Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lack of Transmission Capacity Hindering Electricity Supply in India

In the last financial year, an estimated 5,591 million units of electricity could not be cleared by the country’s energy exchanges due to the lack of a transmission network, a note from Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) said. That is 16% of what these exchanges could have transmitted if adequate capacity had been available. More @ Live Mint

Yes, the actually traded volumes on energy exchanges may be just 3% of the total electricity generated in the country. But these 5,591 million units still make up 13% of the 42,428 million units power shortage in the previous financial year. Secondly, transmission capacity is typically built for power plants which have long-term purchase agreements, thus squeezing short-term market volumes. However, its inadequacy is also the second biggest hurdle affecting upcoming thermal power plants after fuel shortage, according to some estimates. Building of transmission capacities will not only help the government achieve its aim of round-the-clock electricity availability, but will also help remove distortions in the electricity trading market.

Op-Ed on Black Carbon in India

by Jonathon Mingle in LA Times

Black carbon is scientists' term for ultra-fine particles produced by incomplete combustion. It's the stuff that makes soot dark, an unwanted byproduct of burning diesel fuel in vehicles, biomass in stoves for cooking and heating, coal in small industrial operations and agricultural waste in post-harvest fields. Humanity sends as much as 17 million metric tons of black carbon each year into the atmosphere, where it traps far more heat per unit mass than carbon dioxide, making it the second-biggest contributor to global warming.

Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate System: A Scientific Assessment

It's also a major constituent of the pollution that is now choking New Delhi. On a typical day, the Indian capital has the worst air quality of any city in the world, according to a recent U.N. report. But the air is particularly bad this time of year, as particles are trapped by cold, dense fog. So there's a good chance the president will have a hard time seeing the celebration through all the haze. On last year's Republic Day, particulate matter under 2.5 microns in diameter, which penetrates deep into human lungs, spiked to 15 times the level deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to pursuing a strong bilateral agreement to start ramping down carbon dioxide emissions, the U.S. should pursue an equally ambitious partnership to help purge India's skies and lungs of black carbon. Although we're all at risk from this pollution to varying degrees, India is perhaps the country most vulnerable to black carbon's effects.

India Launches "Black Carbon Research Initiative"

By absorbing sunlight and turning it to heat, black carbon melts the Himalayan glaciers and snowfields that hundreds of millions of Indians depend on for irrigation and drinking water. It disrupts the South Asian monsoon, which is so important to the region's agriculture that one former finance minister called it India's “real finance minister.” It is a major ingredient of the household air pollution from burning wood and dung for cooking that kills more than 1 million Indians each year. Meanwhile, black carbon and other fine particles in outdoor air pollution kill more than 620,000 Indians annually, and cause $18 billion in economic losses from damage to agriculture and health.

Black Carbon Dispersion - India's Perspective on a Global Scale

The conventional framing of India's climate options as a zero-sum game — aggressive mitigation action versus expanding economic opportunity — presents a false choice. There's a path ahead that combines enormous economic benefits with rapid reductions of climate-warming pollution. India's dependence on kerosene for lighting, solid fuels for cooking and heating, high-sulfur diesel fuel for transport and inefficient coal combustion for brick making and power generation is killing almost 2 million Indians each year — and robbing many millions more of healthy years of productive life. Tackling these sources of black carbon and carbon dioxide would be a potent boost to its economy.

BBC: Is black carbon affecting the Asian monsoon?

The U.S. can develop innovative financing mechanisms and share deep technical expertise in developing and deploying cleaner-burning technologies with agencies and research institutions in India. A wider black carbon program could be modeled on the ongoing India-California Air-Pollution Mitigation Program, which seeks to leverage California's experience in dramatically reducing black carbon emissions from diesel transport, to help India shift to more efficient, lower-emissions forms of transport, and to devise tighter new vehicle emissions rules and better enforce existing ones. This approach has cut soot concentrations in California's air by 90% since 1966.

Varieties of Carbon - Black to Green

On the docket should be common-sense measures such as accelerating distribution of ultra-low-sulfur fuel throughout India, which would enable the widespread use of black carbon-trapping diesel particulate filters. One study found this switch would create $484 billion in health and fuel savings by 2030. Other targets for acceleration include clean-cooking-stove research and distribution programs, and an all-out effort to eliminate the use of kerosene for lighting. Viable alternatives to kerosene lamps exist, such as solar lanterns and solar micro-grids, but businesses that manufacture and distribute them are starved for funds to scale up.

Science: Want to Fight Global Warming? Don't Just Focus on CO2

As California has learned, clean air unlocks economic potential. And reducing black carbon will clear skies and cool the climate almost immediately. If the U.S. has its partner's best interests in mind, it will work with India to accelerate its transition to a development path that is low-carbon in every sense. Then, perhaps on a Republic Day in the near future, celebrants will have a clear view of the vast potential of India's people.

Jonathan Mingle is the author of "Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity and Survival on the Roof of the World," to be published in March.

City Pollution Management Toolkit Introduced in UK

A new toolkit outlining measures that can be taken to tackle transport-related air pollution in the UK’s city regions has been created by consultants Transport & Travel Research Ltd (TTR) in partnership with TRL. Commissioned and published by pteg (Passenger Transport Executive Group) the toolkit aims to provide an easily accessible overview of the issues and options for tackling air pollution associated with transport.

pteg brings together the strategic transport bodies in in the six metropolitan areas outside London  – Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. pteg is also a wider professional network for Britain’s largest urban transport authorities. The toolkit is aimed at transport and planning professionals and explains the process that colleagues in air quality teams follow and who can contribute to it. It references existing work being done by the city region authorities, and contains an extensive library of measures and references. The toolkit demonstrates there is much that transport and planning can do to design a low emission transport system and provide opportunities for travelling in less polluting ways.

 More @ UK Air Quality News

Need for Monitoring and Dissemination in India

US and India haven't spelt out how their partnership on addressing air pollution will roll out, but scientists and advocacy groups are already excited about the possibilities. They say the partnership can help generate real-time, reliable air quality data for all cities, to begin with. Main article @ Times of India

Low-cost, innovative technology that can be deployed immediately in all major Indian cities can help clear the air, which is the main problem. Experts, like Sarath Guttikunda, associate research professor at the Desert Research Institute, Reno, suggested that establishing a national public health alert system on the lines of US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA)'s AirNow programme, which issues real-time air quality index (AQI) data for 400 cities in US, will be beneficial.

Evolution of On-road Vehicle Exhaust Emissions in Delhi

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has the mandate of monitoring air quality and issuing health alerts, has "failed miserably", according to scientists who are now resorting to other agencies to get reliable data. "They have no real-time data for most cities and do not follow any calibration protocol, which is why there is a huge difference in the results of air quality monitoring by different agencies," said a scientist.

MoEFCC had launched an air quality index (AQI) last year. But, according to some committee members who helped formulate the AQI, CPCB's real time monitoring system has too many glitches and doesn't have enough automatic monitoring stations —only 16 out of 246.

Joshua Apte, assistant professor, University of Texas at Austin, who is running a unique research study in Delhi on monitoring exposure to air pollution in heavy traffic junctions, said he was excited that American scientists will have something to offer now. "The first step is just to expand the existing network of monitors. There are less than 50 real-time PM2.5 monitors that are reporting data to the web in India, as compared with nearly 2,000 in China. Other pollutants also need to be monitored," he said. This may also help point at the real sources by applying advanced 'source apportionment' techniques like 'vehicles versus biomass burning versus regional haze'.

Commentary on AQI (India Together)

Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE's Clean Air programme said, "We need low cost technology to monitor air quality that can be immediately and easily deployed across cities. US is doing innovative things like roadside exposure monitoring. Moving as soon as possible to superior fuel norms —Euro 6 among others—should be done now." Since the collaboration will also cover the government's pet project of smart cities, she says it's time to set norms and guidelines to reduce dependence on personal vehicles.