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:
Hydrogen economy and the next Union Budget
The India Hydrogen Alliance, a coalition of global and Indian companies, has asked India’s finance minister to strengthen the commitment towards a hydrogen economy in the upcoming Union Budget, which will be unveiled on 1 February. The group, led by Reliance Industries, JSW Steel and Chart Industries, asked that the government set aside $1 billion for a Hydrogen Economy Development Fund (HEDF) and a Public-Private Hydrogen Taskforce. Hydrogen is expected to play a strategic role in the decarbonisation of some industrial sectors such as steel, cement and heavy duty transport, and India, which has launched its own Hydrogen Mission with production targets for the end of the decade, has signalled it wants to be ahead of the game and invest aggressively in the sector.
Solar energy to India’s coal state
The coal-dependent eastern state of Jharkhand has started to receive solar power from the Western state of Gujarat as part of an agreement that mandates the purchase of a certain amount of renewable energy in the mix, with an initial 200MW. The state’s distribution company, Jharkhand Bidyut Viratan Nigam Limited (JBVL), had signed a deal with the government owned Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in 2018, for the provision of 700MW of energy at 2.5 rupees ($0.034) per unit, a record low price.
A pitch for a carbon neutral Gujarat
The Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries has signed a preliminary deal with the government of Gujarat to invest the equivalent of $80.6 billion towards the state’s energy transition over the next 10 to 15 years. The bulk of the investment will go towards setting up 100GW of renewable energy projects, and the energy giant is currently identifying areas suitable for the installations. In a statement, the company added that the effort will generate a million jobs in the sector.
A truce in the Chinese trade war
According to a Bloomberg exclusive, the Indian government is considering easing some of its restrictions on Chinese investments in the country, which according to industry leaders in the tech and renewable space were harming the development of the solar and electric vehicle sectors, among others. Undisclosed sources told the newswire that the Modi administration is considering exemptions for companies with less than 10 percent foreign ownership, after investment proposals as high as $6 billion were left stuck due to the trade barriers.
Bangladesh’s first green bond, seeking $400 million to finance 230MW of solar capacity, was launched last week in the country. Green bonds have gained momentum in Asia as tools to achieve countries’ climate goals after the region's main financial hubs such as China and Hong Kong paved the way for a growing pool of investors.
The fight against mangrove destruction
A lawyers’ association and a youth environmental group have served legal notice to two government officials and 10 other individuals, including the chief conservator of forests, the director general of the environment department and the police superintendent of the local district, after 30,000 trees were felled around the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar earlier this month.
The notice highlighted the government’s inaction on a chronic issue that is damaging Bangladesh’s coastal ecosystem as well as reducing its resilience against climate change impacts such as coastal erosion and extreme weather.
The hydrogen gamble
The hydropower rich country is officially investigating whether it could use its vast clean energy resources to generate green hydrogen to power the local economy. A chief engineer with the Department of Hydropower and Power Systems (DHPS) said that hydrogen could help decarbonise the country’s transport system and help improve the country’s balance of payment.
Today, prime minister Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping will deliver the first highly anticipated addresses to an online audience on the first day of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
The week-long meeting, which will be held digitally for the second year due to the pandemic, will discuss the state of the world and the climate challenge with heads of state and thought leaders. Tune in here to catch today’s sessions.
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