COVID19, Climate Action, Solar Energy, Energy Monitor

Quick Notes

Energy trends in 2020: Clues for future climate action

Global trends   

The annual flagship publication of British Petroleum (BP), statistical review of world energy 2021 was released recently with several insights on how COVID-19-related economic constraints affected energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020. Globally primary energy consumption fell by 4.5 percent in 2020, the largest decline since 1945. CO2 emissions from energy use fell by 6.3 percent to their lowest level since 2011 and the largest decline since 1945.

Oil consumption fell by a record 9.1 million barrels per day (b/d), or 9.3 percent, to its lowest level since 2011. Oil demand fell by 2.3 million b/d in the US, 1.5 million b/d in the European Union (EU) and by 480,000 b/d in India. China was an exception with oil demand increasing by 220,000 b/d. Global oil production shrank by 6.6 million b/d, with  Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) accounting for two-thirds of the decline. The oil price (Dated Brent) averaged US $41.84/b in 2020, the lowest since 2004. Reduction in oil demand led overall reduction in primary energy consumption accounting for about three-quarters of the net decline.

Natural gas consumption fell by 81 billion cubic metres (bcm), or 2.3 percent but the share of gas in the global primary energy basket increased to a record high of 24.7 percent. Natural gas prices at the US Henry Hub fell to an average of US $1.99/mmBtu (metric million British thermal units), the lowest since 1995 and Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices (Japan Korea marker) fell to a record low of US $4.39/mmBtu.

Coal consumption fell by about 213 mtce (million tonnes of coal equivalent) or 4.2 percent led by declines in the US and India. In China, coal consumption increased by about 17 mtce. Global coal production decreased by 286 mtce or by 5.2 percent. As with consumption, coal production increased in China by 37 mtce.

Renewable energy (including biofuels but excluding hydro) increased by 9.7 percent slower than the 10-year average of 13.4 percent. Solar capacity expanded by 127 GW (gigawatt), while wind capacity grew by 111 GW almost double its previous highest annual increase.

Hydroelectricity grew by 1 percent led by China, while nuclear energy fell by 4.1 percent, driven mainly by declines in France, USA, and Japan. CO2 emissions from energy use fell by 6.3 percent to their lowest level since 2011. As with primary energy, this was the largest decline since the end of World War II. The carbon intensity of the energy mix which is the average carbon emitted per unit of energy used fell by 1.8 percent also one of the largest ever falls in post-war history. According to the BP report the rate of decline in CO2 emissions in 2020 was exactly what the world needs to average each year for the next 30 years to be on track to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Energy Trends in India

Primary energy consumption in India decreased by 5.9 percent in contrast to the 10-year average growth of 4.7 percent. The combined share of energy consumption from oil, gas and coal fell from 90.6 (not including biomass) to 89.7 percent and the share of renewables increased from 3.9 to 4.5 percent. Indian coal consumption declined by 6 percent in 2020 with India accounting for 17 percent of the total decline in coal consumption.

The share of coal in India’s primary energy mix in 2020 was 55 percent compared to 27 percent at a global level and India accounted for 11.6 percent of global coal consumption. Domestic production of coal increased by 0.4 percent. Natural gas consumption increased by 0.3 percent to 60 bcm and the share of natural gas in India’s primary energy basket increased to 6.7 percent compared to 6.3 percent in 2019.  Domestic production of natural gas decreased by 11.9 percent, the largest fall since 2013 compared to the 10-year average decline of 3 percent. Total electricity generation fell from 1,604 TWh to 1,561 TWh, a decline of 2.9 percent in contrast to the 10-year average growth of 6.2 percent. Coal’s share in power generation declined marginally from 74 percent in 2019 to 72 percent in 2020.  Renewables generation increased from 139 TWh to 151 TWh.  Production of biofuels decreased by about 8 percent compared to a 10-year average growth of over 26 percent.  CO2 emissions from energy use decreased by 7.1 percent compared to the 10-year average increase of 4.5 percent.

Future of Climate Action

The impact of the pandemic on the energy sector captured by BP statistical review provides a unique lens on the challenge for nations committed to fighting climate change. After rising steadily for decades, global CO2 emissions fell by 2.3 billion tonnes in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic squelched economic and social activities worldwide. The decline is roughly double Japan’s yearly emissions, but it is less than what many environmental scientists expected. The energy sector most affected by pandemic restrictions was aviation, where emissions fell by 48 percent from their 2019 total. The key factor behind reduction in CO2 emissions was the fall in economic activity because of the worldwide lockdowns that extended into many months.

Estimates indicate the virus reduced global economic growth in 2020 to an annualised rate of 3.4 to 7.6 percent, with a recovery of 4.2 to 5.6 percent projected for 2021. Global trade fell by about 5 percent in 2020. According to the World Bank, most emerging and developing economies experienced rates of growth in 2020 that were be the lowest overall since the 1960s, with 90 percent of such economies experiencing contractions in per person incomes and many millions of people falling back into poverty.  Some estimates indicate that 95 million people may have entered extreme poverty in 2020 with 80 million more undernourished compared to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) India’s real GDP (gross domestic product), contracted by 8 percent in 2020-21. This is the first contraction experienced since 1980-81 and the severest ever. Private final consumption expenditure registered a contraction for the first time in the past four decades. According to the country’s former RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao, the Indian economy’s recovery is likely to be ‘K-shaped’ instead of a ‘V,’ as rising inequality is poised to hit consumption and growth prospects. According to the former RBI Governor, rising inequalities are particularly painful to a low-income country like India, where the upper segments of the population have seen their incomes protected and their wealth rise while the lower sections have lost jobs, incomes, savings and purchasing power.  About 122 million people, mostly daily wage earners and those employed by small businesses, lost their jobs to one of the world’s strictest lockdowns imposed in India.

The critical question that emerges from energy developments in 2020 is whether technology will enable the world economic to reduce CO2 emissions like the pandemic did but without decreasing energy consumption and without imposing economic costs on the poorest sections of the population.

Source: BP statistical review of world energy 2021

Monthly News Commentary: NON-FOSSIL FUELS

Solar Manufacturing Takes-off

India

Solar Manufacturing

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) invited applications for setting up manufacturing capacities for high-efficiency solar photovoltaic (PV) modules under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. On 11 November 2020, the Cabinet approved introduction of the PLI scheme for 10 key sectors, for making India self-reliant. One of these sectors was high-efficiency solar modules for which the financial outlay under the scheme over a five-year period was set at ₹45 billion. According to IREDA, applicants would be required to submit their response by indicating the yearly PLI values based on their expected sales of solar PV modules in megawatt, base case PLI for which their product is eligible, expected local value addition, and tapering factor as per the scheme guidelines. Manufacturers setting up any solar PV technology-based production facilities would be eligible for applying for the incentive assistance, provided the capacities it sets up achieves the minimum level of integration of cells and modules, the minimum manufacturing capacity requirements and the minimum threshold module performance parameters of module efficiency, as per the scheme guidelines. The company may form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for setting up the manufacturing facility after the issue of Letter of Award (LoA) by IREDA. However, such SPV should be formed within 90 days from issue of LoA. In case of any delay beyond 90 days for formation of the SPV, the LoA issued would be withdrawn and capacity would be allocated to entities in the waiting list.

ReNew Power plans to develop a solar cell and module manufacturing facility with 2 GW annual capacity in Dholera Special Industrial Region, Gujarat. The facility will manufacture solar cells and modules using state-of-the-art monocrystalline PERC (Passivated Emitter & Rear Contact) and large wafer technology and will implement best practices in line with Industry 4.0 manufacturing standards. The plant is expected to be vertically integrated in terms of processes and infrastructure for the manufacturing of solar cells and modules and is anticipated to commence operations from fiscal year 2022-23. Gujarat has been one of the pioneers in promoting renewable energy and ReNew’s first power project, a 25.2 MW wind farm, was also commissioned in Jasdan, Gujarat.

Uttar Pradesh has launched a project to manufacture solar lamps and distribute them to children in rural areas of the state at a reasonably low cost. With the help of the government and the CSR Fund, women of self-help groups are creating these solar lamps, which are being made available to the school children by the government for ₹100 per piece against their market rate of a whopping ₹500 per piece. Earlier, the government had distributed 28 lakh solar lamps made by 4,000 women to school children in 75 blocks spread over 30 districts of UP. In the first phase of the Prerna Ojas programme, 35 women from 18 groups were selected to receive training in manufacturing cheaper solar lamps and selling them while a unit was set up at Paraunkh village.

RE Policy and Market Trends

MILLIONRE announced a timeline extension in the scheduled commissioning date (SCD) of renewable energy projects considering disruption due to the second wave of COVID-19 cases. The ministry in its order said that RE projects being implemented through implementing agencies designated by the MILLIONRE having their SCD on or after 1 April 2021 would be eligible to claim time-extension for completion of their project activities.

Private solar power companies have sought the Centre’s intervention in securing solar contracts after the tenders were cancelled by UP. UP has become the latest state to cancel winning bids for 184 MW discovered through auctions in February last year. The solar companies bid cancellation and re-negotiation attempts by states affects India’s image amongst foreign investors. Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) issued letters informing cancellation to NV Vogt Singapore Private Ltd, Al-Jomaih-Jakson Power Private Ltd, Vijay Printing Press Private Ltd, and Talettutayi Solar Projects Eight saying their bids have become “time-barred and infructuous” since no action was taken by the firms after they consented for extension of the bid period validity till 31 March 2021.

Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd (AEML) has decided to offer a Green Tariff Initiative for its consumers in Mumbai suburban area. As per the company, all consumers right from corporates, industrial, commercial, hotels, restaurants, and residential consumers can now switch to green energy. The consumers can opt for Adani Electricity Green Tariff Initiative by paying an additional tariff of ₹0.66/kWh. Consumers will have the flexibility to decide what should be the percentage of renewable energy in their total energy consumption. The company welcomed all members of RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to the consumption of renewable energy. AEML will issue monthly certificates to such consumers which mention that they have opted for Renewable Energy and the colour of the bill will be green.  The program is voluntary for existing AEML as well prospective consumers and has the option to shift both Green Energy Tariff as well normal within next billing cycle.

Roof Top /Distributed Solar Projects

Gujarat’s four public-owned discoms have signed PPAs for 3,979 small-scale distributed solar projects with aggregate capacity of 2,500 MW. These small-scale distributed solar projects, to be commissioned within the next 18 months, will bring in an investment of over ₹100 billion in the state for the development of green energy and allied sectors. Gujarat in 2019 notified the Policy for Development of Small-Scale Distributed Solar Projects, which aims to facilitate development of solar projects with size of 0.5 MW to 4 MW in the state’s distribution network.

Goa launched a solar-based electrification programme for rural households in the state. This project will bring electricity through renewable energy to areas in Goa where grid connectivity is not feasible. The solar PV-based home lighting systems for households was inaugurated only two days after the agreement was signed between Convergence Energy Services Ltd (CESL) and Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA).

Utility Scale Solar Projects

In FY2021 about 3.5 GW of new utility-scale solar capacity was added in India. Compared to previous year (FY2020), installations were about 39 percent lesser according to JMK Research. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh were the leading states with most of the large-scale solar installations during this period. In the wind segment, in FY2021, about 1.5 GW of new wind capacity was added. This is about 28 percent lower than the previous year’s installation. Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu contributed maximum wind capacity addition during this period. As per JMK Research estimates, about 10 GW of new utility-scale solar capacity and 3.5 GW of new wind capacity are expected to be installed in this financial year, 25 percent less than its previous estimate.

Tata Power Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power has received a Letter of Award worth ₹6.86 billion from NTPC Ltd to build 210 MW of solar projects in Gujarat. The projects will be commissioned by November, 2022. The order pipeline of Tata Power Solar has reached 2.8 GW with a value of ₹130 billion. The scope of work includes land, transmission, engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning of the solar projects. The NTPC project site is in Gujarat. Tata Power Solar has previously executed projects such as the 250 MW Ayana at Andhra Pradesh’s Ananthapur and 105 MW of floating solar at Kayamkulam in Kerala.

SJVN Ltd said it has bagged a 75 MW grid-connected solar project in Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh. The power generated from the project will be procured by Uttar Pradesh New and Renewal Development Agency (UPNEDA) for 25 years at a quoted tariff of ₹2.68/kWh.

Okaya Power has commissioned 100 kWp hybrid solar plant at its manufacturing unit at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. The plant will generate more than 144 MWh energy annually reducing its power consumption from the grid to 40 percent. The commissioned hybrid solar plant makes the unit self-sufficient for its daily energy requirement and support the uninterrupted production process with continuous power supply even in the scenario of unanticipated power cuts happening due to grid failure.

Vikram Solar announced the commissioning of an 85 MW solar plant for state-run power giant NTPC at Bilhaur, in Uttar Pradesh. Combining the latest 85 MW project at Bilhaur with Vikram Solar’s recently commissioned 140 MW project for NTPC at the same location amounts to 225 MW capacity project and became the largest solar project in a single location in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The 85 MW solar project is spread across 400 acres. The expected energy yield of this project in Uttar Pradesh is 200 million units. The plant is expected to reduce 4.57 tonnes of CO2 and can power 88,905 houses per year. Vikram Solar’s annual PV module production capacity stands at 1.2 GW and the company has shipped over 3.1 GW PV modules globally.

The Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Convergence Energy Services Ltd (CESL) for setting up of 5 MW Solar Power Plant at Zanskar in Kargil.

Hydro Power

NHPC Ltd said it has incorporated a joint venture firm Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corp Ltd for implementing 850 MW Ratle project in the union territory of J&K (Jammu and Kashmir). NHPC has incorporated this JV firm with Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corp Ltd (JKSPDCL) with equity participation of 51:49, respectively. Under the pact, the parties had decided and agreed to jointly establish a company under the name of ‘Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corp Ltd’ for the implementation of Ratle hydroelectric project. The project will have an installed capacity of 850 MW in the Chenab River basin and any other project that may be entrusted to the company in the UT of J&K.

Wind Power

India, the world’s fourth-largest wind power market, is expected to add nearly 20.2 GW of new wind power capacity between 2021-2025, a growth of 50 per cent compared to the country’s current 39.2 GW installed capacity, according to the report titled ‘India Wind Energy Market Outlook 2025’. The report said that the pace of new installations was likely to double over the next two to three years compared to the average annual installations since 2017 when the market began to slow down. India currently has a pipeline of projects of 10.3 GW in both Central and state tenders, which are expected to drive installations until 2023. It said that over the next five years, 90 per cent of new installed wind capacity would come from central tenders, followed by corporate procurements and state markets.

The Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI) has invited bids for setting up 1,200 MW ISTS-connected wind power projects in India under tariff-based competitive bidding. The projects will be set-up on a build-own-operate basis for an aggregate capacity of 1,200 MW and SECI will enter into a power purchase agreement with the successful bidders selected for a period of 25 years. The bidder will have to submit a single bid offering a minimum capacity of 50 MW and a maximum of 1,200 MW and added that the projects have to be quoted in multiples of 10 MW only.

Suzlon Group, a clean energy solutions provider has secured an order for developing a 252 MW wind power project from CLP India. The project is located in Sidhpur, Gujarat and expected to be commissioned in 2022. CLP’s wind energy project in Sidhpur, Gujarat is their largest renewable project at a single site. A project of this size can provide electricity to about 183,000 households and curb about 828,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Gujarat continues to be the preferred destination for setting up wind power projects in India. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gujarat witnessed the highest addition of wind power generation capacity in the country in 2020-21. Wind power projects with the cumulative generation capacity of 1,020.3 MW were installed and commissioned in Gujarat from April 2020 to March 2021. That was the highest capacity addition by any state in India during the period, shows data compiled by Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA). Gujarat was followed by Tamil Nadu (303.7 MW) and Karnataka (148 MW). About 1,503.3 MW of new wind power generation capacity was installed in India in fiscal 2021, IWTMA data shows. With these new installations, Gujarat’s current operational capacity for generation of power from wind energy sources stands at 8,561.8 MW as against 7541.5 MW in 2019-20. At 1,468.4 MW, Gujarat created the highest wind power capacity in the previous fiscal as well. Renewable energy companies such as Adani Green and ReNew Power were amongst the prominent players that commissioned their power projects. Adani Green and ReNew Power commissioned 100 MW and 300 MW wind power projects in Kutch in March 2021. The state government sources, however, pegged the capacity of new wind projects commissioned in Gujarat at 890 MW for the fiscal 2021. Gujarat currently stands second after Tamil Nadu in terms of the total installed wind power generation capacity in the country.

Biomass

The power ministry will set up a National Mission on use of biomass in coal based thermal power plants to address the issue of air pollution due to farm stubble burning and to reduce carbon footprints of thermal power generation. This would further support the energy transition in the country and our targets to move towards cleaner energy sources. The duration of the proposed National Mission would be a minimum five years.

Rest of the World

China

China has ordered power transmission firms to connect a minimum of 90 GW of wind and solar capacity to the grid this year according to the National Energy Administration (NEA), as part of a new policy initiative aimed at meeting its low-carbon targets. The NEA will set targets for the transmission of renewable power rather than the construction of new capacity in a bid to avoid waste and ensure that wind and solar plants can sell all their electricity on the market. China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has vowed to increase its non-fossil fuel energy consumption to around 20 percent of primary energy use by 2025 and to around 25 percent by 2030. The new guideline will put more pressure on grid firms to increase the availability and market access for clean energy, as the country has been striving to avoid a rise in the rate of curtailment, an industry term for the electricity capacity that is wasted because not all the output cannot be delivered to customers. Beijing has targeted to step up power generation from solar and wind plants to around 11 percent of total power consumption in 2021, from 9.7 percent in 2020. As of end 2020, China had total installed solar and wind capacity of 535 GW.

Middle East & Africa

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, also known as Masdar, has won the tender to build a 457 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in the Sherabad district of Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya province, the Central Asian nation’s energy ministry said. Masdar made the lowest bid of US $0.018045/kWh on the Sherabad solar tender, placing it well ahead of four other competitors. The project is part of a wider programme to construct solar plants with total capacity of 1 GW, backed by the Asian Development Bank.

A Sudanese bank launched an investment fund offering what it said was the country’s first green sukuk, or bonds compliant with Islamic banking principles, aimed at financing renewable energy for commercial use. The US $11.3 fund launched by Sanabel, a subsidiary of the Bank of Khartoum, aims to finance the production of 55 megawatt hours per day, according to its prospectus, for industries such as agriculture and mining. More than 60 percent of Sudan’s population does not have access to electricity, and the country does not produce enough to cover current consumption, according to United Nations estimates. Power cuts have grown more frequent over the past year, while diesel for generators is often scarce and more expensive after recent subsidy cuts.

USA & North America

The Biden administration is considering sanctions over China’s use of forced labour in the production of solar panels. United States (US) acknowledged that importing solar panel from Xinjiang is a problem due to forced labour by Uyghurs in the region. Much of the world’s polysilicon, used in photovoltaic cells for solar panels, comes through China’s Xinjiang province.

California and the US government announced an agreement to open up areas off the state’s central and northern coasts to massive wind energy farms. The pact that would float hundreds of turbines off the coast of Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay was touted as a breakthrough to eventually power 1.6 million homes and help the state and federal government reach ambitious climate change goals through clean energy production. The announcement is part of President Joe Biden’s plan to create 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. California set a goal to produce all electricity by 2045 through renewable energy resources and zero-carbon generating facilities.

Pakistan inaugurated the largest Chinese-built nuclear power plant, as the country tried to stretch itself away from dependency of fossil fuels for its energy needs. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (K-2), established with the cooperation between Pakistan and China, is a coal-fired power production unit, which would be the country’s sixth nuclear power plant and is expected to bring dramatic increase the nuclear energy capacity. The unit would generate at least 1,100 MW of clear energy. The country will not pursue any more power based on coal, as their construction would come with an environmental cost.

Suncor Energy will develop a clean hydrogen project near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, in one of the most significant steps taken by an oil sands producer to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Canada’s cash-rich oil sands firms have been facing mounting pressure to spend on energy transition at a time when Canada has set a goal of net-zero emissions for the country by 2050. The project, with ATCO Ltd, would produce more than 300,000 tonnes per year of clean hydrogen, reducing Alberta’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2 MTPA (million tonnes per annum). About 65 percent of the produced hydrogen would be used in refining processes at the Suncor Edmonton refinery in Alberta, while another 20 percent of it could be used in the Alberta natural gas grid, the companies said. The hydrogen production facility could be operational as early as 2028, while a sanctioning decision is expected in 2024. Suncor will construct and operate the hydrogen production and carbon dioxide sequestration facilities, while ATCO will construct and operate associated pipeline and hydrogen storage facilities.

S America

Brazilian fund manager Perfin has created a new company focused on renewable energy generation, especially solar, with expected investment totaling 5.5 billion reais (US $1 billion) by 2025. The new company Mercury Renew, which has an operational partnership with energy generator Servtec, is Perfin’s latest venture into energy and highlights investor interest in Brazil’s electricity sector and potential in renewables. Mercury Renew will focus on solar projects, especially in the Southeast and Center-West of the country. It will look to sell power directly to companies that usually buy on the free market, mainly large industries and businesses. The company aims to reach 2 GW of generating capacity by 2025. Perfin’s strategy comes as investors in generation projects in Brazil are increasingly turning to the free market, where rising demand from companies for clean energy has helped to spur activity and the construction of several generation plants.

EU and UK

EU competition regulators are considering changes in state aid laws to allow the EU countries to subsidise up to 100 percent of renewable energy projects, the European Commission said, as the bloc seeks to meet ambitious green targets. The proposed changes are part of the EU executive’s revision of its climate, energy and environmental state aid guidelines (EEAG) which are expected to be adopted by the end of the year. According to the EU executive the revised rules would allow the EU countries to introduce new aid instruments and projects in clean transport, energy efficiency in buildings and biodiversity could also be fully funded by EU countries. The EU countries will have to consult all interested parties on subsidised projects as one of several safeguards to ensure that state aid is effective and limited to what is needed. New investments in natural gas will be covered by the revised rules if they are compatible with the bloc’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals. Interested parties have until 2 August to provide feedback before the Commission makes a final decision.

Italian energy group Eni has picked Goldman Sachs and Mediobanca to work on the planned spinoff of its new retail and renewable business. In April, Eni approved the launch of a strategic project to list or sell a minority stake in the unit as part of the company’s energy transition strategy. The business, which includes renewable power generation and energy sales to customers, could be worth in the region of €10 billion (US $12 billion).

Russia and Central Asia

Russian gas giant Gazprom expects demand for natural gas to grow in the coming decades and for it to play a bigger role in energy consumption than renewable sources and hydrogen. The forecasts run counter to a global trend for an energy transition from fossil fuels to the use of environment-friendly renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, to slow climate change.

Azerbaijan and British oil major BP have signed an agreement to cooperate in the evaluation and implementation of a project to build a solar power plant in the Karabakh region. The intention to build the 240 MW solar plant is part of a plan by oil- and gas-rich Azerbaijan to reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2030, as well as BP’s strategy to cut its net emissions to zero by 2050. Azerbaijan said the project was part of plans to develop a green energy zone in Karabakh, the region where it last year won back some territories previously controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Energy major BP Plc boosted its investment in US renewables with a US $220 million purchase of solar projects from developer 7X Energy. The deal, for assets with a production capacity of 9 GW, marks BP’s first independent investment in solar since buying a stake in Europe’s largest solar developer, Lightsource, in 2017. BP, which adopted a sunburst logo decades ago to convey its ambition in solar energy, said the assets will be developed through its 50-50 joint venture with Lightsource BP. The projects acquired are spread across 12 US states, with the largest portfolios in Texas and the Midwest. In one of the energy sector’s most ambitious strategies, BP plans to slash its oil output by 40 percent and boost its renewable power business by 20-fold by 2030.

News Highlights: 9 – 15 June 2021

National: Oil

After Mumbai, Hyderabad sees INR 100 per litre petrol after price hiked again

15 June: Hyderabad became the second metro city in the country to see petrol price crossing INR 100 per litre mark after fuel prices were raised yet again. Petrol price was hiked by 29 paise per litre and diesel by 30 paise, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers. The hike—24th in six weeks—pushed fuel prices across the country to new historic highs. In Delhi, petrol hit an all-time high of INR 96.41 a litre, while diesel is now priced at INR 87.28 per litre. And because of this, petrol retails at over INR 100 per litre mark in seven states and union territories—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Ladakh.

Source: The Economic Times

High inflation due to daily rise in fuel prices: Chidambaram

14 June: Senior Congress Leader, P Chidambaram, said the reason for the high inflation in the country is the daily rise in petrol and diesel prices. His comments came on a day when retail inflation rose to 6.3 percent in May, breaching the RBI’s comfort level, on the back of costlier food items. The wholesale price-based inflation accelerated to a record 12.94 percent in May, on account of rising prices of crude oil, manufactured goods, and a low base of last year.

Source: The Economic Times

Tamil Nadu: Protest against oil exploration bid in Cauvery delta region

14 June: Villagers and activists in Pudukottai held a protest against the latest bid by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to award contract to private companies for oil and natural gas exploration at Vadatheru in Pudukottai—a protected special agriculture zone. On 10 June, the Union Ministry had invited companies to bid for development and monetising 32 contract areas comprising 75 oil and gas fields at 11 sites, 20 shallow water off-shore sites and a site located in deep water off-shore. These are for the development of discovered small oil and gas fields under Discovered Small Field Policy through the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH). The bid also allows foreign companies and joint ventures to take up the contract. Vadatheru, which comes under Kaveri delta off-shore, is one of the sites discovered by the ministry for the award of contract of oil and natural gas exploration.

Source: The Economic Times

FCCU unit at Jamnagar refinery shut, exports may be delayed: RIL

10 June: India’s private refiner Reliance Industry Ltd (RIL) said a secondary unit at its export-focussed refinery in the western state of Gujarat has been shut since June 6, which may delay the shipment of some product cargoes. The refinery, which has the capacity to process 704,000 barrels of crude per day, is part of the world’s biggest refining complex in the city of Jamnagar in Gujarat state. RIL, which operates the refining complex, did not give a reason for the “emergency shutdown” of the refinery’s fluidised catalytic cracking unit (FCCU). The refining complex in Jamnagar has two refineries.

Source: The Economic Times

Videocon to give Anil Agarwal’s group majority stake in Ravva oilfield

10 June: Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s metals-to-oil group said it will make an upfront payment of almost US $40 million (about INR 2.92 billion) for the acquisition of Videocon Industries, which will help it become the largest shareholder in the Ravva oil and gas fields in KG basin. The National Company Law Tribunal’s Mumbai bench approved the acquisition of bankrupt Videocon Industries by Vedanta group firm Twin Star Technologies, with the lenders set to take a haircut of about 90 percent. Ravva field produced 22,000 barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas per day.

Source: The Economic Times

Indian oil refiners shut for work before likely demand pickup

9 June: Indian oil refiners are taking advantage of weak demand due to the virus resurgence to carry out maintenance in anticipation of a revival in fuel consumption in the coming months. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has lined up work at its plants across India, while Hindustan Petroleum Corp. is completing pending repairs and an expansion of its Mumbai refinery.  Fuels sales plunged about 30 percent in May from pre-virus levels in 2019 as a spike in infections forced people to stay at home and savaged consumption. That led to swelling fuel stockpiles at refineries and storage facilities, forcing plants to cut crude processing by about 15 percent last month. With a steady decline in COVID-19 infections from a peak in early May and a relaxation of restrictions on movement, refiners are expecting fuel demand to start improving. Consumption will be higher in June than last month and should recover to around 90 percent of pre-virus levels in July, BPCL said. India’s economy is likely to see an improvement in activity due to an accelerated pace of vaccination from next quarter, according to UBS Securities. New Delhi and Mumbai, India’s political and financial capitals and two major fuel demand centres, began to ease their lockdowns. Both cities have seen a sharp rise in traffic levels.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Gas

India’s Petronet LNG to invest US $2.6 billion for local expansion over five years

10 June: India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG will invest US $2.6 billion over five years to expand local infrastructure as investing in overseas projects is ‘not lucrative’ in the current LNG surplus market. The company was earlier planning to invest in projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Qatar, and Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG project. India wants to raise the share of gas in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2030 from 6.2 percent and is raising its local output. Higher domestic supplies could hit costly spot LNG imports in the short term, but would not impact imports in the long term as India’s gas consumption is expected to jump. Petronet plans to invest INR 66.9 billion to expand its 17.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) Dahej terminal in the West coast to 22.5 mtpa, build a new terminal in the east coast and building new jetty and LNG tanks at Dahej and Kochi. In the first phase, the Dahej terminal will be expanded to 20 mtpa by mid-2023, while a new 5 mtpa Gopalpur terminal in the east coast is expected to be ready by 2025. Petronet, which was previously planning to sell gas to fuel station owners, will invest INR80 billion to set up its own 1,000 LNG fuel stations. It will invest INR 40 billion to set up 100 compressed bio gas generation plants over three years. Earlier in the day, the company was talking to various sellers, including Qatar, to buy gas at reasonable rates for the price-sensitive Indian market.

Source: The Economic Times

GAIL split plan scrapped, company to monetise pipelines

10 June: A proposal to bifurcate state-owned gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd has been scrapped for now, and instead the company will monetise some of its pipelines by selling a minority stake through InvIT. GAIL Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Manoj Jain said the company has sent a plan for monetising two of its pipelines to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and an Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) is possible within the current fiscal if approvals come soon. GAIL is India’s biggest natural gas marketing and trading firm and owns nearly three-fourths of the country’s 17,126-kilometre gas pipeline network, giving it a stranglehold on the market. To resolve the issue, it was proposed that GAIL’s pipeline business should be hived off into a separate entity. He said GAIL will monetise some of its pipelines by selling a minority stake through InvIT. The idea is to transfer pipelines with a steady revenue stream into a trust whose units can be sold to investors and the same can be traded on the stock exchange. This way, GAIL will upfront get money from such a sale that can be used for capital expenditure. To start with, GAIL plans to monetise the Dahej-Uran-Panvel-Dabhol pipeline and the Dabhol-Bengaluru pipeline. GAIL will retain a majority stake in the pipelines that run from Dahej in Gujarat to Dabhol in Maharashtra and from there to Bengaluru in Karnataka. Creating pipeline infrastructure, which will take the environment-friendly fuel to unconnected places in the country, is key to the government’s objective of making India a gas-based economy. The government is targeting raising the share of natural gas in its energy basket to 15 percent by 2030 from the current 6.2 percent.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Coal

Goa Industrial Development Corp’s coal block plans in limbo

14 June: Goa’s ambitious plan to extract coal from the Dongri Tal II coal block appears to be staring at a setback as the Centre has yet to agree to Goa’s plea for time to complete the formalities and pay the INR 1.63 billion performance guarantee. It has been more than two months since Goa Industrial Development Corp (GIDC) wrote to the Union Ministry of coal asking for additional time. With no favourable reply forthcoming, the process to appoint a mine developer-cum-operator (MDO) is stuck in a limbo. Though the Dongri Tal-ll coal block was allocated to GIDC in September 2019, major milestones for the coal mine were missed as the state government dragged its feet in complying with norms laid down by the coal ministry. The Dongri-Tal II coal mine at Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh has a 2.9 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) capacity, but the state’s attempts to exploit the coal mine has been thwarted by “political tussles” and “amateurish decisions”. GIDC issued the tender to appoint a MDO for the coal mine in March and with the Centre’s deadline about to lapse, sought an extension on 28 March. GIDC did organise a pre-bid meeting with potential coal mine developers and even answered some of their queries, but with no clarity about the coal block itself, GIDC has decided not to proceed with the tender process. The MDO is responsible for extracting the coal which GIDC can subsequently auction online.

Source: The Economic Times

Coal India allows coal exports by consumers of two spot auctions

11 June: Coal India Ltd (CIL) has allowed domestic coal consumers including traders to export coal procured under two categories of e-auction schemes. The company has tweaked its e-auction coal sale policy after its board gave the nod. The country’s largest coal producer and supplier has lifted the embargo on exporting coal procured through spot e-auction and special spot e-auction outlets. This is a first of its kind development since the introduction of spot e-auction in 2007, the company said. The existing clause ‘coal procured under e-auction is for use within the country and not for export’ has now been amended, opening the door for export of the dry fuel in two auction categories. Allocation under spot e-auction and special spot e-auction together accounted for 46 million tonnes (mt) of coal in FY21 which was 37 percent of the total allocated quantity of 124 mt during the year under. Spot e-auction at 42.5 mt was the highest allocated quantity under all the five auction windows, in FY21, fetching record 25 percent add on over the notified price. The special spot e-auction netted a premium of 13 percent over the notified price. In case of export, the requirement of complying with the government rules all statutory guidelines, regulations, and legal obligations shall lie solely with the coal buyer and exporter. Spot e-auction is meant for all categories of Indian coal buyers including traders. Special spot e-auction introduced in 2016 is similar in every way but the booked quantity of coal could be lifted over an extended time period.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Power

Industries in Madhya Pradesh want proposed power hike dropped

15 June: The cost of taking new electricity connection, electrification in colonies and shifting of connection amongst other services are all set to go up by around 70 percent following a proposal by Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, upsetting industries urging to roll back the proposed hike. The proposed hike in the middle of the pandemic has alarmed industries with many industry associations writing to the commission for withdrawing the proposed hike in service charges. As per the proposal by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, the cost of taking new electricity connection for HT consumers is hiked to INR 1,260 per kilovolt ampere from earlier INR 750 per kilovolt ampere. The one-time charges for taking new connections for domestic and commercial consumers are also proposed to go up by 67 to 70 percent. The upward revision in service charges was proposed after a span of 12 years, the last revision in service charges by the commission was introduced on 7 September 2009.

Source: The Economic Times

Wartsila to set up 30 MW power plant for Oil India in Assam

15 June: Wartsila said it has won an award from Oil India Ltd (OIL) to set up a 30 MW power plant in Assam, once operational it will be one of the main sources of power for OIL’s facility at Duliajan, which does not have connection to the grid. The power plant is scheduled to be commissioned in November 2022. The company won this project through the international competitive bidding process.

Source: The Economic Times

New pooled power mechanism to reduce cost for debt-ridden Discoms

14 June: A new pooled power pricing mechanism is proposed to be established by the power ministry that would ensure near uniform energy charges transitioning the country towards ‘One Nation, One Grid, One Price”. The power ministry has issued a discussion paper on market-based economic dispatch (MBED) of power and has asked stakeholders for their comments on the subject by 30 June 2021. The idea is to establish a central pool from where demand for power for each state would be met. This would ensure that Discoms (distribution companies) get their source of power at optimal price helping them to bring down the cost of power. The total power generation in the country is about 1,400 billion units with a weighted average price of INR 2.36 per kWh (kilowatt hour). It is estimated that through the proposed pooling mechanism there would be a saving of about 4 percent amounting to over INR 120 billion. The ministry in its discussion paper has proposed phased introduction of the MBED mechanism giving everyone time to adjust to reality of the new power procurement mechanism. As a first step, it is proposed to bring NTPC Ltd’s generation capacities into the fold of proposed procurement mechanism.

Source: The Economic Times

Delhi’s power demand tipped to almost double in 20 years

11 June: Delhi’s population is expected to grow by more than 10 million over the next 20 years and its power needs are projected to double in the same period. The draft Master Plan for Delhi 2041 (MPD41) has laid down strategies that would allow more than 50 percent of this energy requirement to be met through renewable sources of energy. MPD41 states that power discoms (distribution companies) will undertake installation of smart meters in a phased manner in all existing buildings and mandatorily for all new constructions. It says that DERC may adopt the practice of differential pricing for power supply to encourage increased solar power usage during peak hours, thus reducing the load and improving system efficiency. To improve the power infrastructure, the draft MPD said that a major transmission network has to be planned within the road width of proposed roads where feasible and they should adhere to safety norms for overhead and underground transmission lines.

Source: The Economic Times

National: Non-fossil fuels/ climate change trends

MNRE organising webinars on renewable energy

15 June: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said it has been conducting a series of webinars on achievements in clean energy. These webinars started on 15 March and will continue for 75 weeks from the date, the MNRE said. As part of commemoration of 75 years of India’s Independence, ‘Bharat Ka Amrut Mahotsav’, the MNRE has been conducting a series of webinars on achievements in new and renewable energy. A webinar on ‘Solar Parks in India’ was organised on 1 April to discuss the progress in solar park development in the country. Around 350 participants attended the event. The panellists shared their experiences on the subject and highlighted the key challenges. An interactive webinar with biogas plant manufacturers/ developers was organised on 12 April to discuss the development of the biogas sector in the country. The webinar focused on new technologies and successful case studies, and also deliberated on the challenges in scaling up the biogas programme. The outcomes of this webinar will aid the MNRE in a better and more effective implementation of the National Biogas Programme.

Source: The Economic Times

NHPC, BSHPC sign pact to set up 130.1 MW hydro power project in Bihar

15 June: NHPC signed a pact with Bihar State Hydroelectric Power Corp (BSHPC) to implement a 130.1 MW Dagmara hydroelectricity project in Bihar. Power Minister R K Singh said hydropower is important in the background of climate change and in the shift from fossil to non-fossil fuel for future generation. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between public sector hydropower firm NHPC and BSHPC for the implementation of the 130.1 MW Dagmara HE Project in the Supaul district of Bihar, the power ministry said. The pact was signed and exchanged by the signatories in the presence of Union Power Minister R K Singh and Bihar Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav. Currently, NHPC has 24 operational power stations with a total installed capacity of 7,071 MW.

Source: The Economic Times

Goldi Solar plans to expand manufacturing capacity to 2.5 GW

14 June: Goldi Solar, a Mumbai-based global solar panel manufacturer, said it plans to increase its manufacturing capacity to 2.5 GW with a new facility on the outskirts of Surat, Gujarat. At present, the existing facility has a capacity of 500 MW and the expansion of 2 GW has been planned in two stages, according to the company. It said that the first phase was slated to commence by the end of the second quarter (Q2) of financial year 2021-22 (FY22) with a 1 GW commercial production. While the second phase of production would begin by the end of Q4, FY22. According to the company, it also has plans for backward integration through setting up of multi-gigawatt solar cell manufacturing lines and manufacturing of raw material used in solar modules.

Source: The Economic Times

Directed power department to ensure early completion of Darbar Sahib solar power project: Punjab CM

13 June: Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh said he has directed the power department to accord approval to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for installation of a solar plant for the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar. Extending his government’s full support to the project, Singh also directed the department to work proactively to ensure its early completion. US based United Sikh Mission had sought permission to set up the plant of 2 MW at a location around 10 kilometres from the Golden Temple. The government has no objection and the Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) has given in-principle approval.

Source: The Economic Times

Maharashtra moots mega solar projects in Marathwada, Vidarbha

12 June: Of the 25,000 MW of solar power projects undertaken in the state for alternative energy, 17,000 MW could not go ahead due to breaking out of COVID-19 pandemic. A decision has been taken in the cabinet that no more thermal power projects will be undertaken in the state. Therefore, the solar project will be given impetus and these projects will be implemented more in Marathwada and Vidarbha, Energy Minister Nitin Raut said. He said that to ensure seamless power supply, every consumer should pay power bill. He said that the Central government should take a call about waiving off power bills.

Source: The Economic Times

IREDA invites bids for setting up solar manufacturing units under PLI scheme

12 June: Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA) has invited bids from solar module manufacturers for setting up solar manufacturing units under the Centre’s INR 45 billion production linked incentive (PLI) scheme. The MNRE has appointed IREDA as the implementing agency for the scheme. The Union Cabinet had approved INR 45 billion scheme to boost domestic manufacturing of solar Photo Voltaic (PV) modules. The last date for submitting applications is 30 June. The selection process for the successful bidders is to be completed by 30 July. The minimum capacity of the manufacturing unit to be installed shall be 1,000 MW. The PLI will be disbursed to the successful applicants annually for a period of five years. Solar capacity addition presently depends largely upon imported solar PV cells and modules as the domestic industry has limited operational capacities of solar PV cells and modules, the MNRE stated.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s wind power sector wants rival solar to help drive growth

10 June: India’s struggling wind power industry is looking to its clean energy rival for help emerging from a pandemic-induced slump. About half of the 20 GW of wind power the nation is expected to add through 2025 will come in the form of hybrid projects that combine turbines with solar panels, according to a new report by the Global Wind Energy Council and MEC Intelligence. An existing pipeline of about 10.3 gigawatts of projects will make up the rest. The outlook is brighter than the recent past, which saw the nation install less than 4 GW of wind power in 2019 and 2020 combined. India’s wind industry, which has about 40 GW of capacity now, has been struggling for the past few years due to land challenges, which hindered projects as well transmission lines. The report derives its optimism from a potential rise in energy consumption as the economy revives and India’s embrace of clean energy to meet its climate commitments. The world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases plans to expand its renewable power capacity nearly five-fold to 450 gigawatts by the end of this decade, shedding its dependence on coal, which helps produce close to 70 percent of its electricity.

Source: The Economic Times

GAIL to bid for solar foray with 400 MW capacity

10 June: GAIL (India) Ltd will bid for 400 MW solar power capacity being auctioned by SECI (Solar Energy Corp of India), making it the latest state-run oil and gas company to bet big on renewable energy for a low-carbon future. GAIL had in March 2019 tied up with state-run power gear maker BHEL for renewables foray. Both companies have left the arrangement open on the choice of equipment for projects. GAIL has been a laggard amongst its peers in renewables investment. The company had in January 2018 commissioned a 5 MW rooftop solar power plant, India’s second-largest, atop two warehouses at Pata petrochemicals complex in UP (Uttar Pradesh).

Source: The Economic Times

International: Oil

Oil rally has more room to run, Brent expected to hit US $80 per barrel: Goldman

12 June: US investment bank Goldman Sachs expects Brent crude prices to reach US $80 per barrel this summer, betting that a recent oil market rally will continue as vaccination rollouts boost global economic activity and demand for the commodity. Brent prices hit US $72.93 per barrel, their highest level in over two years, fuelled by expectations of stronger demand. Goldman, which has longstanding commodity sector expertise, expects recovery in oil demand to continue and sees global demand reaching 99 million barrels per day in August. Iran and global powers have been negotiating since April to lift sanctions on Tehran, which have hit its economy hard by cutting its vital oil exports.

Source: The Economic Times

OPEC+ complies with 115 percent of agreed oil curbs in May

12 June: Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies maintained strong compliance with agreed oil output targets in May, when the first part of a gradual production increase took effect, according to OPEC+. The OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, complied with 115 percent of agreed output curbs in May. OPEC said the April figure was 114 percent. OPEC+ is returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs, as demand recovers from the pandemic.

Source: The Economic Times

Sri Lanka probes possible oil slick off sinking ship

10 June: Sri Lanka announced an investigation into a possible oil slick reported off its west coast where a container ship is submerged after burning for 13 days. Coast Conservation Minister Nalaka Godahewa said local experts were asked to examine an oil patch of about 0.35 square kilometres (0.13 square miles) where MV X-Press Pearl ran aground. Authorities are bracing for a possible oil spill from the submerged wreck or almost 300 tonnes of bunker oil thought to be still in its fuel tanks. The owners of the vessel have already deployed representatives from the International Tankers Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) and Oil Spill Response (OSR) to monitor any oil spill and help with the clean up of beaches. Godahewa said five vessels, including two Indian Coast Guard ships equipped to deal with oil spills, were anchored around the sinking vessel, but none reported a leakage from the submerged wreck.

Source: The Economic Times

ExxonMobil makes new discovery off Guyana’s coast

10 June: Exxon Mobil Corp said it has made a new discovery at Longtail-3 in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, as the US oil major develops one of the world’s most important new oil and gas blocks in the last decade. Exxon operates the 6.6 million acre Stabroek Block as part of a consortium that includes Hess Corp and China’s CNOOC Ltd. It began production at the block in 2019. The company, however, did not specify the size of the latest discovery’s oil and gas reserves. The latest find continues the consortium’s long string of discoveries in Latin America’s newest crude producing nation and underscores the importance of Guyana to Exxon for increasing its future oil output.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Gas

Energy majors bid for Qatar LNG project despite lower returns

14 June: Six top western energy firms are vying to partner in the vast expansion of Qatar’s LNG output, industry sources said, helping the Gulf state cement its position as the leading LNG producer while several large projects around the world recently stalled. Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, TotalEnergies, and ConocoPhillips, which are part of Qatar’s existing LNG production were joined by new entrants Chevron and Italy’s Eni in submitting bids on 24 May for the expansion project. The bids show energy giants continue to have appetite for investing in competitive oil and gas projects despite growing government, investor, and activist pressure on the sector to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike Qatar’s early LNG projects in the 1990s and 2000s when the country relied heavily on international oil companies’ technical expertise and deep pockets, the country’s national oil company Qatar Petroleum (QP) has gone ahead alone with the development of the nearly US $30 billion North Field expansion project. It is, however, seeking to partner with the oil majors in order to share the financial risk of the development and help sell the additional volumes of LNG it will produce. Qatar plans to grow its LNG output by 40 percent to 110 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) by 2026, strengthening its position as the world leading exporter of the super-chilled fuel. Global LNG demand has increased every year since 2012 and hit record highs every year since 2015 mostly due to fast-rising demand in Asia. Analysts have said they expect global LNG demand will grow about 3-5 percent each year between 2021 and 2025. QP offered international bidders returns of around 8 percent to 10 percent on their investment, down from around 15 percent to 20 percent returns Exxon, Total, Shell and Conoco have seen from the early LNG facilities.

Source: The Economic Times

Russia’s Gazprom sees domestic gas consumption rising 7.5 percent within 5 years

12 June: Russian energy giant Gazprom expects domestic gas consumption to rise by 7.5 percent within the next five years as it embarks on a US $7 billion programme to supply gas to more households. President Vladimir Putin has tasked Gazprom to provide more natural gas to domestic consumers, who do not receive supplies of the fuel although Russia has the world’s biggest reserves. Russia’s proved gas reserves stood at 38 trillion cubic meters in 2019, almost a fifth of global total, BP data shows.

Source: The Economic Times

LNG market poised for buoyant recovery with demand growing across Asia

11 June: LNG prices are poised for more gains as gas-hungry China guzzles cargoes to feed a rebound in economic growth while the easing of coronavirus-induced restrictions restores industrial demand in India. Higher oil and coal prices have also helped lift global gas prices with spot Asian LNG prices doubling in just three months. China imported more than 7 million tonnes (mt) of LNG in May, a record for that month, and looks set to import more over the next two months driven by strong industrial activity. South Korea’s newest and biggest nuclear reactor, Shin Kori-4, shut after a fire, which is expected to boost LNG demand. Overall, Asia LNG prices are expected to average about US $7.30 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) in 2021 and US $7.50 per mmBtu in 2022, up from US $4.20 per mmBtu last year.

Source: The Economic Times

EU countries meet to tussle over gas project funding

11 June: EU Energy Ministers meet in Luxembourg to debate prolonging EU support for some cross-border natural gas projects, despite the European Commission saying such funding should end to meet climate change goals. A proposal for the member states’ position, drafted by Portugal, would prolong funding for some gas projects. Portugal’s proposal said that until 2030 investments to retrofit gas pipelines to carry hydrogen should be allowed to carry natural gas blended with hydrogen. It said projects in the island countries of Malta and Cyprus with PCI status should retain it until those countries are fully connected to the European gas network. That could help ensure the completion of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel’s Eastmed pipeline to supply Europe with gas from the eastern Mediterranean.

Source: The Economic Times

China to overtake Japan as world’s top LNG buyer in weeks: ICIS

11 June: China’s rising imports of LNG position it to surpass Japan this year as the world’s largest buyer of the superchilled fuel, pricing data and cargo tracking firm ICIS Edge said. Japan has been world’s biggest LNG importer for decades and the change would signal a major shift in one of the fastest growing energy markets. Purchases from Tokyo, which burns gas from LNG to produce electricity, have been in long-term decline. In the 12 months from June 2020 to May, China imported 76.27 million tonnes (mt) of LNG, only slightly behind Japan’s 76.32 mt, ICIS LNG Edge said. It estimated China’s 2021 total LNG demand at 81.2 mt, above 75.2 mt for Japan. Independent and second-tier Chinese LNG buyers keen to lock in contractual supply with global sellers should keep China’s demand high, the firm said. China’s efforts to cut emissions have boosted demand for LNG, which produces about half of the emissions of coal. The share of gas in China’s energy mix is around 10 percent, in third place behind coal and oil. Japan aims to cut its carbon emissions almost by half by 2030 and the resumption of nuclear power generation in recent years has reduced its LNG imports.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Coal

Australia government needs to help coal-fired power: Alinta Energy

11 June: The Australian government needs to help fund coal-fired power producers because finance and insurance for coal plants is becoming unaffordable or too hard to secure, power producer Alinta Energy. The issue is coming to a head as investors and activists pressure banks and insurers to stop backing coal-fired plants while the country still needs at least some coal plants for steady power supply to back up wind and solar power. Coal-fired plants generated 55 percent of the country’s power in the year to June 2020, down from 62 percent from five years ago, according to the latest government data. That is expected to continue to decline with the growth of renewables. The state of Victoria agreed in March to provide aid to keep a coal plant open to 2028 after its owner, EnergyAustralia, a unit of Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings, pushed to shut the plant four years earlier than planned.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Power

Norway, UK complete world’s longest subsea power cable

15 June: Britain and Norway have finished laying the world’s longest subsea power cable, which will send wind and hydro energy between the two countries, Norwegian power grid operator Statnett announced. The 720-kilometre-long (447-mile-long) North Sea Link—all but four kilometres of it underwater—links Suldal in the southwest of the Scandinavian country to Blyth, near Newcastle. The cable will deliver British wind energy to Norway, which will send hydropower to the UK in return, with testing set to start 1 October. The power capacity of the new cable is 1,400 MW.

Source: The Economic Times

South Africa opens up to private power to ease blackouts

11 June: South Africa announced it is easing restrictions on electricity generation to allow private firms to build power plants and help reduce frustrating blackouts. The increase in the maximum generating capacity of private power plants to 100 MW from the current limit of one megawatt is expected to lead to firms building facilities to power their own operations as well as selling surplus electricity to Eskom, the state-owned power company. President Cyril Ramaphosa said the move was a “significant” new step in reforming the electricity sector and achieving a stable and secure energy supply. Eskom currently produces 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity, which is still mostly generated from heavily-polluting coal-fired plants. Its inability to produce sufficient electricity for the country’s needs means it has had to impose rolling power cuts that have hobbled the country’s economy. The new power producers will be connected to the national grid under the reform.

Source: The Economic Times

Mexican President may seek constitutional change in power industry

11 June: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he could send a bill to Congress seeking to weaken terms for foreign and private power companies in favor of state utility CFE, despite not having the votes for a constitutional reform. Current law, however, gives preference to dispatching the lowest-cost power onto the grid, which has often favored renewable sources operated by private companies over the CFE’s use of costly fuel oil at several of its biggest plants. Lopez Obrador has aimed to roll back the last government’s liberalisation of the energy market, which sought to increase private investment in the industry and boost competition in sectors that for decades were dominated by state-run monopolies. The President has repeatedly insisted that electricity rates will not rise on his watch.

Source: The Economic Times

International: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

Global fossil fuel use similar to decade ago in energy mix

15 June: The share of fossil fuels in the world’s total energy mix is as high as a decade ago, despite the falling cost of renewables and pressure on governments to act on climate change, a report by green energy policy network REN21 showed. Fossil fuel use has persisted amid rising global energy demand, continued consumption, and investment in new fossil fuel plants, and lower use of biomass energysuch as wood or agricultural waste—in heating and cooking, the report said. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil creates carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. REN21 said the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix was 80.2 percent in 2019, compared to 80.3 percent in 2009, while renewables such as wind and solar made up 11.2 percent of the energy mix in 2019 and 8.7 percent in 2009, the report said. In many countries, COVID-19 economic recovery packages aim to stimulate further investment in renewable energy. But renewable investments are only around one-sixth of fossil fuel investments, the report said.

Source: The Economic Times

Equinor to spend more on renewables, sets medium-term climate goals

15 June: Equinor will increase the share of investment it dedicates to renewable energy and so-called low-carbon solutions as it seeks to broaden its business, the Norwegian oil and gas producer said. The majority state-owned firm, under pressure from private investors as well as some members of Norway’s parliament to show it can adapt to a low-carbon future, also set goals for how to limit its emissions in the medium term. By 2030, more than 50 percent of capital expenditure will go to renewable energy and low-carbon solutions, the company said.

Source: The Economic Times

Oil major BP joins consortium seeking wind power off Norway

14 June: British oil major BP will join Norway’s Statkraft and Aker Offshore Wind to bid for permits to build offshore wind power projects off Norway, the companies said. The consortium in which each partner will have a 33.3 percent stake plans to bid for offshore wind power projects in the Soerlige Nordsjoe II licensing area in the southern part of the North Sea, one of the two areas opened in Norway. The area is suitable for bottom-fixed wind power platform and sits on a maritime border with Denmark, providing a potential to export electricity to neighbouring markets. The consortium plans to explore opportunities to provide renewable power to electrify offshore oil and gas facilities. Statkraft has previously been involved in developing offshore wind parks off Britain, but exited the business several years ago citing high costs. Norway’s government said offshore wind projects in the Soerlige Nordsjoe II area will have to be developed without subsidies.

Source: The Economic Times

Germany, Australia sign hydrogen accord to boost lower-emissions technology

14 June: Germany and Australia signed a bilateral alliance on hydrogen production and trade to try to facilitate a renewable energy-based hydrogen supply chain between the two countries. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said international collaboration was key to getting new energy technologies like hydrogen to commercial parity. Big energy firms including German utility RWE and Uniper have started looking into possible new trade routes for hydrogen, a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, from Australia and other places. Australia said it was joining hands with Japan to support initiatives that would help drive their respective economies’ transition to net-zero emissions. Australia, the biggest per-capita emitter amongst the world’s richest nations, has so far refused to match commitments by the United States, the UK, and other countries targeting net zero by 2050, or increase its emissions reduction target for 2030.

Source: The Economic Times

US joins Norway, Denmark to advance zero emissions ship fuels

12 June: The US is working with Norway, Denmark, and other countries to develop zero emissions fuel options for ships as part of a push to de-carbonise the industry, officials involved said. With about 90 percent of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly 3 percent of the world’s CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. In April, US climate envoy John Kerry said Washington would join an international effort to achieve zero emissions in the global shipping industry by 2050. The United Nations aims to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. This target will require the swift development of zero or low emission fuels and new designs for ships.

Source: The Economic Times

China to end subsidies for new solar, onshore wind projects in 2021

11 June: China will no longer give subsidies for new solar power stations, distributed solar projects by commercial users, or onshore wind projects from the central government budget in 2021, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said. The new rule, effective from 1 August, follows a drastic fall in manufacturing costs for solar and wind devices amid booming renewable capacity in China, and will ease a backlog of subsidy payments that had exceeded 400 billion yuan (US $62.64 billion). Electricity prices for offshore wind and concentrated solar power projects that receive approvals in 2021 will be decided by the provincial governments where they are located.

Source: The Economic Times

Polish operator to invest US $1.23 billion to adjust system to offshore wind power

11 June: Poland’s power grid operator PSE plans to invest around 4.5 billion zlotys (US $1.23 billion) by 2030 in its network in the northern part of the country so it can distribute electricity from planned Baltic offshore wind farms to clients. Poland, which still generates around 70 percent of its electricity from burning coal, expects to have around 11 GW installed in offshore wind by 2040, which according to PSE is equal to 20 percent of current total power capacity.

Source: The Economic Times

Japan’s Eneos, Sojitz to build 204 MW solar farm in Australia

11 June: Japan’s biggest oil refiner Eneos Holdings and trading house Sojitz Corp said they will build a 204 MW solar power farm in Queensland, Australia. The 50-50 joint venture of Eneos and Sojitz has bought 100 percent stake in Edenvale Solar Park Pty Ltd, the operator of the project, from Singapore’s DPI Solar 3 Pte Ltd, the two Japanese firms said. It marks the first solar project in Australia for both Eneos and Sojitz and they aim to start operation of the farm in the second half of the financial year to March 2023.

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 2021 is the eighteenth 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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