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India Green News: Policy shift can help reduce subsidies to renewable projects by 78%, says study; Crack down on polluting vehicles: Delhi High court

Kristina Johnson

Posted March 28, 2014

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March 20th - March 26th  

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

Climate Change

Drought-like situation imminent in Kerala state

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though not indicated as El Nino effect, soaring temperatures and a likely drop in summer showers could lead to a drought-like situation in Kerala, according to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) officials. 

A state action plan for disaster preparedness has been chalked out after the state emergency operations centre here issued a drought alert to all the district authorities of the state.

"El Nino is the warm ocean water temperature that develops off the Western Coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean. The El Nino phase is normally neutral in India, but rising temperatures and likely drop in rain this summer could be indicative of a drought-like situation, mostly in northern parts of Kerala," IMD director K Santhosh here told TOI. 

(The Times of India, 03/25/2014)

Climate change to disrupt food supplies, brake growth: UN report

OSLO: Global warming will disrupt food supplies, slow world economic growth and may already be causing irreversible damage to nature, according to a UN report due this week that will put pressure on governments to act. 

A 29-page draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will also outline many ways to adapt to rising temperatures, more heatwaves, floods and rising seas.

“The scientific reasoning for reducing emissions and adapting to climate change is becoming far more compelling,” Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told Reuters in Beijing.

(Live Mint, 03/23/2014)

BASIC Nations to Discuss Climate Change

NEW DELHI: Representatives of four major emerging economies will meet in New Delhi next week to try and build a common platform for an all-important meeting in Paris next year that will try to come up with a new global agreement on climate change.

The meeting of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group on 23-24 March in New Delhi follows the conference of parties (CoP) on climate change held in Warsaw last year.

At the Warsaw CoP in November, the poorest developing countries belonging to the Group of 77 (G-77) lent their support to the position taken by the world’s richest countries that want large emerging nations such as India and China to do more to combat climate change.

G-77 countries include some of the world’s poorest as well as smallest that could be overwhelmed by the effects of climate change.

On Friday, Prodipto Ghosh, a member of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s council on climate change, said that it is important for the BASIC group to coordinate its position.

“They also need to strategize on how to take along the G-77 with a view to responding to various proposals under discussion and also to see if they can formulate proposals that they can present jointly as the BASIC group,” he said.

(Live Mint, 03/22/2014)

Energy

India renewables budget takes big hit

 NEW DELHI: India’s Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is to have its budget for the coming year slashed.

For the financial year of 2014-15 the MNRE has been budgeted INR441 crore (US$72 million). In the last financial year, the MNRE was provided a budget of INR1,500 crore for renewable energy initiatives (US$246 million), but only ended up disbursing INR426 crore (US$69 million) of that by the end of the financial year.

According to analyst firm, Bridge to India the finance ministry has taken the disbursement level for 2013-14 as a starting point for the forthcoming year and offered MNRE a much lower allocation.

Climate Parliament, a cross-party group of India’s pro renewables politicians, said there was “a significant gap between allocation and reality” in MNRE’s budget last year.

(PV Tech, 03/20/2014)

 Policy shift can help reduce subsidies to renewable projects by 78%, says study

NEW DELHI: India’s ambitious target of doubling renewable energy capacity to 55,000 MW by 2017 needs a shift in policies for these projects to become viable, according to a study by the Climate Policy Initiative and the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business. “Long-term, debt-related policies are more cost-effective than the existing policies,” according to the study.

The paper says that for wind energy a loan at 5.9 per cent interest with a tenor extension of 10 years could cut the total subsidies (from Central and State Governments as well as tax sops) by 78 per cent compared to the most cost-effective version of the generation-based incentive of ₹2.03/unit.

“Unsubsidised renewable energy is still 52-129 per cent more expensive than conventional power,” the study notes, adding that unfavourable debt terms (high interest rates, short tenor and variable rate of interest), raise the cost of renewable energy by 24-32 per cent compared to similar projects in the US.

Structure of incentives

India is estimated to have a total energy capacity of about 200 GW currently and the country’s renewable energy potential is pegged at 150 GW.

The study notes that the structure of incentives under various renewable policies is an area of concern since they give incentives for capacity creation and not for energy production.

This, the study notes, can be misused. “An interest subsidy is not provided in a single period; rather it is spread out over the loan period of 10 years. Hence, it shows high potential for incentivising production,” the paper says. Extended-tenor debt has the highest subsidy-recovery potential, the study says.

(The Hindu Business Line, 03/24/2014)

Surat moves towards becoming a solar city

SURAT: The Diamond City will start producing nearly 3.35 lakh units of solar power per annum from next month. Solar roof top panels with a capacity of generating 1,250 kilowatt (kw) are functional at 15 places.

Surat is to become one of the solar cities in India under the solar mission of Union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).

Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) started production of solar power last April by installing 500 kw solar panels atop Science Center and has produced 1.35 lakh units of electricity in one year.

Roof top panels have been installed at Katargam water works, eight water distribution centres, Varachha and Limbayat zone office, Narmad library building, SMIMER College and SMC main building at Mugalsarai. Together they have a capacity of 750kw.

"Solar panels at all these places are under the testing phase and will become operative by April 1. The production of electricity from these places will be directly fed to distribution grid of Torrent power which is the energy regulator here. We will be paid Rs 11.57 per unit as decided under MoU with Torrent," said Jatin Shah, city engineer with SMC. This solar power generation will save SMC nearly Rs 45 lakh.

"We are planning to expand our solar power generation capacity to 3,000 kw by the end of 2015," said Shah. SMC aims to achieve its goal of producing more than 90 per cent of its energy requirements through non-conventional sources by 2015-16. Industries will have to be persuaded to produce green energy as SMC's green energy production constitutes only a very small part of the city's total requirements.

(The Times of India, 03/27/2014)

Separate policy to aid PSUs in solar sector on the cards

CHENNAI: To cater to the increase in interest among public sector undertakings (PSUs) to set upsolar/wind power projects, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is considering a separate scheme/policy for PSUs. 

"There is a lot of interest and these are cash-rich companies, so there is a proposal for a separate scheme under which public sector companies can invest. However, it is still in the discussion stage," said Bharath Reddy, senior manager (PV), Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a government body set up to promote solar power development in India. 

Almost every PSU has plans for wind and solar projects--more solar than wind. Companies like ONGC, BHEL, NTPC are investing big bucks to get into renewable energy. While projects by private power producers are in capacities of about 50MW or 100 MW, PSUs are working on large plans. 

"PSUs can be a great push for solar, with the kind of balance sheet and bandwidth they have, they can set up big plants in the range of 500-1000 MW in a quick span of time. Many of the PSUs and other government entities are sitting on huge land banks and utilising them for setting up solar power plants can be a great idea," Anil Jain, managing director, Refex Energy Ltd, said.

(The Times of India, 03/25/2014)

Solar developers rue ‘poor quality’ of domestic cells

CHENNAI: India-made solar cells are of poor quality, less efficient and more expensive than imported cells, solar power project developers have said in a letter to the government.

They have also said that although cell manufacturers claim they have the capacity to produce more than 800 MW of cells, in reality only about 150 MW is available — as many units are shut either due to financial constraints or because of outdated equipment.

The National Solar Energy Federation of India has sent the letter to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The federation is a body of all stakeholders in the solar industry, and includes manufacturers too. SECI is a public sector company recently set up to drive solar power in India.

(Hindu Business Line, 03/25/2014)

Environmental Health & Governance

Crack down on polluting vehicles: High court

NEW DELHI: Ensure you have a 'pollution under control' (PUC) certificate for your vehicle or be ready to cough up a fine. The Delhi high court on Wednesday ordered the transport department and traffic police to launch a drive to ensure that city vehicles comply with emission norms and have valid pollution certificates. 

Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice S Mridul passed the order on a PIL which alleged that nearly 60 lakh vehicles in Delhi were plying without proper PUCs, causing pollution and damaging the environment. It sought strict implementation of PUC certification provisions to improve the city's air quality.

(The Times of India, 03/27/2014)

Electric van rickshaws mooted to replace polluting ones

KOLKATA: The climate adaptation wing of WWF-India is currently working on a pilot project to transform van rickshaws, a highly polluting and illegal commuter and goods carrier popularly used in semi-urban and rural Bengal, into an environment-friendly and legitimate mode of transport. 

"We are working towards a viable alternative to the mechanized van rickshaws that currently run on diesel and kerosene and are extremely polluting. Battery operated electric van rickshaws have already undergone road trials for a year. They are both versatile and viable. 

(Times of India, 03/20/14)

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

This compilation of the India Green News was authored by Nehmat Kaur.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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