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India’s ‘energy transition’ minister talks net zero goals, green energy investments

Earlier this month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans at COP26 to reach net-zero carbon emissions in 2070 and boost the share of renewables in India’s energy mix from about 38 percent last year to 50 percent by 2030.

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“When India turns around and says it is not just net zero by 2070, but in 2030, 50 percent will come from renewables or that we move up from 450 GW to 500 GW and you know the implications of that. India means what it says. We are the largest democracy in the world, when the prime minister makes a statement, it sets the template. Now clearly, we have a transition to achieve. Now that transition means you have to manage from where you are today first to 2030 then to 2040 then to 2070,” India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri told Al Arabiya.
“I may be called a minister of petroleum and natural gas but I am actually the minister for energy transition,” Puri said in an interview with Al Arabiya Senior Presenter Naser El Tibi.
For now, coal remains a dominant energy source in India, accounting for 70 percent of its electricity output.
After China, India is the world’s second-largest coal producer at about 730 million tons annually – yet also imports coal to meet the power needs of its domestic industries, according to the government.
Puri said India is already doing a lot.
“When Mr. Modi became a prime minister, one percent of biofuel blending used to take a place, ethanol from sugar. Today, we are already at 8.5 percent, we had a 20 percent blending target by 2030 but we brought that forward to 2025,” the minister said, adding that the country is expecting 60 billion dollars of investment into gas pipelines.
“We started in 2014 when he [Narendra Modi] became prime minister at 14 thousand kilometers. Today, we are 18.5 thousand kilometers, [and in the] next four months we will get another four thousand to [achieve] 22.5 thousand kilometers and we will take that up to 34 thousand kilometers to have the whole country be covered by gas pipelines. I could go on!”
“In renewables, we were one of the founders of the Solar Alliance,” he noted.
India has a “massive program” on green hydrogen, according to Puri.
“We are going to be very big [in green hydrogen], we will be pioneers in that. But we need to bring the price down. [We] need to provide power at a particular price then be able to have electrolizers… we are on that journey,” the minister told Al Arabiya.
“I think Glasgow is what? 10 days old, we are already on drawing board with people to see how we can accelerate some of these things. There is a massive program going on, our traditional oil marketing companies are into electric vehicles. I think we announced that in the next few years we will have 22 thousand petrol stations [which] will have electric charging as well, which in turn gives a fillip to our electric car manufacturers.”
“Equally when you move to 20 percent biofuel mixing, E 20 [20 percent blended petrol ethanol] is going to be available in the pumps from a very short period time. I think in 2022, 2023 we will [offer] 20 percent blended fuel there.”
In reference to Modi’s announcement to achieve net zero emissions by 2070, he noted that while it was an ambitious goal, India has a track record of hitting their green targets.

Strategic reserves

When asked about a deal that India struck with Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC for strategic oil reserves, Puri said that the country has been replenishing its reserves to cater to any kind of emergency such as earthquakes or geopolitical events.
“We have been replenishing out strategic reserves and I think the agreement you are referring to… we are in the process of augmenting our reserves to take it to the global prescribed levels by the international energy agency,” India’s minister said.
“I think we are at 86 days of consumption and the consumption is going up also. We need to go a little farther to make it at 100 days. We are in the process of doing that.”
“I am a student of the energy situation and evolving energy situation I have been oil and natural gas minister- or now I call myself minister of energy transition- for 3 months or so, no country is ever only a consuming country, especially when you are dealing with a big economy,” Puri told Al Arabiya.
“We import crude, our companies refine and export out, we make investments in other countries, in the previous government in the year 2001 we invested in a facility in Sakhalin in Russia’s far east, it has done very well. Investments in Sudan they did well.”

India and the GCC

India and the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) states have been working together, investing in each other’s countries across a variety of sectors.
“Indian entities are making investments in the gulf as you mentioned, our friends in the gulf cooperation council are making investments in India both upstream and downstream. This is what I call a healthy economic energy cooperation matrix,” said Puri.
“I have many people I talk to including His Excellency the UAE [energy] minister and the [energy] minister from Saudi Arabia, they also want to cooperate with us, not only in traditional energy, but also in green energy. This is an evolving situation and I think it is in one sense a reflection of the maturity of the relationship. That the transactions and investments are going in both directions,” he added.
Last week at Dubai’s megaevent Expo 2020, India invited the GCC member countries to invest in the sustainable energy sectors in the country.
India expects to attract foreign investments of up to $120-160 billion annually, according to a statement released at the India-GCC Business Conference at Expo 2020 last week, which added that Gulf countries are best placed to capitalize on such opportunities given their ties with India.

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Russian ruble holds steady at 96 against the US dollar ahead of tax payments

The Russian ruble steadied near 96 to the dollar on Tuesday, trading in a narrow band, supported by upcoming tax payments and high oil prices.
At 0710 GMT, the ruble was 0.2 percent stronger against the dollar at 96.10 and had gained 0.3 percent to trade at 101.69 versus the euro. It had firmed 0.1 percent against the yuan to 13.13.
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Month-end tax payments, that usually see exporters convert foreign currency revenues to pay local liabilities, support the ruble, but the currency can slide early in the month once the period has passed.
The ruble has also now lost the temporary support of higher sales of foreign currency than usual by the central bank, which was selling around 21.4 billion rubles of yuan a day until the start of this week.
“At the end of the week, when the tax period ends, there is a high likelihood of the resumption of the national currency’s smooth devaluation,” said Alor Broker’s Alexei Antonov.
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 1.1 percent at $92.23 a barrel.
Russian stock indexes were lower.
The dollar denominated RTS index was down 0.5 percent to 992.5 points.

The ruble based MOEX Russian index was 0.6 percent lower at 3,028.8 points.
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Digital, electric solutions can cut carbon emissions in office buildings by 70 pct

Retrofitting buildings using a digital-first approach is the best pathway to decarbonization, according to new research from Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation.
Buildings represent an estimated 37 percent of global carbon emissions, and as about half of today’s buildings are still likely to be in use in 2050, the sector must urgently reduce operational carbon emissions, by making buildings more energy efficient.
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The research findings show that deploying Schneider Electric’s digital building and power management solutions in existing office buildings could reduce their operational carbon emissions by up to 42 percent with a payback period of less than three years. If fossil fuel-powered heating technologies are replaced with electric-powered alternatives, and a microgrid with local renewable energy sources is installed, all-electric, all-digital buildings will see an additional 28 percent reduction in operational carbon emissions resulting in a total reduction of up to 70 percent.

Mike Kazmierczak, Vice President of the Digital Energy Decarbonization Office, the team leading the science-based research and product innovation to accelerate the energy transition within Schneider Electric’s Digital Energy division, explained that, “Tackling operational emissions is the number-one lever to decarbonize existing buildings at scale and achieve net-zero emissions targets by 2050. This breakthrough research reveals that reducing carbon emissions by up to 70 percent is feasible if we transform our existing building stock into energy-efficient, fully-electrified, and digitized assets.”
The research, carried out with the global design firm WSP, is based on modeling the energy performance and carbon emissions of a large office building built in the early 2000s across various US Climate Zones. This digital approach to building renovations is, however, applicable to all building types and climates, and is, therefore, the most effective building decarbonization strategy, yielding fast results with lower ‘upfront carbon.’
Renovating through the deployment of digital technologies is not only less disruptive to daily operations, but also more effective from a lifecycle carbon perspective. Failing to rapidly decarbonize buildings could also result in stranded assets that lose value and are unattractive to both investors and tenants.
Furthermore, recent research from the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability and the Schneider Electric Sustainability Research Institute estimates that there is a sizable potential to create new jobs through the transition to low-carbon buildings.

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UK’s cost of living crisis to significantly increase early death: Study 

The UK’s inflation-fueled cost-of-living crisis is set to “cut lives short” and “significantly widen the wealth-health gap”, according to a study published by open access journal BMJ Public Health on Monday.

Modelling conducted for the study predicted that the proportion of people “dying before their time” (under the age of 75) will rise by nearly 6.5 percent due to the sustained period of high prices.

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The most deprived households will experience four times the number of extra deaths than the wealthiest households, it forecast, with the poorest having to spend a larger proportion of their income on energy, the cost of which has soared.

The researchers studied the impact of inflation on death rates in Scotland in 2022-3, with and without mitigating measures such as government support to help cut household bills.

The collected data was then used to model various potential future outcomes on life expectancy and inequalities for the UK as a whole if different mitigating policies were implemented.

Without any mitigation, the model found that inflation could increase deaths by five percent in the least deprived areas and by 23 percent in the most deprived — coming down to two percent and eight percent with mitigation, with an overall rate of around 6.5 percent.

Overall life expectancy would also fall in each case, it added.

“Our analysis contributes to evidence that the economy matters for population health,” said the researchers.

“The mortality impacts of inflation and real-terms income reduction are likely to be large and negative, with marked inequalities in how these are experienced.

“Implemented public policy responses are not sufficient to protect health and prevent widening inequalities,” they added.

UK inflation unexpectedly slowed in August to 6.7 percent from a high of 11.1 percent, but remains the highest in the G7, fueled by coronavirus lockdowns, Brexit and the war in Ukraine.

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