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India alone is home to 7 per cent (21GW) of the global coal project pipeline, which is 56 per cent of South Asia's total, a study showed on Tuesday, with the country moving slowly away from coal at a national level, however considerable progress is being made at the state level. Four countries in South Asia -- Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- have previously considered or are currently considering coal. Together, they account for 13 per cent of the global pre-construction pipeline (37.4GW), said a new report by climate change think tank E3G that assessed the global pipeline of new coal projects.
It finds there has been a 76 per cent reduction in proposed coal power since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, bringing the end of new coal construction into sight. The report says Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are showing leadership in cancelling projects and making political statements that they will no longer pursue new coal power. In India, significant socio-economic headwinds to new coal have led to state-level commitments to no new coal, opening a pathway for national-level progress. Having considered new coal-fired power projects for a number of years, Sri Lanka is now leading the way in South Asia.
India's pre-construction pipeline of 21GW is the second largest in the world. | Wikimedia
The report finds India is moving slowly away from coal at a national level, however considerable progress is being made at the state level. Between 2019 and 2021, public officials from the states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka announced their intention to not build new coal power plants. According to a 2019 study, many more states have the potential to move away from new coal power due to a combination of socio-economic and environmental factors, particularly the rapidly increasing cost competitiveness of new renewables.
India's pre-construction pipeline of 21GW is the second largest in the world. India is currently constructing 34GW of new coal capacity, more than the next seven countries combined. This is on top of India's considerable existing operating fleet of 233GW (11.3 per cent of the global total). Yet since 2015, India has seen over 326GW of projects cancelled, including more than 250GW of shelved capacity. This means almost 7GW has been scrapped for every 1GW that has gone into operation. Conditions are now ripe for India's remaining pipeline to not continue into construction, says the report. The cost implications of building new coal are starker in India than in many other countries, with clear evidence that even a country with large domestic coal reserves can struggle to make coal-fired power economically viable. Average coal plant load factors have fallen consistently, from 61 per cent in 2018 to 53 per cent in 2021, making it more expensive to run existing plants and highlighting the folly of building new coal.
Even the under-construction pipeline of coal projects (34GW) faces major stranded asset risk, according to IEEFA's June 2021 study. Stressed and stranded assets are already a reality. | Wikimedia
Meanwhile, renewable tariffs in India are some of the lowest in the world, reaching a record low of Rs 1.99/kWh ($ 0.026/kWh) in December 2020. This is cheaper than the majority of the existing Indian coal fleet, and all the new coal projects. Renewables backed by storage are also increasingly competitive. The report finds India's power distribution companies (discos) are already in dire financial health, with debt expected to touch $80 billion in FY22.
Even the under-construction pipeline of coal projects (34GW) face major stranded asset risk, according to IEEFA's June 2021 study. Stressed and stranded assets are already a reality, for example, the seven-plus coal power units totalling 7410MW that have either been ordered to be liquidated or are heading for liquidation, six of which were in early stages of construction. Most private developers have little appetite for coal and are instead pivoting to renewables, making it increasingly hard to fund new coal projects. Recent analysis also suggests that India may not even need additional coal capacity to meet its future electricity demand and could even begin retiring older coal plants and still meet demand projections. Collectively, lower than expected power demand growth, cheaper renewables, falling load factors, and difficulty in securing finance highlight the headwinds and risks to the continued pursuit of new coal in India, says the report.
While Indian national politics have hesitated to engage in discussion on moving away from coal for multiple reasons, progress is being made at the sub-national level, with several states considering pivoting away from new coal. Senior government officials in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka have all signalled their intent to not pursue new coal power projects. India's pursuit of coal has typically been justified on energy security, affordability, and development arguments, but new coal does not make economic sense for India anymore. Renewable energy can deliver these outcomes better, quicker and cheaper, and without the negative socio-economic, health, and environmental impacts of coal, concludes the report.
(Article Originally written by Vishal Gulati)(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Coal, E3G , India, Coal Projects, Coal Power, Pipeline, environment
If you think the internet is responsible for making people more aggressive when engaging in political talks online, then you might be wrong as new research suggests that it just makes the behavior of aggressive people more visible.
According to Daily Mail, the study, from the political science department at Aarhus University, debunks the long-held theory that people are only nasty while posting anonymously online.
The study, published in the American Political Science Review, found that people who are nice may choose to avoid all political discussions online -- whether the forums are hostile or not.
The researchers did find that the hostility levels of online political discussions are worse than offline discussions, but that the frequency of behavior was about the same online and in real life.
The study indicated that "aggression is not an accident triggered by unfortunate circumstances, but a strategy (hostile people) employ to get what they want including a feeling of status and dominance in online networks".
As per the report, the researchers began the paper with an apparent dig at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was named the Time Magazine 'Person of the Year in 2010.
"Facebook wants to populate the wilderness, tame the howling mob and turn the lonely, antisocial world of random chance into a friendly world," the Time Magazine article on Zuckerberg reads, as cited by the researchers.
The researchers noted that efforts from social media giants to get people to engage in civil discussions on topics such as politics have failed spectacularly. "Online discussions about politics turned out to be nasty, brutish, and not nearly short enough," the researchers wrote. (IANS/PP)
Keywords: internet, troll, research, social media
The Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology is implementing the SARS-CoV-2 NGS-BRICS consortium and multicentric programme to study the impact of severe Covid-19 conditions on TB patients in collaboration with the BRICS countries.
The SARS-CoV-2 NGS-BRICS consortium is an interdisciplinary collaboration to advance Covid-19 health-relevant knowledge and to contribute to improvements in health outcomes.
The consortium will accelerate the translation of genomic data, leading to clinical and public health research and interventions from clinical and surveillance samples by utilising the high-end genomic technologies, and epidemiologic and bioinformatics tools for future use in diagnostic assays and tracking transmission dynamics of Covid-19 and other viruses.
The Indian team consists of Arindam Maitra, Saumitra Das and Nidhan K. Biswas from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Ashwin Dalal from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, and Mohit K. Jolly from the Indian Institute of Science, along with the National Laboratory for Scientific Computation.
Ana Tereza Ribeiro de Vasconcelos from Brazil, Georgii Bazykin from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia, Mingkun Li from Beijing Institute of Genomics, and Tulio de Oliveira from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, will participate in this consortium.
The programme would investigate the impact of severe Covid-19 on transient peripheral immunosuppression and lung hyperinflammation conditions in TB patients for epidemiology and comorbidity.
This collaborative study is expected to provide valuable comorbidity data pertaining to pulmonary TB patients with or without Covid-19 co-infection that is expected to be generated for better disease management.
Renu Swarup, Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology, said that the department has taken small steps in the right direction towards collaboration with BRICS countries.
The department plans to expand the BRICS programme further, she added.
Keywords: Science and technology, research, BRICS, international relations, department of biotechnology
A significant number of people who suffered from chronic heartburn and were taking an over-the-counter acid suppressant were able to survive Covid-19, a study has found. The low cost drug called famotidine, with key ingredient Pepcid, was developed to block the histamine receptors that help produce acid in the stomach.
A team from University of Virginia examined 22,000 people, the largest sample size for a study on famotidine and the disease to date. The team's analysis, which appeared in the journal Signal Transduction & Targeted Therapy, showed that the data supported findings from other smaller-scale studies.
When delivered at high doses (the equivalent of about 10 Pepcid tablets), famotidine appears to improve the odds of survival for Covid-19 patients, especially when it is combined with aspirin.
It also seems to hinder the severity of disease progression, making patients less likely to reach the point where they require intubation or a ventilator. One of the most dangerous phenomena of Covid-19 is that it can trigger a cytokine storm -- a potentially fatal amplification of an immune response.
Once infected, the immune system releases inflammatory proteins called cytokines that tell the immune cells how to fight the infection. But in more severe illnesses, cytokine production can spiral out of control, becoming unregulated. "Basically, your immune system goes haywire and starts attacking things like your otherwise healthy lung tissue because it's so desperate to kill off the invading virus," said Cameron Mura, senior scientist at UVA.
The researchers note that famotidine suppresses this reaction.
But, like all other medications, it can cause side effects -- interfering with cytokine storms. "It may well be a case of famotidine having a beneficial off-target effect," Mura said. But other studies have offered conflicting pictures of what famotidine can do for Covid-19 patients: Some have found that it has a neutral effect and one has even suggested that it might be detrimental.
However, the team suggested combining famotidine with aspirin. The study has shed further light on an inexpensive and safe potential treatment that would be easy for doctors to prescribe.
Keyword: Covid, heart ailments, heartburn, medicine, research, Covid treatment