ban’ on fuel to tractors

25 January: The Ghazipur police have withdrawn the orders issued by two police stations, asking petrol pumps to stop giving fuel to tractors, in view of the proposed tractor rally on 26 January as part of farmers’ agitation. The Samajwadi Party had said farmers are being kept under house arrest by the UP (Uttar Pradesh) Police in order to restrain them from participating in the January 26 tractor rally.

Source: The Economic Times

Iraq cuts crude oil supplies for most Indian refiners in 2021

21 January: Iraq has reduced annual supplies of Basra crude oil to several Indian refiners by up to 20% for 2021, industry sources said, in a rare move by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)’s second-largest producer which is trying to meet its obligations under the group’s production deal. Iraq was the top oil supplier to India in 2020 and a reduction in long-term Basra crude supplies could erode Baghdad’s market share in the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer. Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) has reduced the 2021 Basra term volumes to several Indian refiners by between 10 percent and 20 percent. SOMO told Indian refiners that it had reduced annual contracts for all Asian buyers to compensate for higher volumes produced in the previous year. India complained that recent output cuts by some OPEC countries had created uncertainty for customers and led to a surge in global oil prices. SOMO is planning to cut the oil contract of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) by about a quarter from last year’s 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), the sources said, adding that discussions with BPCL were still ongoing as the Indian company’s annual contract begins from April. Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), which buys Basra Light oil, has asked SOMO to reduce its term supplies to about 50,000 bpd in 2021, down from about 80,000 bpd in 2020. Iraq has agreed to HPCL’s request for lower supplies, while the companies are in talks about additional supply of Basra Medium grade. The annual oil contract for Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), operator of the world’s largest refining complex, has also been changed. Reliance will get 33,000 bpd of Basra Medium grade instead of 66,000 bpd of Basra Light, the sources said. The supply cuts to India followed a $2.5 bn oil prepayment deal between SOMO and Chinese state oil trader Zhenhua Oil Corp for 48 mn barrels of Basra crude.

Source: Reuters

IOC seeks to build pipeline up to Jewar airport to supply ATF

21 January: Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is seeking to build a pipeline to supply aviation turbine fuel at the upcoming Jewar airport in Uttar Pradesh. IOC has submitted an expression of interest to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) in this regard. The board has launched a public consultation and will accept comments from everyone on IOC’s proposal until 18 February. IOC plans to build 36 kilometre (km) pipeline from its supply centre at Palwal in Haryana to Jewar airport. The fuel will be sourced from IOC’s refinery at Mathura. The company expects the planned pipeline to meet an estimated ATF (aviation turbine fuel) demand of 0.7 million tonnes (mt) a year by 2029-30, and 1.8 mt a year by 2039-40. IOC currently operates around 15,000 km of hydrocarbon pipelines in the country.

Source: The Economic Times

India unlikely to use US facilities to store oil reserves

20 January: India proposes to re-evaluate its plan to store its strategic oil reserves in facilities available in the US (United States) as the country looks to bolster domestic storage that is considered a safer and better option to deal with excess price volatility and supply disruptions. Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor said that though offers from the US for storing India’s strategic oil reserves is available, it will have to be seen whether it serves the national interest. India has built strategic oil reserve capacity of 5.33 million tonnes (mt) at three locations in southern India — Visakhapatnam, Mangaluru, and Padur. But the reserve is still very small as even at full capacity it would meet the country’s import substitution of just nine days, which is considered too low. Last year, India indicated its plan to build a portion of its strategic oil reserves in the US to take advantage of low oil prices quickly and thus scale up its strategic oil reserves to meet 100 days of requirements, which would take years if only domestic capacities were considered for storing strategic oil reserves.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Gas

Tax conundrums in city gas distribution business

25 January: The Government of India has set a target to achieve 15 percent share of natural gas in overall energy mix by 2030 from the current level of around 6 percent. Natural gas is the cleanest available fossil fuel. Amongst various uses of natural gas, it is widely used for city gas distribution (CGD) which mainly comprises domestic cooking, industrial and transportation fuel. The fuel used by domestic households and industries is known as piped natural gas (PNG) and fuel used by vehicles is known as compressed natural gas (CNG). The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is aggressively expanding CGD footprint in India.

Source: The Economic Times

Attractive LNG prices to boost India’s plan on gas-based economy

23 January: India’s efforts to build a gas based economy is set to get a boost from the falling spot LNG (liquefied natural gas) prices that had skyrocketed to over $30/mmBtu (from $2 a few months ago on the back of the winter demand and supply constriants. According to an estimate made by Emkay Global Financial Services, Asian spot LNG prices have started cooling off now with the latest deals happening at sub-$ 10 level for March delivery. This should consolidate at $ 5-6/mmBtu due to seasonality and resolution of supply issues, offering higher volumes for the Indian LNG players, the brokerage said in its report. Indian spot LNG demand (20 percent of consumption) is likely to be affected in January and February months,  but thereafter supplies are expected to recover on the back of sub $ 10/mmBtu prices. This should also better avenues for entries such as GSPL, PLNG. Indian deals (for spot LNG) have happened at the rate of up to $ 14-15/mmBtu recently. Out of 95mmscmd of Indian RLNG demand, 50-55 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic meter per day) is long term, 10-15 mmscmd is short term and remaining 30mmscmd is spot.

Source: The Economic Times

Shell India starts LNG truck-loading unit at Hazira

20 January: Royal Dutch Shell’s India unit announced the start of operation of its small-scale LNG (liquefied natural gas) supply with a truck-loading unit being inaugurated at its LNG import terminal at Hazira in Gujarat. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated the LNG truck-loading unit, the company and the oil ministry said. Pradhan said the unit will boost the availability of natural gas in off-grid areas where there are no gas pipelines and also promote the use of LNG in long-haul trucking. The government is promoting the use of natural gas through various policy and regulatory reforms towards making India a gas-based economy by raising the share of gas in the nation’s primary energy mix to 15 percent from the current 6.2 percent. Gas is traditionally transported through pipelines from gas fields or LNG import terminals. Trucking LNG to users has lately emerged as an option to take the fuel to small and stranded users. The truck-loading unit will augment Shell’s natural gas supply offerings in India to include the supply of LNG via trucks. Shell Energy India owns and operates a 5 million tonnes (mt) a year LNG import terminal at Hazira (Surat), Gujarat. The terminal has been in operation since 2005 and received more than 600 LNG cargoes to date. Pradhan complimented Shell for their efforts in expanding the LNG infrastructure in the country. Pradhan said increasing competition in the LNG sector will help in the emergence of new markets, create new employment opportunities, ensure cleaner fuels for industries and facilitate environment conservation.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Coal

Meghalaya government talks tough on illegal coal mining

26 January: The National People’s Party-led alliance government in Meghalaya has said it would crack down on illegal coal mining as constituent partner Bharatiya Janata Party demanded the State Home Minister’s resignation for the death of six workers in a 180-ft coal pit on 21 January. Insisting that action was being taken against illegal rat-hole coal mining, banned by the National Green Tribunal since April 2014. The Meghalaya government has been facing flak from the Opposition Congress and ally BJP for failing to stop illegal mining and transportation of coal.

Source: The Hindu

Goa opposition MLAs wear black armbands, demand discussion on coal transport

25 January: Goa opposition MLAs wore black armbands and raised black placards on the inaugural day of the State legislative assembly, amid fears of increased coal transportation through Goa. Opposition MLA former Deputy Chief Minister and Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai said that the first agenda to be discussed in the Assembly had to be related to the coal issue. The coal issue has gripped Goa over the last few months, with the opposition — across party lines — and civil society groups opposing three central government-backed projects in protected forest areas, which they claim would facilitate increased transportation of coal from Goa’s Mormugao port to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary district.

Source: The Economic Times

Northern Coalfields to surpass production target of 113.25 mt for 2020-21

24 January: Coal India-arm Northern Coalfields Ltd has said that it will easily achieve and surpass the production target of 113.25 million tonnes (mt) for the current fiscal. Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) Chairman and Managing Director P K Sinha said that the company has set the new benchmarks in the field of production, productivity and integration of research and innovations. The PSU (Public Sector Undertaking) is firmly committed to the energy security of the nation. Presently, NCL contributes about 15 percent to the domestic coal production which is equivalent to more than 10 percent of power generation of the country, the PSU said. He said that as far as demand of domestic coal is concerned, it will increase in upcoming decades in order to bridge the gap between demand and supply of the dry-fuel, subsequent reduction in coal import of the country, improving the plant load factor (PLF) of existing thermal power plants (TPPs) and to feed upcoming new TPPs. NCL is aiming 130 MT production by 2023-24 in order to contribute in one billion tonnes output target of Coal India and to make the country self-reliant in the coal sector, the company said.

Source: The Economic Times

Coal helped meet India’s record power demand: CIL

23 January: Coal rose to the occasion when India’s power demand peaked at a new high of 187.3 GW, helping meet supply for the record single day surge in electricity consumption by supporting 78.6 percent of the total power generation. The previous high for the country’s power demand occurred on 20 January when consumption rose to 185.82 GW. Around 67 percent of the total coal fired power generation in the country is fueled through CIL (Coal India Ltd) supplies. Of the 199 GW of coal-based power programmed for generation, per day during the ongoing fiscal 133 GW is scheduled from CIL linked coal.

Source: The Economic Times

Government planning to open up coal marketing to streamline process

22 January: The Government is considering opening up coal marketing, Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain said. Currently, production by Coal India is allocated through a number of different methods, including multiple sector-based auctions and coal linkages based on recommendations by the Union government, and Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs). India produced about 729 million tonnes (mt) of coal and imported about 248 mt in the previous fiscal. Coal India Ltd (CIL) accounts for over 80 percent of domestic production. The government, in June 2020, opened up coal mining for commercial use.

Source: The Indian Express

National: Power

Government to focus on loss-making discoms for next 3-4 yrs to achieve ’24×7 power for all’

22 January: The Government’s spotlight will be on electricity distribution companies (discoms), which are mostly state-run and cash-strapped due to losses, to achieve the goal of 24×7 power for all. There is stress in the power sector due to the inability of discoms to make timely payments for supply of power by gencos (generating companies), which affects the entire value chain. The power ministry said the major focus of the central government will be on the distribution sector for the next three-four years.

Source: The Economic Times

Power demand touches all-time high of 185.82 GW: Power Secretary

20 January: All-India power demand touched a record high of 185.82 GW, Power Secretary S N Sahai said. On 30 December 2020, all-India power demand had touched 182.89 GW. According to data from the power ministry, the peak power demand met (the highest supply in a day) during January last year stood at 170.97 GW. The rising power demand shows perk up in economic activities leading to higher commercial and industrial demand which was affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government had imposed a nationwide lockdown on 25 March 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19. Peak power demand met recorded negative growth from April to August last year, due to the pandemic. Power demand started declining from April as economic activities were disrupted in the country due to COVID-19. The pandemic had affected power demand for five months in a row from April to August 2020. The power demand recovered from September 2020 onwards. Peak power demand met grew at 1.7 percent in September, 3.4 percent in October, 3.5 percent in November and 7.3 percent in December

Source: The Economic Times

Mumbai must scale up power generation, upgrade transmission: CEA

20 January: Mumbai needs to add electricity generation capacity that’s dedicated for its own consumption and reduce dependence on buying power from outside, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) team investigating the unprecedented outage across the city and nearby areas in October has recommended. The CEA said in its report that inadequacy of the transmission network is likely to hamper the security of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region grid in the future. The generation capacity available in Mumbai is 1,877 MW, of which Tata Power supplies 1,377 MW and Adani Electricity Mumbai supplies 500 MW. That’s half of Mumbai’s peak demand of 3,800 MW. The panel suggested that to ensure uninterrupted supply, generation sources in Mumbai and adjacent areas should be given “must run” status, which means power distribution companies cannot discontinue or reduce offtake from them.

Source: The Economic Times

NTPC Group records its highest-ever power generation on 18 January

20 January: NTPC Ltd said it recorded its highest-ever daily electricity generation of over one billion units on 18 January. The achievement reinforces the group’s commitment towards excellence in operation across its power stations, it said. NTPC Group generated its highest-ever day gross generation of 1009 mn units on 18 January 2021. As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, NTPC Singrauli unit number 1 in Uttar Pradesh, which had commenced operation 38 years ago, achieved the highest Plant Load Factor (PLF) of 100.24 percent for the period from April 2020 to December 2020. NTPC Group has achieved gross cumulative generation of 222.4 bn units from April to December 2020, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to the same period last year. NTPC, being an essential service provider, maintained operations at its power stations uninterruptedly during the lockdown while adhering strictly to all the Covid-related guidelines issued by the government, it said.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Non-Fossil Fuels/Climate Change Trends

UP to buy agricultural waste to hike farmer income, cut pollution

25 January: In keeping with its promise to double income of farmers, the state government has decided to buy agricultural waste and wean away farmers from stubble burning, which accelerates air pollution. To provide a tech fillip, the state government set up a bio-coal production unit in Risia in Bahraich district, where the trial-run of manufacturing fuel briquette pellet from agro-waste was successfully completed recently. Paddy straw, corn stalks, sugarcane leaves are being bought at ₹1500-2000 per quintal from farmers of the region and ploughed into the Bahraich plant. And around 10,000 quintals have also been bought from farmers so far, state government said. This is the first plant in the state, which is making fuel briquettes from agricultural residue. The unit has received an order for pellet supply of 1000 tonnes per day by Unchahar unit of NTPC Ltd.

Source: The Economic Times

CBI to probe solar scam cases against ex-Kerala CM and others

25 January: The Kerala government has decided to handover the Solar Scam cases — in which many Congress leaders including former Chief Minister (CM) Oommen Chandy and national general secretary KC Venugopal are in the list of accused — to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Reacting to the development, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the government’s decision to hand over Solar Scam cases to the CBI is just an election stunt. The solar scam took place in 2013 when the United Democratic Front government led by Chandy was in power. Chandy is also accused of accepting a bribe of ₹19 mn in the matter. The solar panel scam involved a fraudulent solar energy company, Team Solar Energy, which duped several people to the tune of crores of rupees.

Source: The Economic Times

Women’s self-help group sets up solar panel manufacturing unit in Maharashtra

24 January: In a first of its kind initiative, a solar panel manufacturing unit has been set-up by a women’s self-help group from Kawatha village. Solar panel manufacturing is generally undertaken by big companies. However, the uneducated women of the self-help group have taken a leap into the industry by gaining proficiency in technical work like solar panel construction and manufacturing. This is the first case in Maharashtra and the second in the country to set up a solar panel manufacturing industry through a women’s self-help group in a rural area. IIT Mumbai has been providing technical support to the project. IIT Mumbai works with the ministry of non-conventional energy. Tejaswi Solar Energy Backward Women’s Industrial Society has been registered under the cooperative society with 214 women shareholders, 200 of them are from the backward class. Initially, after getting trained from Durga Solar Energy of Dungarpur, Rajasthan, 12 women came to the village and started making solar lamps and also made one thousand lamps and sold them for ₹2 lakh. The company’s factory is ready and work to make panels is under way. Women are also making solar panels, solar street lights and solar home lights.

Source: The Economic Times

Tata Power Solar wins ₹12 bn order to set up 320 MW project

23 January: Tata Power Solar announced that it has bagged an order worth ₹12 bn from state-run power giant NTPC Ltd for setting up of 320 MW ground mounted solar project. Tata Power Solar, India’s largest integrated solar company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Power, has received a “Letter of Award (LoA)” to build 320 MW of ground mounted Solar PV (photovoltaic) project for NTPC. The commercial operation date for this project is set for May 2022. Tata Power Solar comes with a successful background of executing large projects such as the 150 MW Ayana at Ananthapur, 50 MW Kasargod at Kerala, 56 MW Greenko, 30 MWp (megawatt peak) solar power plant in Lapanga, Odisha, 105 MWp of floating solar project at Kayamkulam (under implementation). It has also won an auction conducted by Gujarat for 400 MW of projects to be built at Dholera solar Park.

Source: The Economic Times

Cabinet approves MoU between India, Uzbekistan for cooperation in solar energy

21 January: The Union Cabinet approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Uzbekistan for cooperation in solar energy. The main area of work is to identify research, demonstration and pilot projects between the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the International Solar Energy Institute (ISEI), Uzbekistan in mutually identified areas including solar photovoltaic and storage technologies. Based on mutual agreement, both parties would work for implementation and deployment of pilot project in International Solar Alliance (ISA) member countries.

Source: The Economic Times

Madhya Pradesh sets up maximum solar pumps under government scheme

21 January: Madhya Pradesh (MP) has set up largest number of solar pumps in the country under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan, New and Renewable Energy Minister Hardeep Singh Dang said. The scheme was launched by the Central Government last year for providing employment to migrant labourers who came back to their native places during COVID-19 lockdown, he said. Under the scheme, migrant labourers in 116 districts of six states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand – were identified for providing them employment. In MP, 24 districts were included in the scheme, under which setting up of solar pumps, construction of community toilets, anganwadis, wells, rural mandis, domestic animal sheds, panchayat buildings and tree plantation activities were taken up for providing jobs to migrant labourers, Dang said.

Source: The Economic Times

Adani Green’s subsidiary commissions 150 MW solar plant in Gujarat

20 January: Adani Green Energy’s subsidiary has commissioned a 150 MW solar power project in Kutchh, Gujarat taking its total operational renewable capacity to 3,125 MW, the firm said. Adani Solar Energy Kutchh One, a subsidiary of Adani Green, has a power purchase agreement with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam at ₹2.67 per unit for a period of 25 years. According to the company, with the commissioning of this project, the Gautam Adani-led firm has reached a total renewable capacity of 14,795 MW including 11,670 MW awarded and under implementation projects. Gujarat contributes to nearly 13 percent of the renewable energy production in India and has a generation capacity of 30 GW. Adani Green has commissioned 635 MW renewable energy projects in the state, and 4,730 MW of projects are under implementation.

Source: The Economic Times

Andhra Pradesh releases feasibility report for solar project sites under RE export policy

20 January: Andhra Pradesh has released feasibility reports of five project sites for setting up of ultra-mega solar power parks under its renewable energy (RE) export policy announced in July last year. It had identified seven such sites with a total capacity of 17,800 MW under its new policy. These were at Kadiri, Obuladevucheruvu (ODC), Ralla Anantapur, Badvel, Kalasapadu, Owk, and Kolimigundla. Out of these, project reports have been released for installation of large-scale solar parks having 4,000 MW capacity at Kadiri, 2,400 MW each at ODC and Ralla Anantapur, 1,400 MW at Badvel, and 2,000 MW at Kalasapadu. According to the reports, the Kadiri project would be set-up on about 20,000 acres of land, about 10,000 acres for Kalasapadu project, 7,000 acres for Badvel, and 12,000 acres each for Ralla Anantapur and ODC project sites.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Oil

US oil refiners set for worst earnings quarter of the pandemic

25 January: US (United States) refiners are girding for a painful slate of fourth-quarter earnings, reflecting the pressure of rising crude prices, weak demand due to renewed COVID-19 travel restrictions, and higher costs of associated with blending of renewable fuels into their products. Seven US independent refiners are projected to post an average earnings-per-share loss of $1.51, down from a loss of $1.06 in the third quarter of 2020, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. In the fourth quarter, independent refiners including Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy and Phillips 66 coped with uneven demand due to a resurgence of coronavirus cases worldwide. Consumption of liquid fuels globally is estimated to have fallen by 9 mn barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Crude oil benchmarks rallied more than 20 percent in the quarter, which squeezed US refining margins to less than $10 a barrel on average – the threshold for which most refiners make money – for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Source: Reuters

Indonesia seizes Iran, Panama-flagged tankers over alleged illegal oil transfer

25 January: Indonesia said its coast guard seized the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Freya vessels over suspected illegal oil transfer in the country’s waters. Coast guard said the tankers, seized in waters off Kalimantan province, will be escorted to Batam island in Riau Island Province for further investigation. The International Maritime Organization requires vessels to use transponders for safety and transparency. Crews can turn off the devices if there is a danger of piracy or similar hazards. But transponders are often shut down to conceal a ship’s location during illicit activities. Both the supertankers, each capable of carrying 2 mn barrels of oil, were last spotted earlier this month off Singapore, shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon showed. Iran, which has not commented on the seizure, has been accused of concealing the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems on its tankers, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran exports as it seeks to counter US (United States) sanctions.

Source: Reuters

Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp to stop investing in new oil development projects

24 January: Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp will stop investing in new oil development projects as it shifts away from fossil fuels businesses amid a global push to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The move comes as global miners and Japanese trading companies cut their exposure to coal operations, including mining and power generation to trim harmful carbon dioxide emissions and to slow climate change. Sumitomo will no longer participate auctions for new oil projects, though it will continue its existing oil projects including those in North Sea. In energy and natural resources, Sumitomo will focus its management resources on renewable energy such as offshore wind farms and base metals, including copper and nickel used in electric vehicles.

Source: Reuters

China’s Sinopec raises oil output at Shunbei field 30 percent in 2020

22 January: China’s Sinopec Corp boosted crude oil output at a comparatively newly discovered oil field in the northwestern Xinjiang region by nearly 30 percent last year to about 1 million tonnes (mt), the company said. Though small compared with Sinopec’s overall output, the increase represents progress for the state oil giant as it taps geologically more challenging oil and gas deposits to compensate rapid reserve declines at its largest, but aging Shengli field in east China. The Shunbei field, discovered in 2016, has proven geological oil reserves of more than 130 mt, or about 950 mn barrels. Sinopec said it also produced about 350 mn cubic metres of natural gas in the same field, 32 percent more than 2019.

Source: The Economic Times

US stimulus, continued Iran sanctions supportive for oil prices: Goldman

22 January: The new US (United States) administration’s plans for large fiscal spending and little urgency to lift sanctions on Iran are constructive for oil and gas prices, Goldman Sachs said. US President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 tn stimulus package aims to jump-start the economy and accelerate vaccines distribution to control COVID-19, which has hammered global oil demand. Oil prices fell on worries that new pandemic restrictions in China will curb fuel demand in the world’s biggest oil importer.

Source: Reuters

Oil drops 1 percent as China’s surging COVID-19 cases trigger clampdowns

22 January: Oil prices fell, retreating further from 11-month highs hit, weighed down by worries that new pandemic restrictions in China will curb fuel demand in the world’s biggest oil importer. US (United States) West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 65 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $52.48 a barrel, after slipping 18 cents. The market is awaiting official oil inventory data from the US Energy Information Administration, after industry data showed a surprise 2.6 mn barrel increase in US crude inventories compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 1.2 mn barrel draw. Recovering fuel demand in China underpinned market gains late last year while the US and Europe lagged, but that source of support is fading as a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases has sparked new restrictions to contain the spread.

Source: Reuters

Norway plans to award Arctic oil drilling permits in Q2: Bru

21 January: Norway is proceeding with plans to award oil and gas exploration permits in frontier regions of the Arctic later this year, Oil and Energy Minister Tina Bru said. The government in November said it would offer drilling permits in nine offshore regions containing 136 blocks, mostly in the Arctic Barents Sea, as it seeks to pave the way for a major expansion of exploration. The deadline for applications is 23 February.

Source: Reuters

International: Gas

Chinese majors to struggle to extend shale gas boom beyond 2025

26 January: Chinese oil majors will struggle to extend fast growth in shale gas production beyond 2025, as complex geology and failure to draw in more investors make it expensive to develop the unconventional resource. That would be a blow to China’s efforts to cut its reliance on gas imports, presently 42 percent of total consumption. It would also mean Beijing will have to step up development of other costly gas resources in its remote northwest to meet demand, as the country steers away from coal to achieve climate goals. The world’s top energy consumer started producing shale gas in southwest Sichuan in 2012, inspired by a US (United States) shale push, and has doubled output in the past two years to 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) – or about a tenth of its 2020 natural gas output. State majors PetroChina and Sinopec have pledged to lift shale gas production by 75 percent to 35 bcm in next five years, but experts say output could peak at around 50-55 bcm by 2035 unless companies drill deeper that requires further technological breakthrough. China’s shale gas output could peak around 2035 at 50 bcm, a Beijing-based government geologist said. Parul Chopra, a Rystad Energy analyst, forecast a peak of near 55 bcm. China has drilled under 2,000 shale gas wells, versus thousands in a single US project. Chinese shale gas production was equivalent to only 3 percent of US 2020 output.

Source: Reuters

International: Coal

Many US utilities plan to hang on to their coal plants for a decade: Sierra Club

25 January: The most coal-dependent US (United States) utilities plan to keep around 75 percent of their coal-fired power plants running for another decade, according to an analysis by the environmental group Sierra Club, posing a threat to the climate. The Sierra Club analysis of utility public filings found that the companies, which together account for 43 percent of the nation’s power production, have committed to retiring just a quarter of their coal capacity by 2030. Sierra Club has been a major force in pushing for the retirement of US coal plants. Since 2010, 63 percent of the nation’s coal plants have been retired or have committed to retire by 2030.

Source: Reuters

China December coal imports from Australia plunge to zero on import restrictions

20 January: China did not allow any coal cargos from Australia to pass the customs clearance in December as it targeted various Australian products with unofficial import restrictions, but inflows from other countries rose. Both thermal coal, mainly used as fuel at power generation plants, and metallurgical coal for steelmaking from Australia fell to zero in December, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. But coal arrivals from other sources, such as Indonesia and Russia, increased last month as Beijing granted approval to power plants to import coal from various countries without clearance restrictions, except Australia. Relations between Beijing and Canberra have come under increasing strain amid a series of disputes over trade, politics and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The customs data also showed that the share of Australian thermal coal slipped to 34.19 percent of China’s total imports of the fuel in 2020 from 39.72 percent in 2019. China has granted new quotas in 2021 allowing for coal imports to pass customs clearance, but there is no sign that restrictions on Australian products are being lifted, according to trading sources. At least 62 cargos carrying 6.14 million tonnes (mt) of coal from Australia are waiting to discharge near Chinese ports, some of which have been waiting since June, according to Refinitiv’s trade flows data. China is planning to buy $1.467 bn worth of thermal coal from Indonesia in 2021.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Power

Dutch companies sign 10-year deal to buy 330 GWh of power from Finland

25 January: A consortium of four Dutch companies, including Heineken and Philips, said they have signed a 10-year contract to purchase 330 GWh of power annually from a wind farm being built in Finland. The virtual contract covers an expected output volume of 330 GWh per year – equivalent to the electricity consumption of 40,000 households. Compared with the average European electricity generation, this renewable electricity will help avoid more than 230,000 tons of carbon emissions every year, the companies said. The power will be delivered to the Finnish grid and the companies will use it at industrial plants across Europe.

Source: Reuters

China’s illegal ‘profiteering’ in power sector leads to massive blackouts in Pakistan

22 January: China has invested billions in Pakistan’s power sector but all the deals made with Pakistan are tainted that contributed to the recent nationwide blackout, which is likely to return in future. China has earmarked ₹30 bn for Pakistan’s energy sector through CPEC funds. Several Chinese IPPs (Independent Power Producers) have been involved in the construction of as many as 27 power plants in Pakistan with a total installed capacity of 12,000 MW under the CPEC program. As per the analysts, Chinese-funded power projects, after completion, will mostly utilise existing rundown distribution infrastructure, which is currently making 25 percent annual losses. Moreover, transmission and distribution losses, overdue payments, and theft and pilferage of electricity also power up the debts that threaten to keep the lights out in Pakistan.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Non-Fossil Fuels/Climate Change Trends

South Africa plans three renewable energy rounds over coming year

25 January: South Africa plans to launch three procurement rounds for 6,800 MW of renewable energy over the next year, as well as a combined 5,000 MW of new coal, gas and storage, a presentation by the governing African National Congress (ANC) showed. The presentation showed the ANC planned to launch the first renewables round in January or February for 2,600 MW of wind and solar, with another 2,600 MW round in August and a third for 1,600 MW in January or February 2022. A procurement round for roughly 500 MW of energy storage would start around September, followed by rounds for 1,500 MW of coal and 3,000 MW of gas around December. The coal is contentious as the country is a major polluter, and banks are increasingly reluctant to lend to coal projects because of environmental concerns. A 2019 update of the plan contained big allocations for wind and solar but also included new coal, which some analysts said was an attempt to placate lobbyists for the fuel.

Source: Reuters

Biden administration to unveil more climate policies, urges China to toughen emissions target

24 January: US (United States) President Joe Biden’s administration will release more policies it believes are needed to tackle climate change and is urging China to toughen one of its targets on greenhouse gas emissions, his top climate advisers said. Gina McCarthy, the White House’s national climate adviser, did not say what policies would be released. A memo showed Biden will unveil a second round of executive orders as soon as that include an omnibus order to combat climate change domestically and elevate the issue as a national security priority. John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy, said a recent pledge by China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, was “not good enough.” In September, Chinese President Jinping set a goal for his country to become carbon neutral by 2060, 10 years after the 2050 time frame favored by most countries, while also pledging a more ambitious short-term goal on emissions. The US, the world’s second leading emitter, has to do better than getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, perhaps through emerging technologies such as capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, Kerry said.

Source: Reuters

EU countries mull call for global coal power phase out, end to fossil fuel subsidies

22 January: European Union (EU) countries could call for a global phasing out of polluting coal power and an end to fossil fuel subsidies as the bloc makes climate change a central part of its foreign policy, according to a draft document. Countries including China, Japan and South Africa have pledged to eventually cut their net carbon emissions to zero – a commitment US (United States) President Joe Biden also made in his election campaign. But the EU is one of few major economies to translate its long-term climate goal into urgent action this decade. Globally, countries’ current plans would not cut emissions fast enough to avert catastrophic climate change. EU countries agreed to cut emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. Future EU trade deals must match its climate ambition, the draft said.

Source: Reuters

World’s largest single-site solar power plant in Abu Dhabi

21 January: An hour’s drive southeast of Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest single-site solar plant. Located at Sweihan in Abu Dhabi, Noor Abu Dhabi (which means ‘light’ in Arabic) features 3.2 mn solar panels. The clean, renewable energy produced here will power the daily lives of 90,000 families in the emirate. With the capacity to reduce Abu Dhabi’s CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by 1 million tonnes (mt), the plant will be looking at an environmental impact equivalent to taking 2,00,000 cars off the roads. The UAE is diversifying its energy mix and aiming to meet 44 percent of its needs through clean energy by 2050. In July last year, Abu Dhabi announced the construction of yet another solar power plant intended to surpass the Noor Abu Dhabi project.

Source: The Economic Times

Trump’s EPA granted Sinclair Oil last-minute biofuel waivers

21 January: The US (United States) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Sinclair Oil Corp waivers that exempt both its refineries in Wyoming from biofuel blending requirements for the 2019 compliance year, making it the only company to have received exemptions for that year so far. The EPA had announced it granted two 2019 waivers to refining facilities, hours before the departure of the administration of President Donald Trump, but did not identify the recipients. Some 30 other waiver applications for that year remained unanswered. The two waivers went to the 85,000 barrel per day (bpd) Sinclair Wyoming refinery and the 30,000 bpd Sinclair Casper refinery, which is also in Wyoming. The announcement marked one of the last moves by the EPA under Trump and drew criticism from both the biofuel industry, which opposes such exemptions, and the oil industry, which said the agency left too many lingering exemption issues unanswered. The so-called Small Refinery Exemption program is a part of the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners 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 average 75,000 bpd of throughput or less and can prove the blending requirements would do them financial harm. The biofuel industry and farmers say the waivers hurt demand for products like corn-based ethanol, while the oil industry rejects that and says the exemptions are needed to keep small refiners in business.

Source: Reuters

China doubles new renewable capacity in 2020, still builds thermal plants

21 January: China more than doubled its construction of new wind and solar power plants in 2020 from a year earlier, government data showed, reflecting Beijing’s pledge to cut fossil fuel dependence and bring carbon emissions to a peak within a decade. China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, added 71.67 GW of wind power capacity last year, the most ever and nearly triple 2019’s levels, according to data released by the National Energy Administration (NEA). China’s 2020 figure is ahead of the 60.4 GW of new wind capacity added globally in 2019, according to data from the Global Wind Energy Council. The rise came as Beijing announced an end to subsidies for new onshore wind power projects starting from 2021. New solar power capacity also rebounded in 2020 to 48.2 GW after falling for two straight years, the data showed, beating an earlier industry estimate of 40 GW. China had vowed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 15 percent by 2020 from just 6.8 percent in 2005, and President Xi Jinping said this figure would rise to 25 percent by 2030. China would also take its total installed wind and solar capacity to 1,200 GW, he said. By the end of 2020, China had 281.5 GW of wind generation capacity, and 253.4 GW of solar generation capacity, the NEA data showed. China continued to build new thermal power capacity in 2020, according to the data, with 56.37 GW the highest level since 2015.

Source: Reuters

Israel and UAE agree renewable energy deal

21 January: Israeli and Emirati companies have signed an inaugural agreement on renewable energy, as the Jewish state forges ahead with plans to become a global leader in the sector. The deal is one of a raft of commercial ties to be formed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the two nations established ties in September, in a normalisation drive dubbed the Abraham accords. The principal corporate signatories of the energy agreement are Abu Dhabi-based Masdar and EDF Renewables Israel, a subsidiary of French utility giant EDF.

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.

Disclaimer: Information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only and has been compiled, adapted and edited from reliable sources. ORF does not accept any liability for errors therein. News material belongs to respective owners and is provided here for wider dissemination only. Opinions are those of the authors (ORF Energy Team).

Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

Editor: Akhilesh Sati

Content Development: Vinod Kumar

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.