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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At a time when Indian solar energy development is hailed as a success story in the country and across the world, off-grid solar remains the underdog, with sales dropping by 48 percent compared to 2019, according to new figures by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association, which collated market data from July to December 2020. While grid-connected solar has bounced back after the Covid crisis, off-grid solar sales have been decreasing since 2018, a trend aggravated by the impact of the lockdown from which the sector is hardly recovering. India has a renewable energy target of 175GW of installed capacity by next year, including 100GW of solar. Of this, a share of 40GW is allocated to off-grid capacity, which includes rooftop panels, solar lamps, solar pumps for irrigation and more. By the end of 2019, India had installed just 5.4GW of decentralised solar.
Renewable energy business Sprng Energy, set up by the London-based investment firm Actis, is giving up on 100MW of Indian wind due to delays caused by the Covid crisis and uncertainties over potential buyers for the energy produced. The project, to be built in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, could be canceled if the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) agrees to scrap the Power Purchase Agreement the company signed after winning the auction. This is just the latest example of a streak of renewable deals falling through due to failure to secure the distribution chain - something that is holding back clean energy development and, according to analysts, is starting to spook previously enthusiastic foreign investors.
As the share of solar in India’s energy mix grows, the country still lacks a disposal system for photovoltaic panels reaching the end of their life. Now researchers warn that if India were to deploy the expected 347.5GW of solar panels by 2030, around 2.95 billion tons of discarded minerals could add to its mounting e-waste problem by 2047. According to scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and NorthCap University in Gurgaon, this would include $645 trillion worth of metals such as gold, aluminum, copper and silver. About 70 percent of the discarded solar components could be recycled, recovering $452 trillion worth of crucial minerals.
After facing criticism for heavily taxing the import of battery powered vehicles, the government has thrown its weight behind clean transportation. The new fiscal budget announced last week abolishes the previously imposed 30 to 80 percent excise duty on the import of electric vehicles, and significantly reduces custom duties which currently stand at 60 percent, for the next five years. According to the government, the taxes had been imposed to help the country respond to the Covid crisis, but proved to be very unpopular. With the new budget, the government has also promised to build 500 charging points across the country and replace all light fossil fueled vehicles within ten years.
Nepal🇳🇵declare to phase-out all fossil-fuel based light vehicles by electric in next 10years #FiscalBudget— Manjeet Dhakal (@manjeetdhakal) May 29, 2021
A good move indeed to decarbonize transport sector, also contribute towards reducing #AirPollution & its negative health impacts & budget deficit caused by petroleum import pic.twitter.com/F3mdo9aEns
Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement to enter a new phase of the flagship North-South Gas Pipeline project, now renamed the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline. While the original plan was for Russia to pay for and own the pipeline for 25 years, now Pakistan will be the major shareholder with 74 percent of the $2.25 billion project. The 1,122km pipeline will connect Karachi to Kasur. The project holds great strategic importance for Pakistan which has a high gas deficit and with better infrastructure will be able to distribute imported fuel across the country as new LNG terminals are being installed.
More than 6,500 springs and streams provide the bulk of Bhutan’s freshwater, but the government’s forest department warned that due to climate change about a third of them are drying up. This is already affecting agriculture with possible loss of production and quality as well as outbreaks of pests and diseases fueled by erratic weather patterns. A government official called for the prioritisation of water management with more investment and better management on the ground to avoid an impending crisis.
Animation shows #Satellite images of #Yamuna River near Yamuna Nagar. Sand mining in the river between 2017 & 2021 has led to massive changes in the river and the river doesnt have a proper course in this section any more.— Raj Bhagat P #Mapper4Life (@rajbhagatt) May 28, 2021
It is now a set of interconnected pools pic.twitter.com/e0czz08cZ7
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