Lights On Briefing: Electrifying India, Nepal caught in the trade war and more

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Lights On Briefing: Electrifying India, Nepal caught in the trade war and more

Happy Monday and welcome to today’s edition of Lights On, with this week’s key stories on energy and climate change in South Asia. For comments and suggestions, reply to this email, and if you are not a subscriber, you can sign up below:


A bright future for solar makers

By 2025 India’s solar module production could rise by 400 percent compared to 2021, adding up to 35GW of module capacity to the current 8GW, according to fresh data from the rating agency CRISIL. Such dramatic growth will be due to a combination of rising demand and the right policies to enable the Indian solar maker to meet it. The agency expects improvements in the energy efficiency and price competitiveness of Indian solar modules, which currently cannot match their imported counterparts.

Towards a fully electric railway

Two government-owned electric locomotive manufacturers have placed orders for key parts worth $25.5 million with Hitachi Energy India, a firm building components and designing systems to enable the energy transition. India’s plan to electrify its vast railway network by 2023, an important element in the country’s net zero targets, is currently full steam ahead with around 70 percent of the world’s fourth largest train network already electrified.

Easier access to rooftop solar

With about 7GW installed against a 2022 target of 40GW, the rooftop segment remains the underdog of India’s solar success story. But things may change as the government is now simplifying the process of equipping roofs with solar panels. New regulations allow consumers to purchase panels from their preferred vendors, instead of from a list of approved manufacturers. Households can also independently install the panels and the distribution companies will have to provide the net meters to sell excess electricity to the main grid within 15 days.

A boost for storage

A new joint venture between India’s largest clean energy company ReNew Power and the American firm Fluence promises to deliver storage solutions for the booming Indian market, projected to reach 108GWh by 2030, from just a few MWh today. The new joint venture aims at bringing global storage solutions to the Indian market. Experts consider the uptake of more efficient and cheaper batteries essential to meeting India’s energy transition goals.


Easing brick kilns’ footprint

All 11,000 traditional brick kilns in the Punjab region have been converted to zigzag technology, in which bricks are arranged to allow hot air to travel in a zigzag pattern that improves the transfer of heat, increasing the brick cooking process’ efficiency and reducing its emissions by about 60 percent. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Climate Change said that the transition in Punjab took six months, and it helped reduce air pollution by about 15 percent. Here’s a video explainer of the zigzag method.


Gas crisis

Bangladesh’s dwindling gas reserves and increasingly expensive imports have plunged the country into a fuel crisis which could see bills soar by more than 100 percent. According to industry leaders, the hike could severely damage domestic industries relying on gas to run their factories, already battered by the pandemic. Consumers are also expected to suffer as higher gas rates add to a recent spike in diesel prices.


Kathmandu caught in the trade war

Nepal’s power producers are facing an unexpected roadblock as they prepare to sell electricity on India’s power exchange market, after the much anticipated approval of the new trading route. Multiple businesses in the energy sector have told the Kathmandu Post that in order to access the Indian market, they have been requested to steer clear from including Chinese partners in their hydropower projects.

“The Indian side has been flatly telling us that they won’t buy electricity from projects with Chinese investment and even projects built by Chinese contractors,” an officer told the Nepalese national newspaper on condition of anonymity.

On Twitter this week:

Listen to @aditimukherji of @IWMI_ to understand how #cleanenergy and #waterconservation go hand in hand👇

Ep link:

Hosts: @shreya_jai & @Sandeeppaii
Produced by: @tejastj88 #TheIndiaEnergyHourPodcast #EnergyTransition 21, 2022

Research and further readings

  • Analysis: How this year's Budget can bring India closer to its green energy target - A must read on what to expect from the upcoming Union Budget for India’s energy transition. The 2022-23 budget, the author says, will likely see the government attempting to lower its fiscal and current account deficit, providing a huge push for domestic manufacturing to reduce reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports.
  • Opinion: Women need greater access to quality energy - The energy sector is proven to be among the most gender unequal globally. Bangladesh, the author argues, is no exception to this trend. And this problem deserves even greater attention now that the country has reached the landmark target of 100 percent electrification.
  • Long read: In Kathmandu, a struggle for water amid worsening floods - Residents of the Nepalese capital face the dual challenges of freshwater aquifers running dry and increasingly unpredictable monsoons causing flash floods. The combination of climate change and a rapidly growing urban population is straining an already overwhelmed municipal water system, forcing many to buy water by the tank at high prices.
  • Study: Effectiveness of protection areas in safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem services in Tibet Autonomous Region - This rare study assesses the conservation efforts in place in one of the most inaccessible and ecologically precious regions of the world, finding that while the existing measures offer sufficient protection to birds, reptiles and plants, new policies should focus on ecosystem services and conservation of biodiversity as a whole.
  • Long read: Climate-adaptation funds have not reached half of 'most vulnerable' nations, study finds - Many countries in Africa and those experiencing armed conflict are struggling to access money set aside to prepare them for climate change, according to new research. The study finds that nearly half of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations, from Haiti to Afghanistan, missed out on the first round of grants for adaptation projects from the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF).

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