Pricing Pollution: an Approach to Support Green Energy Growth

Curbing pollution and limiting global temperature rise is a necessity now. The Paris Agreement presented a platform from where initiatives for climate protection can be mutually taken by countries of the world.

However, consider these facts –

  • Global energy supply through fossil fuels have reached from 6,100 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1977 to 13,700 Mtoe by 2014.
  • Global energy related CO2 emissions are estimated to increase at an average of 1.0% from 2012 to 2040.
  • From coal combustion alone, Asia’s CO2 emission is estimated to rise more than 2.2 billion metric tons in the future.
  • Renewable energy (mainly solar) has reduced fossil fuel share by 22 per cent.
  • 1 KW of green energy can reduce more than 3,000 pounds of CO2 annually.

We can come to a conclusion that green energy revolution is a necessity to stop climate degradation. And although it offers a reprieve from climate issues, countries working towards green energy transition is not enough to stop the spread of pollution from distorting the future of the world (dust and particulate matter (PM) may be reducing energy yield by 17-25 per cent annually in Northern parts of India and solar panels in Baghdad were seen to be producing less and less energy due to dust particles blocking the sunrays). We must take positive action towards reducing the pollution as well.

Carbon pricing or Pollution pricing can act as an efficient tool to reduce pollution, aiding green energy transition and climate restoration.

Carbon Pricing Or Pollution Pricing

Pricing pollution is quickly becoming one of the most important and promising methods of curbing pollution from the world. Business groups, investors- like The World Bank have made strides to encourage Governments and corporations to put a price on carbon to drive down emission, while speeding up green energy transition.

Why Supporting Pollution Pricing Is Necessary?

Price on carbon can shift the burden of the damage to environment and life through occurrences such as- health care costs from heat waves, damage to crops, damage to property and life due to droughts of flooding and sea level rise. By imposing tax on pollution production, these environmental issues can be reduced. The revenue generated from the taxation can be used to boost green energy transition, thus phasing out fossil fuels, which are the major contributors to pollution. This can serve as the most cost effective way of promoting climate protection and green energy generation. The carbon pricing can also support green energy market innovation through low-carbon drivers of economic growth.

Types Of Carbon Pricing

There are primarily two types of carbon pricing methods. Emissions trading systems (ETS) and Carbon Taxes.

Emissions trading systems (ETS)– are sometimes referred as cap-and-trade system, it imposes caps on the total amount of green house gas emissions and lowers the cap over time. Through this system, companies are extended emission permits. The purpose of ETS is to establish a market price for green house emission; and caps ensure that emitters keep to their emission levels, considering their pre-allocated carbon budget.

Carbon Tax– This system sets a price for carbon directly by establishing a tax rate on carbon content of fossil fuels or greenhouse gas emissions.

Depending on the economic and environmental standings, a country can select one of these components to restrict its carbon emissions. As it will promote green energy adoption, and climate betterment, carbon pricing will need additional policies for support.

  • Some of examples of complementary policies include- setting fuel/energy efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings, heating and cooling systems.
  • Offering tax breaks for energy efficiency improvements, auto feebates.
  • Setting renewable portfolio standards and mandates for having a share of renewable energy within energy mix.
  • Enforcing laws to stop de-forestation.

More than 40 countries like- The US, Germany, Chile, Brazil, and some of the EU countries have already implemented or in process of implementing these policies to support Carbon pricing.

Exceptional Examples

Estimating that carbon pricing could reduce pollution by 80 to 90 million tonnes by 2022, US states like California have introduced state-wide policies in support of carbon pricing.

Climate awareness in Canada has seen nearly 97% of its residents to commit towards pricing carbon pollution. Provinces like Quebec and Ontario in Canada have implemented cap-and-trade systems- enforcing to get permits for carbon pollution, curbing the pollution rate.

India Walking Towards Success

To support solar energy growth in India, the country is also implementing supporting policies like carbon pricing. And as a result In 2017, 40 Indian companies out of 139 companies in Asia have put price on carbon.

Government of India’s initiative towards Perform-Achieve-Trade (PAT) policy for energy efficiency, and renewable energy certificate scheme have also supported carbon pricing. World Bank and the Government of India are working together to explore a domestic carbon market in micro, small, and medium enterprises.

 

Carbon pricing provides emitters financial incentive for choosing green energy solution as it will generate energy without levying taxes. And with the world, India is working towards restoring the climate by selecting green energy and initiatives that speed up transition from fossil fuel. However, considering the rapid growth of population and pollution, world wide efforts need to be increased to see expected results.

 

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate

change/news/2017/05/pricing_carbon_pollutionincanadahowitwillwork.htmlhttp://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/pricing

carbonhttps://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what/

 

Share your thoughts with me on this at @gyaneshc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Solar Sector Needs to Focus on Sustaining Funding for Progress

Indian solar sector has shown incredible progress in the recent years. And have become INR 30,000 crore industry. The Government support has led India’s solar growth to take over the position of World’s third biggest solar market, overthrowing Japan in 2017, and increased investor interest in the industry. However, is the current fund generation status capable enough to support renewable energy goals? The question begs in-depth assessment.

Current Scenario

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It is important to note that India will need at least $125 billion to fund 175 GW renewable mission, out of which 100 GW supposed to be coming from solar. Foreign private equity investors like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, European utilities EDF have shown interest in investing into Indian solar sector, while development banks like World Bank are offering financial support. Foreign direct investment in India has increased up to 17 per cent to over $25 billion, with the country focusing on industrial reforms and strengthening lucrative sectors (such as solar) recently.

However, it is important to highlight that most of the financing for renewable energy development in the country comes from domestic banks. And recent surveys indicating 65% fall in corporate funding within solar industry from Q4 2017 to Q1 2018, threatens to put constraints on solar growth in India. Currently there is quite confusion in the domestic industry regarding Anti-dumping duties, fall of solar tariff, and delays in tender auctioning; now adding lack of proper funding to the situation might reduce solar capacity addition by 40 per cent in the current financial year, which would definitely deal a severe blow to the growing industry.

With consistent growth, India is estimated to become fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of 2020. And since solar has proven to be the most lucrative sector now, it is easy to understand that manufacturing solar would help India improve its industrial infrastructure, solve its energy crisis, create jobs and bring on socio-economic reform.

 

solar-cells

And recent project planning of 20 GW being announced in instalments, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) also planning to award new project contracts in 2018. Additionally, plans for 5-10 GW of floating solar power projects auctioning in 2018, indicates India’s intension towards solarizing the country.

However, without enough funding, the growth prediction will not result into reality.

Issues with funding

We must point out here that India’s first renewable energy conference was held in 2015, where private companies committed to invest nearly $200 billion into green energy. Government of India has accepted and upheld 100% foreign direct investment under the automatic route and 74% foreign equity participation in a joint venture (without any approval). This has created the path to bring investment in Indian solar sector. India’s position in International Solar Alliance (ISA) has also made the country’s access to $1 trillion in low-cost financing for solar energy projects by 2030 possible.

Currently, around 293 global and domestic companies have committed to invest approximately US$ 310–350 billion to set up a cumulative capacity of 266 GW in (solar, wind, mini-hydel and biomass-based power) within 5–10 years. And between April 2000 and September 2017, the industry attracted US$ 12.3 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). So, it is easy to glean that Indian solar industry has become a lucrative enough market to attract funding.

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However, what is lacking is a sustainable funding mechanism that can continue to invoke interest in foreign investors.

Currently, the confusion within the industry regarding delays in anti-dumping duty imposition on foreign modules, GST, falling solar tariff, failure in meeting Renewable purchase obligation (RPO) in most states, instances of PPA renegotiations etc are scaring off investors. Blanket Safeguard Duty (recently withdrawn) had also stirred the domestic industry by imposing duties on SEZ based domestic modules manufacturers as well. It was a decisive decision by Government of India to remove the blanket safeguard duty.

However, Government of India still needs to take care of above discussed issues as they are delaying projects, and in some cases making them unviable, carving out investor’s interest. Indian solar sector has the opportunity and attention of the world to become an investment magnet by prioritizing solar industry and solving its issues that increase investor confidence.

Way Forward

Not only increasing foreign investor confidence, India needs to increase its domestic funding for solar as well. Recent news of National Clean Energy Fund being turned into GST compensation fund showcases totally opposite step than those that reflect building and supporting green energy reliance.

Although, Government of India is now actively focusing on shrinking delays in acquiring permits for construction, simplifying taxation process, and increasing skill development infrastructure, to support solar growth, more focus on raising funds is needed and would certainly help.

This Article was published in ET Energy World on 30th May 2018

Bibliography:

https://www.ibef.org/industry/power-sector-india.aspx

http://www.eai.in/ref/ae/sol/cs/spi/kc/key_challenges_in_the_growth_of_solar_pv_technology_in_india.html

https://www.thequint.com/news/environment/indian-solar-sector-funding-fell-65-last-quarter

The unutilised state of National Clean Energy Fund

The formation of NCEF or National Clean Energy Fund was indeed the right step towards supporting India’s green energy initiatives. The idea was introduced by the Government of India in 2010-11. And upon receiving huge support, it quickly became India’s carbon tax, on coal to generate fund for research and financing clean energy technology. Currently, the name of NCEF has been changed to National Clean Energy and Environment Fund (NCEEF) to support initiatives for clean environment development.

It should be noted that at the beginning, tax imposed on coal on behalf of NCEF was INR 50 per tonne, which eventually ascended to INR 400 per tonne in 2016-17. It is fairly easy to glean from the context that NCEF could have been identified as a very able supporting column for nascent green energy infrastructure of India.

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