India, U.S. to collaborate on reaching green energy targets

The United States is to collaborate with India to work towards installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

“We look forward to partnering with India in bringing finance, technology and other elements needed to achieve it,” said John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, on Monday.

Currently India’s installed power capacity is projected to be 476 GW by 2021-22 and is expected to rise to at least 817 GW by 2030.

Mr Kerry is on an official visit to India from September 12-14 and is meeting ministers and industrialists to “raise global climate ambition and speed India’s clean energy transition,” according to a communique from the U.S. State Department.

Mr. Kerry was speaking at a public function following a bilateral meeting with Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, at the launch of the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD). This was one of the main tracks of the U.S.-India Agenda 2030 Partnership that President Biden and Prime Minister Modi announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April 2021.

Mr. Kerry said that Monday’s dialogue would serve as a “powerful avenue” for U.S.-India collaboration and would have three pillars: One would be a “climate action pillar” which would have joint proposals looking at ways in emissions could be reduced in the next decade. The second pillar would be setting out a roadmap to achieving the 450GW in transportation, buildings and industry. The final pillar, or the ”Finance Pillar” would involve collaborating on attracting finance to deploy 450 GW of renewable energy and demonstrate at scale clean energy technologies. Six banks in the U.S., Mr. Kerry said, have already committed to “investing” $4.5 trillion in the next decade towards clean energy.

Following his meeting, Mr. Yadav tweeted: “CAFMD will provide both countries an opportunity to renew collaborations on climate change while addressing financing aspects and deliver climate finances primarily as grants and concessional finance as envisaged under the Paris Agreement.”

A key mission of Mr. Kerry is to build global support for ‘Net Zero’, or carbon neutrality, which is when more carbon is sucked out from the atmosphere or prevented from being emitted than what a country emits and is critical to ensuring that the planet doesn’t heat up an additional half a degree by 2100.

“We have to reach a net zero global standard by 2050. This is not a matter of politics or ideology but one of arithmetic and physics,” said Mr. Kerry.

A major theme building ahead of the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, this November is the question of how many nations can commit to a net zero target and by when. A little over 120 countries have committed, with varying degrees of firmness, to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. Five countries have net zero pledges set for after 2050, including Australia and Singapore, which haven’t set a firm target yet.

The United States has set a target of halving pollution by 2030 from 2005 levels towards the net zero target. President Joe Biden has also committed to phasing out the use of fossil fuel by 2035 for power generation.

India has so far abstained from committing to a net zero goal but is on a climate pathway that is compatible with keeping global temperatures to below 2C by the end of the century. On the other hand, current commitments by the U.S. and Europe, according to analysts T. Jayaraman and Tejal Kanitkar, see them occupy more than their fair share of the current available carbon budget given their historical emissions.

India has reportedly installed 100GW of renewable energy and committed to 175GW by 2022, nearly 100GW of which will come from solar power.

Mr. Kerry also called upon Power minister, R.P. Singh and External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar.


India to increase nuclear energy capacity three times in next 10 years to reduce its carbon footprints

NEW DELHI: With India is exploring multiple options to lower its carbon footprints, the government on Tuesday said the country would produce three times more nuclear power from its current level and called for greater India-US cooperation for clean energy sectors such as biofuels and hydrogen.

The issue of ramping up efforts to produce more nuclear power in the next 10 years was discussed in a meeting of junior minister in the PMO and minister of state (atomic energy) Jitendra Singh with the US delegation led by the country’s visiting deputy secretary of energy, David M Turk.

Singh informed the delegation that India will produce more than three times nuclear power and its installed capacity is expected to reach 22,480 MW by 2031 from the current 6,780 MW as more nuclear power plants are also planned in future.

The move will help India substantially increase its share of non-fossil fuel in total energy mix in sync with its pledges under the Paris Agreement. Though India’s share of installed capacity of non-fossil fuel-based electricity generation has already reached nearly 39% of its total power generation capacity against its existing target of 40% by 2030, the step towards nuclear energy would help it upgrade its climate action goal.

Singh during the meeting called for greater India-US cooperation in the field of clean and green energy , and reiterated India’s commitment to promote atomic/nuclear programmes for providing not only a major source of clean energy but also as a major tool of application in areas like healthcare and agriculture sector.

Both sides also discussed revamping their strategic partnership to focus on clean energy sectors, such as biofuels and hydrogen, aligning it with the ‘India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership’ which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and American President Joe Biden at the leaders’ summit on climate in April.


India’s smart meter rollout timeline released

India’s Ministry of Power has issued the timelines for the nationwide replacement of existing meters with smart meters by 2025.

In the rollout, all electricity consumers – other than agricultural consumers – in areas with a communication network will be supplied with smart meters operating in prepayment mode.

Union territories and electrical divisions having more than 50% consumers in urban areas with aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of more than 15% in the financial year 2019-20 must be metered with smart meters by December 2023.

Other electrical divisions with AT&C losses more than 25% in FY 2019-20 as well as all government offices at block level and above and all industrial and commercial consumers also must be metered with smart meters by December 2023.

The state regulatory commission may, however, extend these implementation periods up to two times and for not more than six months at a time for a particular class or classes of consumers or for specific areas.

All other areas are required to be metered with smart meters with prepayment mode by March 2025.

Exceptions are areas without a communication network where the state regulatory commission may permit installation of standard prepayment meters and consumer connections having current-carrying capacity beyond that specified in the relevant standard who may be provided with meters with smart meters with automatic meter reading facility.

All feeders and distribution transformers must have meters with an AMR facility or covered under AMI.

The feeders must be metered by December 2022. Metering for the distribution transformers has similar December 2023 or March 2025 timelines to the division consumer and loss breakdowns above, excepting distribution transformers and HV distribution system transformers having capacity less than 25kVA, which may be excluded.

India’s smart meter programme is being driven by a government JV IntelliSmart Infrastructure through a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) model, with new funding commitments as part of a broader distribution sector reform intended to meet these targets.


Smart meter rollout rejig in the works to target 500 cities in first phase

The government is revising the smart meter rollout plan by switching to an aggregation model, similar to the bulk procurement strategy it had adopted for LED bulbs which helped reduce prices to almost a fifth in four years.

A senior government official said the government was revising its smart meter launch strategy under the ₹3.1 lakh crore proposed distribution reforms scheme. The Centre would now target the rollout on a mission mode in 500 AMRUT cities, union territories and industrial and commercial cities in the first phase.

The revised scheme will be sent to the Cabinet for consideration.

The scheme, announced by finance minister. The proposed reforms-based and results-linked, distribution sector scheme seeks to improve the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of discoms by providing conditional financial assistance for strengthening of infrastructure.

Implementation of smart metering forms a major portion of the scheme, accounting for nearly half of the funding.State-run Energy Efficient Service that implemented the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (Ujala) programme, has already procured 10 million single-phase smart meters for Rs 2,200 apiece in the aggregation model. With a bulk purchase programme, the government targets a further cut in the meter prices. Due to the Ujala programme, the average LED price has dropped to Rs 70 a piece from Rs 310 in 2014.

“We are working out a revised roll out strategy. The smart metering rollout programme would be more focused on urban areas initially so that the results are visible and costs come down like the Ujala scheme for LED bulbs,” the official said.

“Once success is demonstrated in the urban areas, the scheme is expected to find more acceptability among discoms and consumers. Cost analysis shows that the initial intervention in high energy consuming areas will bring down the cost of new infrastructure so that it will be easier for implementation in the smaller towns,” he said.

Implementation of smart metering is a major change in how business is done by discoms. Power regulators have also suggested gradual implementation of the metering programme, the official said.

Under the scheme, state power distribution companies will receive grants each year under the Centre’s new results-linked scheme, but only if they have achieved the milestones agreed for the previous fiscal year. If a utility is found ineligible in any year, then the gap in funding to complete its projects will have to be met by the discom or its state government.


Renewable power covers 29% of China’s electricity usage in 2020

Renewable power sources covered 28.8% of China’s electricity consumption in 2020, up 1.3 percentage points from 2019, the country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a statement on Monday.

China’s state planner in 2016 launched a scheme asking grid firms in some northern and northwestern to buy electricity generated by solar and wind power stations. President Xi Jinping has vowed to make China “carbon neutral” by 2060, and to boost the share of non-fossil fuels in primary en ..

According to a draft plan seen by Reuters in February, the central government planned to force regional grid firms to buy at least 40% of power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

The NEA statement showed that average wind power utilisation rates were 97% in 2020, exceeding the target set by central government by 2 percentage points, while average solar power utilisation rates were 98%, 3 percentage higher than the target.


OPINION: Heading towards a green Hydrogen economy

New Delhi: In a world struggling to address the issue of climate change and growing carbon footprint, green hydrogen is being heralded as the future of energy. Owing to its decarbonising potential and non-polluting nature, green hydrogen is seen as a promising alternative to replacing fossil fuels. Divergent from grey hydrogen, which is produced from fossil fuels and causes significant carbon dioxide emissions, the production of green hydrogen employs a carbon-neutral process known as electrolysis. The recent initiatives of the Government of India (GoI), such as the announcement of a National Hydrogen Mission in Budget 2021-22 and the proposed introduction of green hydrogen consumption obligations for fertiliser and petroleum refining industry, indicate the country’s resolve to transition towards an economy fueled by green hydrogen.

Introduction of green hydrogen into the country’s energy mix could not have been timed better. The energy demand is expected to double by 2040 and though the country is making strides towards harnessing solar and wind energy, the inherent limitations in the expansion of these renewable energy sources could mean a continued reliance on fossil fuels. The pace of capacity addition to existing renewable projects has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adequate availability of sites too continues to remain challenge to the development of large-scale renewable energy projects. The adoption of green hydrogen may offset these challenges and put the country back on track to achieve its renewable energy targets under the Paris Agreement.

However, India’s transition towards a green hydrogen economy (GHE) can only happen once certain key issues are addressed. GHE hinges upon the creation of a supply chain, starting from the manufacture of electrolysers to the production of green hydrogen, using electricity from a renewable energy source, for its eventual transmission to the end-users. Each of these activities carries risks that can have a cascading effect on the entire supply chain. For instance, a hydrogen plant may not be of any value unless it is tied-up with a renewable energy plant that can supply electricity for conducting electrolysis, and an offtaker to whom the green hydrogen can be delivered for transmission to the end users. A smooth implementation of the supply chain may, therefore, require development of back-to-back projects. To mitigate such risks and augment the financial viability of the green hydrogen sector, pilot projects are being developed in an ecosystem where the end-use takes place in close proximity to the production site. This model has been adopted for the development of a project at Puertollano in Spain where the green hydrogen, produced using electricity from a solar power plant, will be supplied to an ammonia plant located in the same vicinity. The Department of Science and Technology (India) is also working on a Hydrogen Valley Platform to create an ecosystem along the lines of the existing hydrogen valleys in Europe, to concentrate the production, transportation and end use of green hydrogen in a single region. Once the efficacy of closed-circuited pilot projects has been established, such local hydrogen economies will pave the way for the expansion of the supply chain at a macroeconomic level.

According to estimates, around US$ 300 billion will be invested worldwide in the green hydrogen energy sector by 2030. However, given the nascent nature of the industry and the magnitude of inter-dependence in the supply chain, banks and lending institutions may be wary of financing such projects, unless each link of the supply chain is adequately tied up with other links. Green hydrogen is produced using electrolysers, a technology for which the performance standards are yet to be established. The lenders may perceive this as an additional risk and may require robust manufacturer warranties, backed by insurance to ringfence the technological risks associated with a green hydrogen project. The multiple end-uses of green hydrogen, such as providing feedstock to chemical industries or fuel for the transportation sector, will further require the lenders to develop tailor-made financing packages for each project, based on the risk analysis of the industry of the intended end-use.

The regulatory support provided by the GoI will be key to the take-off and the subsequent scaling-up of the green hydrogen energy in the country. While the stakeholders are awaiting the formulation of guidelines under the National Hydrogen Mission, it is imperative that the measures adopted by the GoI are aimed at lowering the production cost to enable green hydrogen to compete with fossil fuels and other renewable resources in terms of pricing. This may be achieved by the grant of subsidies for the equipment required to be deployed at each stage of the supply chain, or in the form of fiscal incentives to promote the demand for green hydrogen. Once the necessary infrastructure is in place, a carbon emissions tax to disincentivise the use of fossil fuels may also be considered by the GoI to support the green hydrogen energy sector.

Green hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise the sectors, which currently have the largest carbon footprint in the world. With the capability to provide a zero-emission fuel, green hydrogen is well placed to be integrated into the transport sector and replace the use of coal and coke in the industrial sector. India’s transition towards a green hydrogen economy can be a testament to the world on the achievement of energy security, without compromising the goal of sustainable development. The GoI, therefore, must strongly pursue the objective of creating a GHE to make India a global manufacturing hub of green hydrogen and place itself
at the top of the green hydrogen export market.