Skip to main content

Following Trump, Modi govt "favours" coal-based power, claims: Renewable energy has higher social costs

By Our Representative
In a shocking revelation, the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has favoured coal as the source of power instead of renewal, especially solar, energy. An environmental overview of the second volume of the Economic Survey, released recently, says, the top report has "raised issues with investing in renewable energy attributing a social cost of Rs 11 per unit of electricity."
The analysis, published in a well-known environmental journal, run by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi,says that the "social cost" of renewal energy, as seen by the Economic Survey, is "three times to that of coal", insisting, "This gives the wrong signal to the investors, more or less questioning why renewable energy is being pushed so hard."
Carried out by Aruna Kumarankandath, who specializes in renewable energy with the CSE, which is headed by well known environmentalist Sunita Narain, the analysis says, the social cost of Rs 11 per unit has been arrived at on the basis of several components -- the private costs of generation, the opportunity cost of land, social cost of carbon, health costs, and costs of stranded assets.
"In simpler terms", says Kumarankandath, the Economic Survey appears to believe that "more investment in wind and solar would reduce the operation of coal power plants, which in turn will lead to job losses and coal plant loans turning bad in the books of banks".
Pointing out that "this is similar to the argument US President Donald Trump makes for increasing investment in coal mining jobs", the expert says, "The survey alleges that shift in renewables would leave conventional power plants underutilised, lower than their maximum technically feasible level."
The investments made in these plants, according to the survey, would be deemed “sunk” and would result in loss of revenue. And these stranded assets would impact the banking sector. "It is estimated the total advances to coal sector were Rs 5,732 crore with ratio of non-performing assets at 19.8 per cent", Kumarankandath quotes from the survey.
Aruna Kumarankandath
Wondering why this was not included in social cost estimate of coal-fired energy, Kumarankandath says, "The survey says that the social costs would include the opportunity cost of land required for solar. However, no specific cost is mentioned, which some may argue, is the same as the cost private developers pay for it, which is already reflected in the cost of generation, even if it is as low as Rs 2.44. In addition, the opportunity cost of land is not put on the social cost of coal power plants."
According to the expert, "The estimate assumes that land required of coal power plant is around 2,023 square meters or 0.5 acres per megawatt (MW), while for solar its 10 times in comparison. This is considered a barrier in solar development."
Contradicting this, she quotes a CSE estimate according to which, "on an average, coal power plant require 1.7 acres of land per MW but this does not include the area under coal mines, which increases the requirement to 5.95 or 6 acres per MW." This is comparable with the estimate by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, according to which "the land requirement for ground mounted solar is around 5-6 acres per MW."
Noting that "the survey also does not consider installations on rooftops and already developed areas, which will reduce the space needed", the expert says, "According to an analysis by Bridge to India, a renewable consultancy, half the desert area in Barmer, Rajasthan can install 1,000 giga watt (GW) solar. Solar plants largely use barren and unproductive land. Thus, 1000 GW can be installed in the 3.5 per cent of the waste land in the country."
Also not calculated in the social cost of coal are the 115,000 "premature deaths every year, including those of the coal miners, or 800,000 deaths due to ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’ (Lancet estimate), and 100,000 more due to asthma, all of which especially become acute in coal mining areas or the areas where thermal power plants operate.
Sharply criticising the survey for cautioning investment in renewable energy and suggesting a “calibrated” approach due to the total cost accrued to the society, the expert believes, "In essence, it suggests to slow down the pace of renewable energy development."

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”