INDIA GREEN NEWS: Solar Power Capacity Crosses 4,000 MW as 100 GW Target Approved; SunEdison to Invest $15 Billion by 2022; Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan a Key Example for Sendai Framework

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

Compiled by Morgan Capilla, India Initiative MAP Fellow

From June 6 to June 18, 2015


Solar power at 4,000 MW, Rajasthan in the lead

India's solar installed capacity has crossed the 4,000 Mw mark. With close to 1,128 Mw of projects, Rajasthan has taken the lead ahead of all other states. It has elbowed out Gujarat, which has 957 Mw of solar power projects, from the top-slot for the first time. Following closely behind are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

By December, an additional 1.7 Gw is likely to be added, said a study by Bridge to India, a leading consultancy firm monitoring foreign investment in Indian renewable energy space. The report said, with 2.7 Gw of expected capacity addition in 2015, India might surpass Germany and secure a position in the global top five, for new-yearly capacity addition.

(Business Standard - June 6, 2015)

Government of India officially approves 100GW solar target

India has officially approved its well-publicised 100GW by 2022 solar capacity target after a meeting of India's Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The target, which is five times the original 20GW target under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), will include 40GW Rooftop and 60GW large and medium scale grid-connected solar power projects.

It will require total investment of INR6 trillion (US$94 billion).

The Government listed a number of measures it has been pushing various Ministries to support, including building green energy corridors, using satellite to identify transmission infrastructure, setting up parks for domestic manufacturing of modules, and raising tax-free solar bonds among other schemes.

(PV-Tech - June 18, 2015)

CCEA approves settings up over 2,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV power projects

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for setting up of over 2,000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on Build, Own and Operate basis by Solar Power Developers (SPDs) with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under Batch-III of Phase-II of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

This would help in the creation of additional 2000 MW capacity of Grid-connected solar PV power generation projects, employment generation of about 12,000 people in rural and urban areas, and reduction of about 3.41 Million T of CO2 emissions into the environment every year.

This will also facilitate to create employment and infrastructure in the States. Installation of 2000 MW Solar PV plants will generate about 3,320 Million Units per year, which caters power to almost one Million Households.

(Business Standard - June 17, 2015)

SunEdison to Invest $15 Billion in India by 2022

NEW DELHI--SunEdison Inc. plans to invest $15 billion in India by 2022, a top executive said, as the renewable-energy company seeks to deepen in its foothold in a country where power producers have struggled to meet demand.

"We believe much of the growth in renewable energy in the next 15 years will be from emerging markets, and much of it will be from India and China," said Pashupathy Gopalan, SunEdison's top Asia executive.

SunEdison intends to develop solar and wind projects with a total power-generation capacity of 15 gigawatts, Gopalan said.

(Market Watch - June 7, 2015)

India courts solar investors with dollar contracts plan

The government of Narendra Modi is accelerating its efforts to generate a substantial share of electricity from the sun, setting aside land, building transmission lines and this month floating a plan to attract foreign investors with supply contracts denominated in dollars rather than rupees.

Solar developers say the introduction of such contracts, which would protect investors from the expected depreciation of the rupee over the next 25 years, would overcome one of the last remaining obstacles to new investments and cement India's position as the next big destination for renewable energy groups.

According to a draft policy document seen by the Financial Times, the idea is to overcome the problem of high rupee-dollar hedging costs and its unavailability for longer tenures, while taking advantage of the low cost of US dollar debt (typically at 4-5 per cent interest rates, compared with 12-14 per cent for domestic rupee debt).

(The Financial Time - June 17, 2015)

India to build green energy corridors

The Indian government is setting up green energy "corridors" to transmit clean energy from the country's leading renewable power states to those with high electricity demands.

Power minister Piyush Goyal announced the INR380 billion (US$6 billion) plan in a speech to mark India's achieving a record low energy shortfall of 3.6% in the last year.

Consultancy firm Bridge to India founder and director Tobias Engelmeier told PV Tech that the government is building these "new evacuation transmission lines" specifically in states where renewable energy plants are on the rise, particularly the "solar states" of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and possibly Gujarat. Such transmission infrastructure will be connected to main centres of energy consumption including Delhi and the state of Maharashtra.

(PV Tech - June 8, 2015)


India's heatwave a lesson for Sendai Framework

Bangkok - India's deadly heatwave shows that countries need to switch from disaster management to managing the risks, in line with the new Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, according to one of the country's leading experts on development.

"The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction cannot be implemented in Asia without addressing the increasing risk of heatwave. Any Regional Implementation Plan for Asia must draw from the Ahmedabad experience. No national landscape of risk can be drawn out in Asia without including heatwave risk," Mr. Mihir R. Bhatt, Head of the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute.

While the overall is bleak, the northwestern city of Ahmedabad, where Mr. Bhatt's institute is based, has emerged as a role model for curbing the impact of heatwaves.

Ahmedabad's Heat Action Plan is exactly the kind of measure called for in the Sendai Framework, a 15-year global roadmap agreed by UN member states at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March. Addressing the health impacts of natural hazards is a key part of the framework.

The Indian Institute of Public Health and the Natural Resources Defence Council are working hand in hand to spread Ahmedabad's methods to other cities. Not only because of the heatwave - such efforts also help to improve public health more broadly.

(Prevention Web - June 12, 2015)

A Cool Roof Innovation to Make Heat Waves More Bearable

Recent deaths in India show that during extreme heat waves, access to air conditioning can be a matter of life and death.

With heat waves increasing in frequency owing to the impacts of climate change, that's a problem for the billion-plus people without access to reliable electricity--or those anywhere who can't pay for the power it takes to run an air conditioner.

Cool roofs--roofing materials that reflect sunlight away from their surface--are one way to lower indoor temperatures and cooling costs.

(Take Part - June 11, 2015)

Experts to chalk out plan to tackle rising pollution in Delhi

NEW DELHI: At a time Delhi is grappling with deteriorating air quality, experts from across the country are coming together to prepare an action plan to improve the scenario.

Around 100 experts from the scientific and the academic communities would discuss threadbare the circumstances that led to the situation and try to formulate short-term as well as long-term policies and solutions in this regard.

The report prepared at the end of the day-long meet would be handed over to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. It is being organised by the Indian Association for Air Pollution Control (IAAPC).

(The Economic Times - June 16, 2015)


The Heat is On: Even Longer and Stronger Predicted for India

With more than 2,300 dead in extremely hot weather across India, a recent Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) study predicts more intense and longer heat waves, more often and earlier in the year in future. In a changing climate, newer areas, including large swathes of southern India and both coasts will be severely hit, resulting in more heat stress and deaths, said the study, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

"From climate model projections, we have pointed out that there is a possibility of high occurrences of heat waves in South India in future," says Subimal Ghosh, associate professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-B, and one of the paper's authors.

Such a forecast is in line with global and Indian studies. Other recent assessments have predicted that intense heat waves will grow with rising global temperatures, up by 0.9 degrees Celsius since the start of the 20th century.

(The New Indian Express - June 13, 2015)

Climate change causing a headache for Assam tea growers in India

Trouble is brewing in the plantations of Assam - the world's largest tea-growing region, famous for its strong "breakfast" tea.

Assam has a hot, humid climate with temperatures already at the upper end of the optimum range for tea growing. As the climate warms, the tea crops here come under ever greater stress. This is compounded by changing rainfall patterns.

"We used to know when the rain would come," says Chandan Bora, manager of Tingkong Tea Estate. Sweat drips down his forehead as we tour the estate. "The changing climate has changed the crop pattern, which has led to uncertainty," he says. "With this change, it will be difficult to sustain the industry."

Over the past century, average temperatures in Assam have increased by 1.3 °C and rainfall is down by 20 centimetres a year, says R. M. Bhagat, chief scientist at the Tea Research Association in Jorhat, Assam's tea hub. Rainfall used to be regular, he says, but in the past 30 years it has become ever more unpredictable, with extreme weather events becoming both more severe and more frequent. "Sometimes there's too much rain, and at other times not enough."

(The New Scientist - June 12, 2015)