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Initiatives

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Novel tech that can shrink power plants tenfold

A technology that makes thermal power more efficient is being developed by a global team led by Indian Institute of Science. Instead of using steam to convert heat to electricity, this technology uses highly dense carbon dioxide. That means more efficiency, smaller and cheaper plants, and eventually fewer CO2 emissions.



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Taiwan to raise fuel surcharges for air pollution control

In Taipei, Taiwan the PM2.5 levels are 22 micrograms per cubic meter, to be cut down to 18 micrograms. In India it is 10 times as much!.Known for its pro-activeness and ingenuity, the Taipei government is to add a surcharge over polluting vehicles – diesel and gasoline. Rather than a surcharge, it is time India considered a carbon tax. The greater the emissions the greater the tax.



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Demand for electric vehicles bucks low gas prices, says AAA

Electric vehicles have crossed the great barrier between imagination and aspiration, with millions expecting to buy an electric vehicle as their next.But there is a still a gap between aspiration and action. Electric vehicles are still a small fringe, with limited support services, and depending upon heavy government subsidies. And so the jury is still out on when electric vehicles will finally overthrow fossil fuel based ones.



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Suzuki, Toshiba, Denso to build lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles

To achieve its ambitious target of 6 million electric vehicles by 2020, India needs access to lithium ion batteries, which account for half the price of electric vehicles.And Suzuki, Toshiba and Denso have gotten into the act with a joint venture to produce these energy packs. But how will India dispose off these batteries? Perhaps India needs to ask the Japanese to solve this problem as well lest these end up in garbage dumps and river beds.



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Solar power: Dark side of solar success

Why India’s foremost economic columnist got his energy economics wrong.In this column Swaminathan Aiyar says that artificially subsidised solar power will mess up the non-subsidised coal power plants. Why is he wrong? Coal power is extremely dirty, the government earns huge profits from producing coal and using them in its thermal plants. Indian coal is very dirty and power plants don’t use basic equipment to reduce pollution. And that’s why coal power is unduly cheap.



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Edison builds world’s first battery-gas hybrid power plants

By hybridizing gas based thermal power, California is getting cleaner and cheaper power.A well-known problem with gas based power is that it takes a while for the plant to crank up. As a consequence, gas power is used less than optimally. Southern California Edison, using no subsidies or help from the government is in the process of converting its gas based power plants to hybrid lithium ion battery and gas based ones.



Government Actions this week


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Pollution board to give Rs:25L to waste disposal start-ups

Get 25 lakh to invest in a green project that reduces trash. Here is hoping that the babus in the Rajasthan government do not mess it up.The Rajasthan government under Ms Vasundhara Raje has come up with interesting experiments and this one seeks to incentivise entrepreneurs into the green business domain. The critical problem with governments incentivising entrepreneurship is that the bureaucratic requirements, eventually alienate most entrepreneurs. 



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7.7 GW old thermal power units to be replaced

India is to replace 7.7GW capacity dirty coal power plants with less dirty coal power plants using better technology. Good move but not a great one.The bulk of India’s coal power plants lie in the path of winds that blow over high population areas. The central government could do better than it has if it did not invest in any new coal plants, or put them in locations such as Gujarat where the winds don’t carry pollutants into high population northern plains.



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India achieves target set for solar capacity

India ramped up its goals on solar power – from 20GW to 100GW by 2022 and the Ministry under Piyush Goyal expects to achieve it.And this does not appear to be an illusory dream, India’s solar power capacity has increased 5 fold in less than three years. From 2.6 to 12.2 GW and much of it is small plants. The ministry under Mr Goyal will need to handhold State Electricity Boards to deal honourably with small renewable power producers.



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