Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Jul, 17, 2019

[op-ed snap] Rethinking KUSUM

CONTEXT

  • Earlier this year, the Cabinet approved the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM).
  • There is a budgetary allocation of ₹34,000 crore to KUSUM and a similar contribution is expected from the States.

Features of KUSUM

  • KUSUM aims to provide energy sufficiency and sustainable irrigation access to farmers.
  • Objective – Providing financial and water security to farmers.
  • The components of the proposed scheme are
    1. Component-A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants.
    2. Component-B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.
    3. Component-C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.

Current Situation

  • Despite growing farm power subsidies, nearly 30 million farmers use expensive diesel for their irrigation needs.
  • This is because they have no access to electricity. More than half of India’s net sown area remains unirrigated.
  • KUSUM could radically transform the irrigation economy if the government chooses an approach of equity by design and prudence over populism.

Approach of Equity 

  • Reducing disparity among States with regard to solar pumps deployment and irrigation access should be the first aim.
  • This disparity highlights poor State budget allocation towards solar pumps and the lack of initiative by State nodal agencies.
  • To encourage equitable deployment, the Centre could incentivise States through target linked financial assistance and create avenues for peer learning.
  • Addressing inequity within a State – This is addressed by a share of central financial assistance under KUSUM should be appropriated for farmers with small landholdings and belonging to socially disadvantaged groups.
  • By providing greater financial assistance to smaller farmers, instead of a one­size­fits­all approach.
  • KUSUM proposes a 60% subsidy for the pumps, borne equally by the Centre and the States, and the other 40% will be the farmer’s contribution.
  • This will exacerbate the inter farmer disparity given the inequity in access to credit and repayment capacity between small and large farmers.
  • A more economical and equitable alternative – A higher capital subsidy support to small and marginal farmers and long-term loans with interest subsidies for large and medium farmers.

 Prudence over populism

  • Solarising existing grid connected pumps needs a complete rethink.
  • Existing grid connected farmers would receive the same financial support as that received by an off-grid farmer.
  • In addition, the farmer would earn regular income from the DISCOM on feeding surplus electricity, furthering the inequitable distribution of taxpayers’ resources.
  • Instead of this, the scheme should only provide Central government subsidy of up to 30% for solarisation, and use the proposed State support to incentivise DISCOMs to procure energy from the farmers.
  • Instead of feeding surplus energy to the grid, solar pump capacity could be used to power post harvesting processes, which complement the seasonal irrigation load.
  • The entire feeder could be solarised through a reverse bidding approach, and provide water conservation linked incentives to farmers as direct benefit transfer.
Jun, 18, 2019

REN21’s Renewable 2019 Global Status Report

News

  • The REN21’s Renewable 2019 Global Status Report (GSR) was recently released.

Global prospects of the report

  • Renewables now supply around 26 per cent of global electricity production but the transport, cooling and heating sectors lag far behind in renewable adoption.
  • Underlining the subsidy support being given to fossil fuel, the GSR read that lack of political will and fossil fuel subsidies are threatening to derail the crucial UN 2030 Climate and Development Goals.
  • Renewable energy’s share in power consumption is increasing undoubtedly, but people would have consumed more had policy makers prioritized the sector.
  • Erratic policy decisions kept the world from using the sector to its potential in meeting climate change targets, added the report.

Indian case

  • India ranked fourth globally for new investment in renewable energy in 2018.
  • India’s new power generation capacity from solar photovoltaic panels decreased compared to 2017, according to the report.
  • However, India placed fifth, overtaking Italy, with 33 gigawatts (GW) total installed capacity.
  • The report confirmed that installed renewable power capacity was more than that of fossil fuel and nuclear power combined for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Around 100 GW of solar PV were added in 2018 which is enough to meet more than 25 per cent of electricity demand in France.

Decrease in investments

  • Lack of ambitious and sustained policies to drive decarburizing in heating, cooling and transport sectors indicates that countries are not trying to maximise the benefit of energy transition.
  • The investment has decreased 16 per cent compared to 2017. It attributes this to factors like:
  1. Land and transmission constraints,
  2. 25 per cent safeguard duty on imports from China and Malaysia
  3. Flaws in tender scheme
  4. Tax uncertainties
Apr, 19, 2019

Renewable Energy Certificates

News

  • Renewable Energy (RE) companies have moved the Delhi High Court, seeking an exemption for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) under the GST.

RECs in India

  • In a bid to promote renewable energy market in India, the Indian government has framed policies under the Electricity Act, 2003 and the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) to increase the total renewable power generation capacity in the country.
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) is a policy instrument to catalyze the development of renewable energy.
  • It is a market based mechanism which will help the states meet their regulatory requirements (such as Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs)) by overcoming the geographical constraints on existing renewable potential in different states.
  • RECs unbundle the electricity component (commodity) from the green/environmental attributes of the power generated from renewable sources.
  • Both the components can then be traded separately.
  • Thus RECs help in incentivizing the production of renewable energy over and above the RPO state limit as tradable certificates are not constrained by the geographical limitations of commodity electricity.

Working with RECs

  • The tradable RECs are awarded for every 1 mega-watt hour (MWh) of electricity generated.
  • Together with Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO), RECs act as market-pull incentives that create demand for renewable energy installations.
  • RPO, instituted in 2011, is a mandate that requires large power procurers to source a pre-determined fraction of their electricity from renewable sources.

Problems of states

  • The concentration of RE potential in a few states means that the same level of RPO compliance cannot be expected from all states.
  • Low potential states will have to resort to expensive cross-border procurement, accompanied with many regulatory hurdles and additional charges.

Why REC?

  • The REC market was introduced to facilitate RPO compliance by incentivizing RE procurement.
  • First, the REC mechanism presents an alternative for state discoms, with insufficient renewable capacity, to meet their RPO obligations.
  • Second, stand-alone projects built independent of the well-established auction regime have little incentive and a high risk perception, lacking purchase guarantees and payment default protections.
  • The income generated from trading RECs will bolster such independent projects.

Why GST on RECs?

  • RECs are being charged GST, while bundled power (RECs plus electricity, irrespective of source) or even just electricity are devoid of the same.
  • Cost of electricity generation from renewable energy sources is classified as cost of electricity generation (equivalent to conventional energy sources) and the cost of environmental attributes.
  • RECs is the environmental attribute of the electricity derived from RE.
  • As per regulations, RPO compliance through REC is at par with sourcing electricity directly from RE.
  • Therefore, GST applicable on the sale of RECs negatively affects its parity with similar electricity sale alternatives, be it conventional or renewable.
Mar, 27, 2019

Global Energy Transition Index

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Energy Transition Index

Mains level: Move towards clean energy


News

  • India has moved up two places to rank 76th on a global energy transition index, released by World Economic Forum (WEF).

Global Energy Transition Index

  1. The WEF has ranked 115 economies on how well they are able to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.
  2. The WEF index considers both the current state of the countries’ energy system and their structural readiness to adapt to future energy needs.
  3. The ‘transition readiness’ component of the index has taken into account six individual indicators:
  • capital and investment,
  • regulation and political commitment,
  • institutions and governance,
  • institutions and innovative business environment,
  • human capital and consumer participation, and
  • energy system structure

India’s Performance

  • India is amongst the countries with high pollution levels and has a relatively high CO2 intensity in its energy system.
  • India has made significant strides to improve energy access in recent years, and currently scores well in the area of regulation and political commitment towards energy transition.
  • It suggested there was a ground for optimism regarding India despite the current outdated energy system not being ready for transition, because an enabling environment is being built to support future transition.
  • While India has scored low in terms of system performance (ranking 97 and 86, respectively), it ranks considerably higher when it comes to readiness (45 and 61, respectively).
  • Overall, India has moved up two places from 78th last year.
  • China is ranked even lower than India at 82nd position, though it ranks very high at seventh place in the world for regulation and political commitment.
  • Despite its low ranking, India is the second best in the BRICS block of emerging economies, with Brazil being the best at 46th place globally.
  • However, India is the only amongst the five economies to improve its rank since last year.

Global Scenario

  • Sweden remains on the top on this annual list and is followed by Switzerland and Norway in the top three.
  • Among major economies, the United Kingdom (UK) is ranked seventh.
  • Singapore has been ranked thirteenth, while Germany, Japan and the US have bagged the seventeenth, eighteenth and the twenty-seventh place respectively.
  • Within Asia, Malaysia is ranked highest at 31st, Sri Lanka is 60th, Bangladesh 90th and Nepal 93rd.

Challenges ahead

  • The biggest challenge facing attempts to future proof global energy is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters.
  • Continued uses of coal for power generation in Asia, increasing commodity prices and slower-than-needed improvements in energy intensity have contributed to this year’s stagnation in performance.
  • The WEF said fossil fuels’ share of total primary energy supply at 81 per cent has been constant over the past three decades.
  • Also, the global CO2 emissions are expected to have increased by more than 2 per cent in 2018, the highest since 2014.
Mar, 18, 2019

New hydro policy to help meet renewables target

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Move towards India’s NDCs for clean energy


News

  • While the government’s decision to re-classify large hydroelectric projects as renewable energy will certainly help the sector, the move will also go a long way in meeting the targets set for the sector.

New Hydroelectric Policy

  • According to the new policy, large hydro projects will also be designated as renewable energy projects.
  • So far, only small hydro projects of a capacity of less than 25 MW were treated as renewable energy. Large hydro projects were treated as a separate source of energy.
  • The tag allows these to qualify as part of the framework for non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) of the states.
  • Under this, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects.

India’s renewable capacity

  • India’s renewable energy sector had an installed capacity of 75,055.92 MW as of February 2019, according to data with the Central Electricity Authority.
  • This made up about 21.4% of the overall energy mix, with the rest coming from thermal, nuclear and large hydro sources.
  • With the inclusion of large hydro in renewable energy, the energy mix changes drastically.
  • Renewable energy capacity would now be 1, 20,455.14 MW or 34.4% of the overall energy mix.

This won’t be additional

  • This is a purely cosmetic change.
  • No additional resources have been created through this policy. It is a reclassification of existing capacity.
  • The policy has meant a drastic change in the renewable energy mix as well.
  • Whereas earlier, wind energy contributed nearly 50% of all renewable energy capacity, it will now make up only 29.3%.
  • Similarly, solar energy’s share will fall from 34.68% to 21.61%.

Huge imbalance

  • There has been a huge imbalance in the thermal-hydro mix for the last few years because of a sharp growth in thermal and complete stagnation in hydro.
  • The basic idea is to ramp up hydro because it provides grid stability which a renewable source like wind and solar do not.
  • The key reasoning seems to be providing grid stability and a better energy mix.
Mar, 15, 2019

[pib] UNNATEE (UNlocking NATional Energy Efficiency Potential)

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: UNNATEE

Mains level: Not Much


News

UNNATEE

  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has developed a national strategy document for accelerating energy efficiency in India.
  • PwC India has assisted BEE in executing this assignment.
  • The strategy document titled UNNATEE (Unlocking NATional Energy Efficiency potential) describes a plain framework and implementation strategy to establish a clear linkage between energy supply-demand scenarios and energy efficiency opportunities.
  • The document offers a comprehensive roadmap to address India’s environmental and climate change mitigation action through energy efficiency measures.
  • This exercise is first of its kind, clearly delineating the energy efficiency targets for the respective demand sectors upto the state levels.
  • Developing India’s blueprint of effective energy efficiency strategy is a leap towards stimulating energy efficiency ecosystem and enabling reduction of the pressure on demand.

About BEE

  • The BEE is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  • It assists in developing policies and strategies with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
  • BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies, and other organizations to identify and utilize the existing resources and infrastructure, in performing the functions assigned to it under the Energy Conservation Act.
Mar, 08, 2019

Large hydro projects get ‘renewable energy’ status

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Move towards India’s NDCs for clean energy


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a new hydroelectric policy aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the status of renewable energy projects.

New Hydroelectric Policy

  • According to the new policy, large hydro projects will also be designated as renewable energy projects.
  • So far, only smaller projects of less than 25 MW in capacity were categorised as renewable energy.
  • The tag allows these to qualify as part of the framework for non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) of the states.
  • Under this, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects.

Why such move?

  • Development of hydro power projects is important to provide India a stable grid, given the country’s commitment towards 160 GW capacity additions from infirm sources of power like solar and wind by 2022.
  • The new measures give developers the flexibility to determine tariff by backloading it after increasing the project life to 40 years, increasing the debt repayment period to 18 years and introducing an escalating tariff of 2 per cent.
  • This will help bring down the initial tariff of hydro power projects, which is normally on the higher side on account of including flood moderation and enabling infrastructure costs in the project cost.
Feb, 27, 2019

Offshore Wind: The sleeping giant has been stirred

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Challenges for harnessing offshore wind energy


News

  • India’s offshore wind energy sector is hoping for a new lease of life with the draft offshore wind energy lease rules

Unmet challenges

  • The offshore wind energy comes with expensive challenges like resource characterization, sub-sea installation, turbine foundation and development of long transmission infrastructure.
  • India is ill-prepared to meet these challenges due to the lack of technological knowhow and studies to assess resources.
  • The country, nevertheless, jumped on to the bandwagon with its ‘National Offshore Wind Policy’ in 2015.
  • And, as is the trend in India, the government set ambitious targets — a capacity of 5 GW by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030.

Progress till date

  • FOWIND, or the Facilitating Offshore Wind in India, is a Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)-led consortium that hoped to bring to India its leanings from the European experience.
  • The preliminary assessments estimated tremendous potential along the coasts in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
  • It was also handed the responsibility of the first demonstration project or the First Offshore Wind Project in India (FOWPI).
  • The first round of geotechnical, geophysical, ground investigation and metocean assessments was conducted by national Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) and by FOWPI.
  • The latter led the first Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-based wind profiling in the Gulf of Khambhat, which began in November 2017.

What the government did

  • Instead in April 2018, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released an expression of interest (EOI) to get the lay of the land.
  • Despite considerable interest that the conservative EOI drew, no tender was issued.
  • In parallel, with the slowdown in the onshore wind industry, the excitement around offshore wind energy fizzled out very soon.

Draft Lease Rules for Offshore Wind

  • The MNRE in 2019 released Draft Lease Rules for Offshore Wind.
  • The regulations apply to leasing of offshore blocks anywhere between 100 and 500 square metres within the exclusive economic zone off the Indian coast.
  • The lease for prospecting can be for up to five years, for developers to undertake necessary assessments and feasibility studies.
  • Project development activities will be allocated a 30 year lease, with a facility to extend for five more years.
  • It talks about compensation to the developer in case the central government pre-emptively procures the energy generated and also permits curtailment if issues with grid stability or security arise.

Promises of the rules

  • The lease rules have also included social and environmental caveats rigidly stating that the development of the farm wind should not in any way affect the livelihood of the coastal population.
  • It should not lead to the deterioration of local flora and fauna.

Various loopholes

  • The National Offshore Wind Policy lays the onus of development of transmission infrastructure (till the sub-station on land) on the developer.
  • Large investments in offshore structures and transmission facilities will result in uncompetitive high tariffs – something Indian power procurers do not have the stomach for.
  • Second, there has been no mention on port augmentation and utilization for the purposes of offshore wind project development.
  • Functional ports close to offshore farms are essential to reduce costs. They could also help in operation and maintenance, repowering and decommissioning.
  • Neither the policy nor the regulations discuss upgrading or redesigning existing ports.
  • If India is serious about offshore wind, it must set up dedicated ports. Europe, for example, has 10 such ports.
  • Further, there is no visibility on whether the energy procurers will even buy the electricity generated at the high tariffs that offshore wind projects will inevitably yield.

Way Forward

  • There are several reasons for India to diversify to offshore wind, the primary one being the contentious nature of land in India.
  • A close second is that the best wind potential sites in the country are filling up.
  • Further offshore wind development in India is egged on by the tremendous potential, an underutilized manufacturing capacity and a thirst for more energy.
  • These worries might need to be addressed with government-backed guarantees in long-term power-purchase agreements.
Jan, 19, 2019

Renewable energy in India: Why rooftop remains the most untapped solar source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Benefits of Solar Rooftops

Mains level: SRTs as an alternative to DISCOM power


News

Background

  1. Most developed economies started their solar programmes by targeting household rooftops; as a result, they now have a sizable share of installations in the residential rooftop segment.
  2. China and India, on the other hand, have used large-scale solar installations in an effort to quickly achieve scale and simultaneously push down costs.
  3. In the case of India, this focus on large utility-scale solar seems to have become an unintended obstruction in the development of the rooftop segment.

Tapping the Rooftop potential

  1. India, though, does have an ambitious plan for solar rooftop or SRT, as it is called: a target of 40 gigawatts (GW) capacity by 2022.
  2. But so far, the achievement has fallen short of the goal.
  3. According to the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), only 2,158 megawatt (MW) of SRT systems had been installed in the country till December 2018.

Household use is far less

  1. The shortfall in capacity is compounded by the fact that a large proportion—70 per cent—of the installed rooftop systems is for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers.
  2. Residential consumers account for less than 20 per cent of the total installed capacity.
  3. There are clear economic considerations behind industrial and commercial consumers’ preference for rooftop systems.
  4. Solar rooftop power is cheaper than grid-supplied electricity.
  5. These consumers have the financial resources to make the necessary investments, which are sizable, to install SRT systems.

The RESCO Model

  1. The commercial users also have access to the Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) model.
  2. It is a model in which developers install the system on the consumers’ premises and sign a long-term contract to sell them electricity, under which they do not need to make any investments.

Benefits of SRTs

  1. Distributed solar rooftop systems, installed on individual residences, offer many advantages.
  2. They help minimize transmission and distribution losses, as the generated power is consumed locally.
  3. In large cities, they can act as a back-up, replacing polluting diesel generator sets.
  4. Solar rooftop can be harnessed for demand-side management (for example, time-of-day pricing to match household demand with solar generation).
  5. With falling solar prices and steadily increasing tariffs of distribution companies (discoms), SRT systems are being seen as financially attractive.
  6. SRT systems can offer reduced power bills for households; the gains may increase as tariffs are likely to keep going up.
  7. They provide environmentally friendly, inexpensive back-up supply of power (compared to DG sets), a big advantage, given the persistent supply interruptions in most places.
  8. They can result in lower transmission and distribution losses and improved grid management, since the generation is close to the point of consumption.

Problem of Finance

  1. Instead of these much needed policy initiatives and administrative interventions, the government has largely relied on subsidies to drive SRT installation.
  2. Most prospective customers either do not have the savings to cover the upfront costs, or are simply unwilling to invest, given the relatively large amount.
  3. Also, most customers do not have access to bank financing.
  4. Loans need to be made available, which requires significant capacity building of retail bank branches.

Various Policy Initiatives

  1. In recent years, the government has taken steps to improve the availability of loans for SRT projects.
  2. The RBI has identified solar rooftop as a priority sector for lending.
  3. Eight public sector banks have included SRT systems under their housing or housing improvement loans.
  4. Multilateral banks are providing concessional loans against sovereign guarantee to public sector banks to support subsidized lending to the segment.

Way Forward

  1. It is clear that SRT systems provide multiple benefits—to households, to the grid and even to discoms; promoting them, therefore, is a desirable policy goal.
  2. Solar rooftops, however, also face several challenges, as indicated in the preceding section: lacklustre growth, little consumer awareness, lack of innovative government policies or attention, bureaucratic hassles, and limited support from discoms.
  3. Sustained and broad-based efforts are required to promote SRTs.
Dec, 10, 2018

[op-ed snap] Structural reforms for decarbonising India

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)

Mains level: Need of decarbonisation in India and hurdles in achieving it


Context

India’s growth and subsequent energy demands

  1. Earlier this year, India surpassed France to become the sixth largest economy of the world
  2. It is also one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, poised to become the third-largest by 2028
  3. Rapid economic growth is often driven by an increase in energy demand and consequently higher carbon dioxide emissions

 Facilitating India’s decarbonisation

  • India’s electricity pricing policy needs to be significantly overhauled
  1. Current policy subsidises electricity prices for agricultural and residential consumers while penalising commercial and industrial consumers
  2. Research by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) finds that in the business-as-usual scenario, the industrial sector would account for one-third of India’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2050
  3. In the absence of electricity pricing reforms, it would be next to impossible to mitigate direct carbon emissions from India’s industrial sector
  4. Shifting these emissions to the electricity generation sector through electrification and, in turn, mitigating the emissions via renewable and other low-carbon electricity sources would be an effective strategy
  • Revamping the market design of India’s electricity sector is a must
  1. For absorbing a greater percentage of variable renewable energy (VRE), i.e. solar and wind, into the grid, conventional power plants, especially those running on coal, would need to operate differently
  2. Currently, most coal power plants operate to serve the baseload demand
  3. In the future, with a higher share of VRE in India’s electricity mix, such plants would primarily operate to only serve mid-peak demand, peak demand and super-peak demand
  4. Liberalised electricity markets like those in the EU or the US are already finding integrating renewable energy difficult
  5. The challenge is far more complex for India where we are likely to have different power plants operating under different market paradigms
  6. If the electricity market design is not reformed, and the share of renewables crosses 40%, tussles between thermal power generators and VRE generators, due to loss of revenue for the former, could become very frequent
  • Banking sector reforms are pivotal for meeting India’s ambitious renewable energy goals
  1. CEEW’s research has highlighted in the past that the cost of finance contributes to 60% of the total cost of solar electricity in India
  2. For years, the banking sector has been plagued by the issue of non-performing assets
  3. A risk-averse banking sector means less capital and high-interest rates for unconventional energy businesses, invariably the renewable energy sector
  4. To reach scale, and that too rapidly, availability of adequate capital at favourable interest rates will make or break the transition to clean energy sources
  5. Only banking sector reforms can ultimately assure this
  • India’s bond market needs to take off
  1. While green bonds are being issued for supporting renewable energy, India ironically does not have a well-functioning larger bond market
  2. Unless bond market reforms are undertaken at a larger scale for deepening of capital markets in India, its immense potential will be largely untapped

Way forward

  1. Under a changing climate, extreme weather events like the floods in Kerala are becoming more common across the country
  2. India needs to meet its decarbonisation goals not only for meeting its climate commitments and economic targets, but also for fulfilling its human development objectives
Nov, 29, 2018

Panel suggests measures to tackle crisis in stressed thermal power projects

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Solutions to revamp India’s power sector


News

Background

  1. The High Level Empowered Committee (HLEC) set up by Government of India in July 2018 came out with its report on stranded thermal power projects.
  2. The Committee has assessed the landscape of these stranded assets and identified the various reasons that have contributed to the current scenario.
  3. This report focused on 34 thermal power stations, totalling to a capacity of 40 gigawatt (GW), which are entirely fuelled by coal and lignite.

Reasons behind Power sector crisis

  1. Institutional challenges related to the issue have contributed to the problem.
  2. The envisaged a capacity addition requirement of 88 GW was surpassed with 99 GW during the corresponding period leading plants to perform below their rated capacities.
  3. Several root causes identified by the HLEC are interconnected with the debt burden of the distribution utilities and the financial stress on banks/financial institutions as well as promoters and bidders.
  4. A significant chunk of the problem has been caused by the erratic coal supply and the uncertainty of coal supplies due to scrapping of mine auctions by the Supreme Court.

Suggested solutions

HLEC has put forth suggestions, most of which are in line with current government policies to help power plants in general and stressed assets in particular.

  • Coal Supply
  1. Coal supply is an inter-ministerial issue, whereby the ministries for coal and railways have been requested to work out mechanisms to address short-term issues of supply.
  2. Linking coal supply to power plant efficiency is a good way to incentivise better, newer and more efficient assets.
  • Shutting inefficient Plants
  1. Old plants operating way past their lifetime are less efficient in resource utilization, have higher emission profiles and are also expensive due to swift recovery of renovation costs that keep adding on to them.
  2. Closing down of old, inefficient thermal power units make for good economics and good environmental sense.
  • Addressing financial risks
  1. Several measures related to power markets to address the financial risks have been strongly recommended by the HLEC.
  2. These include getting NTPC or any other agency to act as an aggregator for power purchases, which can subsequently be sold to distribution utilities.
  3. The idea is not new as Power Finance Corporation (PFC) had recently conducted a tender for procuring 2500 megawatt (MW) of thermal power from stranded assets under specific conditions.
  • Easing Clearances
  1. Many promoters are facing National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for defaults, and their assets are also online for sale.
  2. Any new owner of a power plant should not be subjected to these challenges of obtaining clearances and signing agreements again, else the interest to acquire the asset may wane.

Gas-based thermal power: Not on Priority

  1. The talk to revive gas power plants is important, and serves good purpose as natural gas is a relatively cleaner fuel with lesser emissions.
  2. However, gas supply will continue to remain a problem for several reasons.
  3. Priority of supply of natural gas has always been lopsided to fertiliser industry, which uses natural gas as raw material and has a strong government presence and control.
  4. The political economy of gas supply and pricing will be heavily determined by this emerging consumer base as well.
  5. Even if imported, the lack of sufficient LNG storage terminal capacity and subsequent pipeline capacity will ensure that things remain more of the same in the near future.
  6. Therefore, these are mere platitudes unless a strong position is taken on reviving the fortunes of these power stations.

Way Forward

  1. The HLEC has shown that ways can be found to sort out the mess within the thermal power sector for coal fired power plants.
  2. However, the sole focus on coal has meant that gas-based power plants will have to wait for their turn under the sun.
Nov, 15, 2018

[pib] MNRE circulates draft Indian Wind Turbine Certification Scheme (IWTCS)

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IWTCS

Mains level: Need for such scheme


News

  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, in consultation with National Institute of Wind Energy, has prepared a draft of new Scheme called Indian Wind Turbine Certification Scheme (IWTCS) incorporating various guidelines Turbine Certification Scheme (IWTCS).

Indian Wind Turbine Certification Scheme (IWTCS)

  1. The IWTCS is a consolidation of relevant National and International Standards (IS/IEC/IEEE), Technical Regulations and requirements issued by Central Electricity Authority (CEA), guidelines issued by MNRE and other international guidelines.
  2. It also incorporates various best practices from other countries to ensure the quality of the wind energy projects.
  3. The draft Scheme enlists the guidelines for the benefit of all the stakeholders from concept to lifetime of wind turbine including:
  • Indian Type Approved Model (ITAM),
  • Indian Type Certification Scheme (ITCS),
  • Wind Farm Project Certification Scheme (WFPCS)
  • Wind Turbine Safety & Performance Certification Scheme (WTSPCS)

Why need such Scheme?

  1. Wind sector in India is growing at a rapid pace with increased utilization of wind energy for the power development.
  2. The modern wind turbines have higher dimensions and capacity and improved Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) along with technological improvements.
  3. Under these developments, there was a need for comprehensive document which provides the complete technical requirements which shall have to be complied by the wind turbines for the safe and reliable operation by all the stakeholders.
  4. Also, there is a need for technical regulations.

 

Oct, 20, 2018

[pib] India to receive University of Pennsylvania’s Top Energy Policy Prize

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Carnot Prize

Mains level: Prices of such global recognition highlights success of India’s efforts to reform power sector.


News

Context

  • Minister of Railways and Coal will receive the University of Pennsylvania’s top prize in energy policy for his leadership in reforming India’s power sector through various initiatives.

Carnot Prize

  1. The Carnot Prize is intended to honour those leading revolutions in energy policy to further progress and prosperity.
  2. The ministry is being recognised for directing a fast-track effort to electrify 18,000 villages in remote parts of India, helping bridge the country’s vast energy divide.
  3. The Carnot Prize is named in memory of French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which is recognised as the first statement of what, is now known as the second law of thermodynamics.
  4. Carnot recognised that the power of the steam engine would produce a great revolution in human development.

Recognizing Indian efforts

  1. The 2018 Carnot Prize is a recognition of India’s efforts, as the nation charts the path towards eliminating energy poverty with sustainable energy solutions.
  2. The rural electrification drive gave a significant breakthrough to the mission of ‘24×7 Affordable, Environment Friendly Power for all’, as India eliminated decades of darkness in more than 19,000 villages April, 2018.
  3. With the Saubhagya Programme, the last-mile connectivity to every household in the villages is being fast tracked, with 51% of the 3.1 crore rural households electrified.
  4. The massive thrust to green energy is reflected in India’s 175 GW target by 2022, being the world’s largest renewable expansion programme with 72 GW already achieved.
  5. As solar and wind energy market prices achieve parity in India with record low tariffs, renewables are set to become the mainstay of development in the coming years.
  6. With the vision of “one world, one sun, one grid” of PM Modi India is playing its role as a committed solar leader through steady progress on all green energy goals.
  7. In the last four years, energy efficiency has become a people’s movement in India, making the Government’s UJALA scheme the world’s largest LED distribution programme.
  8. Along with private sector participation, 130 crore LED bulbs have been distributed, making India brighter and cleaner.
Oct, 05, 2018

[pib] 21 IORA Countries adopt the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IORA, Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy, Global Renewable Energy Atlas

Mains level:  Importance of the Declaration in tapping RE in the IOR.


News

Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy

  1. As many as 21 countries in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) today adopted the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in the IOR.
  2. The Declaration aims for collaboration among IORA member states in meeting the growing demand for renewable energy in the Indian Ocean littorals.
  3. It calls for development of a common renewable energy agenda for the Indian Ocean region and promote regional capacity building.

Highlights of the declaration

  1. As per the declaration adopted, IORA member nations will collaborate with the member nations to exchange knowledge and share views and potential interests in the renewable energy sector;
  2. The MoU signed between IORA and ISA with a focus on joint capacity-building programs, research & development activities in solar energy and exchange of best practices.

Global Renewable Energy Atlas

  1. IORA member nations and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will undertake the expansion of the Global Renewable Energy Atlas.
  2. It will be the world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, coordinated by IRENA, thereby creating the IOR’s first and most comprehensive map and database which will be used to tap RE potential of the region.
  3. It aims to collaborate on opportunities available under the International Renewable Energy Learning Platform (IRELP).
Aug, 25, 2018

[pib] India’s First ISTS connected Wind Power Project Commissioned

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GNA ISTS

Mains level:  Read the attached story.


News

Auction under ISTS

  1. Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) conducted India’s first auction of wind power projects in February 2017.
  2. In this the tariff of Rs. 3.46 was discovered, which was much lower than feed in tariffs in vogue those days.
  3. Under ISTS power generated from one state (renewable resource rich state) could be transmitted to other renewable deficient states.
  4. A part capacity of 126 MW, located in Bhuj (Gujarat) was Commission .The energy generated from this project is being purchased by Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and UP.
  5. The auction signified a major shift from the earlier regime of state-specific Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) model to a Pan-India, market-driven mechanism.

About ISTS

  1. Grant of Connectivity and General Network Access to the inter-state transmission system (ISTS) and other related matters, Regulations, 2017 provide for interstate transmission.
  2. It would allow for more than one power generator to share a dedicated transmission line that connects their generating stations to the ISTS polling station.
  3. This will be done after all aspects of the sharing are formalized among the generators, including the sharing of transmission charges and transmission line losses among the generators.
Aug, 11, 2018

[op-ed snap] A climate for green funds

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s renewable energy push and finance required to accomplish the targets


Context

Climate change impact

  1. The impact of climate change are no longer risks that exist in the distant future
  2. A recent HSBC Global Research report found India to be the most vulnerable of the 67 countries assessed for their vulnerability to and preparedness for climate change risks

Huge investments required to combat climate change

  1. The government aims to source 175 GW of power from renewables by 2022 and for nearly 57 per cent of total electricity capacity to come from non-fossil fuels by 2027
  2. It has been estimated that approximately $100 trillion of additional investment will be required between 2016 and 2030 to sync the imperatives of global development with that of addressing the challenge of climate change
  3. Financing clean energy infrastructure, sustainable transport, energy efficiency and waste management are among the key imperatives today

Green finance gaining traction

  1. Globally, green finance is gaining prominence as a medium to raise funds for environment-friendly and climate-resilient projects
  2. Investors are keen to put more of their cash into low-carbon, sustainable projects and those requiring capital

India needs more green finance

  1. In India the concept of green financing is nascent
  2. Measures to encourage green-bonds could help raise finances needed to “green” India’s economy
  3. Some of these can be:
  • Reduce some of the regulatory constraints that currently hamper international investments as well as local pools of capital
  • Guidelines asking provident funds, pension funds and insurance companies to invest a portion of their assets under management in green bonds
  • The government could offer tax incentives to encourage mutual fund and other onshore investors to invest in local green bonds
  • India could also look at issuing a sovereign green bond, like France did to great effect last year
  • Diversifying the green bond market beyond project finance assets into corporate loans, and working more with mid-sized companies (mid-cap market), will go a long way towards building up the green financing ecosystem
  • Allowing banks to claim “priority sector benefits” on their green investments would also help

Way Forward

  1. Amid all the issues that concern us — poverty, education, employment, health — it is easy to forget that global warming is one of the most critical challenges we face
  2. We need to do a lot more and a lot sooner or risk an environmental crisis
Aug, 10, 2018

[pib] National Energy Storage Mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the proposed Mission

Mains level: Need of storage for Renewable sources of energy.


News

National Energy Storage Mission (NESM)

  1. Energy Storage is one of the most crucial & critical components of India’s energy infrastructure strategy and also for supporting India’s sustained thrust to renewables.
  2. The Expert Committee constituted by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has proposed a draft NESM.
  3. The objective of this mission will be to strive for leadership in energy storage sector by creating an enabling policy and regulatory framework that encourages manufacturing, deployment, innovation and further cost reduction.
  4. NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute’s joint report on India’s Energy Storage Mission has proposed three-stage solution approaches:
  • creating an environment for battery manufacturing growth;
  • scaling supply chain strategies; and
  • scaling of battery cell manufacturing.

Key areas for energy storage application include:

  • integrating renewable energy with distribution and transmission grids;
  •  setting Rural microgrids with diversified loads or stand-alone systems; and
  •  developing Storage component of electric mobility plans.
May, 15, 2018

Creating jobs for women in the renewable energy sector

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: How to create quality jobs for women in the RE sector?


News

Context

  1. Studies estimate that India’s ambitious target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy (RE) by 2022 could create 3,30,000 jobs in the wind and solar energy sectors alone
  2. Can this rapidly growing industry create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for women?
  3. And can these opportunities provide better salaries and health-care benefits, skilling and training opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for women and their families?
  4. What can decision-makers do to support the inclusion of more women in this growing sector?

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute

  1. According to the study, India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce

Can the new RE projects be planned in a manner that also creates good quality jobs for women in these areas?

  1. Currently, India’s RE industry sector, as with other sectors, has low participation of women
  2. India ranks a poor 120 among 131 countries on female labour force participation, according to World Bank data
  3. A majority of women currently employed in the RE sector work at project sites, doing civil masonry work, which is temporary and labour-intensive with little potential for future growth
  4. Moreover, the working conditions on many sites are not always suitable for women as they are devoid of safety and support systems
  5. Where there is a need for more skilled or semi-skilled labour, fewer women can respond due to existing barriers to formal education and training
  6. Consequently, there are very few women in production, facilities, and operations and maintenance roles in the RE sector

Potential in the RE sector

  1. In a recent study, we found that jobs in the RE sector can impact poverty, provided several changes are made to the existing systems
  2. Particularly with the growth of the decentralised RE and off-grid energy sector, there is significant potential to include local women in the workforce
  3. Overall, the study concluded that if the government, clean energy enterprises, training institutes and civil society work together to implement these “tweaks”, India could create good-quality employment opportunities that can support the inclusion of more women
  4. But such interventions need to be designed with women at the centre and not as an afterthought

What can be done?

  1. Training institutes could reduce the bar on entry, allowing for less formally educated women to learn new skills and receive training
  2. Training should be customised to respect specific needs like location, hours of engagement, safety and sanitation
  3. Mobile training modules that can cater to small groups of women in remote areas can be developed
  4. This sensitisation to women’s specific needs can help increase participation of women in the RE workforce
Apr, 30, 2018

Draft mission to kick-start Renewable energy storage

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Electricity Authority, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)

Mains level: Particulars of the Draft National Energy Storage Mission, Grid-Integration-Storage Issues


News

Draft National Energy Storage Mission

  1. Central Electricity Authority is considering a draft regulation to make storage mandatory for large-scale
    solar projects ranging between 100 MW and 200 MW
  2. This is to kick-start grid-connected energy storage in India, by setting up a regulatory framework and encourage the indigenous manufacture of batteries, under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)
  3. The draft sets a “realistic target” of 15-20 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of grid-connected storage within the
    next five years
  4. The mission will focus on seven verticals: indigenous manufacturing; an assessment of technology and
    cost trends; a policy and regulatory framework; financing, business models and market creation; research
    and development; standards and testing; and grid planning for energy storage.

Why Draft Mission?

  1. Currently, Power grids do not have storage options that would help in smoothly integrating renewable
    energy sources with conventional power grids
  2. And the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is expected to issue tenders for grid-connected storage by the end of the year

Issues in integrating Renewables to the Grids

  1. The problem of Peak Supply and Peak Demand: Solar energy generation may be at its peak at noon, but unless stored, it will not be available when needed to light up homes at night
  2. Renewable sources are inherently intermittent: There are days when the wind doesn’t blow or the sky is cloudy
  3. Grid Stabilization Issue: Batteries could help store surplus energy during peak generation times, but are more immediately needed to stabilize the grid when shifting between renewables and the baseload thermal power (currently in surplus)
  4. Limited Storage Capacity: Once the installed capacity of renewables reaches 100 GW [currently 65 GW], it will become critical to incorporate storage options with current storage capacity. Up to 10% of [solar] power can be injected into the grid without storage, after that, storage will become vital

The Way Forward

  1. It is important to look beyond mere CapEx costs, and also consider life-cycle costs and the distributor’s costs
    due to grid instability and transmission and distribution losses while granting tenders
  2. We need a viable commercial plan for storing renewable energy
  3. The lithium-ion cells needed for battery storage are not manufactured in India, although major players,
    including Indian Oil Corporation and Exide are working to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity
  4. The three-stage solution suggested by NITI Aayog i.e. incentivized land awards, tax credits per job created
    and lowering the number of permits, for indigenous storage infrastructure should be duly implemented
Apr, 13, 2018

India moves to auction its first offshore wind power project

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, etc.

Mains level: Comparatively high efficiency of the offshore wind energy projects, importance for Indian energy sector, steps taken by the government, etc.


News

Step for boosting India’s clean energy commitments

  1. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) (an autonomous body under the ministry of new and renewable energy ) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India
  2. The project will be set up in the Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat
  3. High potential: As per official estimates, the Gujarat coastline has the potential to generate around 106,000MW of offshore wind energy and Tamil Nadu about 60,000MW

Why is this step important?

  1. The development assumes significance given the 1,000 megawatts (MW) size of the project, with the government’s plan to set up at least 5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2022
  2. India plans to leverage scale to bring down offshore energy tariffs by harnessing the enormous wind power potential along its 7,600km coastline

Offshore wind energy projects are more efficient

  1. At global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs
  2. With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers
  3. Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players

Other steps taken by the government in the same direction

  1. In 2015, the Union cabinet had cleared the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy
  2. The policy involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high-potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process

Back2basics

National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) 

  1. It has been established in Chennai in the year 1998, as an autonomous R&D institution by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India
  2. It is a knowledge-based institution of high quality and dedication, offers services and seeks to find complete solutions for the kinds of difficulties and improvements in the entire spectrum of the wind energy sector by carrying out further research
  3. It has a Wind Turbine Test Station (WTTS) at Kayathar with the technical & partial financial support by DANIDA, Govt. of Denmark
Apr, 11, 2018

[pib] First offshore wind energy project of 1000 MW capacity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), Gulf of Khambat

Mains level: Renewable energy potential in India


News:

  • The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) an autonomous body under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India.
  • The global EoI is intended to shortlist prospective offshore wind energy developers for a 1000 MW offshore wind energy project in Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat.
  • The proposed area is located 23-40 km seaward side from Pipavav port. MNRE plans to install at least 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2022.

The first offshore LiDAR was installed in Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat for measurement of wind resource and National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) is collecting wind speed data from November, 2017 onwards. Areas off the coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are two identified areas for development of offshore wind power.

The second LiDAR would be installed off Tamil Nadu coast by September, 2018.

In addition, NIWE is planning to set up few more LiDARs for assessment of offshore wind resources. Besides necessary Geo-Technical and Geo-Physical studies off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are underway.

At the global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs.

With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers.

Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players.

Mar, 05, 2018

Solar goal for 2022 too hot to handle

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Concerns(related to solar energy) discussed in the newscard.


News

Concerns of Solar industry players

  1. India had been on track to meet its target of 100 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy capacity by 2022
  2. But according to industry players, momentum(to achieve the target) has been severely eroded in the last few months
    Why?
  3. Issues such as uncertainty around import duties and future tax rates on existing power purchase agreements have dampened investor sentiment

Background

  1. The Director General (Safeguards) had earlier this year recommended imposing a 70% safeguard duty on imported solar cells, panels and modules for a minimum period of 200 days
  2. No decision has been taken yet on this, but the proposal is causing a lot of uncertainty in the industry because of the higher costs this would result in
  3. Industry players across the board have said that they are waiting for more certainty before they bid for more projects or expand their existing projects

India’s growth in Solar Energy Sector

  1. Last year, the global capacity addition in solar stood at 105 GW
  2. India was in third place in terms of how much its market has grown over the year

Another important concern

  1. The other aspect that will likely hold up India’s achievement of the 100 GW target for solar is the rooftop solar component within this target
  2. Out of the total, utility scale capacity is to make up 60% of the target and rooftop solar is to make up the remaining 40%
  3. In other words, the utility scale segment has achieved 30% of the 2022 target with four years to go. The rooftop segment has achieved less than 4%
Feb, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Grid stability is key

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

The following things are important from the UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)

Mains Level: Issues in purchasing surplus solar power from farmers and possible solution discussed in the newscard.


News

Plan to address concern related to Electricity in rural areas

  1. Instead of transmitting electricity to the farmers, the government wants farmers to use solar energy to power their irrigation pumps

How is it possible?

  1. According to the January 2018 report of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, there are about 142,000 solar pumps in India
  2. The government is planning to install one million solar pumps by 2021

Steps taken by the government

  1. To achieve this, the Union Budget 2018 has allocated close to Rs. 48,000 crore to set up the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)
  2. This programme will help set up more than 28 GW of combined solar capacity through these solar pumps
  3. In the Union Budget 2018, the Finance Minister asked governments to put in place adequate procedures to purchase the excess solar power from farmers
  4. The government is also planning to purchase the surplus power through electricity distribution companies
  5. This proposal will almost certainly increase agricultural incomes and reduce electricity losses when transmitting power to remote rural areas
  6. Analysts claim that losses from distribution could fall to about 12% from the current level of at least 23%

Some issues in purchasing surplus solar power from farmers

  1. The feasibility of purchasing surplus solar power seems problematic
  2. There is a need to address the issue of grid stability that this injection of surplus power is bound to create
  3. The disadvantages currently outweigh the advantages because of the issue of grid stability
  4. All power grids require balancing
  5. This balancing entails meeting the demand with adequate supply 24×7 to ensure there is no blackout
  6. The reason for striking this balance is that electrical energy cannot readily be stored, meaning that power generation ought to work round the clock
  7. Why is the ‘balancing’ needed: wind and solar power sources constantly generate shortfalls and excesses
  8. Solution: to maintain a consistent round-the-clock power delivery the grid operators will need to have a back-up source of power in the form of coal or oil
  9. During the day as well, they will have to be ready to quickly adjust output to compensate for the rise and fall of solar power generation due to changing weather and rain
  10. More stability can be achieved by integrating the grids into all-India grids
  11. Expected advances in storage technology would also significantly improve grid stability

 

Feb, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] The renewable purchase obligation is hurting

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the b2b

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively discusses some issues related to renewable energy(RE) sector.


News

BACKGROUND

 The landmark Electricity Act of 2003

  1. This Act removed the licensing requirement to produce power, and also led to the unbundling of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity at the state level
  2. It introduced the radical idea of open access, and a choice for consumers
  3. It was also the first time that the use of renewable energy (RE) was advocated as part of the national energy policy

 The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

  1. It was to be implemented through eight missions
  2. One of these was the national solar mission, whose aim was to promote the development and use of solar power

The policy of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs)

  1. The RPOs were to be implemented by state governments
  2. The RPOs make it compulsory for all large consumers of energy to ensure that a certain percentage of that energy mix is from renewable sources such as wind and solar

India’s target in the renewable energy sector

  1. The Narendra Modi government in 2015 quite dramatically revised upward the national RE ambition to achieve 175GW by 2022, of which 100GW would be from solar
  2. As of December 2017, solar and wind capacity in the country was 17GW and 33GW, respectively
  3. This means that in the next four years, solar capacity needs to increase by 5.8 times, at a compound annual growth rate of 55.6% per year

Indications from the Economic Survey 2017

  1. The Economic Survey of 2017 indicated that the social cost of renewables is three times that of coal, at around Rs11 per kilowatt-hour
  2. One MW of solar plant requires 5 acres of land, whose cost is loaded on to the power cost
  3. Solar and wind have plant load factors of only 15-20%, which means the installed capacity is idle for nearly 80% of the time
  4. Thus a 50MW solar plant generates consumable power equivalent to about 10 or 12MW
  5. On the other hand, a thermal plant can operate at a plant load factor of as high as 95%

Other issues
Coal Cess

  1. Indian industry is already suffering the disadvantage of higher energy cost due to levies like the coal cess (rechristened clean energy cess)
  2. This cess has gone up by 800% in the last few years; from Rs 50 per tonne of coal in 2010 to Rs 400 in 2016

Renewable energy certificates (RECs)

  1. Furthermore, not every state has adequate RE power available to be purchased
  2. So, instead, renewable energy certificates (RECs) have to be purchased in lieu of RPOs
  3. RECs increase the cost of power, since these are in addition to the total thermal power that needs to be produced and consumed anyway

RE can’t become complete energy source for industries

  1. Solar and wind energy can never completely become the energy source for industries that need uninterrupted, reliable, steady and high wattage electricity
  2. That base load has to come from thermal power

Back2basics

Plant Load Factor (PLF)

  1. A plant load factor is a measure of average capacity utilization. If the PLF is affected by non-availability of fuel, maintenance shut-down, unplanned break down and no offtake (as consumption pattern fluctuates lower in nights), the generation has to be adjusted
  2. A power (electricity) storage is not feasible. A generation of power is controlled to match the offtake
    For any duration, a power plant generates below its full capacity
  3. To that extent it is a capacity loss
Jan, 27, 2018

Renewables sector wants Budget to pack more energy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Renewable energy is very important for the future of India’s green energy targets. We have set some ambitious targets for the renewable sector, which can only be achieved through extra-ordinary efforts from the government and budgetary provisions.


News

Expectations of  renewable energy industry from the government

  1. The industry is of the view that there are a number of policy decisions related to import duties and domestic manufacturing, which, if taken, could further boost the sector

Government efforts

  1. The Centre had allocated Rs. 5,472.8 crore to MNRE in last year’s Budget and approved demand for grants for Rs. 10,814.5 crore

Growth of renewable energy sector

  1. Renewable energy generation had grown significantly over the years, touching 70,134.4 million units in the April-November 2017 period
  2. In other words, in 2017-18, India generated 85.6% of the renewable energy it did in the full year 2016-17 with a third of the year still to go

Ambitious target

  1. Industry players said achieving the target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity and generation by 2022 requires a lot more to be done than simply increasing Budgetary allocation

Bio-ethanol

  1. The sector also felt that the Budget could do more for the bio-ethanol sector as well
  2. The sector is optimistic that Budget 2018 will provide significant financial support towards subsidies for encouraging domestic bio-ethanol manufacturing facilities and remunerative 2G ethanol prices
Jan, 22, 2018

Rooftop solar is still out in the cold

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Net metering, SECI

Mains level: Renewable energy policies in India and issues related to them


News

Rooftop solar installation target difficult to achieve

  1. Against a target of 10,000 MW for March 31, 2018, the achievement as of the last day of 2017 was 923 MW for rooftop solar installation
  2. The government of India wants the country to have 100,000 MW of solar capacity by March 2022 — 60,000 MW from large plants and 40,000 MW from rooftops
  3. The target for rooftop plants appears unattainable

Reasons behind this

  1. Not an attractive alternative
  • For individual house owners, rooftop solar is still not an attractive alternative to the subsidized power supplied by the electricity distribution companies (discoms)
  • Discoms find ways of preventing big consumers such as factories, shopping malls from putting up rooftop solar plants and generating their own power because these are the customers from which discoms derive their sustenance

2. Net metering not allowed/partially allowed

  • Many states disallow ‘net metering’, which measures the power put into the grid by the rooftop plants
  • Others impose a cap on the capacity allowed for net metering

3. Bias for large size

  • The government-owned SECI , a renewable energy facilitating company, would come out with tenders on behalf of interested discoms
  • The bidders who quote the least tariff will put up the rooftop plants and sell power to the discom
  • By selecting the rooftop plants only through competitive bidding, the proposed policy comes with a bias for large size

What can be done to promote rooftop solar installations?

  1. Government can provide generation-based incentives (GBI) to users opting for rooftop solar
  2. A similar scheme served the wind industry well until it was scrapped last year
  3. A suitably structured GBI would lower the prices for the discoms to be attracted to it

Back2Basics

Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI)

  1. It is a company of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, established to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
  2. It was set up as a Non-for-Profit Company to promote solar energy in India
  3. It is the only public sector undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector
  4. The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme, and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme
  5. The company also has a power-trading license and is active in this domain through trading of solar power from projects set up under the schemes being implemented by it
  6. The company’s mandate has been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company will be renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI)
  7. It will take up development of all segments of renewable energy namely, geo-thermal, off-shore wind, tidal etc. apart from solar energy
Jan, 18, 2018

India will need at least $125 billion to fund renewables dream

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IREDA, Masala Bonds, Directorate general of safeguards

Mains level: India’s commitment to climate change and various initiatives under it


News

Huge funds required for renewable energy plan

  1. India will need at least $125 billion to fund its ambitious plan to increase the share of renewable power supply in the country’s grid by 2022
  2. The South Asian nation is one of the world’s most important growth markets for renewable energy

Plan to increase share of renewable energy

  1. Installed renewable power capacity is currently about 60 gigawatts (GW)
  2. India plans to complete the bidding process by the end of 2019/20 to add a further 115 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022

Investment insufficient

  1. In 2015, India said investment of $100 billion in the seven years to 2022 would be needed to meet its renewable energy goals
  2. Global corporate funding for the solar industry—the world’s fastest-growing electricity source—was a tenth of the required amount in 2017 at $12.8 billion

India’s solar energy potential

  1. India, which receives twice as much sunshine as European countries, wants to make solar central to its renewable expansion
  2. It expects renewable energy to make up 40% of installed power capacity by 2030, compared with 18.2% at the end of 2017

Masala Bonds

  1. IREDA, a state-run financier for renewable energy, raised $300 million by selling rupee-denominated bonds, known as masala bonds, in the United Kingdom last year

Challenges in implementation

  1. Most of the financing for India’s renewables drive so far has come from domestic banks
  2. This will not be sufficient and India will also require support from development banks, like the World Bank and other overseas investors
  3. Another challenge in achieving India’s renewable targets is the government’s “Make in India” initiative
  4. India’s directorate general of safeguards, an arm of the finance ministry, has proposed a 70% duty on imports of solar equipment from some countries including China, which so far provides the vast majority of India’s solar panels
  5. This is being done to protect India from cheap solar panel imports
Nov, 25, 2017

Centre to seek 20,000 MW of solar bids

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Government’s future plans of renewable energy projects.


News

Government’s plan for Solar Projects

  1. The government is planning bids for a total of 20,000 MW of solar energy plants projects in this financial year
  2. Of these projects, 3,600 MW have already been completed
  3. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning bids for 30,000 MW of solar projects in 2018-19 and 2019-20, each
  4. In wind energy, the Centre has announced the third wind power auction of 2,000 MW, the largest of its kind in India so far

Make in India link

  1. The government is planning a 20 GW auction, but only for those who are willing to manufacture in India

Upcoming Bids

  1. As per the Ministry’s plan, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will invite two separate bids for 3,000 MW of solar projects in December 2017 and January 2018 each
  2. NTPC is to invite a bid for 5,000 MW of solar projects in February 2018
  3. And another 6,000 MW will be bid out in March 2018 by SECI and other Central PSUs

Encouraging results from Wind Energy projects

  1. In wind energy, the Ministry said it had already received bids for 32 GW of projects, which is more than 50% of the 60 GW target set for 2022
  2. The government is expecting bids for a total of 8-9 GW this year, and 10 GW each in 2018-19 and 2019-20
Nov, 22, 2017

‘Indian renewable energy firms among lowest rated’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Particulars of the report


News

Poor Score

  1. According to a report by ratings agency Fitch, Indian renewable energy companies are among the most poorly rated investment grade companies in the Asia-Pacific region
  2. The agency expects renewable energy to make up a larger portion of India’s electricity generation, bolstered by untapped generation potential, strong policy support and lower tariffs
  3. The report added that small renewable players would remain protected from price risks due to long-term power purchase agreements
  4. But said that production volumes would vary on the basis of climatic patterns

Issues with Indian renewable issuers

  1. Ratings of the Indian renewable issuers reflect lower plant utilisation, limited operating history, volume risk, weaker counterparties, and weak but improving financial profiles

Report on petroleum products

  1. In a separate report, Fitch said that India’s overall demand for petroleum products would grow at about 5% over the medium term
  2. The demand is driven by strong GDP growth over the next two financial years and continued growth in auto sales
Sep, 20, 2017

[op-ed] A case for continued support for green energy

Note4Students :

Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure-Energy

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Difference between dry cell and solar cell, Government’s renewable energy target, Share of different renewable energies in the total energy mix.

Mains level: Draft Energy Policy 2017, What will be the implications of the recent move by the government to withdraw all kinds of incentives from the renewable energy sector,on our target of achieving 40% of installed power capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030? Comment.


News

Context

  1. Going by recent reports, it appears that the Union government is contemplating withdrawing all kind of incentives that are being provided to renewables-based electricity by 2022.
  2. It is said that there will not be any targeting of renewable energy after 2020 (presumably no renewable purchase obligations, or RPOs, after 2022).
  3. Moreover, the draft National Energy Policy 2017 proposes gradual withdrawal of the provision of “must run” status and other support such as non-levy of interstate transmission charges.
  4. The sharp reduction in bids for solar and wind power forms the basis of the argument that now these technologies are ready to face markets.

Reasons for Low price of Solar Energy

  1. While the record low prices of solar power in the recent past have been on account of very low global prices of solar photovoltaic modules and accessories.

Other Reasons

  1. Payment Security Mecahnism with guaranteed uptake of electricity- Example-Rewa solar park.This in turn helped bring down the cost of capital that constitutes about 70% of renewable electricity prices.
  2. The Solar Energy Corp. of India wind power auction contained three very crucial elements-
  3. Power purchase agreement with PTC (India) Ltd and not the distribution utility, thereby providing security of payment against the sale of electricity as well as assured offtake of electricity.
  4. Waiver of inter-state transmission charges
  5. Compensation for system losses

 

  1. Therefore, these low prices are the result of several facilitating measures.
  2. So, doing away with such provisions appears to be totally counter-productive to India’s ambitions in this field.
  3. The recent outcomes of the solar and wind auctions may have made officials to take for granted that the things will continue to move in a certain way but at the same time ignoring the key parameters that helped chart out that direction in the first place.
  4. Undoubtedly, a good policy framework has to have sunset clauses for incentives but withdrawals must also be nuanced and gradual, arrived at after taking into account their long-term implications on the sector.

What does Economic survey Volume-2 says about Renewable Energy ?

  1. The survey talks about the “social cost” of renewable energy in comparison to that of coal-based power generation.
  2. Besides other cost parameters, including health and environmental costs, the survey includes “the opportunity cost of stranded conventional power assets” as one of the components of the social cost. 
  3. The losses incurred by investors and lenders due to the underutilization of coal power plants becomes the most significant contributor to renewable energy’s social cost, making it three time more expensive than conventional power.

Counter View points

  1. According to Central Electricity Authority, the share of renewable electricity in India’s total electricity generation was around 7.6% between April 2016 and March 2017. So how can this be the reason for below-par plant load factors of coal power plants?
  2. By the same logic, no disruptive transition to better and more efficient technologies would ever be possible because during the transition stage, the older assets are bound to be underutilized or in a sense, financially stranded. Examples- UJALA, or Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All, scheme that aims to promote efficient use of energy. This whole UJALA campaign must also be rendering manufacturers of incandescent lamps in a state of financial stress, so is that being factored in while estimating the social cost of LED lamps? The same also goes for electrical vehicles that surely would result in the supply chain of conventional automobile components becoming stranded assets?
  3. And how transparently does this “social cost” dispensation take into account the cost of longer term impacts of different alternatives?
  4. How accurate are the cost-components and how close are the assumptions to Indian realities?
  5. Public health in any case is always heavily discounted in all such calculations.

Way Forward

  1. A good policy regime tries to balance these seemingly divergent viewpoints and provides direction for long-term and sustainable solutions for larger public good. This is particularly critical when the decisions made today could have far-reaching implications for generations to come.
  2. Besides, basing such decisions on anecdotal premise rather than on sound analytical evidence could very well jeopardize the momentum that renewable energy sector in the country has gained.
  3. It appears as if there is a lack of cohesion within different arms of the government, leading to conflicting signals.
  4. This, however, needs to be managed quickly to avoid the serious implications such mixed signals could have on our commitment to achieve about 40% of installed power capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

Dec, 02, 2016

Kudankulam’s first reactor has posted Rs.1000 crore profit

  1. What: The first 1,000-MWe reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project that commenced commercial power generation on October 22, 2013, has earned a profit of Rs. 1,000 crore.
  2. Significance: The first unit’s continuous functioning without hitch for 278 days demonstrates its technical superiority.
  3. The second unit is also functioning exceptionally well and it will reach its maximum generation capacity of 1,000 MWe either in December-end or in January next year.

Back2basics:

Why was there so much protest against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project?

  1. More than 1 million people reside in the 30 km radius which is claimed opposite to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) regulations for Nuclear power plants. The Atomic Energy Act can be read and no such regulation is there.
  2. Environment Impact Study has not been made public according to the local people. Can be a good argument.
  3. Relocation for families settled in the area was not done with correct paper work and hence they are not justly relocated. This is usually always the case.
  4. The cooling is light water based and the water is dumped in the sea causing damage to the aquatic life and impact fishing industry there. This is completely baseless as the coolant water is usually very low radiation and dumped deep in the sea with a heavy diffusion.
  5. Coastal Regulation Zone has been a very old policy in India which prevents commercial use of coastal areas. Reactors 3-6 are not yet cleared as they apparently do not confer to this regulation.
  6. Natural disasters are a concern. 2004 tsunami flooded the site where the reactors are being made. Valid point and adequate precautions should be taken to drain the flood.
  7. Liability clause still is not very clear. The protests complain that the liability is held by NPCIL and not the original designers (Russians) according to a secret treaty between India & Russia.

Note4students:

These issues and concerns remain largely same for any large scale project. Some are specific to nuclear establishments but you get the drift right? Hope the b2b rejigs your memory here.

Oct, 03, 2016

Indian NGO bags UN climate award for clean energy project

  1. NGO: Swayam Shikshan Prayog
  2. Project: Training women to become clean energy entrepreneurs across Maharashtra and Bihar
  3. UNFCCC has applauded this project for building a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs facilitating access to clean energy, water and sanitation products and services in several communities
  4. Many of the women in NGO hail from the Marathwada drought-hit areas and have attained a new identity as a result of their entrepreneurial work
  5. The NGO, founded in 1989 in Mumbai, has received financial support from the Maharashtra government, USAID, Miseorer, Europe, and CSR funds from HSBC and Alstom, till now
Aug, 01, 2016

Kudankulam plant safest in the world. Here's why?

  1. Acc. to Russia, it is the first in the world to have post-Fukushima safety enhancement requirements implemented
  2. Features: localising and protective containment, passive heat removal system from reactor plant, closed industrial water intake
  3. Measures have been taken to preserve the biodiversity of Mannar Bay adjacent to Kudankulam while we use seawater to cool down the reactor
  4. Reactor Type: Water-Water Energetic Reactor (VVER or WWER). A kind of pressurised water reactor.
Jul, 21, 2016

Issue in AP over Nuclear Power Plants

  1. Andhra Pradesh already has the Kovvada nuclear park project for 6 1000MW reactors in Srikakulam under way
  2. However, Kovvada has seen some protests of the kind seen at Kudankulam, Mithi Virdi and Haripur
  3. Reasons: Many local residents are unwilling to part with land; Some have concerns over environmental hazards
  4. This is especially given that some of the sites identified for nuclear projects are in a seismically sensitive zone, and have seen tremors in the past
Jul, 21, 2016

A.P. set to be country’s nuclear power hub

  1. News: Russian-owned Rosatom will build its next phase of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh
  2. Earlier: Few weeks back, Govt had announced that U.S. company Westinghouse’s Nuclear Power Project (NPP), planned in Gujarat’s Mithi Virdi, is being moved to Andhra Pradesh
  3. Reason: With other States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra facing local protests over NPPs, the government is now pinning its mega plans for nuclear energy on coastal Andhra Pradesh
  4. Numbers: If all the projects under consideration from Russia, the U.S. and NPCIL were to actually go through, NPPs in Andhra could account for more than 30,000 MW of the Govt’s goal of 63,000 MW installed capacity by 2031
Jul, 09, 2016

BIS for solar water heaters

  1. News: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is working to make Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification compulsory for all solar water heaters installed in buildings
  2. This follows a BIS announcement on the quality standards for evacuated tube collector-based solar water heaters, the design of choice for such water heaters
  3. Background: The Indian government stopped subsidies for solar water heaters, leading to an increase in imports from China, which offered products up to 50% cheaper
  4. Domestic manufacturers say that the poorer quality of the Chinese products results in a higher replacement and repair cost
  5. Impact: Will stop the use of cheaper Chinese products that are being used to bypass the intention of rules set by certain states
  6. In order to comply with Karnataka’s compulsory installation rule of 100 litre solar water heater per building, cheap products are obtained, without considering whether it works or not
Jul, 08, 2016

Eight states to offer Rs 5,000-crore green-grid projects

  1. News: Eight states will issue tenders worth Rs 5,000 crore for projects in a renewable energy transmission network under Green Corridor Project
  2. The Grid: Can handle 30,000 Mw of renewable energy at present & an additional system for 10,000 Mw will be issued by September of which 50% has already been issued
  3. Quick fact: The country’s renewable energy capacity is 40,000 Mw, of which wind power’s share is 26,000 Mw and solar power’s 7,000 Mw
Jul, 06, 2016

Coal-based ethanol policy, coming soon

  1. Policy talks: The ministry of road transport and highways has initiated talks with the ministries of power, coal, petroleum, and agriculture to formulate a coal-based urea policy
  2. Coal-based urea: Would cost $60-75 per tonne as compared to $160 per tonne for natural gas-based urea
  3. Rationale: Coal production is surplus in the country and that additional fuel can be used for producing urea
  4. Benefit: Could ease the government’s subsidy outgo of Rs 45,000 crore on urea
Jul, 01, 2016

World Bank offers US$ 1 billion for India's solar mission

  1. News: The World Bank announced US$ 1 billion to support India’s ambitious solar programme
  2. World Bank’s largest financing of solar for any country in the world to date
  3. The commitment US$ 625 million financing for the installation of at least 40MW grid-connected solar rooftop projects
  4. The rest of the commitment would be for infrastructure for solar parks, solar and hybrid technologies and transmission lines
  5. The World Bank also signed an agreement to be the financial partner for the International Solar Alliance, led by India
Jun, 28, 2016

Renewable energy to soon get a separate trading platform

  1. News: A separate power trading platform is being jointly developed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Power Trading Corporation of India (PTC)
  2. Reason: Increasing share of renewable energy (RE) in the grid and the likelihood of it disturbing the existing power systems
  3. Trade: States with surplus Renewable Energy generation could sell and those ones which want to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) would get a platform to do so
  4. National Tariff Policy: Mandates that states have to meet part of their energy requirement from renewable sources
  5. RPO: Was launched in 2010 & makes it obligatory for distribution companies, open-access consumers and captive power producers to meet part of their energy needs through green energy
  6. Progress: During 2015-16, barring a few exceptions, none of the states has met its RPO, for fifth year in a row
  7. PTC: A joint venture of several entities with the government
Jun, 28, 2016

Centre asks states to set up biogas plants to provide clean fuel

  1. News: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has asked states to set up one lakh small biogas plants this year
  2. Objective: To provide clean gaseous fuel for cooking and organic bio-manure as a by-product
  3. Expected: Saving of 21.9 lakh LPG cylinder
Jun, 17, 2016

Draft wind-solar hybrid policy proves restrictive

  1. Context: Govt’s draft policy for wind and solar hybrid plants, released for public comments recently
  2. Aim: To facilitate hybridisation of existing solar or wind systems, besides new hybrid projects
  3. Comments: It is a good step, but restrictive as it puts a cap on the size of such units & also lacks in details relating to tariffs
  4. Restrictive: Hybrid capacity addition, for existing plants, must be limited to the sanctioned transmission capacity
  5. This could pose a problem for areas where transmission capacity is not enough to cater to the energy potential
  6. How? In wind farms with low turbine density, a significant solar potential could be tapped (even of the order of 500 kW to 1 MW), which would require additional transmission capacity
Jun, 11, 2016

Renewable energy capacities surpass hydro generation- II

  1. Thermal: The total capacity of the thermal sector stood at 2,11,420.40 MW
  2. Hydro: It suffers from multiple challenges, including non-availability of long-term financing
  3. Also the cost imposed by royalty power (from 12% to 36%) to be offered free to the state government & limited opportunities for the private sector
  4. This is potentially changing, as the central government has proposed to give policy attention to hydro power too
  5. Further, the government’s bilateral efforts with Bangladesh to implement cross-border transmission means that hydro-power from the north-eastern states can be delivered to the load centres cheaper than before
Jun, 11, 2016

Renewable energy capacities surpass hydro generation- I

  1. Context: The Central Electricity Authority data
  2. Finding: The renewable energy sector has for the first time surpassed hydro power generation
  3. Data: The total capacity of renewable energy sector increased to 42,849.38 MW, surpassing the total capacity of hydro power sector at 42,783.42 MW, out of the nation’s total installed capacity of a little over 3 lakh MW on April 30, 2016
  4. Reasons: The renewable energy investments in solar and wind have benefited from a strong central policy and several years of early-stage private sector investment, respectively
May, 19, 2016

Solar parks to come up on dam sites

  1. Context: Initiative for solar parks by the State Water Resources Department of Maharashtra state
  2. Solar parks will be made on the land which is available for different irrigation projects
  3. Also proposal of afforestation program on the land available with department
  4. Both projects would help to contribute in environment protection
May, 14, 2016

Wind energy developers must secure power grid connectivity

  1. Context: The Renewable Energy Ministry’s draft guidelines for the development of onshore wind power projects
  2. Ministry has sought comments from stakeholders until May 27
  3. Draft Rules: For setting up onshore wind projects ranging from land use permissions to metering and real-time monitoring to eventual decommissioning
  4. Positive: Rules are comprehensive in their scope
  5. Criticisms: Rules could also be over-prescriptive
  6. Rules lay the onus of securing grid connectivity and transportation on the developers
  7. This could dampen investor interest in the sector
Apr, 20, 2016

Outdated power grids hampering storage sector

  1. What? India’s outdated grid infrastructure is incompatible with the storage technology that private investors are looking to install
  2. Disadvantage: It is holding back the emergence of the electricity storage sector
  3. Need: Push for the adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will increasingly rely on power storage since supply from such sources is irregular
  4. Power storage facilities are critical for the government’s rural electrification programme as well
Apr, 15, 2016

Centre to create $1 bn fund for solar

  1. Context: Govt is looking to create a $1 billion equity fund for solar energy in the country
  2. Aim: To help new companies to come up for solar to become a movement
  3. Also, to make a transit from megawatt to gigawatt
  4. Govt wants to tap global financial institutions like the World Bank for this purpose
  5. Today, World Bank gives 5% of their money for renewable
Apr, 13, 2016

Renewable energy projects got loans of over Rs. 29,000 cr

  1. News: Banks and non-banking financial companies disbursed Rs.29,000 crore for renewable energy projects
  2. Background: In 2015, 40 major banks and NBFCs committed to provide large debt funding to renewable energy projects during the span of the next 5 years
  3. Some private banks in India have signed deals with development banks to provide loans at concessional rates
  4. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency is also providing loans at low rates following its recent agreements with international financial institutions
Apr, 08, 2016

Benefits of switching to LED bulbs

  1. News: According to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., shifting to LED bulbs could save an average family around Rs. 4,000 a year on their power bills
  2. Reason: Energy efficiency gains and lower replacement costs
  3. Benefits: The life expectancy of an LED bulb is 25,000 hours, compared to 8,000 hours for CFL bulbs and 1,200 hours for incandescent bulbs
  4. The country would save 100 billion units of electricity a year by switching over to LED
  5. Switching to LEDs also helps the govt. meet its carbon dioxide emission reduction targets
Mar, 26, 2016

India to be 100% e-vehicle nation

  1. Context: India plans to be a 100 % electric vehicle nation by 2030
  2. This would need monetary support from neither govt nor Indian citizens
  3. Instead power ministry is working on a scheme to give e-vehicles for zero down payment
  4. For these, people can pay out of their savings on expensive fossil fuels
Mar, 23, 2016

Waste-to-energy (w-t-e) gets investments

  1. Context: Private firms looking for guaranteed returns from micro-power plants are eying projects to generate electricity from municipal waste
  2. As many as 24 w-t-e projects to produce 233 MW are currently in different stages of construction
  3. About Rs.65,000 crore of public and private investments will flow into city waste management, cleanliness and w-t-e projects over the next 3 years
Mar, 12, 2016

Learn about UJALA

  1. Acronym: Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All
  2. Agency: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Ministry for Power
  3. It is the name given to LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme, which is currently running successfully in over 120 cities across India
  4. Achievement: EESL has distributed over 7.47 crore LED bulbs across the country
Mar, 08, 2016

Small wind energy gets boost

  1. Context: Centre offered interest rate rebate, flexibility in timing of tax payments to small wind producers who upgrade their plants
  2. Move is in line with govt’s wind re-powering policy
  3. Strategy: Stepping up power capacity by revamping existing projects rather than going for new ones
  4. Why? Acquiring land and getting green clearances for new projects may be time-consuming
Feb, 08, 2016

Clean energy sector sees 44% rise in new capacity addition

  1. The first 9-month period of this fiscal recorded 44% growth compared with the year-ago in the same period
  2. New Capacity Addition –  3,030 MW, during first three quarters of this fiscal
  3. Focus Area – Solar continues to be the fast-growing segment and has overtaken bio-power in total capacity
  4. Achievement – Wind power sector crossed the milestone of 25,000 MW in total capacity
  5. Total grid-installed renewable power capacity in the country – 38,822 MW
Feb, 05, 2016

$1.25 billion renewable energy fund

  1. Government is in the process of setting up a $1.25 billion fund, backed by state-owned and private institutions, to finance renewable energy projects
  2. The move will help in the scaling up of clean energy generation from 37 GW at present to 175 GW by 2022
  3. State-owned institutions such as Power Finance Corp. Ltd and Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd have already committed a total of $300 million to the fund
  4. This fund will make equity and mezzanine investments in renewable energy projects and will be modelled like the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF)
Dec, 01, 2015

$7-bn pledge for clean energy research

  1. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and other investors pledged $7 billion for R&D of clean energy.
  2. It was part of a larger initiative with world governments that promised to double spending on renewable energy research.
  3. He warned potential investors that new energy technologies take longer than IT or biotech to launch.
  4. The fund will support a wide range of technologies such as biofuels, carbon capture, high wind, fission, fusion, etc.
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