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Government’s LED distribution program yielding high results


NewsGram Staff Writer

Mumbai: The government-sponsored LED distribution program, which has ushered in a new era by replacing the incandescent bulbs and CFLs with energy-efficient LED lamps, saves a staggering 68 lakh kilowatts of energy including a cut in 645 megawatts of power during peak hours and domestic savings of Rs 2.71 crore daily.

Evidently, the program has enabled the cottage industries in Puducherry that make incense sticks, mats and perfumed candles to stay open late into the night with their electricity bills intact. Nearly 600 km away in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, farmers living in mud houses along the Krishna River no longer complain about escalating power bills while switching on lights at dusk.

Saurabh Kumar, managing director of Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a PSU under the power ministry that is stewarding the LED distribution initiative, said the pilot program has been expanded to all districts in Andhra Pradesh since its launch in April 2014 (Puducherry pilot phase).

“Today, almost 90% of all households in AP and Puducherry have replaced incandescent bulbs with LED lamps and the electricity bills of a household have reduced by up to Rs 200 every month,” Kumar said.

Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh witnessed the LED push

in January with over two crore LED bulbs being distributed in these states. The project under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Program aims to reduce power consumption, increase domestic savings and curb carbon emission.


The project aims to replace 77 crore regular bulbs and 40 crore CFLs (bought by Indians every year) with more energy efficient LED lamps ensuring a significant savings for the poor.

The LED project is financed by consumers themselves through two plans. The first one is an ‘onbill EMI’ model under which consumers have to pay Rs 105 for an LED bulb across 10 months, which is added to the monthly power bill. The second plan allows the consumer to buy bulbs in one go — every consumer is entitled to four LED bulbs — by paying Rs 100 apiece. Notably, the bulbs come with a three-year replacement warranty.

LED bulbs actually cost Rs 300-350 apiece in the market — the government offers cheaper bulbs because it procures in bulk – around 7.5 crore bulbs so far. The government effort has already halved market prices from Rs 650-700 apiece a year ago.

(With inputs from TNN)


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With increasing Demand of Cleaner Energy and Tighter Restrictions on Carbon Emissions, Coal is Giving Way to Greener Energy in US

U.S. energy firms are responding to growing demand for cleaner energy and tighter restrictions on carbon emissions

In 2011, Duke Energy shuttered its coal-fired power plant, at rear, and opened a new plant that runs on natural gas. Its water-treatment facility appears, in foreground, in Rowan County, North Carolina. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Ravens fly over a sprawling, abandoned brick building with tall chimneys that once billowed plumes of smoke day and night.

In its heyday, the coal-fired plant continuously produced 370 megawatts of electricity, with each megawatt able to power a thousand households. But its last coal-fired units were shut down a few years ago. Piles of coal are long gone.

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[bctt tweet=”Duke Energy plans to phase out most of its U.S. coal plants in next few decades.” username=””]

Across the compound here in the center of this mid-Atlantic state, three noisy turbines churn at a new natural gas-fired plant that produces 620 megawatts. The Buck Combined Cycle power station stands at the edge of the Yadkin River—and amid a wave of change in the energy industry.

Both plants are owned by Duke Energy, a company with holdings in the United States and Latin America.

Growing demand

Like other U.S. energy firms, it is responding to growing demand for cleaner energy and tighter restrictions on carbon emissions. American firms are being compelled to reduce their dependence on coal in favor of much cleaner fuel sources.

Bill Wilson, senior engineer at the Buck Combined Station, said Duke has retired about half of its coal-fired facilities in recent years and replaced them with natural gas facilities like this.

“Due to the current price of natural gas, it is much cheaper,” he explained. “So on a megawatt basis, it is cheaper to run natural gas than coal.”

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It costs between $15.30 and $17.30 per megawatt hour (MWh) for natural gas, while coal costs about $28 per MWh, Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee said. “So, in today’s markets, our natural gas generation does provide lower costs and savings to our customers,” she added.

Duke Energy plans to phase out most of its U.S. coal plants in next few decades.

American Electric Power converted its Clinch River Plant in Virginia from coal to natural gas, idling the conveyor belt that once carried coal up into the plant. (N. Yaqub/VOA)
American Electric Power converted its Clinch River Plant in Virginia from coal to natural gas, idling the conveyor belt that once carried coal up into the plant. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Switching over

The shift also is evident in other energy companies across the country.

For decades, coal was the main fuel source for generating power in the United States. Last year, natural gas matched it, with each producing a third of the nation’s electricity, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures. The other third came from hydropower, nuclear and renewable energy sources.

The administration had predicted that natural gas would overtake coal as the country’s biggest source of electricity this year, though this week it posted a storyheadlined, “Coal may surpass natural gas as most common electricity generation fuel this winter.”

Generating changes

About 200 miles northwest of Salisbury, in mountainous Russell County, Virginia, a couple of trucks and a bulldozer in July removed the last few tons of black coal from a field outside the Clinch River Coal Plant.

The plant’s three coal-fired units once produced up to 705 megawatts of electricity. But early this year, plant owner American Electric Power converted two of the units to gas and retired the third.

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The new units are not only cleaner, they are more efficient, plant manager Ricky Chaffin said. Now, the plant can produce 484 megawatts of electricity—averaging 242 megawatts per unit, up from the previous 235 each. And running it requires less labor.

“You don’t have to handle the coal,” Chaffin said. “You don’t have to move the coal from the pile to the plant.”

Also, natural gas is delivered via pipeline. “We have got a lot less equipment,” Chaffin added. “So it’s a whole lot less manpower required to run a gas plant.”

Workers are installing solar panels at a Duke Energy solar farm in Union County, North Carolina. The mid-Atlantic state ranks second, nationally, in solar capacity. (N. Yaqub/VOA)
Workers are installing solar panels at a Duke Energy solar farm in Union County, North Carolina. The mid-Atlantic state ranks second, nationally, in solar capacity. (N. Yaqub/VOA)

Workforce impact

The shift in energy production has also brought change to the workforce. For instance, when American Electric Power switched from coal to gas, the number of people needed to run the plant dropped from 182 to 46.

But there’s been employment growth in renewable energy. The National Solar Jobs Census reported the solar energy workforce grew by more than 20 percent in 2015.

In North Carolina’s Union County, Duke Energy has hired roughly 500 people to construct a solar field spreading over 156 hectares of farmland that used to grow corn and soybeans. Workers are installing 663,800 solar panels on the solar farm, expected to produce 60 megawatts of electricity when it becomes operational next year.

North Carolina, with more than 1.9 gigawatts worth of installed solar capacity, ranks second among U.S. states, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“We have customers who are demanding renewable energy, and we do have energy policies that we are working toward complying with,” said McGee. She said the company has more than 50 solar projects in operation nationwide, and 19 wind-powered projects generating electricity. One more wind site is expected to come online in December.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy sources supplied roughly 13 percent of U.S. energy produced last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Of that, 6 percent was from hydropower, 5 percent wind, 2 percent biomass and 1 percent solar.

While big energy companies are phasing out coal, their environmental challenges are far from over.

Last month, Duke Energy reached an agreement to clean up coal ash from its Buck Steam Station. (VOA)

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World’s richest 10 percent people produce 50 percent carbon emission: Oxfam

Carbon emission

New Delhi: The world’s richest 10 percent of the people are responsible for around 50 percent of global carbon emissions, said a study by Oxfam.

The report, titled ‘Extreme Carbon Inequality: Why the Paris Climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first’, was released at a time when global leaders have met in Paris for the crucial UN Climate Change Conference.

“The poorest half of the global population are responsible for only around 10 percent of global emissions, yet live overwhelmingly in the countries most vulnerable to climate change – while the richest 10 percent of people are responsible for around 50 percent of global emissions,” the report said.

Climate change is “inextricably linked to economic inequality”, it said, adding that, “it is a crisis that is driven by the greenhouse gas emissions of the ‘haves’ that hits the ‘have-nots’ the hardest”.

“Governments in Paris need to stand up to their influence, and stand up for their citizens – the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable among them first and foremost – if Paris is to deliver an agreement for those who need it most,” said the study that was released on Wednesday.

While CoP 21 in Paris will see a deal negotiated between governments on the basis of the total emissions produced in their territories, “the real winners and losers will be their citizens”, the study added.

Comparing the average lifestyle consumption footprints of richer and poorer citizens in a range of countries, the study says that “some emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and South Africa have high and rapidly rising emissions”.

The lifestyle consumption emissions of even these countries’ richest citizens remain some way behind that of their counterparts in rich OECD nations – an international economic organisation of 34 nations which includes US, Britain, Canada and others, it added.

The report proves India’s point that rich countries cannot put blame and responsibilities on developing countries. The renewable energy sources cannot be afforded by poor countries and poor people and this is why rich countries have to be more active.



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Lessons for India: Ecological revolution in France to ban plastic bags and levy penalties on food wastage


By Rajendra Shende

In month of May in 1789, the simmering debate between the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy on the proposed royal reforms sparked the French revolution. It quickly spilled all over the country. The ‘commons’ or the so called ‘Third Estate’ started holding their own assembly. Within a span of six months, by December, prison of Bastille and palace of Versailles were stormed and the debate on new structures that included, inter alia, principles of legal equality, began to set in.

This week, on May 26, the French lower house of parliament approved a ‘Royal’ bill, pushed patiently but vigorously by France’s Ecology Minister, Segolene Royal. The bill, called ‘the energy transition for green growth Act’, passed by 308 votes for and 217 against, heralds the beginning of the French ecological revolution. It nurtures the tunes for the global leaders preparing for the UN meetings this year, first in September in New York on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and later in December in Paris, for climate meeting that is expected to shape up the global agenda to decarbonize the post-2015 development and wean away the humans from addiction to fossil fuels.

The French revolution had a worldwide impact on the politics, economics and social dimensions. The 21st century French bill, if approved by the upper house – the Senate – has the potential to have a spill over impact at the Paris meeting. The bill aims to reduce French dependency on nuclear power to 50 percent by 2025. Today, France relies more on nuclear power – 75 percent of its energy – than any other nation in the world – with no record of a major nuclear accident in the 53 years since its first nuclear plant went on stream. France now plans to shut down nearly 40% of its 59 nuclear reactors in the next decade.

Considering that Japan, even after the Fukushima disaster, is contemplating restarting its nuclear reactors to restore its share of electricity production from nuclear power to more than 30%, French plans are stunningly ‘green’.

The bill forbids big supermarkets from destroying unsold food. Food no longer fit for sale would have to be donated to charities or to farms for use as animal feed or compost. The global food waste has reached shocking proportions. In a world where over 840 million go hungry every day, at least one-third, or 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced each year, is lost or wasted, as per a FAO report. Even a quarter of this could feed all the world’s hungry people, as per the report.

Food loss and waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries (mainly through consumer and market waste) and $310 billion in developing countries (mainly during harvesting and in bringing to the market). The French bill includes the penalty of 75,000 Euros and two years’ imprisonment for the breach of this measure by large and medium supermarkets.

The new law would also ban plastic bags in all supermarkets and stores from January 1, 2016. Only biodegradable bags made from potato or maize would be allowed. Many countries in the world have banned plastic bags in some form or the other. However, such bans are mainly applicable to thicker heavy bags and implementation remains a problem. France is going to ban plastic bags of all sizes.

Under the bill, every enterprise employing more than 100 people would be needed to provide how they would save fuel used for transportation. State, local and city councils would be required to buy at least 50% of low emission vehicles when they renew their fleets of buses, starting in 2020.

Sharing vehicles will be promoted among the public. A reduced toll rate on expressways for light vehicles with very low emission and creation of special bike routes are included in the bill. This measure would force all private owners of houses and apartments to renovate their properties by 2025, if they consume a high amount of energy, one that exceeds 330 units per sq metre per year.

More than 93 percent of the French, as per latest survey, believe that current natural disasters are due to global warming. The French are looking forward to the Paris climate summit and welcome the passing of the Segolene Royal’s ecological bill and its energy transition for green growth and the reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG)emission.

Former couple, President Hollande and Segolene Royal, has worked together on an energy transition and sustainable development initiative. While President Hollande is busy travelling around the world persuading and urging the global leaders for the success of the Paris Climate meeting, his former wife is taking the lead on the domestic front to demonstrate that ‘charity begins at home’. Quite contrary to what Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette did in 18th century.

(Shende is an IIT-alumni and chairman of the TERRE Policy Centre. He is also a former director of the UNEP. He can be contacted at With inputs from IANS)