egNEW DELHI: The NDA government has finally taken the first step towards formulating a policy for hydropower projects on the Ganga — Alakananda and Bhagirathi rivers —in Uttarakhand.


Water resources minister Uma Bharti informed the National Ganga River Basin Authority on Monday that a committee comprising officials of the environment and water resources ministry had been asked to review the reports of three committees dealing with hydropower projects on the two key tributaries of the Ganga in Uttarakhand. The government had been recently pulled up by the Supreme Court for delaying a decision on the fate of the hydropower projects in the state.


There have so far been four reports assessing the carrying capacity of the The NDA government has finally taken the first step towards formulating a policy for hydropower projects on the Ganga — Alakananda and Bhagirathi riversand Bhagirathi rivers. The most recent of these is the report by the Supreme Court mandated expert body headed by Ravi Chopra, member of the NGRBA and director, People’s Science Institute, Dehradun.


The group was asked to determine whether hydropower projects along Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers and their tributaries contributed to environmental degradation and the Uttarakhand disaster.


The expert group said that hydropower projects had played significant role in the Uttarakhand disaster, and recommended that at least 23 hydropower projects be dropped, and stressed on the urgent need to improve the environment governance of hydropower projects.


Successive Uttarakhand governments have been opposed any move to restrict development of hydropower projects, arguing that it would adversely impact the state’s economy.


Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat, who was attending the NGRBA meet, told the authority that “the two natural resources and strengths of the state are its forests and river water but both are closely linked to environment and heavily regulated. Thus the economy of the state gets severely affected, as the full potential of the state cannot be harnessed.”

(Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2014)




NEW DELHI: Indian infrastructure companies are keen to execute projects in Vietnam that will help more than double the bilateral trade to USD 15 billion by 2020, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today said.


He said that dialogue is on with domestic companies to set up projects in Vietnam on build, operate and transfer basis.


At an interactive session of visiting Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Goyal said: “Your trip will set the tone for economic ties between the two countries and also take forward the people-to-people exchange.”


“Given the fact that there is very low penetration in the renewable energy in Vietnam, India has a lot to offer in that field, ” the minister said.


Going forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government aims to double the bilateral trade from USD 7 billion to USD 15 billion by 2020.


“In the field of energy there is great potential to expand the relationship, to move forward expeditiously, considering that in all fields — thermal, renewable or hydro energy — India has made rapid strides,” he added.


The Indian government is also looking at expanding bilateral ties and will offer both technological and financial services to Vietnam.


Jet Airways will start a direct airline services to Vietnam from November 5. The flights will connect Delhi and Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh City.


It may be noted that private power utility Tata Power had last year signed an agreement with Vietnamese government for setting up a 1,320 MW thermal plant.


The project, consisting of two units of 660 MW each is likely to come up at an investment of over Rs 10,000 crore.

(Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2014)




NEW DELHI: The power tariff hike scheduled from next month may be shelved as Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) is first going to seek a clarification from the Election Commission due to the model code of conduct. A new power purchase adjustment charges (PPAC) surcharge is scheduled to be announced by the end of the month. If the EC gives a green signal, the surcharge expected to be announced by Friday will be implemented from November 1. Sources say a surcharge of 5-7% could be likely.


The EC can notify bypolls on Tuesday following which the model code of conduct will be in place. “In this situation, the EC will bar any new announcements or schemes till the bypolls are over on November 25. DERC is waiting for a clarification before it proceeds with the PPAC announcement,” said sources.


Last week, discoms BSES Yamuna, BSES Rajdhani and Tata Power Delhi submitted their petition to the regulator for PPAC. BYPL has sought an increase of 17.1%, BSES Rajdhani 7.26% and Tata Power for 9% due to fuel costs. The PPAC surcharge is for costs incurred by discoms between July-September 2014 and will be applicable in consumer bills from November 1 to January 31, 2015.


The discoms, particularly BRPL and BYPL, have been demanding significant hike in tariff citing rise in power purchase cost. Official figures show around 80-90% of total revenue of discoms goes into purchasing power from central and state government entities through long-term power purchase agreements at rates determined by the central and state regulators. DERC had introduced PPAC in 2012 to help discoms recover additional cost due to increase in coal and gas prices.

(Source: The Times of India, October 28, 2014)




DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Monday sought a package of Rs 9,222 crore to rejuvenate the Ganga, the delegation of power to approve hydel projects up to 25 Mw and the review of the eco-sensitive zone along the river Bhagirathi in Uttarkashi district.


“We need to contain the contamination to the river in the origin (Uttarakhand) itself and try to take preventive measures. Only then the pollution level of the river downstream can be controlled and brought down,” Rawat told a meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGBRA) at New Delhi.


The Chief Minister also said the powers of clearances to hydel projects up to 25 Mw should also be delegated to Uttarakhand in order to harness the water resource in a balanced way.


The major component of the Rs 9,222-crore package includes Rs 7,634 crore for installing domestic treatment plants in 132 towns/villages along the Ganga.


“There are 132 townships along Ganga and its tributaries which require domestic sewerage system costing Rs 7,634 crore,” he said, adding further, “The government has identified 730 locations in the Chardham Yatra route and other mela areas where community toilets costing Rs 219 crore should be set up due to huge seasonal congregations there.”


He said 159 locations have also been identified where traditional cremations take place in the hill state along the river stretch. These locations need improved wood-based or electric crematoriums which would reduce waste disposal to Ganga. The cost of building such crematoriums is around Rs 52.47 crore.


In addition to this, 233 locations were identified where solid waste management is required with decentralsed landfills, costing Rs 829.66 crore. Besides, 1,223 locations have been identified in Chardham and other yatra routes and tourist spots for bio-digester toilets costing Rs 122.30 crore.


On the lines of Sabarmati river in Gujarat, visitor flow and heritage-mapping studies are underway for river front development in Rishikesh and Haridwar. An investment of Rs 300 crore for creating infrastructure for the river front development will be required in the two towns, according to the chief minister.


The Chief Minister also called for a review of the 4,197.59 sq km eco-sensitive zone in Uttarkashi district along Bhagirathi, saying there is a lot of resentment among the local people on the issue.


“The eco-sensitive zone notification for an area has caused a lot of resentment and discouragement in the state in its developmental works. This needs to be re-looked and a balance between concerns of the state on economic development and ecological management must be ensured,” he said.


Expressing the state’s concern over the diverse views taken about the minimum ecological flow into various river systems of Uttarakhand, according to a PTI report, Chief Minister Rawat underlined the need for a group of experts to interact with the stakeholders and arrive at a consensus on the issue to help the state abide by the parameters set.

(Source: Business Standard, October 28, 2014)




NEW DELHI: To ensure continued fuel supply to coal-based power plants, the Ministry of Power has floated a Cabinet note seeking approval to meet requirements of generators whose linked blocks are to be de-allocated by March 31, 2015.


The Cabinet note, seen by BusinessLine , states the Ministry has sought approval to meet 90 per cent of coal requirement of such plants by signing fuel supply agreements to keep them running at 85 per cent plant load factor. This would include plants constructed after 2009. There is also a proposal to convert tapering linkages of three years into full time linkages of 20 years.


The note recommends that the Ministry of Coal should sign fuel supply agreement to meet the requirements of projects aggregating 4,700 MW.


The proposal does not cover plants where only a Letter of Assurance has been signed.


For such plants, the Power Ministry proposes to allow imported or e-auctioned coal with the pass through in costs to be determined at the appropriate electricity commission. In the event of a shortfall in coal supply, the note recommends pooled prices of domestic and international coal. The proposals, if accepted by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, is expected to benefit 25,000 MW of capacity in the private sector and help electricity generators like Adani Power, Tata Power, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Reliance Power, Essar, GMR, GVK, among others.

(Source: Business Line, October 28, 2014)





NEW DELHI: Tata Power Company Ltd plans to complete work on a $1.8 billion thermal power station in Vietnam three years early, government officials said, as the two countries strive to showcase the economic ties between them.


Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, visiting India just a month after India’s president travelled to his country, said he had met Tata group officials and that the 1,320 megawatt project would be completed by 2019 instead of 2022.


Tata Power won the contract last year to develop the coal-fired Long Phu 2 Power Project in the southern Soc Trang province of Vietnam on a build, own and transfer basis. Indian officials also said the project had been brought forward.


“I have promised to the Tatas we will create favourable conditions for the power project,” Dung told a business conference. “They said this project is not the final step, they are interested in expanding the relationship further.”


The strengthening of ties between the two countries, in defence as well, comes as both are embroiled in territorial disputes with China.


Trade between the two countries increased by over 30 per cent to $8 billion in 2013/14 from the previous year, the Indian foreign ministry said.


Dung said trade could hit $20 billion by 2021, far outstripping a target of $15 billion.


“India and Vietnam are two thriving economies at this point. This offers us a strong opportunity to build ties further,” Dung said.


Vietnam expects economic growth of 6.2 per cent in 2015, faster than the targeted 5.8 per cent this year. India’s gross domestic product grew a faster-than-expected 5.7 per cent year-on-year in the quarter ended in June, the fastest pace in two and half years.


India’s Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd also has signed a memorandum of understanding on the management of an expressway connecting Hanoi to the port city of Haiphong under an approximately $2 billion contract.

(Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2014)




RAIPUR: London-listed Vedanta Resources founder and executive chairman Anil Agrawal said that the its stalled power plant in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district had hampered other projects of the company in the state.


Agrawal landed here Monday to talk to the authorities to get consent to operate for its 1200-Mw power plant set up in Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (Balco) facility in Korba district. The construction of power plant was completed two years ago and since then it had been lying idle.


“The Chhattisgarh government should take initiative for starting the power plant at the earliest,” Agrawal said. The stalled power plant had cast shadow on company’s expansion and new projects in Chhattisgarh, he said, adding that the project was National property and should be allowed to operate without further delay.


The Vedanta Resources chief said the company had invested Rs 15,000 crore on the expansion of Balco in which it has 51 per cent stake while remaining 49 per cent share lied with the Government of India. The company had planned to make Balco the biggest aluminium facility in the country by enhancing aluminium production to 1 million tonne per annum, Agrawal said. The project had been badly affected.


The proposed aluminium park project in which Balco would have a larger role to play had also come to a standstill. “Only after the expansion, the company could ensure raw material for the 100 units proposed in the park that would add value to the product in the state and general a job number of job,” Agrawal said.


Agrawal said the government should also ensure better linkage of coal for the industry to avoid use of imported coal. The companies had been passing through worst coal crises and hence the government should take immediate action.


Reacting to the delay in getting its project approved in Chhattisgarh, Vedanta Resources chief said it would affect the industrial growth. “Madhya Pradesh and other states are fasting emerging as dream destination for investors because of its policies,” he added.

(Source: Business Standard, October 28, 2014)





NEW DELHI: India is about to witness a massive scaling up of solar power capacity to 100,000 Mw, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) to prepare an action plan by November first week.


Aiming to reach this target in five years, before the next general elections, the government is expediting the work by directing states to identify suitable locations across terrains – deserts, wastelands, national highways, river banks and even over canals (as was done in Gujarat).


With Modi at the helm, as the chief minister of Gujarat, the state had become one of the largest contributors in the cumulative renewable energy mix of the country. At 900 Mw, Gujarat is still the largest contributor to the country’s total installed solar power capacity of 2,600 Mw.


The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto has also promised a considerable push to clean energy.


The target is five times the target designated under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), one of the key programmes of the earlier United Progressive Alliance government. Large solar projects similar to coal-based ultra mega power projects, solar parks, micro grids and solar rooftops – all would be a part of the project.


MNRE recently announced a draft proposal on bidding for solar projects worth 3,000 Mw – double the original target in JNNSM.


Officials said the total projected amount for this mega plan is Rs 1,00,000 crore for five years, with the per year amount falling to Rs 20,000 crore in two-three years when the price of solar power inches towards grid parity.


“The cost of gas-based power plants has gone up and with coal looking at fresh auctions; thermal power prices would also go up. The current price of solar power production is Rs 6.5 crore per Mw. So, with a viability gap funding (VGF) support of Rs 1 crore per Mw, solar is looking at parity with coal very soon,” said a senior government official.


The government, though, would look at all possible models – VGF, power bundling, state support – according to size and type of project.


The average cost of setting up a coal-based power plant is about Rs 3.5-4 crore per Mw and a gas-based plant Rs 5.5 crore per Mw.


MNRE is also setting up a single-window clearance agency to promote investment in solar power. “We have written to major banks in the country to increase their credit limit for the solar power sector. Also, multilateral agencies are also on board to design an investment road map for the 100,000 Mw target,” said a senior MNRE official.


MNRE has joined hands with PwC to prepare a report on the execution of the programme, which is likely to be presented to the clean energy enthusiast prime minister by November 4 or 5.


Government officials said agencies such as ADB, KfW, World Bank and US Exim Bank are already a part of the action plan.


Following the directions from the Minister of State for Coal, Power and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, the ministry of new and renewable energy is also approaching top 500 private companies and 50 public sector companies, to sign commitment for developing solar power and set a trend for the sector.

(Source: Business Standard, October 28, 2014)




HYDERABAD: Acme Cleantech Solutions Ltd. on Monday said it has won a bid to develop 160 megawatt (MW) of solar power projects in Andhra Pradesh.


The projects will be set up in the Anantapur, Kurnool and Chittoor districts in Andhra Pradesh and will require an estimated investment of `1,250 crore, the company said in a statement.


“This win is the country’s largest win by any private solar developer,” Manoj Kumar Upadhyay, founder and chairman of Acme Group said in the statement. “With this addition, our solar power portfolio has reached 422.5 MW and we are on way to generate 1000 MW by year 2017,” Upadhyay added.


The company will sign a 25-year power purchasing agreement with Southern Power Distribution Co. Ltd in Andhra Pradesh.


A total of 51 bidders participated in the tender process.


Bifurcated Andhra Pradesh is one of the three states chosen by the union government for the power for all scheme that will ensure 24X7 power supply. The N. Chandrababu Naidu government is keen on harnessing solar energy for electricity generation.


Public sector National Thermal Power Corp. (NTPC) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh government to develop a 1,000 MW solar park on a build-own-operate basis with an investment of `7,000 crore. The Union government also agreed to grant `500 crore to Andhra Pradesh to develop 2,500 MW of solar energy, PTI reported on 24 October.


Acme Group has solar power projects in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

(Source: Mint, October 28, 2014)




CHENNAI: Chennai-based ReGen Powertech has come up with a made-for-India wind turbine with a capacity of 2.8 MW. The machine’s blades will sweep a circle of 109-metre diameter.


The turbine has been developed by ReGen’s wholly owned R&D subsidiary in Germany, Wind Direct GmbH, and the company intends to make the machine available for sale by the end of next year. A prototype of the turbine is undergoing testing at ReGen’s test site near Coimbatore.


A unique feature of this (permanent magnet, gearless) turbine is that it comprises two independent power systems of 1.4 MW capacity each. This allows operation of the turbine at half the rated power, so that when one segment is working the other can be taken up for maintenance.


Besides, the box that sits on top of the tower — the nacelle — weighs 156 tonnes, against 250 tonnes of other machines of similar rated capacity, says a press release from ReGen.

(Source: Business Line, October 28, 2014)




CHENNAI: As India gears up for solar projects under the recently-overhauled National Solar Mission programme, a breakthrough in polysilicon manufacturing promises to make solar energy at Rs. 6 or less per kilowatt-hour (kWhr) possible.


Across the world, solar technologists have been grappling with the issue of converting more of sun’s energy falling on solar panels into electricity. While chasing ‘efficiency’ has been the primary means of achieving cost-reduction, a US-headquartered company, which is active in India, has achieved a technological breakthrough in the manufacture of Polysilicon, a key raw material.


SunEdison’s “high pressure fluidised bed reactor” technology has made energy costs of producing polysilicon “irrelevant”, according to Pashupathy Gopalan, who head’s the US solar giant’s Asia-Pacific operations.


Conventional manufacturing processes consumes 40-50 kWhr of electricity to make a kilogram of polysilicon. In contrast, SunEdison’s FBR technology would need 3-5 kWhr. A corollary of this is the point that with energy costs coming down so drastically, it now makes sense to put up a polysilicon plant in India.


The FBR technology was recently implemented in a polysilicon plant in Korea, a joint venture of SunEdison and Samsung Fine Chemicals.


The technology will enable SunEdison — which is a solar power plant owner as well as a polysilicon and modules producer — to deliver ‘400 Watt peak’ modules at cost of 40 US dollar cents by 2016.


In simpler terms, this means you would need 25,000 of SunEdison’s modules per MW of solar power capacity, against 33,000 of conventional ones. As a result, the plant would call for lesser land and “balance of systems” such as electrical and civil work. Consequently, the costs will come down considerably and solar power developers could profitably sell their electricity at Rs. 6 a unit, Pashupathy Gopalan told BusinessLine .


Asked if SunEdison would put up a polysilicon plant in India, he noted that such a project would call for an investment of about $2 billion and a decision would depend upon the Government’s support. While India has the lure of the market, other countries are more attractive for large-scale projects.


The recently-reworked National Solar Mission has raised the targets. The Government wants to see 15 GW by 2019, as part of its 100 GW ambition, compared with the earlier target of 22,000 by 2020.


SunEdison owns about 100 MW of solar power plants in India, and is building a 100 more and is the largest foreign investor in the Indian solar sector.

(Source: Business Line, October 28, 2014)





NEW DELHI: The government is working overtime to start the auction of coal blocks and introduce a bill in Parliament by December as a follow-up to the ordinance that facilitates the sale and allows the coal sector to be opened up.


Guidelines for the auction will be framed by November and an inter-ministerial panel will be set up to do the groundwork, which follows the Supreme Court’s order scrapping coal blocks awarded to companies since 1993. The panel’s tasks will include identifying mines, segregating them for various sectors and appointing an official liquidator and a commissioner of payments.


The committee will have senior officials from the Ministry of Coal, the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute and the ministries of power and steel, a senior government official said. The government also plans to set up a Directorate General of Coal, on the lines of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons for the petroleum sector, which will conduct the auction of coal blocks in a fair and transparent manner.


The Supreme Court last month cancelled the allocation of coal blocks, including those that have started production, after declaring them illegal. In 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had passed adverse comments against the allotments.


The official said the coal ministry will seek advice from the law ministry on the proposed amendments to two laws governing coal mining in the country — the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act of 1973 and the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act of 1957.


The October 21 ordinance allowing commercial mining by private companies and the auction of coal blocks has to be converted into legislation in the winter session of Parliament, likely to start from November 24.The coal ministry has asked companies whose captive coal blocks were cancelled for details on the cost of land acquired by them and the machinery employed at mines.


If the companies fail to provide the information within a fortnight, the government will presume no cost has been incurred towards land and mine infrastructure.


According to the ordinance, the government will ‘e-auction’ all 204 cancelled captive coal blocks and 74 mines are expected to be put up for sale in the first round, likely in December.

(Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2014)




KOLKATA: Union Coal Secretary SK Srivastava on Monday said the Government is committed to completing the auction of coal blocks “very soon”. He was talking to media persons in Kolkata.


Srivastava, who is scheduled to retire this month, refused to give any timeline for completion of the auction. However, sources told BusinessLine that the Government aims to invite bids by December 15. According to the schedule, auction methodologies should be completed by November 15. The nominated authority, to conduct the auction, may be appointed by November 30.


In a parallel move, the Government will complete the detailed valuation of assets, to fix floor prices for submission of bids. The auction is expected to be completed well within the Court determined window of March 31, 2015.


According to the Srivastava, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, has amended the requisite portions of the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, 1973 (CNM) to help ensure commercial mining of coal by State Government-run outfits.


In its order (in August and September), the Supreme Court cancelled blocks allotted to such outfits citing contradiction with the CNM Act.


“Now there is no difference between the Central government and State government outfits,” Srivastava said.


Interestingly, the Ordinance does not offer any lifeline (like first right of refusal) to the captive mine operators who have invested heavily in suitable plant and machinery.


Srivastava said such options were avoided to ensure that the Government gets maximum value for resources while the allottees of such blocks have the option to get the mines back by outbidding others in the auction.


When asked if the Government will force Coal India to commit more supplies to captive users who do not get back the mines, Srivastava, without directly referring to linkages, said: “the problem (issuing more linkages than desired) cropped up due to various reasons both internal and external.”


He said the present Government is aiming at resolving issues.


On the issue of how supply gap would be resolved, Srivastava did not have a ready answer. He also sidestepped questions on whether the Narendra Modi Government’s planned to revive the contentious issue of pooling the price of imported coal with domestic production of CIL.

(Source: Business Line, October 28, 2014)





KOLKATA: Five trade unions that represent almost 90% of Coal India’s (CIL) workforce are likely to go on an indefinite strike from January in protest against the government’s “unilateral” decision to allot coal blocks to private companies for commercial exploitation. The unions said the government has displayed sheer arrogance by taking “critical decisions” concerning the sector without consulting or involving them in the process.


“Despite repeated requests for involving workmen unions while taking critical policy decisions, the government has taken a series of vital decisions on its own,” said S Q Zama, secretary-general of Indian National Mine Workers’ Federation. “If the government turns arrogant, we also know how to counter it. It happened some 14 years ago in 1999-2000 when the then government tried to amend the Coal Nationalisation Act of 1973 and it will be repeated this time too.”


Zama said the five trade unions had sought a meeting with the coal minister for discussing their demands. “It was verbally assured that the minister would meet them. However, the meeting never happened and the Centre decided on the ordinance (to e-auction coal blocks). We have now decided to meet on October 31 to decide the course of action for the five unions.


It could be anything from a three-day strike to indefinite one,” said Zama. Jibon Roy, secretary-general of All India Coal Workers’ Federation, said they are mobilising workers to ensure that a strike, if called, is a success.


The government, however, said it remains committed to e-auction of coal blocks and that it has already initiated the ground work.


“It will be a successful model, which will be very comprehensive, and it will be done soon,” Union Coal Secretary S K Srivastava said in Kolkata on Monday. “The coal ministry has already initiated talks with eauction companies and sought their views on modalities of e-auction. Letters have already been issued to the coal block allottees to provide details of the assets and the ordinance also deals with delay in providing the details by holders.”


“As anyone who has studied the ordinance, it not only provides for auction, it provides for government dispensation route also. And we have clarified with the ordinance about whatever reservations the Supreme Court had,” he added.

(Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2014)

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