Monthly Archives: October 2011

Why the world is burning more coal

Source Gaurdian: This year’s UN climate negotiations are in Durban, South Africa. Many delegates will already be looking forward to the chance of going on safari after their labors, visiting Kruger National Park or one of the country’s other magnificent game reserves. But I have another suggestion. Visit the enemy. Just two hours’ drive up the Indian Ocean coast from Durban is Richards Bay, a huge deep-water harbor that is home to the world’s largest coal export terminal.

Anyone seduced by the conference exhibition halls in Durban, filled with the latest renewable energy technology, will get a rude awakening at Richards Bay. For it may tell the real story of our energy futures — and it is scary.

King coal is extending his kingdom. So dysfunctional is the world’s response to climate change that every year, the dirtiest fuel of them all is generating a growing proportion of the world’s energy.

All the talks in Durban will be of how to kick the coal habit. But as the climate talks have dragged on — from Nairobi in 2006 to Bali to Poznan to Copenhagen to Cancun and now to Durban — we have been hardening our addiction.

When the talks began half a decade ago, 25 percent of the world’s primary energy came from coal. The figure is now 29.6 percent. Between 2009 and 2010, global coal consumption grew by almost 8 percent.

South Africa may enjoy green plaudits for hosting the Durban conference. And, to be fair, it has offered to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy. But the fact is that today the would-be midwife of a global climate deal has rich-world emissions in a predominantly poor-world country. Per head of population, its CO2 emissions are higher than those in the UK, while its GDP per capita is only a sixth as much. It is responsible for about 40 percent of Africa’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning.

The reason is coal. Making energy by burning coal produces twice as much CO2 as by burning natural gas. And South Africa is one of the most coal-dependent nations on Earth, generating 93 percent of its electricity from the black stuff, compared to China’s 80 percent, India’s 70 percent and the U.S.’s 45 percent.

Besides its domestic reliance on coal, South Africa also helps maintain the rest of the world’s ruinous carbon fix. It is the world’s third-largest exporter of power-station coal. Its giant mines in Mpumalanga province feed a constant convoy of coal trains headed for Richards Bay. Recently expanded, the export terminal there can now handle 91 million tons of coal a year — enough to produce more than 200 million tons of CO2. Mining giants Anglo American and BHP Billiton ship that coal to Europe, and, increasingly, to the new industrial powerhouses of Asia.

The world is in the middle of a coal rush. That is why last year — despite much political posturing about curbing greenhouse gas emissions — the 5.8-percent rise in global energy-related CO2 emissions marginally exceeded the global rise in energy consumption. Thanks to coal, the world’s economy is becoming more carbon intensive.

Cynics who said tougher carbon controls in rich nations might increase global emissions by outsourcing energy-intensive industries to poorer nations with laxer standards are, for now at least, being proved right. While many Western economies stall, many developing economies are growing fast. And the continuing heavy dependence of many of them on coal is pushing up the global economy’s reliance on the dirtiest fuel.

China may be the world’s largest producer of wind turbines and solar panels, but its coal consumption has doubled in the past eight years. In 2010, an amazing 48 percent of all the coal burned in the world was burned in China. The country’s roads are clogged with coal trucks headed from mines to power stations. Earlier this month, there was a 40-mile traffic backup out of the major coal-mining region in Shaanxi province. Trucks were taking a week to get down the main highway, which carries 160 million tons of coal a year. Last year, 10,000 vehicles were stuck for days on another coal road, out of Inner Mongolia.

Meanwhile, India’s coal consumption has doubled in 12 years. It is expected to have three times as many coal-burning power stations by the end of the decade. India, like China, has huge coal reserves of its own. But its economy is growing so fast that its miners cannot dig the stuff out of the ground quickly enough, causing a surge in imports. South Africa’s Richards Bay is a major supplier, along with Australia and Indonesia, which is likely to become the world’s top coal exporter before the decade is out.

None of this excuses the West. The U.S. remains the world’s second-largest coal burner, after China. Japan is the world’s largest coal importer, and Germany is the biggest producer of brown coal. The sad truth is that Germany’s plan to shut down its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima accident in Japan is already resulting in resurgent investment in coal. Analysts Point Carbon predict that the switch will increase German CO2 emissions during the coming decade by around half a billion tons.

Why doesn’t the world care? One reason is expediency. The inconvenient truth is that coal remains the world’s cheapest fuel for electricity generation and industrial heat and power. Another is coal’s PR.

“Clean coal” is its cleverest piece of sophistry. Lobby organizations like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — sponsored in the past by BHP Billiton, Duke Energy and others — use the phrase to foster the idea we can have both our coal and our climate. Most insidiously, the industry has persuaded many policymakers that dirty coal today can pay for clean coal tomorrow.

Clean coal is a distant vision, which could someday be possible through a technology known as carbon capture and storage — in which CO2 is stripped from stack emissions, liquefied and buried underground. But large-scale deployment of what would be a massive new industry is at least a couple of decades — and tens of billions of R&D dollars — away. And industry will only do it if forced.

Moreover, since the economic downturn in the West, investment in the necessary R&D to develop the technology has dried up. In September, the International Energy Agency warned that government support for CCS around the world was waning. “With current policies, CCS will have a hard time being deployed,” the agency’s deputy executive director, Richard Jones, told a high-level meeting in Beijing. Steve Chu, Barack Obama’s green-minded energy secretary, warned at the same meeting that “we are losing time. It is very important that we get moving.”

In the U.S., the FutureGen clean-coal pilot project has been stalled since the Bush administration pulled the plug and ordered a re-evaluation in 2008. Under Obama, a test well is being drilled in western Illinois, but the first carbon won’t be buried until 2016 at the earliest.

In Britain, once in the vanguard of action on climate change, the government is scaling back its green energy investment. An early casualty was its flagship $1.6-billion CCS project in Scotland, which was canceled earlier this month. That represented four wasted years. Denmark also canceled a pilot carbon storage project this month.

Nobody expects a UN climate deal in Durban this year — nor next year, nor the year after. But meanwhile the coal keeps burning. Global production is set to rise by 35 percent in the coming decade, according to industry analysts. The cheapest, most abundant and dirtiest of all the fossil fuels is extending its grip on the world’s energy supply system. And nowhere more so than just up the coast from Durban.

Which banks need to worry the most if the power sector defaults?

A struggling power sector is threatening to take down the lenders who funneled money into what was once considered to be the next ‘big thing’ in India’s investment ideas.

Judging by the estimated level of losses that the power distribution sector is racking up and the way projects are taking their own time to be commissioned on the generation side, it’s very likely that banks funding power sector could be heading for some major trouble. On Monday, an  Economic Times article said State Bank of India and ICICI Bank could be some of the names looking at restructuring loans given to the power sector.

That, in itself, is not new: the restructuring of power loans has been talked about for quite some time now. In September, a report by Macquarie, wryly entitled “Gloom doom kaboom,” pointed out  that most experts were grossly underestimating how sharply bad assets and restructuring would push up the credit costs in the next financial year (ending March 2013).

The increase in credit costs could be as much as 20-30 bps (100bps=1 percentage point), according to the brokerage.

Those higher costs could lead companies – and banks – to restructure some of their loans. Up to 3.5 percent of advances could be restructured, Macquarie forecasted, predominantly led by the power sector. In the sector itself, up to 40 percent of advances could be restructured.

Power sector advances constitute nearly 7.3 percent of total outstanding credit for banks. Of this, nearly 30-40 percent is accounted for by state electricity boards (SEBs) and face a much greater likelihood of being restructured if things get any worse. Still, the possibility of these loans turning into bad assets is very slim because the government is very likely to bail out the sector, just as it did in 2001, if the financial crisis deepens further.

So what banks face the greatest risk because of the growing financial woes of the power sector?

Canara Bank has the highest exposure to power, with 13.3 percent of its assets exposed to the sector, while Kotak Mahindra Bank is the least troubled with almost negligible exposure to power, according to Macquarie. Over all, public-sector banks are likely to face more trouble than private-sector banks (see table).

The one silver lining in this case is that there has been a slowdown in disbursal of fresh credit to the power sector recently. Analysts said that while loans have been sanctioned to the power sector, disbursals have been very slow because projects have been slow to take off the ground. In fact, Deepak Parekh, chairman of IDFC, told NDTV Profit recently that only around 10-15 percent of loans sanctioned in the past year have actually been disbursed.

To some extent, that takes care of any additional risk posed by the power sector for bank assets. A recent CLSA report said the ratio of risk-weighted assets (riskier assets)  to total assets had come down for the entire banking sector from the highs of 2008, except in the case of Axis Bank. That means the banking sector is now better placed to face a slowdown or restructuring of loans, if needed, than they were at the peak of the previous economic crisis.

India plans duties on import of Chinese power equipment

Source MINTlive: In a move that may spell trouble for private sector utilities and Chinese makers of power generation equipment, heavy industries minister Praful Patel has called a meeting on Thursday to discuss and push for the imposition of customs duties on imports of such equipment.

The meeting will be attended by officials from the ministries of heavy industries, commerce and power, and follows demands by local manufacturers to restrict Chinese power equipment imports.

Copper bars during the manufacture of dynamo units (File photo Bloomberg)

“This is because domestic companies have been long complaining that they are becoming increasingly uncompetitive due to the cheaper power equipment imported from China,” said a top government official aware of the meeting, who requested anonymity. “If customs duty along with excise duty is imposed on Chinese power equipment, then the effective tax on such imports will be around 17-18%.”

Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) and Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) have been lobbying with the government to limit Chinese competition. According to the contours of an earlier proposal, the imported equipment will be subjected to 5% customs duty, 10% countervailing duty and a special additional duty of 4%.

State-owned Bhel has been facing competition from Chinese power generation equipment firms such as Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp., Shanghai Electric Group Co. Ltd, Dongfang Electric Corp. Ltd and Harbin Power Equipment Co. Ltd, both in domestic and overseas markets.

Power utilities have placed orders for overseas equipment largely because of the inability of local manufacturers to meet growing demand. Chinese imports are relatively cheaper because equipment makers from that country benefit from low interest rates and an undervalued currency. Undervaluing the currency makes exports cheaper and increases demand of products.

“We’re aware about the proposal about levying duties on imported equipment. This is a very sensitive issue and we’ll take some action. It’s an unfair policy,” said an Indian representative of Shanghai Electric.

Patel didn’t respond to phone calls or to a message left on his cellphone on Friday. A Bhel executive, requesting anonymity, confirmed the development.

“There is a forward movement on the proposal,” the official said.

The proposal being pushed by the heavy industries ministry has been in the works for some time and is aimed at creating a level-playing field for domestic companies.

The power ministry was not in favour of such a move until after the start of the 12th Five-year Plan (2012-17). A panel of senior government officials had earlier agreed to impose the taxes.

Planning Commission member Arun Maira has also recommended 14% import duty on power generation equipment to strike a balance between protecting local manufacturers and the need to import equipment to boost power production, Mint reported on 10 February 2010.

“There is an intent on the part of the government to limit Chinese imports,” said another official, who did not want to be named.

Mint reported on 29 September about the government reviving a plan to scrap its so-called mega power plant policy, imposing a 5% customs duty on the import of equipment that goes into thermal projects that will generate at least 1,000 megawatts. However, the move needs to be cleared by the cabinet and the rule will apply only to new projects; firms that have already placed orders with Chinese companies will be exempt.

Power generation equipment makers having a manufacturing base in India—Bhel, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd, and the joint ventures between L&T and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd; Toshiba Corp. and JSW Group; Ansaldo Caldaie SpA of Italy and Gammon India Ltd; Alstom SA of France and Bharat Forge Ltd; BGR Energy Systems Ltd and Hitachi Power Europe GmbH, and Thermax Ltd and Babcock and Wilcox Co.—stand to benefit from such a move.

India’s move to curb Chinese power equipment imports comes at a time when the two countries have been discussing ways to double bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 and to plug a yawning trade gap in China’s favour.

Aggression against a significant trade partner like China will not pay in the long run, said Abhijit Das, head of the Centre for WTO Studies.

“While imposing any such import duty, we have to first of all keep in mind that it is compliant with out commitments under the World Trade Organization and within the bound tariff rates,” he said. “Secondly, it has to be applicable to all countries on a non-discriminatory basis and no country can be singled out.”

India has been complaining about the increasing trade imbalance with China and lack of access for Indian firms to the Chinese market. China is the second-largest trade partner of India, behind only the United Arab Emirates. Indian exports to China were valued at $19.6 billion in 2010-11 and imports from that country $43.5 billion.

Renewable power challenge to grid stability

Source Power-eng:

India is increasingly harnessing renewable power sources like wind and solar to contain the carbon footprint of its power sector. But the disadvantage with them is they are unreliable, infirm sources of power and can cause huge volatility in the grid, especially during the peak period when electricity demand goes up by 15% to 20%. Unless new market instruments like time-of-use pricing are introduced to elicit demand-based response from customers, supplying renewable power to the grid on a large scale might not be feasible.

That would, in turn, require a well-developed retail electricity market with enough choice for customers to switch over to competing suppliers. The government can act as an enabler and provide requisite regulatory and policy support.

“Greater power system flexibility will be essential for well-functioning markets to continue delivering efficient and reliable electricity services while deploying variable renewable generation to meet decarbonisation goals. Effective deployment of demand response could greatly increase power system flexibility, delivering greater electricity security and market efficiency,” says a recent study “Empowering Customer Choice in Electricity Markets” released by the International Energy Agency.

India’s peak power shortfall is estimated at 12%. The country’s electricity demand has outpaced supply despite best efforts by the government to expedite capacity addition. Now the country is focusing on harnessing its solar power generation capacity to reduce the demand-supply mismatch. However, renewable power can present serious challenges to grid management due to its infirm nature.

“Demand response is critical for efficient operation and development of electricity markets, and may be the key to unlocking the power system flexibility needed to deliver cost-effective, reliable and sustainable electricity services into the future. Greater demand response would provide a very cost-effective source of flexibility in the short, medium and longer terms if its potential could be more fully exploited,” says the study.

At the same time, the increasing penetration of variable renewable generation required to decarbonise electricity systems is magnifying power system volatility. Recent trends reinforce the need for greater real-time power system flexibility to permit larger-scale integration of variable renewable generation in a manner that does not unduly compromise the efficient and reliable operation and development of power systems as they make the transition toward carbon neutrality.

From a sustainability perspective, demand response has the potential to greatly increase the volume of real-time flexible resources available to support large-scale integration of variable renewable generation. It also offers the potential to smooth volatility in electricity demand, which may reduce overall carbon emissions by replacing carbon-intense forms of peak generation with lower-emitting generation options. In the longer term, greater demand-side flexibility could be reflected in more efficient forms of electricity use.

Over time, improvements in end-use energy efficiency could result in a permanent reduction in demand compared to previous levels in the absence of demand-side flexibility. This may result in a permanent reduction in carbon emissions where the power saved would have been produced by fossil fuel generation. The potential benefits associated with more effective harnessing of demand response are too substantial to be ignored.

Advanced metering is seen as a key component of the infrastructure to more efficiently manage growing peak use, encourage greater energy efficiency, and facilitate more effective deployment of renewable energy technologies. Advanced metering also facilitates the integration of larger amounts of variable renewable generation and distributed generation.

“Governments have a key role to play in developing and implementing the legal, regulatory and market frameworks which empower customer choice and accelerate the development and deployment of cost-effective demand response. Effective government leadership would create an environment where the considerable potential of demand response could be realised to help increase power system flexibility and electricity security, eventually achieving decarbonisation goals at least cost,” the study says.

India’s gas demand to more than double to 473 mmscmd by 2017

India’s natural gas demand is likely to more than double to 473 million standard cubic meters per day by 2016-17 with most of incremental demand coming from power plants.

As per the projections made by Oil Ministry for the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17), current gas demand of 189 mmscmd is likely to rise to 473 mmscmd.

“The overall demand would grow from 293 mmscmd (in 2012-13) to 473 mmscmd (in 2016-17) over the 12th plan period and from 494 mmscmd (in 2017-18) to 606 mmscmd (in 2021-22) over the 13th plan period,” according to the projections.

“This represents a compounded annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent over the two plan (10 year) periods,” it said.

Of the 473 mmscmd demand at the end of 12th Five Year Plan period, 207 mmscmd would be from power and another 113 mmscmd from fertilizer plants. Power plant would need 307 mmscmd by 2021-22 while fertilizer units may not see any incremental demand during 2017 to 2022.

Domestic natural gas production currently is about 120 mmscmd and another 46.3 mmscmd is imported in form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The total availability of 164 mmscmd is short of current demand of 189 mmscmd.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) produces under 51 mmscmd of gas while output from the prolofic KG-D6 fields of Reliance Industries is about 45 mmscmd. Oil India produces 6.6 mmscmd and another 11.9 mmscmd comes from western offshore Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields.

Of the current supplies, 61.4 mmscmd goes to power sector while fertilizer plants consume 37.7 mmscmd. The remaining is used by city gas projects, refineries, petrochemical plants and sponge iron units.

While KG-D6 gas is priced at USD 4.20 per million British thermal unit, PMT gas is priced at USD 5.57-5.73 per mmBtu. ONGC sells gas to priority sector at USD 4.2 per mmBtu and to non-priority sector at USD 4.2-5.25 per mmBtu. LNG is priced at USD 8.4-16 per mmBtu.

According to the projections, domestic gas ouptu would rise to 210 mmscmd by 2016-17 with ONGC’s gas production rising to 92 mmsmcd. Private firms including Reliance would produce 107 mmscmd.

LNG imports are projected to rise to 258 mmscmd. The incremental imports would come from Petronet LNG Ltd’s currently operational Dahej terminal in Gujarat being expanded to 15 million tons from current 10 million tons and its 5 million tons a year facilities each coming up at Kochi in Kerala and east coast.

New terminals are envisaged at Ennore in Tamil Nadu and Mundra in Gujarat while Royal Dutch Shell’s Hazira terminal in Gujarat is projected to be expanded to 10 million tons from current 3.6 million tons.

GMR Energy to have 5,000 MW thermal capacity in 3 yrs’

GMR Energy, owned by India’s GMR Infrastructure, plans to have nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-based power operating capacity over the next three years, its chief executive officer told Reuters on Saturday.
GMR Energy currently has three power plants in operation, with a combined capacity of about 820 MW. None of these plants are coal-based.
The company has an “investment commitment” of about 300 billion rupees ($6.2 billion) in the energy sector, Raaj Kumar said in an interview, without giving a timeframe.
“Besides thermal projects, we also have a portfolio of five hydro projects, three in India and two in Nepal. We expect to start construction work on one of these projects this financial year,” Kumar said.
“Hydro capacity will start coming only from year 2016-17 onwards,” he added.
In India, thermal power projects are essentially coal-based, as solar power is yet to pick up in the country.
“Several thermal projects are in construction now, such as 600 MW in Maharashtra, 1400 MW in Orissa and 1370 MW in Chhattisgarh,” he said.
“We will start generating from these projects from year 2012 onwards and we expect to commission the last one, which is the Chhattisgarh project, in 2013-14.”
The company came under criticism in Chhattisgarh last month from the state’s chief minister, Raman Singh, who said GMR Energy had started construction work on the project before it received permission.
GMR Energy did not comment directly but said it had set up temporary sheds for security personnel.
Kumar said GMR’s project in Eastern Orissa state has secured coal supplies and he expect to get coal for the project fully from domestic sources.
“The Maharashtra project is also fully secured by coal linkage and we are expecting coal linkage shortly for Chhattisgarh project as soon as the next coal linkage meeting takes place, Kumar said.
GMR Energy’s parent company GMR Infrastructure has interests in airports, energy and highways. It has built New Delhi’s new terminal and will soon build India’s biggest highway from Kishangarh to Ahmedabad.
GMR Energy in August entered into a pact to acquire a 30 percent stake in Indonesia’s PT Golden Energy Mines Tbk or GEMS, for $450-$550 million in cash, joining the line of Indian firms buying coal assets across the globe to seek
fuel security.
“In case of any shortfall in availability of coal for these projects (domestically), we will surely have fuel security from our coal assets in Indonesia and South Africa, Kumar said.

India clean energy investments $ 7.5 billion

Renewable energy project investment in India has topped $7.2 billion in the first three quarters of 2011 regardless of Europe’s debt crisis, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Built from project finance, public markets and new investment, in just nine months this impressive figure has already beaten 2010’s total of $5.7 billion.

“The major difference this year is the contribution from the solar sector,” said Ashish Sethia, India country manager, BNEF. “We’ve seen a four-fold rise in investment driven by federal and state-level policies.”

The Indian renewables markets remain strong despite Europe’s turmoil, owing to surging clean technologies like solar and various Government initiatives. One of these initiatives was Government permits to form 1,100 megawatts of solar capacity by 2012 - a bold target which Bloomberg says exceeds all 2010 installations in non-European countries.

The largest portion of the  investment, $3.7 billion, went to wind energy which reflects the fact that India is third in the world for new wind capacity, with companies like Suzlon Energy and Vestas leading the way.

The $7.2 billion does not include investments through equity buyouts, research and development, or mergers and acquisitions.

Aditi Dass, Director of Programmes in India, The Climate Group says, “With favorable policy initiatives such as tax holidays, duty rebates, improvement in infrastructural facilities and so on, a rise in clean energy investment was always waiting to come home. In the light of the global economic scenario, the clean investment figures in India might be little surprising, but we feel that this has happened naturally and things should only get better in times to come. The multidimensional approach adopted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energyhas started paying dividends and this indeed is an exciting time for a country like India that has hit the right note in balancing a pro planet growth trajectory.”

KERC raises tariff by 30 paise; also increases fixed charges

The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has increased the average tariff by 30 paise a unit (including fixed charges), an increase of 7 per cent. For the first time in several years, the KERC has also increased the fixed charges to Rs 5/KW/month. The lowest tariff increase is 10 paise for domestic customers – up to 30 units consumption a month in urban areas and 100 units a month in rural areas, and an increase of 50 paise for consumption of over 200 units a month.

The five ESCOMs (electricity supply companies) in Karnataka had, however, filed separate tariff petitions to the KERC seeking a tariff hike of 88 paise a unit for all consumers, barring irrigation pumpsets and Bhagya Jyothi/Kutir Jyothi.

During tariff revisions last year, the KERC had carried forward 12 paise to be hiked this year, and the overall 30 paise hike includes this, clarified Mr M R Sreenivasa Murthy, Chairman, KERC, at a press conference.

The KERC has given the ESCOMs a set of mandate to help reduce transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, Mr Murthy said.

ESCOMs have been ordered to switch from LT to HT with the high voltage distribution system (HVDS) at least in one division in each ESCOM area during the current year.

Nearly 16.5 per cent of electricity is lost across all ESCOMs from T&D.

ESCOMs have been asked to replace inefficient pumpsets as efficient ones can help save about 5,000 million units or Rs 2,000 crore a year, Mr Murthy said. KERC has also recommended recruiting junior engineers, linemen and assistant linemen, to address quality service.

The ESCOMs have 19,856 vacancies out of the total sanctioned strength of 52,627 and the KERC has ordered for at least 50 per cent of this to be filled.

The amount of subsidy to be paid by the Government towards free supply of electricity to the farmers with IP sets below 10 HP and Bhagyajyothi/ Kutirjyothi households is increased to Rs 4,156 crore for the current year from Rs 3,577 crore paid for 2010-11. “The subsidy for last year has been fully paid, and for this year, the Government is paying it every month,” Mr Murthy said.

The electricity tariff for household consumption in urban areas is increased to Rs 2.20/unit for consumption up to 30 units, to Rs 2.40/unit for consumption between 30 units and 100 units, to Rs 3.50/unit for consumption between 100 units and 200 units, to Rs 5.00/unit for consumption between 200-300 units and Rs 5.50/unit for consumption beyond 300 units/month.

The household consumers in the rural areas will pay between Rs 2.10 and Rs 5.00/unit in different slabs of consumption, with only 10 paise/unit increase for consumption up to 100 units/month.

The tariff for irrigation pumpsets, private horticulture nurseries, and coffee and tea plantations has been increased by 0.15 paise from Rs 1.25 to Rs 1.40. KERC has not increased the tariff for water supply works, both in urban and rural areas. Similarly, the tariff for railway traction and effluent plants also remains unchanged for the current year.

The LT commercial tariff in urban areas has been increased from Rs 5.60 to Rs 6.00/unit for the first 50 units and from Rs 6.80 to Rs 7.00/unit for consumption beyond 50 units.

In the rural areas, the new rates will be Rs 5.40 and Rs 6.40/unit, respectively.

For the LT industrial units, the tariff has been increased from the earlier rates ranging from Rs 3.60 to Rs 4.70/unit in Bangalore to the new rates ranging from Rs 4.00 to Rs 5.00/unit.

In other areas, the new tariff ranges from Rs 4.00 to Rs 4.80/unit. For the HT industrial users, the tariff has gone up by a uniform 30 paise/unit over the existing rates of Rs 4.60 and Rs 5.00/unit to Rs 4.90 and Rs 5.30/unit.

Power co to set up solar energy plant

In a bid to popularize environmental-friendly energy sources, Noida Power Company Limited (NPCL), is going to build a 1 MW solar power plant and distribute the power generated through women self-help groups. The company is setting up the solar power plant near its substation in Surajpur in Greater Noida. It is simultaneously developing the self-help groups through a separate programme in association with a Delhi-based NGO, Development Initiatives.

Electricity from the solar power plant would help the company meet its target of procuring at least four per cent of total energy purchased from renewable sources. This is as per the mandate set out by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) whereby each power distribution utility that purchases power from others has to procure at least four per cent of the total energy from renewable sources. “Instead of purchasing power from outside, we are trying to generate as much renewable energy ourselves through captive solar power plants,” said CEO of NPCL, RC Agarwala. “We have set the target of producing 1 MW solar power within a span of two years,” said Agarwala.

In subsequent phases, NPCL would engage in community distribution of solar power through women self-help groups. “Solar power would be distributed, on a cost basis, through women self-help groups that we are building in villages in Greater Noida as part of another programme. We are doing this in association with a Delhi-based NGO, Development Alternatives,” said Agarwala.

A project to run all its offices and substations on solar power is already underway by the NPCL. Under this project, six offices and six substations of the NPCL in Greater Noida will run on solar power. The energy that would be saved by running its own utilities on solar power would be diverted for the use of consumers. “Since Greater Noida is a rapidly developing city, the number of consumers is growing with each passing day. Power thus saved can be diverted for consumers’ demands,” said Agarwala.

The MNRE provides a flat rebate of around 28-30 per cent for setting up these systems. After discount, each system would cost around Rs 22 lakh to the company.

SAIL to expand in power, rail business: C S Verma, SAIL chairman

Steel demand is expected to hold up in India despite the global economic slowdown and the state-runSteel Authority of India (SAIL) is undertaking various measures to boost capacity. In an interview with TOI,SAIL chairman C S Verma says the steel giant is also expanding its presence in rail transportation,power generation and mineral segments .

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