Coal, not solar, is energizing power capacity addition

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

In a century belonging to renewable energy, traditional, non-renewable sources are continuing to shape India’s power landscape in a big way. In the past three years, India added 77,636 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity in power generation, an increase of 34%. As much as 68% of this new capacity was powered by coal, whose prices have halved globally since January 2011. As a result, coal’s share in installed capacity has crossed 60%. Renewables, led by wind and solar, accounted for 21% of the increase. India added 16,051MW of new power capacity via renewables, where solar is the centre’s focus. The National Solar Mission is targeting 100,000MW of solar capacity by 2022.

At present, India has 7,805MW of solar capacity. Bridge to India, a clean-tech consultancy, is projecting 37,000MW by 2020. Unless the sector can address the challenges of securing financing and grid stability, and adding rooftop capacity, it will struggle to come close to that 100,000MW target.

 

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News in Numbers, Jun 7, 2016: Wipro’s automation move, India gets back 200 artifacts…

3,300

What is it? The number of computer engineers who will be freed up this year due to Wipro’s use of its artificial intelligence platform Holmes. The platform Holmes would be used to automate some tasks of fixed-price projects.

Why is it important? An early indicator of how automation can impact jobs in one of the highest paying sectors in the country. For the companies it can cut down labour costs – the move will save Wipro up to $46.5 million. Other IT firms TCS and Infosys are also working with their artificial intelligence systems to boost revenue per employee and profitability figures.

Tell me more: Wipro plans to sell the platform to existing and new clients to earn about $60-70 million.  

 

$159

What is it? Median monthly generic drug price in India, according to a study of cancer drug prices in seven countries.

Why is it important? While this is among the lowest in the world, in terms of affordability, it is among the most expensive. The cost of generics as a percentage of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity is 33% in India. Cancer drug prices are the highest in the US where the median monthly price for generics is $654 or 14% of wealth adjusted for cost of living.

Tell me more: In case of branded drugs, the situation is even worse in India. The median monthly price of branded drugs is $1,515 , which is 313% of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.

 

Rs 30,000 crore

What is it? State owned NTPC Ltd’s proposed investment in 2016-17, part of which would go towards stepping up its renewable energy generation.

Why is it important? It is likely to help the country achieve its target of meeting 40% of its energy demands from non-fossil fuels (such as nuclear, wind, water and solar) by 2030. NTPC is reviewing its long-term plans of achieving 128 GW of capacity by 2032, of which over a tenth is to be accounted for by renewable energy.

Tell me more: NTPC, which accounts for a sixth of India’s power capacity, plans to add 1,000 MW of wind power in the current fiscal and to produce 10% of India’s target of installing 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. NTPC will raise Rs 20,000 crore in debt, of which Rs 7,000 crore would be from overseas lenders.

 

2.18 acres

What is it? The area of land Indian government has allotted for the development of a naval detachment on Bitra island in Lakshadweep.

Why is it important? It will help government increase its military presence on the eastern and western coasts as it jostles with China to exert greater influence over the important Indian Ocean region and protect its maritime interests. Both the countries are improving their infrastructure and bettering their relations with smaller countries such as Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, which also have strategic interests in the region.

Tell me more:  It is also establishing/upgrading its naval detachments on remote islands such as Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti and setting up military bases at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) and Paradip (Odisha).

 

200

What is it? Number of stolen artifacts the US returned to the Indian government on Monday.

Why is it important? Most of them were recovered from a decade-old ‘Operation Hidden Idol’, which led to the arrest of six people and recoveries of items worth $100 million. The artifacts, some of them that date back to 2,000 years, were stolen from India’s most valued religious sites.

Tell me more: The US has returned over 7,500 artifacts to different countries in the last 10 years.

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News in numbers, Nov 30, 2015: Climate change cross-border flows, Spicejet’s FY17 plans…

 

$2.2 billion

 

What is it? The cross-border flows from 17 special climate funds since their inception, according to a discussion paper by the Department of Economic Affairs, India.

 

Why is it important? Stating this figure, the Economic Affairs Secretary has said that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) claims that the rich nations had provided an average of $57 billion in 2013 and 2014 in climate finance flows are flawed. This is a serious allegation against the world powers and is a far cry from the goal of $100 billion annual climate finance flows. This also comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left for Paris to participate in the global climate change conference that begins on Monday.

 

Tell me more: The discussion paper has also questioned the methods and accuracy of reporting of the numbers in the OECD report. It remains to be seen what steps the government would take as the discussion paper states that it doesn’t reflect the views of the government.

 

8-10%

 

What is it? Likely percentage of power that distribution companies have to mandatorily buy from renewable sources by 2022.

 

Why is it important? The current target is 3%. The increase would be challenging for some state electricity boards, given that a majority of them have been unable to meet their renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets. Experts say, one of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian government would be the enforcement of RPO targets.

 

Tell me more: The government has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW of capacity from clean energy sources by 2022.

 

6.09 lakh

 

What is it? Number of grievances regarding central government and ministries filed on the Central Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) portal since the beginning of 2015.

 

Why is it important? This is a nearly threefold jump from the number of grievances lodged in 2014. Shows one of the two things or a combination of the two: increase in dissatisfaction levels against the central government and ministries or increase in belief that grievances filed with the government is likely to be resolved.

 

Tell me more: The government has resolved nearly 80% of the grievances filed in the current year with the disposal rate being higher at 90% in 2014 and 2013.

 

150

 

What is it? Number of aircraft Spicejet is planning to buy in 2016-17.

 

Why is it important? A sign of ongoing turnaround. The second biggest budget airline by market share, was near bankruptcy last financial year, and has started reporting profits during the last three quarters.

 

Tell me more: Earlier this month, Jet Airways placed its largest ever aircraft order of 75 Boeing 737 Max 8 Aircraft (at a list price of $8 billion) while in August, Indigo finalised the purchase of 250 Airbus A320neo Aircraft (a deal worth $26.55 billion at list prices).

 

481 million

What is it? Projected number of people without access to clean cooking facilities (and instead use solid fuels such as wood and coal) in India by 2040, all living in rural areas, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

 

Why is it important? The projected number is 30% of the Indian population. At present the number is 840 million or over two thirds of population. Use of improved solid biomass cookstoves, biogas systems, LPG, ethanol and solar stoves are considered to be safer, more efficient and environmentally more sustainable than the traditional methods of depending on energy derived from wood, sawdust and crop waste.

 

Tell me more: These projections are based on ‘New Policies Scenario’ which takes a cautious view factoring in regulatory, financial and administrative barriers and IEA has another set of projections based on if India’s key targets such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Electricity for all’ are achieved in full.

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News in numbers, Nov 5, 2015: All-time low solar tariff, human trafficking from Nepal to India…

Rs 4.63

What is it? Price at which US-based SunEdison will sell solar power per kilowatt-hour in India.

Why is it important? This is an all-time low solar tariff in India and gives a boost to the Indian government’s ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100 GW would be comprised of solar energy. India’s solar generation capacity is 2,900 MW now. This would also help India’s plans of providing solar power at Rs 4.75 per unit to state electricity boards, which are struggling with mounting debts and losses and reluctant to buy power.

Tell me more: SunEdison won the auction for a 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh. The previous low tariff was Rs 5.05 per kilowatt-hour for Canadian company SkyPower’s project in Madhya Pradesh.

 

5 to 9

What is it? Multiple by which nitrogen oxide emissions were higher in a sample of 11 vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group in India – compared to levels tested during the approval stage, according to the Automotive Research Association of India.

Why is it important? Indicates that despite tough laws, some companies are able to get through the approval process without playing by the rule book. It remains to be seen if it’s a one-off or an industry-wide phenomenon. For VW, it is more bad news as its emission scandal gets murkier. According to the ARAI, VW India has informed them that 314,000 cars (across Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi models) have been fitted with engines from the E 189 diesel engine family, which have been used to fool emission tests in the US and Europe.

Tell me more: The Indian government has issued a show cause notice to VW asking it to explain its position on these findings and disclose if it has used an emission defeat device in India. The company has confirmed that it has received the show cause notice from the government-owned agency, Automotive Research Association of India, and would respond to it by the end of this month.

 

25%

What is it? Share of devices connected on mobile networks in India that are 3G-enabled, according to a survey by Nokia Networks.

Why is it important? Of this, only 45% are used for 3G services – pointing to an opportunity for telecom companies to tap into. The survey shows that of the sample size of 650 million subscribers, just 2.3% have 4G-enabled devices. Given the likelihood of prices of 4G devices coming down in the near future, there is a possibility of 4G overtaking 3G in terms of subscription, Nokia Networks said.

Tell me more: Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata are the top five cities in terms of 3G device penetration. 

 

500%

What is it? The percentage increase in human trafficking from Nepal to India in 2015 (with two months to spare) compared to 2014.

Why is it important? The human trafficking from Nepal has seen a threefold increase after a massive earthquake devastated large parts of the country this April. Shows the levels of poverty that people have been subjected to, after the quake and their desperation to escape it all.  

Tell me more: Till this September, the Sahastra Seema Bal, one of India’s Central Armed Police Forces, has rescued 206 victims, of which 159 were rescued after the quake. In 2014, 33 victims were rescued.

 

€2 billion (over Rs 14,000 crore)

What is it? France’s committed investment for India’s Smart Cities Mission.

Why is it important? Despite the various challenges that the Indian economy faces, particularly the infrastructure sector, this indicates international interest in India’s long term growth story. But, there are serious concerns about how such ambitious urban projects would get funded.

Tell me more: The Western European nation is also investing 200 million (over Rs 1,400 crore) for the extension of the Bangalore metro network.

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