Talk renewables, walk coal: The paradox of India's energy transition.
ABSTRACT: Coal is on the rise in India: despite the devasting impacts of the climate crisis, the awareness for land and forest rights, and political talk of a coal phase-out. In this article, we demonstrate that despite the renewables-led rhetoric, India is in the midst of a transition to (not away from) greater use of coal in its fossil energy system and in the electricity system in particular. We investigate this paradox by combining socio-metabolic and political-ecological analysis of the Indian coal complex. Our framework integrates material and energy flow data as characterizing the Indian fossil energy transition, indicators on the development and structure of the coal industry, and studies of ecological distribution conflicts around coal. The dominant claim to expansive use of coal and the competing counterclaims are indicative of underlying power relations which can also be witnessed in other countries. In India, they extend into the conflicted development of renewable energy including hydropower, in which the land dispossession, exclusion, and injustices associated with the expansion of the coal complex are reproduced. We conclude that the current energy transition - in which coal continues to play a dominant role - is neither sustainable nor just.
Project description:China has invested heavily on alternative energy, but the effectiveness of such energy sources at substituting the dominant coal-fired generation remains unknown. Here we analyse the displacement of fossil-fuel-generated electricity by alternative energy, primarily hydropower, and by trans-provincial imported electricity in China between 1995 and 2014 using two-way fixed-effects panel regression models. Nationwide, each unit of alternative energy displaces nearly one-quarter of a unit of fossil-fuel-generated electricity, while each unit of imported electricity (regardless of the generation source) displaces ?0.3 unit of fossil-fuel electricity generated locally. Results from the six regional grids indicate that significant displacement of fossil-fuel-generated electricity occurs once the share of alternative energy in the electricity supply mix exceeds ?10%, which is accompanied by 10-50% rebound in the consumption of fossil-fuel-generated electricity. These findings indicate the need for a policy that integrates carbon taxation, alternative energy and energy efficiency to facilitate China's transition towards a low-carbon economy.
Project description:Coal, as one of the most economic and abundant energy sources, remains the leading fuel for producing electricity worldwide. Yet, burning coal produces more global warming CO2 relative to all other fossil fuels, and it is a major contributor to atmospheric particulate matter known to have a deleterious respiratory and cardiovascular impact in humans, especially in China and India. Here we have discovered that burning coal also produces large quantities of otherwise rare Magnéli phases (Ti x O2x-1 with 4???x???9) from TiO2 minerals naturally present in coal. This provides a new tracer for tracking solid-state emissions worldwide from industrial coal-burning. In its first toxicity testing, we have also shown that nanoscale Magnéli phases have potential toxicity pathways that are not photoactive like TiO2 phases, but instead seem to be biologically active without photostimulation. In the future, these phases should be thoroughly tested for their toxicity in the human lung.Solid-state emissions from coal burning remain an environmental concern. Here, the authors have found that TiO2 minerals present in coal are converted into titanium suboxides during burning, and initial biotoxicity screening suggests that further testing is needed to look into human lung consequences.
Project description:Highlights • The UK’s and Germany’s coal phase-out pathways diverge in timing and measures.• Different powers of actor groups contribute to diverging trends in UK and Germany.• Influential German coal corporations and unions slow down coal’s decline.• Energy security concerns, domestic mining and economic dependence create resistance.• Reducing the influence incumbents have on policy making might enable coal phase-out. Political decisions and trends regarding coal use for electricity generation developed differently in the UK and Germany, despite being subject to relatively similar climate protection targets and general political and economic conditions. The UK agreed on a coal phase-out by 2024. In Germany, a law schedules a coal phase-out by 2038 at the latest. This paper investigates reasons for the different developments and aims to identify main hurdles and drivers of coal phase-outs by using the Triple Embeddedness Framework. The comparative case study approach reveals that policy outcomes regarding coal consumption are deeply influenced by several actor groups, namely, coal companies, unions, environmental NGOs, and the government. The most discussed aspects of a coal phase-out in both countries are energy security concerns, whether coal is mined domestically, (regional) economic dependence, as well as the relative power of actors with vested interests in coal consumption.
Project description:Coal power generation is expanding rapidly in India and other developing countries. In addition to consequences for climate change, present-day health externalities may also substantially increase the social cost of coal. Health consequences of air pollution have proven important in studies of developed countries, but, despite clear importance, similarly well-identified estimates are less available for developing countries, and no estimates exist for the important case of coal in India. We exploit panel data on Indian households, matched to local changes in exposure to coal plants. Increased exposure to coal plants is associated with worse respiratory health. Consistent with a causal mechanism, the effect is specific: no effect is seen on diarrhea or fever, and no effect on respiratory health is seen of new non-coal plants. Our result is not due to endogenous avoidance behavior, or to differential trends in determinants of respiratory health, either before the period studied or simultaneously.
Project description:Mapping suitable land for development is essential to land use planning efforts that aim to model, anticipate, and manage trade-offs between economic development and the environment. Previous land suitability assessments have generally focused on a few development sectors or lack consistent methodologies, thereby limiting our ability to plan for cumulative development pressures across geographic regions. Here, we generated 1-km spatially-explicit global land suitability maps, referred to as "development potential indices" (DPIs), for 13 sectors related to renewable energy (concentrated solar power, photovoltaic solar, wind, hydropower), fossil fuels (coal, conventional and unconventional oil and gas), mining (metallic, non-metallic), and agriculture (crop, biofuels expansion). To do so, we applied spatial multi-criteria decision analysis techniques that accounted for both resource potential and development feasibility. For each DPI, we examined both uncertainty and sensitivity, and spatially validated the map using locations of planned development. We illustrate how these DPIs can be used to elucidate potential individual sector expansion and cumulative development patterns.
Project description:Energy production in the United States for domestic use and export is predicted to rise 27% by 2040. We quantify projected energy sprawl (new land required for energy production) in the United States through 2040. Over 200,000 km2 of additional land area will be directly impacted by energy development. When spacing requirements are included, over 800,000 km2 of additional land area will be affected by energy development, an area greater than the size of Texas. This pace of development in the United States is more than double the historic rate of urban and residential development, which has been the greatest driver of conversion in the United States since 1970, and is higher than projections for future land use change from residential development or agriculture. New technology now places 1.3 million km2 that had not previously experienced oil and gas development at risk of development for unconventional oil and gas. Renewable energy production can be sustained indefinitely on the same land base, while extractive energy must continually drill and mine new areas to sustain production. We calculated the number of years required for fossil energy production to expand to cover the same area as renewables, if both were to produce the same amount of energy each year. The land required for coal production would grow to equal or exceed that of wind, solar and geothermal energy within 2-31 years. In contrast, it would take hundreds of years for oil production to have the same energy sprawl as biofuels. Meeting energy demands while conserving nature will require increased energy conservation, in addition to distributed renewable energy and appropriate siting and mitigation.
Project description:The pantropical Picrodendraceae produce mostly spheroidal to slightly oblate, echinate pollen grains equipped with narrow circular to elliptic pori that can be hard to identify to family level in both extant and fossil material using light microscopy only. Fossil pollen of the family have been described from the Paleogene of America, Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, but until now none have been reported from Afro-India. Extant pollen described here include representatives from all recent Picrodendraceae genera naturally occurring in Africa and/or Madagascar and south India and selected closely related tropical American taxa. Our analyses, using combined light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, show that pollen of the Afro-Indian genera encompass three morphological types: Type 1, comprising only Hyaenanche; Type 2, including Aristogeitonia, Mischodon, Oldfieldia and Voatamalo; Type 3, comprising the remaining two genera, Androstachys and Stachyandra. Based on the pollen morphology presented here it is evident that some previous light microscopic accounts of spherical and echinate fossil pollen affiliated with Arecaceae, Asteraceae, Malvaceae, and Myristicaceae from the African continent could belong to Picrodendraceae. The pollen morphology of Picrodendraceae, fossil pollen records, a dated intra-familial phylogeny, seed dispersal modes, and the regional Late Cretaceous to early Cenozoic paleogeography, together suggest the family originated in the Americas and dispersed from southern America across Antarctica and into Australasia. A second dispersal route is believed to have occurred from the Americas into continental Africa via the North Atlantic Land Bridge and Europe.
Project description:Development of renewable energy is essential to mitigating the fossil fuel shortage and climate change issues. Here, we propose to produce a new type of energy, bio-coal, via a fast pyrolysis coupled with atmospheric distillation process. The high heating values of the as-prepared bio-coals from the representative biomass are within 25.4 to 28.2 MJ kg-1, which are comparable to that of the commercial coals. Life cycle assessment further shows that the bio-coal production process could achieve net positive energy, financial, and environmental benefits. By using available biomass wastes as feedstock, China is expected to have a total bio-coal production of 402 million tons of standard coal equivalent, which is equal to 13% of national coal consumption. It would grant China an opportunity to additionally cut 738 million tons of CO2 emission by substituting an equal amount of coal with bio-coal in 2030.
Project description:Sivaladapidae is a poorly known Asian strepsirrhine family originally discovered in Miocene sediments of the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent research has considerably increased the diversity, temporal range, and geographical distribution of this group, now documented from China, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, and India and whose earliest representatives date back to the Middle Eocene. We present here a new taxon of sivaladapid from the Na Duong coal mine in the Latest Middle Eocene-Late Eocene of Vietnam. It represents the first Eocene primate from Vietnam and the first medium-sized mammal recovered from this locality, thus documenting a completely new part of the Na Duong paleobiodiversity. This taxon is the largest sivaladapid ever found with an estimated body weight of 5.3?kg and it represents a new subfamily of sivaladapids in exhibiting a very peculiar combination of dental features yet unknown in the fossil record of the family (e.g., retention of four premolars, high-crowned molars with accentuated bunodonty and extreme crest reduction). Besides documenting a complete new part of sivaladapid evolution, its primitive dental formula and derived features shared with the Early Eocene Asiadapidae reinforce the hypothesis of a basal branching of sivaladapids among strepsirrhines.
Project description:Coal-fired power generation is the single most important source of carbon dioxide emissions in many countries, including Germany. A government commission recently proposed to phase out coal by 2038, which implies that the country will miss its 2020 climate target. Based on a representative sample of German voters assessing 31,744 hypothetical policy scenarios in a choice experiment, we show that voters prefer an earlier phase-out by 2025. They would uphold their support for greater climate ambition up to an additional cost to society of €8.50 billion. Voters in Rhineland and Lusatia, the country's main coal regions, support an earlier phase-out, too, although to a lesser extent. By demonstrating that political decision-makers are more reluctant to overcoming energy path dependence than voters, our analysis calls for further research explaining the influence of particular stakeholders in slowing energy transitions.