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 new policy for the hydrogen economy
India has unveiled its much awaited green hydrogen policy, which sets out steps to enable the country to produce 5 million tonnes of the fuel per year by 2030, half of what the EU plans to generate by the same date.
- As part of a set of aggressive incentives, green hydrogen and ammonia producers will enjoy priority connectivity to the grid, and inter-state transmission free of charge for 25 years.
- In order to guarantee a more stable supply of renewable energy such as solar and wind power, which are intermittent by nature, green hydrogen and ammonia manufacturers will be allowed to ‘store’ the green power they purchase with the distribution company for 30 days, and use it up whenever needed within that time frame.
However, according to a government official, a global shortage of electrolysers and lack of local manufacturing could stifle India’s progress before it even begins.
To know more about green hydrogen in South Asia, The Third Pole has a comprehensive explainer.
Ukraine crisis bites
Geopolitical tensions between Russia, the world’s third-largest producer of oil and second-largest producer of natural gas, and Ukraine are rattling energy markets everywhere, as the crisis could lead to disruption of fuel routes. India, which imported a relatively modest 1.8 million tonnes of thermal coal from Russia in 2021, as well as some oil and gas, is feeling the heat too. Energy and pharma stocks closed on a negative note last Friday for the second week in a row, a trend that analysts expect will last for a couple of months.
Progress for Delhi’s electric mobility
Within the next two months, three hundred e-buses and more than three thousand auto rickshaws, including 743 reserved for women drivers, will hit Delhi’s roads as part of the capital’s ongoing effort to decarbonise last mile connectivity and provide employment for women.
The 3598 e-rickshaw permits, which will give access to incentives to purchase the vehicles, have been allocated from a list of 20,000 applicants.
Innovation brings solar to remote areas
A new solar water pumping system can bring clean energy to hard-to-reach households by carrying six foldable panels on a tractor-like structure from one farm to another. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar in the state of Odisha have mounted the panels on a simple trolley which can be attached to a moving tractor head and connected to two types of pumps. The idea is being trialed in 13 locations across the state.
Gas on the agenda for Pakistan-Russia meeting
Pakistan’s worsening energy crisis will be on the agenda of the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Russian government, where the leader is expected to bring up two mega gas pipeline projects, according to sources who spoke with The Express Tribune. Military and civilian leaderships are reportedly in agreement about the importance of the Pakistan Gas Stream Project and the Kazakhstan gas project set up by Russia, which once completed could guarantee a steady supply of the fuel to Pakistan via Azerbaijan.
Not quite a Billion Trees
The flagship programme ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’, which was due to be completed by 2023 and was slated to receive the equivalent of $622 million for plantation efforts, is less than halfway through the task with only 43 percent of the expected trees already in the ground. According to an investigation, the programme received less than a half of the expected funding in 2020, and a cut of nearly 79 percent in 2021.
Who ensures solar quality?
The influx of sub-standard solar equipment from China is a longstanding concern in Bangladesh, and the government has prepared a stringent set of parameters to measure the performance of components such as modules, inverters, batteries and charge controllers. However, industry leaders have warned the country currently lacks the testing facilities to perform the mandatory checks on imported products, potentially causing another bottleneck in the already struggling renewable industry.
Putting a price to climate risks
The Nepal Rastra Bank has issued the most detailed guidelines to date to help financial institutions incorporate climate risks such as flood, drought and cyclones in their investment decisions. With the revised Guidelines on Environmental and Social Risk Management for Banks and Financial Institutions 2022, Nepal’s central bank provides a checklist for lenders to assess the safety of loans to infrastructure projects that could be vulnerable to climate change.
The cost of hydropower delays
Rising costs and delays in the construction of two major hydropower projects is expected to plunge the country’s economy into further debt, according to industrialists in the country. Hydropower is the backbone of the Bhutanese economy and in 2021 it exported about 75 percent of its electricity to India: any disruption at the source will raise export tariffs. Every day of delay, an industry leader has warned, costs Bhutan somewhere between $174,000 and $187,000.
On Twitter this week
🇮🇳 India is betting big on solar parks to meet its ambitious climate targets.
🚨 But there could be a dark side to these green energy plans.
With more communities losing land and income, we go inside some of the world’s biggest solar farms to ask: are they worth it? 🧵 pic.twitter.com/TeCYzfz4gnFebruary 15, 2022
Research and further readings
- Analysis: Why India's Budget Push To Infrastructure Should Consider Climate Resilience - While building new climate-proofed infrastructure is expensive, it may be relatively inexpensive compared to rebuilding infrastructure after they have been destroyed, or retrofitting them at a future date, experts argue.
- Opinion: India's technology path key to global steel decarbonisation - The global steel industry is poised to shift from coal to hydrogen. With enough high-quality iron ore and low prices for hydrogen, India could play a pivotal role in global steel decarbonisation given its large and growing economy.
- Analysis: Transmission lines' worth lost in the din of charged-up MCC row - As Nepal becomes an energy surplus country, its capacity to evacuate power to neighbouring states will be key to supporting its economy. The controversial $500 million US grant, still pending due to Nepalese hesitancy, could make or break the country’s energy ambitions.
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