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India Green News: Renewable and pollution initiatives get a boost; U.S. - India natural gas conversation continues

Grace Gill Qayoumi

Posted June 13, 2013

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June 4th – 10th, 2013

India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India

Climate & Energy

India basks in solar glory

From Ladakh in the north to Madurai in the south, solar power is turning India into a hot destination for clean energy investments from across the globe.

The solar photovolatic power plant at Tangtse, Durback block, Ladakh. Located 14,500 AMSL in the Himalayas, the plant supplies electricity to a clinic, a school and 347 houses for around five hours every day.  The good news comes at a time when money flow into low-carbon economies is falling across the world. The investment is all the more welcome because India has suffered its lowest economic growth (5%) in a decade.   "The investment in clean technologies increased by 11% in 2012 in India, second largest after China," planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said at the recent clean energy ministerial forum in Delhi.

With around 44% of Indian villages without regular power connection and peak time power deficit of 8-10%, solar power is a viable option for policymakers.  In just five years, states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which get more than 300 days of bright sun in a year, have made the most from solar revolution. Gujarat and Rajasthan have increased their solar generation by over five times in this period, while other states have more than doubled their capacity. Around 700 million square hectares in India have solar installations.

(Hindustan Times, 06/04/13)

Ministry for renewable energy reaches out to Gurgaon industrialists

GURGAON: Around 150 local industry representatives were in attendance at the workshop on solar technology, organized jointly by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

With the focus on emerging solar technologies — particularly a new of form called concentrated solar technology (CST) which is meant to be used for industrial heating systems — the recent workshop was the first such event this year, aiming to popularize green energy among the industrial and commercial consumers.

"The objective of the event was to forge a road map to embark on the use of solar power and its potential to use hybrid technologies, setting the stage for larger renewable energy penetration," said a CII representative.

According to an MNRE director, Dr R P Goswami, the ministry is planning to spend some Rs 600 crore on solar subsidies in the coming days. Tax rebate on CST, for one, has been set at 30% across the country. "The ministry is providing support through nodal state agencies and the subsidy is reimbursed after the solar heating system is set up by the consumer. We are promoting domestic use of solar power in a big way," he said. 

(The Times of India, 06/08/13)

Government plans to boost renewable power in India

Bangalore, June 8: With the population of India currently standing at 1,241,491,160, the demand to tap the alternative sources of energy for power generation increases. Although India is presently positioned as the fifth largest producer of energy globally, power lags are not an unknown scenario in the country. A look at the World Bank Report (2010) on the percentage of population having access to electricity clearly states the above-mentioned fact. As per the report, approximately 33.7 percent of the Indian population is yet to receive electricity.

Going by the statistics, provided by Corporate Catalyst India in its brief report on ‘Power and Energy Industry in India', almost 55 percent of the total energy generated in India is based on coal, 10 percent on gas, 26 percent on hydro, 3 percent on nuclear, 1 percent on Diesel and just 3 percent on renewable energy resources.

Evidently, the country banks more upon non-renewable sources of energy rather than on renewable energy resources, which essentially means it would soon complain power problems once the non-renewable sources deplete in the next few years.

However, having realized the impending situation, the Indian government is leaving no stones unturned to save the sector; add to it the increasing concerns over the adverse effects of Green House. Certain private organizations too have joined hands with the government to explore the possibility of using renewable resources as a source of energy generation.

Off late, there has been an increasing thrust on research and development of the renewable sector, which has culminated into projects like The National Solar Mission, under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, envisaging an addition of 20,000 MW of solar capacity addition by 2022. This is a strategic move on the part of the Government, especially when the current installed capacity of renewable energy alone stands at 12,683 MW, of which wind energy contributes 11807 MW, Solar 10 MW, and Biomass Biofuel 866 MW. Similar projects include the allocation of 35,000 km2 area of the Thar desert, which is sufficient to generate 70 GW to 2,100 GW of energy per year; the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which plans to generate 1,000 MW of power by 2013; the Matrimandir solar power project and many more.

With these projects in the pipeline, India can hope to stand a chance to overcome the huge power lag that it is facing currently. Moreover, it can also contribute in the global efforts of making the environment green.

(One India News, 06/08/13)

Climate change being felt by Hyderabad denizens: Survey

HYDERABAD: Even as the debate on climate change and global warming rages on, several Hyderabadis are convinced that the climate is changing and directly affecting their lives.

A survey conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), whose results were released this week, revealed that 60% of the total respondents in the city strongly believed that climate change is happening. While in the unemployed category, 75% perceived climate change, 69% in the salaried group felt the same. Around 34% of housewives surveyed in the TERI Environmental Survey-2013 reported experiencing a huge change in temperature, followed by change in wind pattern in recent years.

In an interesting finding, the survey revealed that 64% of the respondents within the primary schooling group were aware of climate change. With regard to knowledge about the policies addressing climate change, respondents felt that policies exist but are not implemented well or are inadequate for tackling the issue. Only a few said that there is no existing policy on climate change.

(The Times of India, 06/07/13)

U.S. – India Cooperation

Lawmakers 'energize' US-India ties talking natural gas

WASHINGTON: A Texas Congressman urged Washington to dump a treacherous Pakistan, be wary of a reckless China, and forge strong energy- and security-based ties with New Delhi, as a group of seven Indian MPs representing six states and five political parties began an upbeat US visit ahead of high-level engagements between the two countries.

Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting New Delhi on June 24 for the annual US-India Strategic Dialogue, which will be followed up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in September at President Obama's invitation.

Any suggestion that things had cooled off between US and India was dismissed by lawmakers from both sides at an event hosted by the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation at which they spoke glowingly about the prospects ties re-energized by, well, energy exports and security and defense engagement. Ted Poe, whose Congressional district includes the country's energy capital Houston, vigorously advocated supply to India of American natural gas, now bountiful in the US after new discoveries and technological breakthroughs, as part of new security calculus between Washington and New Delhi, notwithstanding some free trade wrinkles that need to be ironed out.

(The Times of India, 06/05/13)

Environmental Governance & Health

Strict measures to check air pollution

SURAT: Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) is set to introduce strict measures to bring air pollution in Surat city under control. Top officials of GPCB are reviewing a plan to amend the existing measures in order to make them more stringent for implementation in the next few weeks.

The Diamond City has witnessed a spurt in air pollution due to a very high density of vehicles and shifting back of gas based industries to solid fuel base. "Today energy experts are trying to come up with answers to the challenge posed by solid fuel usage in developing countries. The GPCB is strengthening its monitoring network and insisting that the industries strengthen their air pollution control equipment," said Hardik Shah, member secretary of the GPCB.

"When we look at the air quality in Surat, sulphur and nitrogen levels are generally within acceptable range but particulate matter (PM) is much higher," said Anil Patel an official with GPCB. Presence of high amount of dust particles in the air is due to the vehicular, industrial and construction related pollution.

Officials said that GPCB will ask the urban local bodies to take steps against contractors who adopt erroneous techniques during construction that causes pollution and spread dust particles in the air. They said that the high density of vehicular population is the prime cause of high air pollution in the city.

(The Times of India, 06/07/13)

For more news on the issues we care about, visit our India News archive or read our other International blogs.

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