Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

India and renewables

Mumbai on a good day (Source)

A constant refrain one gets from denialists is, why should we do anything about global warming when India/China are doing nothing?

It's a feeble argument.

First, China (30% of world CO2 emissions) and India (7%) are both actually doing a lot.  For example, India will have 60% of its total electricity capacity from renewables in 2027.  Note that the headline implies that 60% of generation will come from renewables, which is wrong. Given capacity factors in wind and solar, india's percentage from renewables will be more like 50%.  Which will  be right up there with countries like Denmark, Germany, etc.

And look at this:

Here's the harvest of Thursday's headlines: the Government of India is doubling the scale of the country's solar parks, adding 20 gigawatts, more than total U.S. solar capacity; Great Britain's development finance institution, CDC, announced a major new solar initiative targeted at India's undeserved eastern states; India's largest network of vocational institutes, run by the Catholic church, pledged to shift to renewable energy; Jharkand, India's West Virginia and biggest coal producer, plans to build more solar capacity than its peak internal demand for power; the Indian Supreme Court stepped up its crack-down on water pollution from industrial facilities; analysts projected aggressive bidding Thursday for India's first reverse auction for wind power, with prices expected to set new records; and finally the government announced that starting next year it would prepare a special budget annex assessing the steps it is taking to deal with climate change.
That's one day.

[Read more here]

Second, even if China and India weren't doing anything about their CO2 emissions, switching to renewables won't increase the cost of our electricity nor will it reduce our economic growth rate.  Burning coal is the biggest source of CO2 emissions, and new coal power stations have an LCOE (levelised cost of electricity)  two times higher than wind and solar.   And that's now.  By 2027 coal will be 4 or 5 times as expensive as renewables.  So a progressive switch to renewables should actually reduce electricity prices over time.  Why wouldn't you do it?  Of course, that's exactly why China and India (and Brazil and Chile and South Africa) are also switching to renewables.

Third, we're all in this together.  It's something that has to be tackled by everybody (that's partly why the Right hate it so much--it's socialist) And even if your country produces just 1 or 2% of global CO2 emissions, 40% of total emissions come countries which emit 2% (or less) of the global total.

A couple of weeks ago, solar PV contracts in India reached new lows, falling 16% from the record lows achieved a year before.  In an another auction a couple of days later, they fell again by another 20%, taking the LCOE of solar PV in India down to US$49/MWh, which is not that different from Lazard's estimate of solar LCOE for the USA.  Because India has higher inflation than developed countries, typically contracts include escalation clauses, whereas  in Europe and the US, contracts are typically fixed in price over the term of the contract.  The LCOE of these new Indian contracts is higher than the headline contract price, reflecting this escalation.  This makes solar half the cost of coal. The Indian Government has said that no new coal generating capacity will be needed for the next decade.  Frankly, I doubt that any new coal-fired power stations will be built after 2025, because renewables (and storage) will be even cheaper than they are today.

It's not just their low cost that driving India towards renewables.  It's also that India is especially vulnerable to impacts of global warming: rising temperatures, more droughts, more floods, and the real risk of famine.  And India now has air pollution that's as bad as China's.

It's tempting to get depressed about the triumph of the rabid right in the USA.  But the forces driving the switch to renewables aren't confined to the US.  They're global.  And even in the USA, market forces are encouraging the transition to a carbon-free economy.

[Also have a look at China and Renewables]

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