SunEdison setback may delay Modis ultra mega solar drive in India

first_imgThe likely collapse of SunEdison Inc’s solar project in India, the first of 32 planned “ultra mega” complexes, could delay Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to increase renewable energy fivefold by several years and probably cost consumers more.As the U.S. solar giant fights to stave off bankruptcy, the 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh state it won last November lies idle with ground yet to be broken. The other projects are still to be bid on.It’s doubtful any rival will pick up the project at the aggressive power pricing promised by SunEdison, which beat out 29 other bidders with a record-low tariff of 4.63 rupees (7 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour.That will force Indian officials to tighten auction rules to ensure that only serious, bankable bidders show up, industry sources said. India plans to auction more of the “ultra mega” projects — those which generate at least 500 MW– in the current fiscal year through to March 2017.”There is always a trade off,” Upendra Tripathy, secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, told Reuters of the renewable energy auctions.”There can be a relaxed condition so that more people can participate and there is another where you can make sure fly-by-night operators can’t come in. It’s an ongoing process and we are open to suggestions.”Tightening auction rules could slow the pace at which projects are awarded and built, pushing back Modi’s goal of expanding solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2020 to the middle of the decade, say officials and industry players.Tripathy, however, said India will for now stick to its goal, set by Modi soon after taking office in 2014, and that it has planned for SunEdison-like bumps in the road with a strong project pipeline.Modi is banking on India’s 300 days a year of sunshine to help fight climate change rather than committing to emission cuts like China. But he has also pushed firms to provide cheap power, which risks leaving too little profit on the table.Heavily indebted SunEdison, which according to one of its publicly listed units could soon file for bankruptcy protection, drew criticism from analysts for its low winning bid for the Andhra project.The company is now exploring a sale of its Indian assets of around 1 GW or seeking partners for them, sources said, and has drawn preliminary interest from billionaire Gautam Adani’s fast-expanding Adani Group. Apart from the Andhra project, SunEdison has several other small plants under construction across India.POSSIBLE RE-BIDA person close to Adani said the low tariff agreed for the Andhra plant will make any deal with SunEdison difficult for Indian firms, which have a relatively high cost of capital. If no buyer is found, the project could be re-bid, the industry sources said.SunEdison did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”The tariffs are a tad aggressive and that may not be healthy for developers themselves and also for others in the ecosystem manufacturers and financiers,” said Santosh Kamath, head of renewables at consultancy KPMG India. “That might be a warning signal for the industry.”SunEdison’s troubles notwithstanding, India has attracted deep-pocketed investors to its $100 billion solar energy program – the biggest in the world.Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises have separately pledged to invest a total of about $20 billion in India’s renewable sector. Global solar giants like First Solar Inc, Trina Solar Ltd and Finland’s state-controlled utility Fortum Oyj are also expanding their presence.India wants the share of non-fossil fuel in total installed power capacity to jump to 40 percent by 2030 from 30 percent currently.Challenges include the weak finances of state distribution companies forced to sell subsidised power, difficulties hooking up solar projects to grids, and access to affordable capital. Land acquisition is also an issue that Modi’s government has been unable to fix – a 500 MW solar project needs on average 2,000 acres (800 hectares).”Given the energy deficit, need for energy security and sustained economic growth, the potential clearly exists for 100 GW of solar (energy) in India,” said Sujoy Ghosh, country head of First Solar. “The question would be on the time lines in which the goal is achieved.”The Indian government is trying to persuade state banks to extend loans to solar projects, but most lenders are saddled with bad loans and unlikely to risk getting exposed to renewable projects with low rates of return.To avoid projects getting stuck for a lack of backing, India should make it mandatory for solar bidders to get funding assurances from banks at the beginning of an auction to ensure only serious players take part, analysts said. Tripathy, the government secretary, said he could consider the suggestion.”We’ll have to take care that projects don’t become unviable,” KPMG’s Kamath said. “If some projects become unviable then banks will stop lending to new projects and then they get stranded, like we have seen in the power and road sectors in the past.”($1 = 66.4938 Indian rupees)last_img read more

Thai rescuers resume search for 23 survivors of capsized boat

first_imgA Thai navy boat carrying recovered bodies of passengers from a capsized tourist boat arrives at a pier in the tourist island of Phuket, Thailand on 6 July 2018.Despite fading hopes, rescuers in Thailand resumed a search on Saturday for 23 survivors after a boat carrying Chinese tourists sank off the island of Phuket in rough weather, while authorities began to investigate the boat’s operator.The death toll from one of the worst transport accidents in Thailand’s recent history reached 33, authorities have said, with 49 of the 105 passengers on the sunken Phoenix rescued, although 37 are still in hospital, some with severe injuries.”We will take any chance in the search for life,” Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said at the search site on Friday, following comments by a Marine Department official that there was probably “no chance” of finding more survivors.”Safety and service have to be placed above revenue,” Weerasuk added.Some Thais and tour operators have questioned why the boat was at sea during bad weather.Thai junta number two Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered an investigation into why it appeared to have ignored a weather warning, while police said they would seek to charge the captain and owner with negligence.The Phoenix, which was carrying 93 Chinese along with 12 Thai crew and tour guides, sank after being hit by five-metre (16-ft) -high waves in a storm on Thursday evening off Phuket, whose beaches and nightlife draw tourists.Thailand is in the middle of its rainy season, which usually runs from May to mid-October and often generates high winds and flash storms in coastal areas.Tourism is a key driver of growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making up 12 percent of gross domestic product, and the most foreign visitors come from China.Many of the dead from the disaster were found drifting face down, wearing life jackets, near where it sank.The dead and injured were taken to a hospital on Phuket’s east coast, where relatives began to gather, with more expected over the weekend. Officials have asked for Chinese interpreters to assist.Thai officials on Saturday ordered boats not involved in the search to stay at anchor while it lasts.Accidents on the scale of this week’s disaster were “not good” for Thailand, said tourist police official Surachate Hakparn, adding, “We have to be more stringent.”Thailand is already in the global spotlight with a multinational rescue operation to save 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped for days in a mountain cave in its north.last_img read more

Washingtonian Magazine Ad Campaign About DC Manages to Include Zero Black People

first_imgBy Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, mgreen@afro.comAlthough White residents may now make up 44 percent of the District’s population, Washington, D.C., once coined “Chocolate City,” is still majority African American with 47.7 percent of residents identifying as Black, according to the U.S. Census.Washingtonian Magazine completely disregarded the District’s majority population in a recently launched social media campaign.  In a series of photos located in various places around the city, people are seen wearing shirts that read, “I’M NOT A TOURIST.  I LIVE HERE.”  Every single person featured in the campaign- a campaign about living in a predominantly Black city- is White.A screenshot of the from Tony Lewis Jr.’s Instagram account admonishing the Washingtonian Magazine campaign “I am Not A Tourist.” (Screenshot)As soon as the campaign dropped, Black Twitter and Washingtonians immediately chastised the magazine and its tone deaf marketing.“PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT [Washingtonian Magazine’s] DEPICTION OF WHO ‘LIVES HERE’… NOT ONE BLACK FACE IN THE ENTIRE PIECE,” social media influencer and community activist, Tony Lewis Jr. wrote on Instagram and Twitter.  Lewis wrote in all capital letters similarly to the campaign t-shirts.“BLACK PEOPLE STILL MAKE UP [47 percent] OF THIS CITY.  THIS IS DISRESPECTFUL, CARELESS, AND RACIST (YEAH I SAID IT, RACIST). THIS IS VERY REPRESENATIVE OF HOW WE FEEL IN OUR OWN CITY, THAT WE ARE INVISIBLE, THAT WE DON’T EXIST.  THAT PEOPLE MOVE HERE HAVE MORE VALUE THAN THOSE BORN HERE.  THAT WHEN WE DIE IN THE STREETS IT ISN’T IMPORTANT, THAT THE NEW RESTAURANT OR CONDO SUPERCEDES OUR EXISTENCE,” Lewis wrote.He then encouraged Washingtonians to not support the magazine.The controversy surrounding the shirts and campaign quickly escalated, prompting Washingtonian to delete the campaign and apologize.“As a native Washingtonian, I am very sorry that our latest  ‘I Am Not A Tourist’ marketing campaign did not represent the wonderfully diverse city in which we live,” Washingtonian Magazine CEO and president Catherine Merrill Williams wrote in  a statement.“This was the very beginning of a campaign in which all intentions are to include the many communities that make up our city.  We solicited pictures from a diverse group of people and put the pictures up in the order they came in.  People who saw the initial gallery of pictures had no way of knowing that it was not, in fact, the entirety of the marketing campaign. We took down the initial post because it created an impression that was inconsistent with our values and standards. We’re confident that when the campaign is complete it will reflect the diversity of the readership that we serve,” she wrote.Despite the apology some Washingtonians are still outraged.In response to Washingtonian’s campaign, Lewis is putting together a photoshoot on May 20 at Union Market for residents “born, raised and educated” in D.C.“We will provide a counter narrative that there are still folks who were born, raised, and educated in this city still here.  We will provide a counter image that not every person living in the city is a [White] millennial,” Lewis wrote on Instagram.The dress code for the photo shoot is all black.last_img read more