Govt projects are to blame for Pune landslide tragedy: Experts – The dark side of windmill projects

Ritesh: This is a very sad development and side effect of indiscriminate destruction in the name of green energy, while being green, care should be taken to not usurp natures resources.

Torrential rains may have triggered the landslide on Wednesday that buried Pune’s Malin village, but experts say short-sighted government policy and shoddy implementation of its schemes are the major underlying factors for the tragedy.

Sahas Manch, an NGO working in the area, has blamed abject carelessness of government officials in measuring and levelling land for the Padkai scheme. Under this tribal employment project implemented under MNREGA, hill slopes are flattened and trees are cut down to develop cultivable plots. The NGO claimed that government officials did not survey the area thoroughly and allotted 25 plots on steep slopes.

Land was levelled by uprooting trees, which in turn loosened the soil, stone bunds were not built to contain erosion and nullahs were not cut into the soil to allow drainage. Such criminal errors caused the landslide, it alleged. On the other hand, massive deforestation for a windmill project along the hillside was equally responsible, said acclaimed ecologist Dr Madhav Gadgil.

While official data said around 28,000 trees were cut for the project, unofficial figures put the count around 3lakh. “By calling wind-energy green energy, those constructing windmills are given a free hand to do what they please without any regulation or monitoring,” Gadgil told TOI.

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( Rescue work is carried out at the site of a landslide in Malin village, in Pune, Maharashtra on Wednesday. Torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that buried a remote village.) PTI Photo

30 students trapped under Hanuman temple debris

Around 30 students had taken shelter from the rain in Malin’s ancient Hanuman temple that got buried under the debris following Wednesday’s landslide. “Among them was a group of boys in the 18-22 age group. They had ventured out to see the overflowing river and streams but sought shelter in the Hanuman temple when it started raining around 7.30am. There were also some school students under 12 years who had sought shelter in the temple as the morning state transport bus that takes them to school in the adjoining taluka had not turned up,” said Sanju Kathe, a villager who works as a driver in Pune.

READ ALSO: Pune village landslide: Toll rises to 30

Had landslide occurred a few hours later, they would’ve lived

Source: TOI

Posted in Renewables, Wind | Tagged , ,

Natural Group Presentation at SolarTech – Solar Energy Policy July 2014 – Next Steps for Solar

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Click here for the entire presentation Natural Group_Presentation at SolarTech – Solar Energy Policy July 2014

My presentation at Solartech 2014 encompassed the next steps for Solar in India moving forward.

A few suggestions include

A. Focus has to be on Distributed Generation <500KWp
B. Incentivise efficiency for Discom and State
C. Introduce a layered FIT across States bands could be 5KWp, 50 KWp, 300KWp
D. Make Net Metering Mandatory for States
E. Apply Net metering units towards RPO, REC
F. Discoms that do not apply Net Metering don't qualify for central assistance
G. Provide low interest loans 5-8% to solar consumers upto 5 KW only
H. Provide higher subsidy 70% to Agri Consumers especially water pumps
I. Reduce remote locations dependence on the grid
J. Timely distribution of Solar Subsidy
K. Clean coal fund dedicated to renewables only
L. Subsidy payments on time
M. Diversify large installations with none above 2MW in a certain radius to reduce losses

Posted in Commercial, DISCOM, Grid Connected, Presentations, Renewables, Ritesh Pothan, Solar, Transmission and Distribution | Tagged , , , ,

WHO has reclassified diesel emissions as a group 1 carcinogen for its strong link with lung cancer

Only at the level of Euro VI norms can India effectively and nearly close the gap between diesel and petrol emissions, says one of India’s top vehicle fuel pollution analysts. India is in the grip of massive dieselization, while the WHO has reclassified diesel emissions as a group 1 carcinogen for its strong link with lung cancer

Currently diesel cars emit 5-7 times more particulate matter and three times more nitrogen oxides than petrol cars in India raising serious health concerns.

The much-awaited and delayed proposal on emissions standards roadmap for vehicles and fuel quality in India has been released. The committee appointed by the last government under the chairmanship of Saumitra Chaudhury, former Planning Commission member, finalized the report just when the government changed. This legacy proposal needs immediate scrutiny for future action. The new government needs to calibrate its effectiveness to deliver on public health goals.

The new proposal schedules the timeline for introduction of successive stages of European standards that India follows for vehicles and fuels. It has asked for Euro IV or Bharat Stage IV standard nation-wide by 2017, Euro V by 2021 and Euro VI by 2024. Thus, the automobile industry will meet Euro VI norms as late as 2024 though the refineries will do a better job of providing the requisite fuel with 10 ppm sulphur by 2020. If the vehicle industry is not pushed, India will fall far behind Europe and several other major vehicle producing regions of the world. This requires urgent intervention to align the introduction of 10 ppm sulphur fuel with Euro VI standards for vehicles in 2020-21 to mitigate toxic pollution from vehicles.

When the Mashelkar Committee had introduced the first roadmap in 2003, it had reduced the time lag with Europe to five years for a few cities with Euro IV norms and to 10 years for the country that had introduced Euro III in 2010. The new proposal ironically widens the lag further when motorization is exploding. Due to inordinate delay in taking a decision about the second roadmap, the time lag has increased to 9-14 years. This will block rapid absorption of advanced emissions control systems needed to clean up the air and protect public health. The roadmap must enable India to leapfrog to Euro VI emissions standards by 2020-21.

The new proposal has however acknowledged that emissions regulations cannot continue to follow the practice of keeping emissions standards tighter for a few cities and lax for the rest of the country. It has – and rightly so – proposed uniform norms across the country. Public policy cannot create two classes of citizens giving higher level of public health protection to one over the other.

Uncertain roadmap

There is no certainty that what has been proposed will be improved or implemented as planned. The proposal comes with a rider that can compromise the timeline and further delay matters. A review has been proposed in 2019 to assess once again the feasibility of introducing Euro VI norms in 2024. Given the fact that the automobile industry has negotiated hard to keep Euro VI outside the ambit of the roadmap and beyond 2025, this is very worrying.

At the same time the target for the refineries to produce 10 ppm sulphur fuel nation-wide by 2020 has come with an additional condition of fiscal support. As the cost of refinery improvement to produce clean fuel to enable introduction of advanced emissions control technologies in vehicles will be high – estimated to be nearly Rs 80,000 crore, it is proposed to impose a small cess on each litre of petrol and diesel sold to mop up additional revenue to meet the refinery costs. There is also a proposal to bring the price of Euro III at par with that of Euro IV fuel sold currently, and the additional revenue from the increased price of Euro III fuel to be spent on improving refineries.

This fiscal strategy is important to break the refinery impasse as the sheer burden of subsidy and under recoveries in the sector has made investments very difficult. An innovative fiscal strategy is needed to stimulate investment in the public sector refineries to fast track production of cleaner fuels to help meet the tighter standards. If clean fuel is prioritized, the refineries will also rationalize their investments in refinery improvement. It is more cost effective to design and implement the complete system of fuel and vehicles in one step rather than two.

Fiscal action needed

This therefore sets the agenda for the new finance minister who is finalizing the budget for 2014-15. If this fiscal strategy is ignored now, this can put on hold the transition to clean fuel and clean vehicles for a considerably long time, derailing the entire process at a serious public health cost to the country.

The new government will have to extend fiscal support to the refinery proposal to produce 10 ppm sulphur fuel by 2020-21 nation-wide and leverage that move to modify the proposal to leapfrog the vehicle standards to Euro VI in 2020-21 as well. This is needed to protect public health effectively.

India has a much bigger advantage in influencing the future stock of vehicles with tighter emissions standards. All available data from various surveys show that the average age of Indian vehicles are relatively new – averaging 5-7 years. Only the commercial truck and bus sectors still have older stock. But the future vehicle numbers will increase several times more than the existing or the legacy stock. There is much bigger benefit in improving the future stock with clean emissions standards to prevent pollution aftermath in cities.

Moreover, only at the level of Euro VI norms can India effectively and nearly close the gap between diesel and petrol emissions. This is a unique concern in India, which is in the grip of massive dieselization. The WHO has reclassified diesel emissions as group 1 carcinogen, the same group as tobacco, for its strong link with lung cancer. According to this panel report, if petrol and diesel consumption is added, then the share of diesel consumption in India is as high as 81%, highest among other regions of the world. Already nearly half of cars sold are on diesel and they use more diesel than agriculture or power generation sets. With increased share of road based freight, diesel use will grow more. Truck movement through cities is also aggravating the public health crisis.

The new roadmap will have to address the public health concern over diesel emissions. At the current level of technology diesel cars are allowed to emit more particulate and nitrogen oxides, a major concern in urban India – five to seven times more particulate and three times more nitrogen oxides – than petrol cars. Several developing countries have discouraged diesel cars. In Brazil diesel cars are not allowed because of the policy to keep taxes lower on diesel. In China, taxes do not differentiate between petrol and diesel fuel, but diesel cars are less than one per cent of all cars in China. Beijing does not allow diesel cars as a pollution control measure since 2003. Sri Lanka has imposed several times higher duties on diesel cars compared to petrol cars and has reduced diesel car sales. Even in India several official committees have asked for special and additional taxes on diesel cars to neutralise the incentive of cheaper diesel fuel. An additional tax on diesel cars can bring more funds for refinery upgrade.

Graph: Why we need to leapfrog to Euro VI?

Petrol and diesel emissions close gap

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Note: PM emissions from petrol vehicles are so negligible that these are not regulated in petrol vehicles. (Source: Based on data available in http://www.dieselnet.com)

Link roadmap to public health goals

The Auto Fuel Policy committee had started off on a weak wicket as public health and air quality targets were not included in its terms of reference. In due course, public pressure and engagement brought public health discussion into the deliberations.

The new budget will have to integrate public health costs and benefits to decide the stringency of the roadmap. Several studies have now shown that the benefits of pollution mitigation outweigh the cost of mitigation. A World Bank study of 2013 has shown that health damages associated with particulate matter cost three per cent of GDP, but coarse particulate matter (called PM10) mitigation will cost much less than one per cent of GDP. Globally, other governments have adopted the practice of assessing cost and benefits to decide the stringency of policy action. India has to move out of its age old conservative fiscal approaches to deliver on a public good.

The new government will have to acknowledge that the effect of breathing toxic air are now associated with a range of health outcomes that include respiratory problems, cancer, eye related symptoms, effect on foetus, hypertension, diabetes and brain development in children, among others. Vehicular emissions contribute significantly to human exposure.

Indian lungs cannot tolerate any more of this toxic onslaught. The new government needs to respond to the growing demand for a leapfrog strategy for public health protection. Another high profile committee – National Transport Development Policy Committee – that has given recommendations for transport infrastructure has also recommended leapfrogging to Euro VI standards by 2020-21.

India cannot afford to motorise and compromise public health without linking the new investment in the automobile sector to the best available clean emissions technology.

Source: DTE

Posted in Climate Change, Fossil Fuel, Greenhouse Gases, Pollution | Tagged , ,

India-US solar issue: WTO sets up dispute panel

The WTO has set up a dispute settlement panel to examine a complaint by the US against India’s domestic content requirements under the country’s solar power programme, Parliament was informed today.

“Since the consultations could not result into satisfactory outcome, on the request of the US, the Dispute Settlement Body established the WTO dispute panel in May. Once the panel is composed, the panel proceedings shall be finalised by the WTO secretariat,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

The US has filed a complaint in the WTO against India’s domestic content requirement (DCR) under the country’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The Minister said the US has claimed that the DCR violates WTO agreements such as national treatment principle and agreement on trade related investment measures.

On the issue, consultations were held with the US in March 2013 and March 2014 under the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism but no satisfactory result came out. India has an ambitious target of generating 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022. “India is preparing the defence strategy based on WTO principles and jurisprudence,” she said.

The US has also dragged the country into WTO on certain measures of India related to import prohibition of poultry and poultry products from the country infected with avian influenza viral strains. Similarly, India too has filed a complaint against the US in WTO on countervailing duty imposed by America on certain hot rolled carbon steel products of India.

Besides, the Minister said, both the countries have raised certain issues at WTO SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary)/ TBT ( Technical Barriers to Trade) committee meetings.

“The Indian side has raised the issue relating to fixing of maximum residual levels on basmati rice. The US side has raised the issues relating to food safety and standards regulation, toys and e-waste,” she added.

Replying to another question, the Minister said the meeting of India-US Trade Policy Forum has not been held during the last three years.

The US-India TPF is an inter-agency collaboration led by the USTR. It is the principal trade dialogue between the countries. It has five focus groups: Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers

Source: ET

Posted in Anti-Dumping, Cells & Modules, Crystalline, India, Renewables, Solar, Thin Film, USA, WTO | Tagged , , , , ,

Restoration of accelerated depreciation set to create more wind capacity

Ritesh: AD for wind is a misdirected benefit as the power cannot be scheduled nor used for almost half the year.

It is champagne time for the wind industry and thanks to the Finance Minister. The restoration of the long-awaited ‘accelerated depreciation’ is just a formality away.

The government will move an amendment to the Finance Bill to bring back the tax-saving benefit and the measure will come into force as soon as the Bill is passed by the Parliament, i.e., before July 31.

Profit-making companies will now have an option of putting up wind power turbines and write-down 80 per cent of the cost of the machines — about Rs 6.5 crore a MW – as depreciation for the purpose of calculating taxable profits.

Wind industry experts say this move will have an impact of creating 1,000 MW of wind power capacity in a year; in the current financial year (2014-15), about half of it could be expected to come.

1,000 MW of capacity would mean investments of about Rs 7,000 crore. “We expect direct employment of 20,000 and indirect employment of 10,000 people during the manufacturing and project execution phase and 2,000 people on long term basis for operations and maintenance for 1,000 MW,” says Madhusudhan Khemka, Chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association.

The ‘accelerated depreciation’, introduced in the early 1990s, was what gave a leg-up to the industry in its infancy. (The wind energy companies (independent power producers), who got into the business for producing and selling electricity came in only in the recent years.)

Many medium and large enterprises in the windiest state of the country, Tamil Nadu, took to putting up windmills to save on taxes. The accelerated depreciation was therefore chiefly responsible for the bulk of the 22,000-odd MW of wind capacity the country has today.

Earlier, those who did not avail themselves of accelerated depreciation could use another incentive that gave 50 paise for every unit of electricity generated, subject to a cap. Both this ‘generation based incentive’ and accelerated depreciation were withdrawn on March 31, 2012.

Wind installations fell to 1,700 MW in 2012-13 from 3,168 MW in 2011-12, thanks to the killing of the incentives. In the following year the generation based incentive was brought back, and this helped fresh installations to climb to 2,160 MW in 2013-14. The industry continued to lobby for restoration of the accelerated depreciation, an effort that is now coming to fruition.

Source: BusinessLine

Posted in Accelerated Depreciation, Renewables, Wind | Tagged , ,

Draft Guidelines for selection of 1500 MW Grid Solar PV power projects under National Solar Mission, Phase-II Batch-II Scheme of Bundling with Thermal Power- Invitation of Comments

F. No. 32/8/2013-14/GSP
Government of India
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
Grid Solar Power Division
Block No,. 14, C.G.O. Complex
Lodi Road, New Delhi-110003

Dated: 16/07/2014
Subject: Draft Guidelines for selection of 1500 MW Grid Solar PV power projects under National Solar Mission, Phase-II Batch-II Scheme of Bundling with Thermal Power- invitation of comments, reg.

Draft Guidelines for selection of Grid Solar PV power projects of an aggregate capacity of 1500 MW under National Solar Mission, Phase-II, Batch-II are attached. Interested Stakeholders may send their comments on the same to the undersigned latest by 23rd July, 2014.

Sd/-
A. K. Varshney
Director (Solar Power)
Tel/Fax: 011-24360885
E-mail: akvarshney@nic.in

Posted in Batch II, CSP, Grid Connected, India, MNRE, Phase II, Power Generation, PV, Renewables, Solar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WTO Tells US To Reconsider Solar Panel Tariffs

In a move that many in the solar industry applauded, a World Trade Organization panel found that the US government overstepped its bounds when it imposed tariffs on solar panels and other goods from China.

New Hampshire — Yesterday the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced its findings in the dispute between China and the United States over countervailing measures imposed on various Chinese-made goods including solar panels.

The WTO committee ruled that the U.S. had violated certain rules regarding international trade in imposing the duties. You can read the entire ruling, complete with its (confusing) international-trade language, at this link. As a consequence, the U.S. is now urged to “bring its measures into conformity” with the agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures, otherwise known as the SCM Agreement.

The solar industry was quick to support the ruling. Tony Clifford, CEO of Standard Solar had this statement:

Like the overwhelming majority of the U.S. solar industry, I certainly welcome yesterday’s decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO). This decision affirms what we all believed in 2012 – the U.S. Department of Commerce trade decisions against the Chinese module manufacturers are essentially protectionist in nature. However, while welcome, the WTO decision will likely provide no relief for the U.S. solar industry in the next few years, if ever.

Clifford said that the U.S. is already paying too much for solar panels as a result of the initial ruling. He re-iterated many of the statements he made as keynote speaker during PV America in June.  “Today the cost of tier 1 Chinese modules delivered to the west coast of Mexico is $0.58/Watt. The same modules delivered to the west coast of the U.S. cost American companies $0.76/Watt,” he said.  Referring to the new tariffs that were also announced in June, Clifford said that “the U.S. DOC trade decisions are costing the American solar industry about $0.18/Watt — and likely costing more as early as next week.”

Jigar Shah, CEO of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), had similar comments. “CASE agrees with the WTO that some important parts of the protectionist 2012 U.S. solar tariffs are inconsistent with our trade commitments to others. Even more importantly, they hurt American solar workers and slow the deployment of clean energy,” he said in a statement.

Shah is equally concerned about the new tariffs and urged the Obama administration to “reconsider the wisdom of additional solar tariffs,” he said.

“The Administration should work to bridge the divide between all parties involved, and help to negotiate a win-win settlement that supports growth across all sectors of the U.S. solar industry.”

SolarWorld, the petitioner in the trade cases against China and usually quick to comment on developments regarding the matter, did not issue a statement. However, today on its website the comany posted a press release stating that the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which it founded, has swelled to more than 250 employers of 25,000 Americans. 

On July 9, we reported that new global trade negotiations were underway in Geneva in an effort to come up with an Environmental Goods Agreement.  In addition to the U.S., China, and the EU, the WTO members in those talks are Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and Chinese Taipei.

This ruling, while unrelated to the new Environmental Goods negotiations underway, will surely have an impact on those very important discussions.

Source: REW

Posted in Anti Dumping Duty, Anti-Dumping, Cells & Modules, China, News, PV, Renewables, Solar | Tagged , , , , , , ,