India Green News: Government Initiatives on Renewables and Climate Change; Air Pollution Threatens Health

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

Compiled by Ariel Cooper

January 1st - January 7th, 2015


Coastal cities will be hit hard by climate change: Pachauri

Cities like Vijayawada which are close to coastline will be hit hardest by effects of climate change, according to Rajendra K Pachauri, Director General of New Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

The average sea level will rise impacting the people, more particularly fishermen, living on the coast. Shortage of food and drinking water, rise in poverty and displacement of people could be possible, he said delivering the 10{+t}{+h}Jandhyala Dakshina Murthi memorial lecture here on Sunday.

It is human activities that directly induce global warming. Over the period 1900 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 metres. Global greenhouse gas emissions growth between 2000 and 2010 has been larger than in the previous three decades. Energy production remains the prime driver of growth in emissions, with the energy sector accounting for 35 per cent of total emissions globally, he said.

Sea level will continue to rise if the trend of global warming has not been effectively curbed and the temperature rises two degrees, which is higher than pre-industrial times.

(The Hindu - January 5th, 2015)

Barack Obama visit ideal for Indo-US energy cooperation: Expert

WASHINGTON: Ahead of President Barack Obama's trip to India, a top US energy expert has said the upcoming visit is a "golden opportunity" for the two nations to join hands in the energy sector and address the key issue of climate change.

Obama is scheduled to visit India to attend the annual Republic Day celebrations on January 26 as its Chief Guest at the invitation of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Energy is likely to be a major part of the discussion between the two leaders, said Raymond Vickery, who served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade development in the Clinton Administration, where he was responsible for India in the Department's Big Emerging Markets initiative.

"I have no doubt that the (US) president coming as the Chief Guest for the Republic day on January 26 is a golden opportunity for the US and India to come together on this (energy sector)," Vickery, who recently wrote a book "India Energy: The Struggle for Power" told PTI in an interview.

(The Economic Times - January 6th, 2014)

Four new missions to boost response to climate change

New Delhi: Seeking to broaden India's response to climate change, the government will soon add at least four new 'missions' to the National Action plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), including one to promote wind energy, and another to build preparedness to deal with impacts on human health.

A programme for more effective management of India's coastal resources and another to harness energy from waste is also slated to be launched.

Currently, eight 'missions' are operational, each of which is a sectoral response to the impacts of climate change. Three of them ­- on solar energy, afforestation and energy efficiency - seek to slow down the growth of India's emissions. Another three - on agriculture, water and Himalayan eco-systems - are about initiating measure to adapt to the effects of climate change. The remaining two - on sustainable habitat and strategic knowledge - are service missions and seek to create more knowledge on useful climate responses.

The Wind Mission is modelled on the National Solar Mission which seeks to increase the share of renewable energy in India's energy mix. The Solar Mission has been one of the most important components of the NAPCC as it has the maximum umpact on slowing down the growth of India's greenhouse gas emissions. The government recently enhanced the target of electricity production under the solar Mission from the original 20,000 MW by 2022 to 100,000 MW.

(The Indian Express, January 3rd, 2015)


Major Subsidy Revisions For Rooftop Solar In India

Bogged down by subsidy dispersal issues, and taking a cue from falling prices in the solar market, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has decided to limit consumers who can avail subsidy benefits for installation of rooftop solar power plants. The Ministry has also indicated that it might be readying itself to reduce the quantum of available subsidy.

This one is pure logic. Consumers who are paying higher tariff for conventional power and for whom solar rooftops are viable even without any subsidy, will from now on not be able to avail subsidy benefit. The rate of solar power announced by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) will be the benchmark for deciding who can or cannot receive the aid.

In doing so, the notification also points out that a number of incentives are already available to consumers. This includes -- accelerated depreciation for industries and commercial establishments, net metering, and state-specific subsidies across the country.

In a major decision, MNRE has indicated that it could also reduce the subsidy from the current 30% to 15%. A detailed notification is expected to be released in the near future. The Ministry has cited limited availability of funds as a major reason for these revisions. The Ministry has prioritised sectors which can claim the subsidies -- check the notification for more details.

(Clean Technica - January 4th, 2015)

India's Modi raises solar investment target to $100 bln by 2022

NEW DELHI/BANGALORE: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up his target for solar energy as he bets on renewables to help meet rising power demand and overcome the frequent outages that plague Asia's third largest economy, a senior official told Reuters.

India gets twice as much sunshine as many European countries that use solar power. But the clean energy source contributes less than 1 percent to India's energy mix, while its dependence on erratic coal supplies causes chronic power cuts that idle industry and hurt growth.

Modi now wants companies from China, Japan, Germany and the United States to lead investments of $100 billion over seven years to boost India's solar energy capacity by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW), said Upendra Tripathy, the top official in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

That would raise solar's share of India's total energy mix to more than 10 percent. In Germany, a leader in renewable energy, solar accounted for about 6 percent of total power generated in 2014.

India had earlier set an investment target of $100 billion for the next five years for all types of renewable energy, with wind taking up two-thirds of the total. In an interview, Tripathy said Modi's new solar target was ambitious, "but if you do not have a higher goal, you will not achieve anything".

(Reuters - January 2nd, 2015)

Haryana makes solar power must for all buildings

GURGAON: The Haryana government has decided to usher in the New Year with one of the biggest pushes for solar power in the country. The state has made it mandatory for all buildings on plot size of 500 square yards or more to install rooftop solar power systems by September 2015.

The order will be applicable to private bungalows, group housing societies, builder apartments, malls, offices, commercial complexes, schools, hospitals -- any building, new or old, that meets the plot size criteria.

The government will offer a 30% subsidy on installation costs on "a first-come-first-served" basis, which means it would depend on availability of funds.

The order, passed by the department of renewable energy, is in line with the state's solar power policy framed in September 2014, officials said. Its implementation will help the power-hungry state augment generation and ease pressure on its distribution network that's prone to breakdowns, particularly in Gurgaon where demand is very high.

The minimum solar power capacity to be installed is 1 kilo Watt or 5% of a building's connected load, whichever is higher. A 1 kW plant can generate up to 4.5 units of electricity a day, enough to power three fans, seven tubelights and a cooler for four to five hours, said Sandeep Yadav, project officer of the state's department of renewable energy.

(The Times of India - January 1st, 2015)


Oil Slump heightens Pollution challenge from Delhi to Shanghai

As the plunge in oil prices filters through to lower costs at petrol pumps, more vehicles will be on the roads adding to the smog, warn researchers.

Hong Kong/Mumbai/New Delhi: A brisk walk in India's capital New Delhi on Christmas Eve was rated 'hazardous' to health, while a similar stroll in the Chinese city of Shanghai was ranked 'unhealthy.' Two of Asia's biggest cities with the same problem: Air pollution.

This year, it could get worse. As the plunge in oil prices filters through to lower costs at the petrol and diesel pump, more cars, buses and trucks will be on the roads adding to the smog, warns researcher Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi.

The lower oil price brings the problem, but also holds a solution, she says.

"The need of the hour is not to fully pass on the benefits of falling crude oil prices to the consumers, but to create a fund that can be used in building infrastructure to produce cleaner fuel and also implement better emission norms."

Brent crude, a benchmark for more than half of the world's oil, dropped 48% last year causing pump prices to fall by as much as 14% in India and 23% in China.

In November, both countries acted to try and slow the price decline by raising taxes on transportation fuels.

India increased taxes on petrol and diesel, the fuel blamed for the worst of Delhi's air pollution, twice again since November. China raised taxes on a range of fuels, including petrol and diesel.

(Livemint - January 7th, 2015)

Sorry children, school won't shut on bad air days

Even as it is acknowledged that spurt in vehicle population has negatively impacted the air quality in the national capital, the Centre shot down a proposal to declare a holiday in all Delhi schools on Days when air pollution levels are high.

The government also opposed directives to limit the number of vehicles on roads by issuing orders that private cars ply only on alternate days and also restrict the number of government vehicles. It said that this was not an "effective and feasible option".

The submission came in a joint affidavit of the Ministries of Environment and Forest, Road Transport and Highways, and Petroleum and Natural Gas, in response to issues raised in a report by the Environment Pollution control Authority (EPCA).

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu in November had asked the government to have its ministries concerned deliberate on the contentions regarding the depleting air quality in Delhi and respond to suggestions mooted by senior advocate Harish Salve, who is the amicus curiae in the PIL.

The EPCA, in collaboration with the Centre for Science and Environment, had listed out various measures to control pollution in the city. It had urged the court to order closure of schools on days when pollution levels are so high that they are considered harmful to health.

(The Indian Express - January 7th, 2015)