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TERI University joins hands with UNDP to organise BLISS School 2016
The Hans India , 19 April 2016

Five-day programme aims to build learning in sustainable consumption and production patterns

  TERI University, the leading institution dedicated to education for sustainable development, held the inaugural session of the BLISS (Building Learning in Sustainability Science) School on the subject ‘Ensuring Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns’.  The five-day programme, being organised under a Funding Agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is being attended by more than 100 participants on campus and online, that include policy planners from south Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India), as well as researchers, practitioners, academics and students. The programme comes is a part of the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Regional Policy Support outreach which targets national and regional policy frameworks in South Asia to enhance their potential to implement Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) practices and transition to a greener economy.

  The inaugural session saw the presence of Mr. Jitendra Kumar, Adviser Niti Aayog, as well as TERI University Vice Chancellor Dr. Leena Srivastava and Dr. Rajeev Seth, Pro-Vice Chancellor.  In his keynote address, Mr. Jitendra Kumar highlighted the work of the Indian Government in mapping different Ministries to the UN-defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its role in achieving resource efficiency across value chains in different sectors. Further, he stressed on education as a primary driver for achieving the SDGs.

  Dr. Shaleen Singhal, Head, Department of Policy Studies at TERI University who is also the director of this initiative, said, “BLISS School 2016 has been designed to address thematic areas like the challenges and opportunities for SCP at the national and South Asian regional level, planning and management for resource efficiency in urban habitats, innovation, technological and financial mechanisms for SCP, and mainstreaming SCP through stakeholder engagement and policymaking. It will provide participants with an in-depth look at the current SCP practices on SCP in South Asia and foster innovation in practical environmental-friendly design.”

  Using an interdisciplinary approach, the sessions, lead by national and international experts in the field of sustainability from organisations like UNEP, 10YFP, leading Indian institutes including the IITs and JNU, as well as heads of various regional and South Asian government departments and development foundations cover case studies on leading practices and innovative policies promoting SCP at the national and South Asia regional levels. The event is being conducted on-campus at TERI University and simultaneously live-streamed through a webinar for online participants. The programme ends on April 22nd and all attendees will be awarded a ‘Certificate of Participation’ at the conclusion.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan says the Low Cost Micro Solar Dome Surya Jyoti would light up homes without electricity , 5 April 2016

New Delhi; Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, today launched the Low Cost and Environment-friendly solar lighting device, which would prove to be a boon for the urban and rural households in the country that do not have reliable access to electricity. The device has been developed under the aegis of the Department of Science & Technology.

  Describing the salient features of the device, the Minister said that the potential users of this device are10 million households. He further said that according to preliminary estimates, if this technology is adopted in 10 million households only, it has the potential of saving 1750 million units of energy. It would also lead to an emission reduction of about 12.5 million ton of CO2 equivalent, hence giving a fillip to the mission of ‘Clean India, Green India’. The manufacturing process, being labour-intensive, would also generate huge job opportunities in the economy.

  Dr. Harsh Vardhan, while explaining the working of the device, said that the Micro Solar Dome captures sunlight through a transparent semi-spherical upper dome and concentrates it inside a dark room. The light passes through a sun-tube having a thin layer of highly reflective coating on the inner wall of the passage. It also contains a lower dome having a shutter at the bottom that can be closed if light is not required in the daytime. It is leak proof and works for almost 16 hours daily i.e. throughout the day and 4 hours after sunset.

  The Minister said that the Photo-Voltaic Integrated Micro Solar Dome costs about Rs.1200 and the Non Photo-Voltaic version around Rs. 500. These cost figures are expected to get further reduced to Rs.900and Rs.400 respectively post the scaling-up of the manufacturing process and future linkages with the subsidies under various schemes of the Ministries of Urban Development, Rural Development and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

  The Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S. Choudhary said that this technology would lead to the saving of fossil fuels to a great extent as 1 unit of energy saved is equivalent to 3 units of energy generated.  He envisaged the corporate sector to play its role under their Corporate Social Responsibilities Schemes for the manufacturing process to scale up. He said that incubation centres are being brought up under the ‘Start up India, Stand up India’ programme which would encourage entrepreneurship in the solar sector to make commercialization of the device viable.

  According to a TERI University test report, the illumination level of the light during mid-day goes as high as a 15W LED bulb. Extensive Testing of the device for select parameters has been completed at IIT Bombay, TERI University and Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Kolkata. Field trials have been conducted and 300 Micro Solar Domes are being installed in the slums of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.

Rooftop solar has a bright future
The Hindu Business Line, 4 April 2016

India’s goal of having 100 GW of solar power by 2022 has already generated a lot of interest, and scepticism. But it’s even more far-reaching part pertains to the fact that 40 GW out of this is going to be based on distributed energy generation, namely solar rooftop systems.

These solar rooftop systems could be set up at residences, at industries, at commercial buildings, or on the airport terminals. The capacities range from a few kilowatts to megawatts. There have been ongoing discussions and debates on their feasibility. The country had around 525 MW of solar rooftop systems by October last.

The one thing that has been clearly established is the crucial role of electricity regulators as well as the distribution utilities (discoms). Be it the connectivity to the grid or the net-metering arrangements or the tariff paid for surplus solar electricity fed into the grid by the consumers, Discoms have become central in solar rooftops’ rollout.

Interestingly, with the advent of roof-mounted solar systems, retail electricity consumers are metamorphosing in to a dual role: an electricity consumer as well as a generator.

Discoms under threat There are enough indications worldwide that electricity sector is fast undergoing fundamental, structural changes; changes that might impact the very business model of the utilities. And one always resists change, more so if it happens to be a fundamental one.

The risk perception of discoms stems from the belief that if a sizeable consumer base – especially in higher tariff categories like commercial and industrial — shifts to solar rooftop systems, it would result in revenue loss.

This is because while on one hand the demand for grid electricity reduces, on the other discoms would still have to invest into, and maintain, the electricity supply infrastructure. In India, there is cross-subsidy to contend with.

In many States commercial and industrial consumers provide subsidise electricity consumers in agriculture and residential sectors. So in a sense wide-scale adoption of solar rooftop systems by commercial and industrial consumers could impact the financials of discoms.

Mitigating factors This, however, needs to be put in perspective taking into account (a) how would solar rooftop systems complement discoms’ endeavour to reduce aggregated losses (it has been estimated that 1 kWh generated and consumed at the point of consumption/load centre can help obviate supply of 1.5 kWh for meeting the same load) and (b) the reduction in having to buy expensive electricity, especially during peak hours.

Moreover, the surplus electricity can be utilised in myriad of ways, for instance for more lucrative inter-state trading or to meet unmet/latent demands. The point essentially is to analyse all the possible scenarios and work out the `net’ impact.

Utilities in places such as Hawaii, California, Nevada, New York, Georgia, and Germany have reacted differently to solar rooftop ingress. It may be important to distinguish these utilities from those in India. The aforementioned utilities are composite ones that take care of all the functions of electricity supply, from generation to distribution.

World experience In our case, we have had unbundling so that there are utilities for generation, transmission, and distribution respectively. And because of this distinction, discoms here would be differently impacted from a utility, say, in California. Electricity regulators there have tried to address these concerns in a different fashion.

So for instance the state of Nevada more than tripled a monthly fee customers need to pay to the utility for rooftop solar projects.

The California Public Utilities Commission, on the other hand approved a programme maintaining a full retail net energy metering (NEM) structure that allows all customers to receive full credit for renewable energy that they export to the grid, but also establishes mandatory time of use (TOU) rates for those customers.’

In a far-reaching verdict, the Supreme Court of the US upheld a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule that allows homes and businesses to get paid for energy conservation when demand on the power grid is very high.

These examples provide important lessons to us, which if properly adapted, could help India in leap-frogging in this emerging space. Besides, the private utilities are trying out new business models, not only for their own survival but also to take advantage of emerging scenario.

Thus, the Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company of the US, launched its own branded solar rooftop business.

Likewise, after losing billions of euros in conventional electricity generation business once Germany moved to Energiewende, its mega utility RWE forged a partnership with solar developer Conergy to offer solar rooftop solutions.

The way forward There is no denying the fact that sound financial health of discoms is crucial for electricity supply system to function smoothly.

On the other hand there is India’s commitment to pursue low-carbon pathway of which solar rooftop systems are a key element.

What is required, therefore, is fine balancing of near-term and long-term goals. While discoms themselves explore transformational business models in order to remain afloat, and relevant; proactive regulators and transparent political direction would be the key to this convergence.

Thus, rationalisation of tariffs across all the categories would automatically obviate the need for tariff-based cross-subsidisation.

In addition, the government may think of incentivising discoms in some ways thereby accelerating the deployment of solar rooftop systems.

While those discoms that join UDAY may have some additional benefits commensurate with their performance in this area, for other discoms there could be some point-based system helping them to improve their credit rating.
Mr. Amit Kumar,The writer is with TERI University (This article was published on April 4, 2016)


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Date News Title Source
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Malnutrition and Its Linkage to Sustainable Development
ThinK to Sustain, 10 February 2012

Nida Yamin, a student at TERI University, explores the long-prevalent issue of malnutrition in India and its effects on growth and development of the country as a whole, and suggests how community-based programs can improve the situation and lead to national nutrition security.   

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