Lights On Briefing: Debunking Adani's net zero pledge, Nepal's changing clouds and more

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Lights On Briefing: Debunking Adani's net zero pledge, Nepal's changing clouds and more

Happy Monday and welcome to today’s Lights On, a newsletter that brings you the key stories and exclusive intel on energy and climate change in South Asia.

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A push for storage

As part of a broader effort to inject a greater amount of green energy into the mix, the government will be calling for bids to set up around 4GWh of large scale battery storage located at regional load dispatch centres, which manage the grid’s electricity load.

Better storage is expected to tackle the intermittency issue that still prevents a greater uptake of solar and wind energy, which is only available at certain times of the day.

The power minister RK Singh, who announced the measure, explained that developers will now be able to ‘park’ the excess energy produced when solar radiation is high or wind is heavy, and then draw from the batteries when more energy is needed, for example after sunset.

Rajasthan’s new EV policy

Rajasthan is the latest Indian state to announce a set of incentives to boost electric mobility, after Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi. The new policy offers discounts on the sales of electric vehicles, including refunds of the state component of the pan-Indian goods and services tax (GST). Customers switching to electric motorbikes or auto rickshaws are eligible for subsidies ranging from INR 5,000 ($67) to 20,000 ($270), on top of the benefits granted by the national EV policy FAME II. Unlike other states, Rajasthan won’t extend the subsidies to electric cars or buses.

Debunking Adani’s net zero pledge

Despite vowing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 through aggressive investment in green energy technologies, the ports-to-power business conglomerate Adani is now under fire for setting out to make a net contribution to climate change instead. According to new data by the non-profit Market Forces, the group is doubling its coal-fired power capacity to 24 gigawatts and plans to own, develop or operate new coal mines with a combined capacity of 132 million tons a year, as well as adding new coal and LNG terminals at Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone ports. Campaigners say that these plans are poised to contribute to global warming for years to come, rather than preparing for the promised energy transition.

ReNew Power enters the open access space

India's leading renewable energy producer ReNew Power is planning to treble its market share by tapping into the electricity open market, where consumers looking to buy more than 1MW of energy can choose an individual provider offering the best price, instead of entering a more expensive long term agreement with a single supplier. The move is expected to expand the company’s capacity in the so-called open access space from 500 MW to 3-5 GW within the next three years.


Sindh province ramps up environmental investment

Home to Pakistan’s most populous city and financial capital Karachi, the southeastern province is embarking on the highest ever investment in environmental management, worth 1.2 billion Pakistani rupees ($7.5 million). The budget is set aside to finance sewage treatment plants in major cities as well as the creation of urban forests covering 809 hectares of land. However, despite the unprecedented investment, the environment remains low in the list of the local government’s priorities for the year 2021-2022, ranking seventh after education, health, agriculture, infrastructure development, local government and irrigation.

On Twitter this week

1/ Cyclone stats from our new study on the "changing status of cyclones in the north Indian Ocean".
Key message:
◉ The frequency, duration, and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea have increased significantly. Slight decrease in frequency in the Bay. 17, 2021

Research and further readings

  • Analysis: Global climate change laggards identified by MSCI emissions tracker - Despite the growing number of net zero corporate pledges, emissions from global listed companies are poised to exceed the Paris Agreement targets in just six years, according to a new tracker by index provider MSCI covering more than 9,000 companies. The main culprits are companies based in China and India.
  • Report: India’s renewable energy subsidies fell nearly 45% since their FY 2017 peak - Financial support for renewable energy has fallen sharply over the past four years, making it harder for India to reach energy independence as well as the clean transition it has set out to achieve, according to a new study. On the other hand, support for fossil fuels has increased to seven times the sum of all clean energy subsidies.
  • Analysis: India’s wicked problem: how to loosen its grip on coal while not abandoning the millions who depend on it - A field study visiting one of India’s coal hubs identifies the main bottlenecks to the energy transition, and offers evidence-based suggestions on how to move away from fossil fuels in a way that is effective and respectful of the communities who still depend on them.
  • Long read: Hydropower push leaves Pakistani Kashmir's capital hot and bothered - As Pakistan seeks new sources of green energy, officials are diverting rivers through tunnels to harness clean hydropower. But the diversions are also causing a range of problems, from hotter urban temperatures to water shortages and sewage buildups in riverbeds once rushing with water.
  • Long read: Is climate change barging in? - A dispatch from Nepal follows four years of environmental extremes, from drought to floods and landslides, tracing their origins back to a change in cloud movements. “If the events of these past five years are any indication of the extreme events likely to occur due to climate change, it seems climate change is already barging in rather than knocking on the door gently,” the author concludes.

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