India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environment and energy issues in India.
July 18 – August 16, 2016
Heat stress to wipe billions off GDP in India, China
The massive economic and health losses that climate change is already causing across the world are detailed in six scientific papers published today. Perhaps most striking is the warning about large productivity losses already being experienced due to heat stress, which can already be calculated for 43 countries. The paper estimates that in South-East Asia alone “as much as 15% to 20% of annual work hours may already be lost in heat-exposed jobs.” And that figure may double by 2030 as the planet continues warming—with poor manual labourers who work outdoors being the worst affected.
Story continues here. (Climate home - July 20, 2016)
Climate Change: India Pitches for Transparency at Montreal Protocol Conference
India today pitched for the formation of guidelines for enhancing flexibility, developing methodologies and ensuring transparency in phasing out of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas, to limit global warming. Speaking on behalf of all developing countries, India made the proposal at the 38th meeting of the Open Ended Working Group of Parties to the Montreal Protocol here. "Parties across the developing and developed world have reiterated their commitment to moving away from high Global Warming Potential (GWP) HFCs for limiting increase in global warming. The key issue that the parties have started discussing is baseline for developing and developed countries," M K Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests said.
Officials from nearly 200 countries are gathered here to chalk out details of an agreement to cut the use of HFCs, used in heating and air conditioning, by amending the 1989 ozone-protection treaty. The meeting aims to draw schedules for countries to reduce HFC use and agree on financial support for developing nations to limit their use before a final summit in Kigali, Rwanda in October.
Story continues here. (Outlook - July 21, 2016)
NASA study finds global warming underestimated by nearly 20%
Almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how global temperatures were recorded, a new Nasa-led study has found. This explains why projections of future climate based solely on historical records give lower rates of warming than predictions from climate models.
Story continues here. (TOI – July 22, 2016)
Take steps to address adverse impact of climate change
State governments and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) should be aware about the reality of adverse impact of climate change and take necessary measures to address the same, Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gauba today said. Speaking on 'New Climate Economy' at a conference organised by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), he emphasised on the need for urban planning to be adequately climate sensitive in the context of rapid urbanisation taking place in the country. Gauba said though urban areas account for only 2 per cent of land, they account for 78 per cent of total energy consumption and over 60 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions which triggers climate change.
Story continues here. (Business standard – July 22, 2016)
Countries move closer to deal on cutting super-strength global warming gases
The landmark Paris Climate Agreement is on track to pass its first real test as governments in Vienna inch closer to an agreement to cut hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases that, if unchecked, would wipe out much of the carbon savings made elsewhere, such as the energy sector. Early in the meetings, the Parties agreed to language on finance, intellectual property, and linkages to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)—ozone depleting substances are already being phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Progress was later made on narrowing the range of baseline and consumption freeze dates for developing countries; however, there remains significant divergence between countries on the climate ambition of the agreement. HFCs are used in refrigerants and air-conditioning, sectors that are growing fast in developing countries. The compounds have global warming potentials (GWP) many hundreds to thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide. Countries are moving in the right direction but there is a huge amount of work to be done to finalise an ambitious amendment in Kigali, Rwanda in October.
Story continues here. (India climate dialogue – July 26, 2016)
Mumbai, far interiors to bear brunt of climate change
Maharashtra, including Mumbai, is set to get significantly warmer and wetter in the next few decades, according to projections by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which could have profound implications for crop growth, water resources, and disease. Temperature is expected to rise by 2030. But there will also likely be greater climatic variations across the state—which means different regions will have different experiences.
Story continues here. (TOI – July 26, 2016)
Global heat, sea level hit record highs in 2015
Global heat, greenhouse gases and sea levels all climbed to record highs last year, making 2015 the worst in modern times across a range of key environmental indicators, international scientists said Tuesday. A dire picture of the Earth's health is painted in the State of the Climate report, a peer-reviewed 300-page tome that comes out once a year and is compiled by 450 scientists from around the world. The record heat that the planet experienced last year was driven partially by global warming, and was exacerbated by the ocean heating trend known as El Nino, it said.
And global sea levels swelled to their highest point ever, about 70 millimeters (about 2.75 inches) higher than the 1993 average. Sea level is creeping up gradually around the globe, averaging about 3.3 millimeters per year, said the report. Some places in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean are seeing waters rise faster. Even though the current pace may appear slow, experts warn that sea level rise will accelerate in the coming decades as glaciers and polar ice caps melt, putting millions of lives at risk in coastal communities around the world.
Story continues here. (Times of India – August 2, 2016)
India’s Climate Warriors: Capturing Global Warming’s Human Face
Rising sea levels, disappearing lands and droughts in once-fertile regions: these increasingly common climate change phenomena devastate the lives of people who lie vulnerable in their wake. The human faces of climate change in India include, to name a few, the elderly who can’t escape the floods’ rushing waters, the agrarian women who, because of gender mores, feed their husbands and children with their dwindling food stores rather than themselves, and the girls who must now walk miles, rather than meters, in hopes that water might still run in a distant stream.
Those most severely impacted by climate change’s vicissitudes, the poor, live quietly with their struggles. The media barely do justice to the ravages these people face. Often, a passing reference to a World Health Organization revelation that children, women, the elderly and the poor will be hit hardest by climate change is the most “human” the news will get. Or reports of a tragic drought’s death tolls splash across the television for a few days, only to be quickly replaced by other breaking news.
Story continues here. (the quint – August 6, 2016)
Climate change could kill 1,60,000 people a year in India by 2050
As many as 1,60,000 people will die every year in India by 2050, due to decreased food production because of climate change, an Oxford University study has predicted. India ranks second in the mortality forecast after China, where as many as 2,48,000 are expected to die for this reason. Surprisingly, the US ranks fifth, after Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Worldwide, there would be 5,29,000 deaths due to climate-related factors midway this century. The study, which was published in the UK health journal Lancet in March, used models to estimate the health impacts due to shortages of food crops caused by changes in climate. It assessed the risk to human health caused by reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables, red meat consumption and changes in body weight. This could lead to deaths due to heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments.
Story continues here. (Scroll.in - August 9, 2016)
Solving malnutrition: Focus on jawar, bajra, ragi and kodo
An opportunity to address India’s continuing malnutrition problem. India loses about one million children under the age of five from malnutrition-related causes every year, IndiaSpend reported in June 2015. Anaemia among women is static at 48.1 per cent in India, one of the world’s worst-off (170th out of 185) nations, we reported in July 2016.
A chance to ensure food security in the eventuality of climate change-triggered drought, a likely scenario, IndiaSpend reported in December 2015. In the worst-case scenario for 2030, the number of people exposed to droughts worldwide could increase nine percent to 17 percent over a no-climate change scenario. Since millets and sorghum require less water than other crops—pearl and finger millet can make do with 28 percent of paddy’s rainfall needs—they are better adapted for current and future droughts. Nutritionally, millets are richer than wheat, rice.
Story continues here. (India New England News – August 17, 2016)
Govt plans to create 10 solar zones across India by 2021
New Delhi: The Indian government is aiming to create 10 solar zones across the country by 2021, which will each cover an area of 10,000 hectares of wasteland. India plans to set up 100,000 megawatt (MW) of solar power capacity by 2022 and the latest initiative is aimed at showcasing such zones as a flagship facility to encourage project developers and investors. In June 2015, the government increased India’s solar power target fivefold to 100,000 MW by 2022. The 10,000 hectares of land required for every solar zone could be government owned or privately owned wasteland, uncultivable or fallow land.
Story continues here. (live mint – July 21, 2016)
India Seeks Bids for 300 Megawatt of Solar Projects With Storage
India has invited its first-ever bids for solar energy projects that include storage as a requirement as part of a trial program aimed at making the renewable resource a more reliable source of power. Solar Energy Corp. of India, the implementing agency for clean-energy projects, sought bids for 300 megawatts of solar power to be built in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in an advertisement in a local newspaper on July 20. SECI is seeking bids for two projects of 50 megawatt each in Andhra Pradesh with a battery energy storage system of 5 megawatt/2.5 megawatt-hour attached. In Karnataka, it has invited bids for four solar projects of 50 megawatt each with the same storage specifications.
Story continues here. (Bloomberg – July 22, 2016)
Modi Lures India’s Top Fossil Fuel Companies to Back Solar Boom
India’s biggest energy companies are moving beyond their roots in fossil fuels to invest in renewables, backing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to build up alternatives to the most polluting forms of energy. Indian Oil Corp., a prominent refiner, along with Oil India Ltd., are working to build a 1-gigawatt solar farm in Madhya Pradesh, according to the state agency responsible for implementing energy policy. The oil companies join India’s largest conventional electricity generators like NTPC Ltd. and Tata Power Co., which are aiming to be the biggest players in clean energy.
India’s biggest oil explorer is also getting in on the game. “We already have some wind capacities, and now we want to position ourselves big in solar,” said Dinesh Kumar Sarraf, chairman of Oil & Natural Gas Corp. “Investments in renewable energy are not for mere demonstration, but also because of business reasons. We are working towards giving renewables a reasonable share in our overall business mix.”
Story continues here. (Bloomberg – July 22, 2016)
Railways aims to significantly reduce carbon footprints
New Delhi: Indian Railways, the largest energy consumer in the country, has set a target of harnessing 1,000 MW of solar energy and 15 MW of wind energy in the next four years as part of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. "We have undertaken steps to increase the use of clean energy to reduce emissions and in this regard we have set a target of harnessing 1,000 MW of solar and 150 MW of wind energy by 2020," said Railway Executive Director Sudhir Garg at the release of a report on 'Decarbonisation Indian Railways' here today. The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations and the Climate Policy Initiative in their reports have identified potential pathways to decarbonise the Railways by 2030.
Story continues here. (TOI - July 22, 2016)
Gamesa bags 100 MW wind energy projects from Orange Renewable
Gamesa, the renewable energy leader in India, has received turnkey orders from Orange Renewable for its upcoming wind projects in Maliya, Gujarat and in Gurmitkal, Karnataka. The company will deliver complete turnkey solutions for a 40 MW project in Gujarat and a 60 MW project in Karnataka with the supply of 20 units of G114-2.0 MW T106 and 30 units of G97-2.0MW T104 turbines, respectively. Both the projects are scheduled to be commissioned by March 2017.
Story continues here. (Business standard – July 27, 2016)
Solar solution for Barmer’s water woes
Jaisalmer: As part of harvesting solar energy for critical utilities, the state government is in the process of completing work on 70 solar tube wells in Barmer district under the Mukhyamantri Solar Adharit Nalkoop Yojana (MSANY). The project is being implemented by Rajasthan Electronics and Instrumentation Ltd and the firm has received a work order of Rs 11.91 crore for the same. For the district, reeling under acute power shortage, the project will prove to be a boon as water will be available round-the-clock from December. The tube wells will not only provide uninterrupted water supply to the community, but also irrigate farms. Considering the importance of the project, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) is closely monitoring it. According to PHED superintending engineer Nemaram Parihar, the project in Barmer district will be completed this year by December.
Story continues here. (TOI – August 1, 2016)
India's Total Power Generation Capacity Crosses 300 GW Mark
New Delhi: India's total installed power generation capacity has crossed the 300-GW mark, which includes 42 GW of renewable energy sources, including solar and wind. India's total power generation capacity was 3,03,118.21 MW as on June 30, 2016, which includes 42,848.43 MW, stated Power Minister Piyush Goyal in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha today. According to the statement, private sector's cumulative installed power generation capacity was 1,24,995.51 MW as on June 30, 2016 while central plants account for 76,296.76 MW and state capacities 101,825,94 MW. The minister also stated that the country has generated 12.01 billion units of electricity from renewable energy sources till June-end this fiscal while the output was 65.78 billion units in 2015-16 and 61.78 billion units in 2014-15. The target from clean sources in 2015-16 was 70 billion units.
Story continues here. (NDTV - August 1, 2016)
Green bonds: Nothing to write home about
Ask any CFO of a renewable energy company about ‘green bonds’, you will get an answer which may not vary even in language: “We are looking at it carefully.”
With every company worth the name “looking at” green bonds, it might give you an impression that Indian entities are about to dash abroad and come back with pockets stuffed with cash.
The reality, however, is the opposite. While globally green bonds are going great guns, Indian companies find no particular advantage in this mode of raising funds.
Because global climate funds have been assumed to be a big source for developing green projects in India, organisations such as the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a Delhi-based think-tank, have called for some government intervention.
Green bonds (or climate bonds) are debt instruments like any other, except that there is a condition that the funds raised shall be used only for ‘green projects’, such as renewable energy, energy-saving and fuel-efficiency.
Story continues here. (Hindu Business Line - August 2, 2016)
GE to invest $31 mn in Mytrah's wind power project in AP
GE Energy made its second invetsment in the Indian renewable space by investing $31 million in Mytrah Energy (India) Private Limited. Earlier it has invested $24 million in Welspun Renewable to fund its solar power project. The latest investment was made in Mytrah Vayu (Tungabhadra) Private Limited, which is a subsidiary of Mytrah Energy. The investment was made by the Guayama P R Holdings BV, an investment vehicle of GE Energy Financial Services. The investment would support the development of a 200 MW wind energy project in Andhra Pradesh. GE will invest up to 49% of the capital of MVTPL.
Story continues here. (Business Standard - August 4, 2016)
India Mulls Green Power Exchange to Spur Modi’s Renewable Target
As loss-laden power distribution companies delay millions of dollars in payments for clean-energy capacity, India is looking to create a dedicated green energy trading platform in a bid to give the renewable sector more selling options. The country’s largest power exchange, Indian Energy Exchange Ltd., is looking to roll out a dedicated platform for the trade of clean electricity in the next six months, Rajesh K. Mediratta, a director at the exchange, said in an interview in New Delhi. "Power purchase agreements with a long time period of 25 years won’t be viable for all of the 100 gigawatts of solar capacity that the country envisages," Mediratta said, adding that he will soon send the proposal to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, India’s power regulator. The push for a better way to buy and sell clean electricity comes as India anticipates an influx of renewable energy spurred on by government support. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to install 100 gigawatts of solar, 60 gigawatts of wind and 15 gigawatts of other types of clean energy by 2022 at an estimated cost of $200 billion.
Story continues here. (Bloomberg – August 9, 2016)
US, India agree to expand clean energy research work
The US and India have agreed to a $30m expansion of their clean energy research work. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) have each pledged to spend $1.5m annually for five years to study smart grid and energy storage technologies. Private sector players from both the countries will contribute the remaining $15m amount. The US and India launched the clean energy research project in 2009 and announced a $50m investment in solar power, energy efficiency and biofuels research in 2012.
Story continues here. (Clean Technology Business Review – August 11, 2016)
Off-grid solar can meet India’s power demand
The slow pace of capacity addition in the solar sector has created room for a variety of off-grid solar solutions to grow and provide electricity to those as yet not connected to the power grid, according to a private sector industry leader. “In solar, there are two parts – one is the government utility projects, and they are going super slow,” Nidhi Modi, executive director, RAL Consumer Products, the largest off-grid solar company in India, said in an interview. “They are targeting 12 GW a year of capacity addition and they are getting 6 GW a year. So they are heavily dependent on the off-grid solar industry.” Off-grid solar is increasingly being viewed as the way to bring sustainable and cheap lighting to the vast segments of India that are yet to be connected to the electricity grid, especially in difficult terrain.
“Over 300 million people in India don’t have access to the electricity grid and are living in complete darkness,” Ms. Modi added. “They live off kerosene lanterns, which are extremely harmful to health and often result in huge losses of life and property due to fires.” The coming together of various factors, both external and domestic, has meant that there are several types of household solar products entering the market, ranging from simple solar lanterns powered by in-built solar panels, to entire solar invertors that use rooftop solar panels.
Story continues here. (The Hindu – August 13, 2016)
Environmental Health and Governance
Air Pollution Causes 22% Strokes in India
Air pollution is considered a big environmental health risk by experts globally and data now shows that 22 per cent of the strokes in India can be attributed to ambient air pollution. For the first time, air pollution has emerged as one of the leading contributors to stroke burden worldwide, said the researchers. Ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution was defined in The Lancet study "as an annual average daily exposure to outdoor air concentration of PM2.5, more than 8.8 microgram per cubic metre of air". Globally, 29.2 per cent of the burden of stroke was attributed to air pollution, according to the study. The researchers estimated the burden of stroke by age and sex in 188 countries, from 1990 and 2013. Story continues here.
(Bangalore mirror – July 19, 2016)
1.6 million deaths caused due to pollution-related health issues
New Delhi: Health issues caused by air pollution led to approximately 16 lakh premature deaths in the country, the Lok Sabha was today informed. "As per Global Burden of Diseases Study in 2010, approximately 1.6 million premature deaths (under 70 years of age) are attributable to household and ambient air pollution in India," Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel said in a written reply.
Diseases that are attributed to air pollution include chronic respiratory diseases and pneumonia in children and asthma, which are treated at various public health facilities in the country, she said. On steps taken by the government to ensure availability of treatment facilities for air pollution and bring down the mortality rate due to it, Patel said, "A steering committee of experts was constituted in 2014 to assess the extent of the problem and suggest action plan to mitigate adverse health impacts."
Story continues here. (Economic times – July 22, 2016)
New energy policy also aims at air quality issues
The new national energy policy, likely to be finalised over the next ten weeks, also factors in concerns about the air quality in the country that has triggered judicial interventions such as the ban on diesel vehicles of certain engine capacities in the capital.
The NDA government had promised a new national energy policy to replace the integrated energy policy introduced by the UPA government, in the President’s address to Parliament in June 2014. “The draft policy is now ready and we are in touch with energy-related ministries to finalise the same,” a senior government official said. It is expected to be ratified by the cabinet in ten to twelve weeks’ time, the official said.
“We have taken a hard look at air quality concerns in the policy, not just because of one fuel or another—as it is not one sector’s responsibility alone,” the official said, adding that transport, power generation and the use of solid fuels for cooking, among other things, contribute to the air pollution. While a specific ministry is expected to frame policies for their own sector, the energy policy will outline an overarching strategy to address air quality concerns over the long-run.
Story continues here. (The Hindu - August 5, 2016)
Environment ministry to install five pollution sucking devices across Mumbai
The Maharashtra environment ministry has decided to install pollution-sucking devices at traffic junctions across Mumbai. The city will become the first to get such devices. According to the ministry, the technology has been jointly developed by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Mumbai, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), and E-square. "This device can suck pollution from 1,000 sqft of area around its installed location. We will identify the most polluted locations to install these devices," said environment minister Ramdas Kadam.
Story continues here. (dna India – August 8, 2016)
Gurgaon to get its second air quality monitoring station
Gurgaon: For real-time monitoring of ambient air quality, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) will soon set up one new monitoring station each in nine cities - Gurgaon, Panipat, Sonepat, Dharuhera, Bahadurgarh, Karnal, Kaithal, Yamunanagar and Faridabad.
Currently, there is only one pollution measuring station in Gurgaon, which is why the HSPCB is unable to monitor PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels - both markers of ambient air quality - in the city in real time. The new station will be set up in Manesar. The HSPCB said that for better and continuous monitoring of pollution, the data will be available online.
Story continues here. (TOI - August 12, 2016)
Study: lung cancer patients exposed to air pollution may have shorter survival times
We all know that air pollution is bad, so bad that it kills thousands of people each year. In India alone according to a Washington Post article published last month, about half a million people die every year due to outdoor air pollution. With that introductory paragraph, here’s a finding of a new study that may not surprise a lot of you readers: people with lung cancer may have shorter survival times when exposed to smog and other air pollutants. The main takeaway of the research is that the length of time that people with lung cancer live after diagnosis varies depending on their exposure to air pollution. Researchers claim that the median survival for people diagnosed with early stage of lung cancers who were in areas with high levels of regional pollution was about three years shorter than people who lived in places with lower pollution levels.
Story continues here. (stgist – August 11, 2016)
List of Vehicles Back on Sale After the Lifting of the Diesel Ban in the NCR
In what will be a huge measure of relief, the Supreme Court has finally lifted the ban on diesel vehicles with a capacity of 2,000cc and above in Delhi NCR. Initially, only a handful of manufacturers were said to have been hit by the ban, a little digging on our part revealed that there was a significant number of models and manufacturers who were adversely affected by the diesel ban. It has been a little over 8 months since the Supreme Court upheld the ban proposed by the National Green Tribunal on the registration of the diesel cars with a capacity of 2,000cc and above in the NCR region. But do bear in mind that there will be a 1 per cent Green Cess that will be levied on sales of such cars. Although, most manufacturers are yet to officially announce a new pricing structure for the models which fell under purview of the ban, but be rest assured that the car that you have been looking at, might become a tad costlier but can be purchased and registered nonetheless.
Story continues here. (NDTV - August 16, 2016)