India on track to reduce emissions: Modi

Feb 16, 2018 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that despite scepticism, India is on the path of reducing emission by 20 to 25 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020.

Addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) here, he said that India’s goal is to create a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 which once seemed difficult to many.

“Yet we continue our steady progress on that path. According to the UNEP Gap Report, India is on track to meet its Copenhagen Pledge of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020,” Modi said

He added the government is doing everything required to ensure equality, equity and climate justice.

“We must also stress on climate justice for all vulnerable populations. We in India are focused on ease of living through good governance, sustainable livelihood and through cleaner environment,” said the Prime Minister, citing a National Geographic report on environmental sustainability.

“Recently, National Geographic’s Greendex Report of 2014 which assesses the environmental sustainability of consumer choice ranked India at the top for its greenest consumption pattern.”

WSDS is the flagship forum of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and seeks to bring together on a common platform, global leaders and thinkers in the fields of sustainable development, energy and environment sectors. (IANS)

 

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Drop GST on Bio-diesel from 18 to 5 percent, demands industry

Jan 16, 2018 0

New Delhi– Struggling to survive despite the government ‘s clean energy dream, biodiesel industies have demanded the Goods and Service Tax (GST) rate on them be slashed from the current 18 to 5 per cent.

The demand came days after solar industry made a similar pitch, stating while unrealistic levy on the solar panels is killing the indian industry and giving an edge to Chinese exporters.

On Tuesday, the Biodiesel Association of India (BDAI) wrote to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Finance Ministers of West Bengal and Rajasthan seeking reduction of high GST rate.

The apex industry body pointed out that while there is a huge potential of producing more cleaner fuel in India, the extraordinary levy has bought the industry at the “brink of extinction”.

With implementation of GST from July 1 2017, levy on Biodiesel has gone from 6 percent in excise duty to 18 per cent in GST.

“This has made Biodiesel costlier than High Speed Diesel (HSD) and biodiesel users will not get any Input Credit for use of it. Both these put together, effective cost of Biodiesel has become unviable to the end users. Eventually the entire Biodiesel industry will come to a halt, despite this Green Fuel having such environment and social benefits,” BDAI said in the letters.

Made directly from edible oil in equal quantity, of which India is second highest consumer, the bio-diesel helps in reducing the emissions by 30 to 100 percent, depending upon its blend in the normal diesel.

“With 18 per cent GST, the price come around Rs. 10 per litres, this is equivalent to normal diesel,” BDAI President Sandeep Chaturvedi told IANS.

At present few states like Karnataka use 100 percent or zero emission biodiesel buses, while states like Andhra Pradesh use 20 percent blend bio-diesel.

“This means cleaner environment, drop in imports and several jobs,” Chaturvedi said.

Indian Railways, state transport corporations, port authorities, construction and mining, jute, textile and chemical manufacturers among others are users of biodiesel in India.

Currently India has an installed capacity of 12 lakh ton per annum of biodiesel, of which actual production is 3.5 lac ton per annum, however estimated or potential production is about 27.5 lakh tons per annum.

“The industry employs 25,000 people directly and 100,000 people indirectly and with the demand, employment requirement would go to an estimated 500,000,” Chaturvedi said.

He further added that by replacement of 3.95 million MT diesel by biodiesel, India would save its foreign currency of approx. S$1.47 billion.

“This can go further up with increase in Blend Ratio from 5 per cent to 20 per cent,” he said, adding that the biodiesel industry is also in discussions with the defence sector. (IANS)

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India and ASEAN countries agree to tackle climate change, price volatility

Jan 12, 2018 0

New Delhi– India and ASEAN countries on Friday agreed to cooperate in agriculture and forestry to tackle challenges of climate change and price volatility, along with seeking intervention for livelihood opportunities, exchange of farm machinery and development of heterotic rice hybrids.

In a joint declaration at the 4th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry here, they also sought cooperation on exchanging expertise as to promote enhanced resilience of natural systems, and improve the adaptive capacities of people to cope with environmental hazards.

“We supported the prioritization of joint collaborative projects in the areas of (i) Agroforestry interventions for livelihood opportunities, (ii) Demonstration and exchange of farm implement and machinery, and (iii) Genetic improvement of parental lines and development of heterotic rice hybrids,” it said.

“We look forward to the implementation of more capacity building programmes in 2018 on the empowerment of ASEAN and Indian women through cooperatives, and managing food security and price volatility”.

As a part of Medium Term Plan of Action for ASEAN-India Cooperation in Agriculture and Forestry for 2016-2020, they said: “We underscore the importance of addressing climate change as it negatively impacts food security.”

The declaration also sought implementation of the 3rd exchange visit for farmers between ASEAN and India in order to provide opportunities for ASEAN and Indian farmers and fishers, including young and women farmers, to learn and develop more efficient farming practices and management skills through information sharing.

The 5th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry will be held in Brunei Darussalam in 2019.

Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia Laos and Brunei are the members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). (IANS)

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Delhi pollution down, claims Sisodia

Jan 10, 2018 0

New Delhi– Based on a pollution report that does not includes the top polluting areas of the city, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on WEdnesday said the pollution levels in 2017 were lowest in past five years.

Sisodia was citing a report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), a copy of which is with IANS, that compares the effluents levels of six regions across Delhi — Pitampura, Sirfort, Janakpuri, Nizamuddin, ShahzadaBagh and Shahdara, from 2013 to 2017.

However, top polluting areas, where air quality has ranged from “severe to severe plus” for most of the polluting days throughout the year, were not considered.

According to records, the areas recording the most pollution include Anand Vihar in east Delhi, Mathura Road and R.K. Puram in sourth Delhi, Mandir Marg and ITO crossing in central Delhi, ISBT Kashmiri Gate and Delhi University North Campus in north Delhi, and Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi.

“According to CPCB data, in 2017, annual average of pollution levels of PM2.5 and PM10 is lowest in the past five years,” Sisodia said.

At present, CPCB has a netweork of 17 pollution monitoring stations across different areas of Delhi. The report however focused only on the six under national air quality monitoring (NAMP) stations, that showed minor improvement.

“The data (of report) is from the manual monitoring that CPCB has been doing since 2013,” CPCB scientist and spokesperson D Saha told IANS.

The CPCB report included four major pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matters PM2.5 and PM10, or particles in air with diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometres.

The report showed that the annual average PM2.5 and PM10, at those six areas, though increased drastically from 2015 to 2016 but then dropped from 2016 towards 2017.

The average PM2.5 and PM10 were 119 microgrammes per cubic meters and 301 units in 2016 against 101 units and 260 units in 2017.

However, according to 2017 figures, PM2.5 ranged from “very poor (300 units) to “severe plus” (above 300 to 350 units) during the polluting days or air pollution situation at top polluting regions, especially Anand Vihar, Kashmiri Gate and North Campus.

Sisodia said that diesel consumption in the city has decreased by 16 per cent, registration of new vehicles decreased by 11 per cent and green cover has increased by 600 hectares, and these have helped to decrease the pollution levels.(IANS)

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Waste to wealth: Hunt for bioenergy in Loktak’s invasive plants

Jan 8, 2018 0

By Sahana Ghpsh

Imphal– Scientists in Manipur — which dominates the media discourse on insurgency — are on an aggressive hunt for bioenergy sourced from alien plant invaders of the iconic Loktak lake, aiming to showcase the “Jewel of India” as a top bio-entrepreneurship destination.

On the agenda is a proposal to set up a biorefinery, in the lake landscape, that churns carbohydrate-rich feedstock — derived from an invasive weed called paragrass — into alcohol and other value-added chemical products.

Spearheaded by a group of scientists at Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) here under the leadership of Director Dinabandhu Sahoo, the search for alternative energy from paragrass (pani wala ghaas or buffalo grass) — a fodder source — also offers a way to rein in the growth of these slow but steady invaders.

“Our study shows that this excessive growth of paragrass can tackled by using it sustainably as a biorefinery feedstock. Initially we will set up a 500 kg capacity as a pilot plant. Subsequently it will be upscaled to industrial scale,” Sahoo, told this correspondent.

The spurt in the growth of paragrass and other weeds, as also algal blooms, is enhanced by the unnatural enrichment of the water body by two plant nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen (in a process called eutrophication), which ultimately leads to depleted oxygen levels and generally poor water quality.

“Only mechanical removal of the weeds and throwing them around the lake is not going to help. After decay and disintegration of these weeds the nutrients are coming back to the lake (leading to eutrophication). Therefore, we decided to start a bioenergy programme which can create wealth from the waste,” explained Sahoo.

Loktak, northeast India’s largest freshwater lake, is unique for a floating mass of intertwined and semi-anchored thick plant mats, locally known as phumdis.

In these phumdis, about 1.5 metre deep, one encounters fisherfolk (crouched within make-shift huts and shelters) going about their business surrounded by a multitude of plant and animal species, including some very rare ones.

The phumdis, which form a thick biomass or floating meadows, shelter the 206 critically endangered Sangai deer (brow antlered deer), ensconced in the southern corner of Loktak inside the Keibul Lamjao National Park — the only refuge of the animal whose dainty gait is said to have inspired Manipuri dance traditions.

To ensure its survival, an ecological balance must be struck in the wake of changes in the natural flora of the phumdis due to pollution and human interference.

A hour-and-a half drive from Imphal to Loktak throws up views of rotting phumdi biomass (including the alien weeds) along the roadside through Moirang. They have been dragged out by cranes and dumped on roadsides with locals padding them together with mud to farm vegetables.

Though invasive species now dominate the flora and “programmes to remove the invasive grasses have not met with success due to rapid re-growth”, these plants can become unlikely heroes in green energy discoveries, Sahoo believes.

Many parts of the Loktak lake have been taken over by paragrass.

The rest of the landscape is dominated by wild rice grass, phragmites (grass), different types of algae, water hyacinth and the like.

According to agricultural biotechnologist Rajiv Kangabam of the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology at Jorhat’s Assam Agricultural University, paragrass was introduced in Manipur during 1972-1973 to support the state’s dairy industry.

It was reported that cattle feeding on paragrass had enhanced milk production.

“This plant grows luxuriantly in the Loktak lake and prevents the growth of other native species, thereby threatening the indigenous plants,” Kangabam told this correspondent.

Swaying hairy leaves and hollow stems of paragrass floating above the water reach out to visitors as they canoe their way through the phumdis inside the park. One can also spot algal blooms in the water body.

The chemical make-up of these semi-aquatic weed lends itself to being excellent feedstock for bioethanol production.

“It constitutes of 42 per cent of cellulose and about 20 per cent hemicellulose, the hydrolysis of which can yield fermentable sugars which is an excellent feedstock for bioethanol production. For a low cost process, we used sodium hydroxide based pre-treatment,” Sahoo noted, referring to a study published in Bioresource Technology late last year.

One kilogram of biomass processing yields approximately 120 ml of ethanol depending on fermentation efficiency, co-author Sabeela Ummalyma said.

As of now, the focus is on improving the fermentation condition to get maximum ethanol production as well as better pre-treatment condition for getting more fermentable sugars, Ummalyma said.

Sahoo argued that the waste-to-wealth biorefinery approach can be applied to areas facing similar problems.

“Chilika Lake in Odisha is facing a huge problem due to extensive growth of Phragmitis (popularly called Nala) in Nalabana island. Our work on integrated biorefinery to produce mainly bioenergy and biofertiliser will not only solve the environmental problems but also boost the bioeconomy of the region,” Sahoo added. (IANS)

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Cabinet apprised on India-Italy MoU on clean energy

Jan 3, 2018 0

New Delhi– The Union Cabinet was on Wednesday informed about an MoU that has been signed by India and Italy for cooperation in the area of renewable energy, an official statement said.

The MoU was signed here on October 30, 2017, by the New and Renewable Energy Secretary Anand Kumar and the Italian Ambassador to India Lorenzo Angeloni, according to a New and Renewable Energy Ministry statement.

“The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the memorandum of understanding on India-Italy cooperation in renewable energy.

“India and Italy aim to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy issues,” it said.

The MoU envisages setting up a joint working committee to review, monitor and discuss relating to clean energy. It also aims for exchange of expertise and networking of information and to strengthening bilateral cooperation in this area, the statement added. (IANS)

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Government to procure 10,000 electric vehicles

Dec 21, 2017 0

New Delhi– Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) plans to procure 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) for government use, the first round of bids for which has already been conducted by the state-run company, Parliament was told on Thursday.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Power Minister R.K. Singh said that bids for EVs were invited through open tender, while contracts have been awarded to Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra for respectively supplying 250 and 150 of these environment-friendly vehicles.

The supply agreements include a five-year annual maintenance contract.

“EESL will provide these vehicles on lease to replace the existing petrol and diesel vehicles taken on lease by various government organisations and charge lease rent from these firms,” R.K. Singh said.

EESL announced last month that it will invite bids for supply of a second lot of 10,000 EVs around March-April next year.

Meanwhile, the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) on Thursday urged the government to reduce the Goods and Services Tax on batteries used in electric vehicles from the current highest tax rate of 28 per cent.

“Under the new GST regime, lithium-ion batteries used in EVs have become significantly costlier because of the 28 per cent GST when sold separately as against the GST rate charged when sold with the vehicles,” an SMEV statement said here.

“Higher tax on batteries is impacting retail sales of electric two-wheelers as dealers generally do not maintain an equal inventory of vehicles and batteries,” it said.

The association also urged the government to launch the next phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles scheme for a longer period of six years and its time-bound implementation.

“Due to high ownership cost of EVs in the present scenario, the approach to Demand Incentives and Viability Gap Funding needs to be changed and the existing subsidy module needs to be enhanced for the next 6 years as compared to the previous short term periods of 6 months to 1 year,” the statement said. (IANS)

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Delhi government likely to incentivise use of electric vehicles

Dec 19, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Delhi government is likely to incentivise the use of electric vehicles.

According to Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, an incentive-based policy is likely to be formulated that encourages commuters to shift from fossil fuels powered vehicles to electric.

Gahlot requested the central government for enhancement of subsidy so that the state government can procure more electric buses.

“Cost of electric buses at Rs 2.75 crore is way too high and unsustainable. I would request the central government for more subsidy along with financial and technical help,” Gahlot said while addressing Assocham’s conference on ‘Electric vehicles: Future roadmap for India’ on Tuesday.

“I think we should look towards subsidy on the power to be consumed by electric vehicles,” Gahlot was quoted as saying in a statement.

The minister added that it is imperative to bring down the cost of electric vehicles to make them more affordable and viable for public transport.

Besides subsidy, the minister sought clarity from the union government on its FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) scheme.

“Even under the FAME scheme, there are lot of gaps and there is lot of ambiguity, like for instance there is no clarity amid manufacturers when asked whether or not they would qualify in the kilometre scheme,” said the Delhi Transport Minister.

Gahlot added that the state government has already given a commitment to induct 100 electric buses, and is willing to increase the fleet to 1,000 “as soon as possible”. (IANS)

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India’s first offshore wind projects auction for 5GW in 2018

Dec 14, 2017 0

New Delhi– India will invite bids for the first time to set up offshore wind power projects in the country with the government planning to auction for 5 gigawatt (GW) of capacity, New and Renewable Energy Minister R.K Singh said on Thursday.

Addressing the National Energy Conservation Awards event here with President Ram Nath Kovind as the chief guest, Singh also said that India will surpass its target of having 175 GW renewable energy capacity and achieve 200 GW by 2022.

“Our target is that we would auction at least 5 GW of offshore wind capacities next year. Survey is in progress at a location. We would start survey at two more locations and have placed order to buy equipment for that,” Singh, who is also the Power Minister, told the gathering.

“We would not only achieve the target of having 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 but would surpass that and have at least 200 GW by then,” he said.

He also said the current fiscal would see auctions for 9 GW of wind energy, which also includes already auctioned capacities. The next two fiscals will each see bidding for 10 GW of wind capacity.

The government has already auctioned 2 GW wind capacity in two rounds so far this year.

The country’s current wind power installed capacity is 32 GW.

Earlier this week, the government issued the norms for wind power auction.

“In solar energy, we would auction 20 GW projects, including those already auctioned this year. Next year, we will auction 30 GW and another 30 GW in the subsequent year,” Singh said.

“Next, we will be inviting bids for floating solar capacities,” he added, referring to solar power units erected atop reservoirs. (IANS)

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Solar power auction sees 98% fall in November

Dec 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– The solar power auction in November saw a 98 per cent drop with only 5 MW auctioned against 270 MW in October, a report said on Wednesday.

It also pointed out that total solar project tendered also saw a steep decline with 300 MW offered in November against 400 MW in October.

“The solar capacity tendered across the country during the month fell by 25 per cent to 300 MW compared to the October 2017 total and the amount of solar auctioned dropped by 98 per cent to just 5 MW,” said the report by clean energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group.

According to experts, one of the reasons for this steep fall is rise in Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab on solar equipment and the anti-dumping case, where Indian manufacturers demand drop in duty to compete against the very-low priced equipment offered by Chinese exporters.

Also, the All India Solar Industries Association on Wednesday said that GST has led to 10-12 per cent rise in overall cost of solar projects. In August, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said clarified that 5 per cent GST will be applicable on solar equipment and the government cannot do anything about it.

Mercom Capital Group CEO Raj Prabhu said: “Hopefully, tender and auction activity has bottomed out.

“The GST issue is almost behind us and the government is asking Discoms to refrain from PPA renegotiations, even though the anti-dumping case is still looming.”

As per the report, the largest tender seen in November was by Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL), the renewable energy implementing agency in the southern state, which re-tendered 200 MW of solar power to be developed at the state’s Pavagada Solar Park.

The only solar auction in November was by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) that auctioned a 5 MW grid-connected solar PV project under the National Solar Mission Defence viability gap funding programme for an ordnance factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur.

Under the auction, Giriraj Renewables Pvt Ltd emerged as the successful bidder by quoting a tariff of Rs 4.18 per kWh.

According to Mercom Group, the cumulative solar installations in India surpassed 17 GW as of September 2017, with over 7 GW installed in the first nine months of the year.

“Following the recent lull in tender activity, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) revealed that it is preparing to announce a spate of tenders for solar projects over the course of four months starting in December 2017,” the report said, adding these aim to help the government reach its goal of installing 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.

The MNRE says it will work alongside states to announce tenders needed to reach 20 GW of ground-mounted capacity in solar parks in 2017-18. Of the 20 GW, 3.6 GW have already been tendered while another 3 GW were set to be tendered in December, followed by 3 GW in January 2018, 5 GW in February and 6 GW in March. Another 30 GW is expected to be tendered in 2018-19 with 30 GW to follow in 2019-20. (IANS)

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