Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

India’s offshore wind energy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 24rd July-2021

Topics

  • The laws for surveillance in India, and the concerns over privacy
  • Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021
  • Nord Stream 2 Pipeline
  • Aiming for Sustainable Habitat: New Initiatives in Building Energy Efficiency 2021
  • India’s offshore wind energy

 

1.The laws for surveillance in India, and the concerns over privacy

#GS2 #Government Policies and Interventions #Transparency & Accountability

#Fundamental rights

Context: Recently, in response to the finding by a global collaborative investigative project that Israeli spyware Pegasus was used to target at least 300 individuals in India, the Indian government has claimed that all interception in India takes place lawfully.

Background on laws covering surveillance in India:

  • Communication surveillance in India takes place primarily under two laws – the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • While the Telegraph Act deals with interception of calls, the IT Act was enacted to deal with surveillance of all electronic communication.
  • So, for a Pegasus-like spyware to be used lawfully, the government would have to invoke both the IT Act and the Telegraph Act.

Telegraph Act,1885:

  • It governs the use of wired and wireless telegraphy, telephones, teletype, radio communications and digital data communications.
  • It gives the Government of India exclusive jurisdiction and privileges for establishing, maintaining, operating, licensing and oversight of all forms of wired and wireless communications within Indian territory.
  • It also authorizes government law enforcement agencies to monitor/intercept communications and tap phone lines under conditions defined within the Indian Constitution.
  • Under Section 5(2) of this law, the government can intercept calls only in certain situations:
    • Interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,
    • Security of the state,
    • Friendly relations with foreign states or public order,
    • Preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.
  • These are the same restrictions imposed on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • Significantly, even these restrictions can be imposed only when there is a condition precedent — the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of public safety.
  • This lawful interception cannot take place against journalists.

Judiciary on Telegraph act:

  • In Public Union for Civil Liberties v/s Union of India (1996), ( A public interest litigation in the wake of the report on “Tapping of politicians phones” by the CBI) the Supreme Court pointed out lack of procedural safeguards in the provisions of the Telegraph Act and laid down following observations:
    • Tapping is a serious invasion of an individual’s privacy.
    • It is no doubt correct that every Government exercises some degree of surveillance operation as a part of its intelligence outfit but at the same time citizen’s right to privacy has to be protected.
    • The court noted that authorities engaging in interception were not even maintaining adequate records and logs on interception.
    • Among the guidelines issued by the court were setting up a review committee that can look into authorisations made under Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act.
  • The above-mentioned Supreme Court’s observations formed the basis of introducing Rule 419A in the Telegraph Rules in 2007 and later in the rules prescribed under the IT Act in 2009.
  • Rule 419A states that a Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of a Joint Secretary) in the Ministry of Home Affairs can pass orders of interception in the case of Centre and a secretary-level officer who is in-charge of the Home Department can issue such directives in the case of a state government.

IT Act, 2000:

  • Section 69 of the Information Technology Act and the Information Technology (Procedure for Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009 were enacted to further the legal framework for electronic surveillance.
  • Apart from the restrictions provided in Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and Article 19(2) of the Constitution, Section 69 the IT Act adds another aspect that makes it broader — interception, monitoring and decryption of digital information “for the investigation of an offence”.
  • Significantly, it dispenses with the condition precedent set under the Telegraph Act that requires “the occurrence of public emergency of the interest of public safety” which widens the ambit of powers under the law and offer the government total opacity in respect of its interception and monitoring activities.

Issues with the Surveillance:

  • According to the Centre for Internet & Society, the legal loopholes allow surveillance and affect privacy.
  • The very presence of a surveillance system has an impact on the right to privacy (held by the SC in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India case, 2017)
  • The surveillance promotes spread of authoritarianism in the government functioning since it allows the executive to exercise a disproportionate amount of power on the citizen and impacts their personal lives.
  • Current revelations over the use of Pegasus highlights that surveillance was also conducted on many journalists. This affects freedom of press.

About Pegasus:

  • It is a type of malicious software or malware classified as a spyware.
  • It is designed to gain access to devices, without the knowledge of users, and gather personal information and relay it back to whoever it is that is using the software to spy.
  • Pegasus has been developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group that was set up in 2010.
  • The first version of Pegasus discovered, which was captured by researchers in 2016, infected phones via spear-phishing – text messages or emails that trick a target into clicking on a malicious link.
  • Pegasus infections are possible through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner to succeed.
  • These will frequently exploit “zero-day” vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in an operating system that the manufacturer of the mobile phone is unaware of and thus has not been able to fix.

 

  1. Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021

#GS2 #Government policies #GS3 # Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate

#Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas

Context: Recently, the government introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha.

Background:

  • The Essential Defence Services Bill is aimed at preventing the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike.
    • Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.
  • It seeks to replace the ordinance issued in June 2021
  • In June the government announced corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, under which the 41 factories ammunition and other equipment to the armed forces will become part of seven government owned corporate entities.
    • The OFB was directly under the Department of Defence Production and worked as an arm of the government. The government has claimed that the move is aimed at improving the efficiency and accountability of these factories.

Highlights of the Bill:

What is Essential Defence Services:

  • Any service in any establishment dealing with production of goods or equipment required for any purpose connected with defence.
  • Any service in any establishment of, or connected with, the armed forces of the Union or in any other establishment or installation connected with defence.
  • Any service in any section of any establishment connected with defence, on the working of which the safety of such establishment or employee employed therein depends;
  • Any other service, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be essential defence services, the cessation of work of which would prejudicially affect the:
    • Production of defence equipment or goods.
    • Operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production.
    • Repair or maintenance of products connected with defence.

Defines Strikes:

  • It is defined as cessation of work by a body of persons acting together, which includes:
    • Mass casual leave.
    • Coordinated refusal of any number of persons to continue to work or accept employment.
    • Refusal to work overtime, where such work is necessary for maintenance of essential defence services.
    • Any other conduct which results in, or is likely to result in, disruption of work in essential defence services.
  • Prohibition on strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs:
    • It may issue such an order prohibiting any strikes, lockouts and lay-offs in places working on essential defence services , if necessary, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of any state, public order, public, decency and morality.
    • Any lock-out declared or commenced, whether before or after the issue of such order, by any employer engaged in the essential defence services shall be illegal.

Punishment:

  • Employer: As per the provisions in the bill, any employer of an industrial establishment or unit engaged in the essential defence services, who commences, continues, or otherwise acts in furtherance of a lock-out which is illegal under this section, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both.
  • Employee: Persons commencing or participating in illegal strikes – Up to one year imprisonment or Rs 10,000 fine, or both.
    • Persons instigating, inciting, or taking actions to continue illegal strikes, or knowingly supplying money for such purposes- Up to two years imprisonment or Rs 15,000 fine, or both.
    • Such an employee will be liable to disciplinary action including dismissal as per the terms and conditions of his service.
  • All offences punishable will be cognisable and non-bailable.
  • Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any police officer may arrest without warrant any person who is reasonably suspected to have committed any offence under this Act.

 

  1. Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

#GS2 #Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings

Context: The US, which had previously imposed sanctions to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline (NS2P) project between Russia and Germany, has now signalled its approval for the project.

About the pipeline:

  • It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • It runs from Ust-Luga in Russia to Greifswald in Germany through the Baltic Sea and will carry 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
  • In 2015, the Russian energy major Gazprom and five other European firms decided to build Nord Stream 2, valued at around $11 billion.
  • At 1,222 km in length, Nord Stream is the longest sub-sea pipeline in the world, surpassing the Langeled pipeline.
  • Nord stream 1 system is already completed and together with NS2P, it will supply 110 billion cubic metre of gas a year to Germany.

Implications:

  • EU’s Dependence on Russia: It will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for Natural Gas, currently EU (European Union) countries already rely on Russia for 40% of their gas needs.
    • This pipeline would provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while providing Russia with more direct access to the European gas market.
  • Bypassing Ukraine: Ukraine’s strategic importance would be at risk as the pipeline running through it would become redundant. Estonia, Poland and Latvia would also become economically redundant due to the bigger functional pipelines.
  • Geopolitical win for Russia: It can be a generational geopolitical win for Russia and a catastrophe for the United States and its allies.
    • The pipeline could be a good medium for Russia to increase its military presence in the Baltic Sea and also to transmit military information across the EU.
  • Significance for Germany: Germany is way more dependent on the others for its oil and gas fulfilment.
    • 98% of the imports are of oil and more than 92% of natural gas is imported by the country. Currently, Russia is supplying 40% and 35% of oil and natural gas respectively to Germany.
  • The proposed route for Nord Stream 2 uses the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Finland, Sweden and Denmark which would benefit the national governments and local authorities through investments and employment generated due to it.

US’ New Stand:

  • On one hand, it wants access to Russia’s hydrocarbons, but on the other distrusts Russian President Vladimir Putin, who it holds responsible for a series of affronts, such as the Crimean conflict of 2014 and the alleged interference in the US elections of 2016 and 2020.
  • The US has gone with the softer option of threatening Russia with consequences should it use the pipeline to harm Ukraine or other countries in eastern Europe.
  • The US-Germany deal lays out that if Russia attempts to “use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine,” Germany will take steps on its own and push for actions at the EU, including sanctions, “to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector.”
  • The agreement also requires Germany to “utilise all available leverage” to extend by 10 years the current Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, which expires in 2024, and a contribution of at least $175 million to a new $1 billion “Green Fund for Ukraine” that aims at improving the country’s energy independence.

Nord Stream 2 and India:

  • In India’s long-term interest, it would be beneficial for two big reasons:
    • The dependence of Russia on Chinese markets for its gas and fuels would decrease. The US sanctions made it a little inclined to sell its products to China which would now decrease.
    • India’s relationship with Russia is on good terms. The US sanctions would pose no threat to the construction of the pipeline.

 

  1. Aiming for Sustainable Habitat: New Initiatives in Building Energy Efficiency 2021

#GS3 # Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation # Indigenization of Technology

Context: Recently, “Aiming for Sustainable Habitat: New Initiatives in Building Energy Efficiency 2021” was launched by the union minister for Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Background:

  • These initiatives seek to enhance energy efficiency in the building sector and were launched as part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’.
  • ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav’ is the Government’s endeavour to commemorate India’s 75th anniversary of Independence. The commemorations will include 75 events for 75 weeks by the Ministry of Power.
  • Energy Efficiency has the maximum GHG abatement potential of around 51% followed by renewables (32%), biofuels (1%), nuclear (8%), carbon capture and storage (8%) as per the World Energy Outlook (WEO 2010).

Initiatives Launched:

Eco Niwas Samhita 2021:

  • It is an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R) to give a further fillip to India’s energy conservation efforts.
  • It specifies code compliance approaches and minimum energy performance requirements for building services, and verification framework.

Hand Book for Learning:

  • The web-based platform ‘The Handbook of Replicable Designs for Energy Efficient Residential Buildings’ as a learning tool, which can be used to create a pool of ready-to-use resources of replicable designs to construct energy-efficient homes in India.

Online Directory:

  • Creating an Online Directory of Building Materials that would envisage the process of establishing standards for energy efficient building materials.

NEERMAN Awards:

  • NEERMAN Awards, (National Energy Efficiency Roadmap for Movement towards Affordable & Natural Habitat) were announced, with the goal of encouraging exceptionally efficient building designs complying with BEE’s Energy Conservation Building Codes.

Online Star Rating Tool:

  • It provides performance analysis to help professionals decide the best options to pick for energy-efficiency of their homes.
  • It was launched for Energy Efficient Homes, created to improve energy-efficiency and reduce energy consumption in individual homes.

Training:

  • Training of over 15,000 Architects, Engineers and Government officials on Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017 and Eco Niwas Samhita 2021.

Significance:

  • The building sector is the second largest consumer of electricity after industry but it is expected to become the largest energy consuming sector by 2030.
  • These initiatives will help enhance the energy-efficiency levels in residential buildings across the country, thereby leading to sustainable habitation.
  • More energy-efficiency means less energy consumption in household and reduced carbon emissions
  • The initiatives will go a long way to make India more energy-efficient, and it will be a replicable model across the globe.

About BEE:

  • The Government of India has set up the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) as a statutory body on 1st March 2002 under the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • The mission of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is to assist in developing policies and strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles with the primary objective of reducing energy intensity of the Indian economy within the overall framework of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • This will be achieved with active participation of all stakeholders, resulting in accelerated and sustained adoption of energy efficiency in all sectors.

Other initiatives to Promote Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency:

  • Standards and Labelling by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)
    • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) initiated the Standards & Labelling programme for equipment and appliances in 2006 to provide the consumer with an informed choice about the energy saving.
    • The energy efficiency labelling programs under BEE are intended to reduce the energy consumption of appliance without diminishing the services it provides to consumers.
    • It is currently invoked for equipments/appliances such as
      • Room Air Conditioner (Fixed/VariableSpeed), Ceiling Fan, Colour Television, Computer, Direct Cool Refrigerator, Distribution Transformer, Domestic Gas Stove, General Purpose Industrial Motor, LED Lamps, Agricultural Pumpset, etc
    • Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC) by the Ministry of Power:
      • The Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) was launched by Ministry of power for new commercial buildings in 2007. It sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings.
      • In order to promote a market pull for energy efficient buildings, Bureau of Energy Efficiency developed a voluntary Star Rating Programme for buildings which are based on the actual performance of a building.
      • The updated version of ECBC came in 2017 which sets parameters for builders, designers and architects to integrate renewable energy sources in building design with the inclusion of passive design strategies. The code aims to optimise energy savings with the comfort levels for occupants and prefers life-cycle cost-effectiveness to achieve energy neutrality in commercial buildings.
    • PAT Scheme:
      • Perform Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT) is a market based mechanism to enhance the cost effectiveness in improving the Energy Efficiency in Energy Intensive industries through certification of energy saving which can be traded.
      • It is a part of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), which is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
    • Promotion of Energy Efficient LED Bulbs – UJALA scheme
      • The initiative is part of the Government of India’s efforts to spread the message of energy efficiency in the country.
      • UJALA scheme aims to promote efficient use of energy at the residential level, enhance the awareness of consumers about the efficacy of using energy efficient appliances and aggregating demand to reduce the high initial costs thus facilitating higher uptake of LED lights by residential users. It may be noted that the scheme was initially labelled DELP (Domestic Efficient Lighting Program) and was relaunched as UJALA.

 

  1. India’s offshore wind energy

#GS3 #Renewable energy #Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Context: Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of installing 5 GW of offshore capacity by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030.

About Offshore Wind Energy:

  • Wind energy today typically comes in two different “types”:
    • Onshore – Wind turbines harness the energy of moving air to generate electricity. Onshore wind refers to turbines located on land.
    • Offshore wind power or offshore wind energy is the use of wind farms constructed in water bodies, usually in the ocean on the continental shelf, to harvest wind energy to generate electricity. Offshore wind power includes inshore water areas such as lakes and sheltered coastal areas.
      • A fixed-foundation turbine is built in shallow water, whereas a floating wind turbine is built in deeper waters where its foundation is anchored in the seabed. Floating wind farms are still in their infancy.
    • Offshore wind farms must be at least 200 nautical miles from the shore and 50 feet deep in the ocean.
    • Offshore wind turbines produce electricity which is returned to shore through cables buried in the ocean floor.

Status of Wind Energy in India:

  • Given India’s coastline of 7,600 km, the country has enormous potential for offshore wind energy.
  • India has an estimated 127 gigawatts of offshore wind power potential.
  • India’s electricity generation from wind reached 39.2 gigawatts (GW) a year in March 2021. An addition of another 20 GW over the next five years is expected to happen soon.
  • The compound annual growth rate for wind generation has been 11.39% between 2010 and 2020, and for installed capacity, it has been 8.78%.
  • It is found by the National Institute for Wind Energy (based in Chennai) that western states have larger potential in terms of a stable, steady, and speedy wind flow starting from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Top States in India – Installed Wind Power Capacity
    • Tamil Nadu –Share of wind power in electricity generation was around 28% in 2018.
    • Gujarat –Share of wind power in electricity generation was around 19% in 2018.
    • Maharashtra – Maharashtra houses the third-largest installed wind power generation capacity in the country.
    • Karnataka – Karnataka houses the fourth-largest installed wind power generation capacity in the country.

Global Practice:

  • Globally there has been an installation of about 17 to 18 Gw of off-shore wind power.
  • Globally, UK tops the list of offshore wind markets, followed by Germany, Taiwan, China and the USA.
  • Recent years have witnessed fall in off-shore wind tariff in some of these markets.

Advantages of offshore wind energy projects when compared to onshore projects:

  • Area availability: Large area is available for setting up large projects. It is the major reason for moving towards offshore projects since there is a lack of suitable wind turbine sites on land.
  • Wind speed: Wind speeds are considerably higher at sea than onshore locations. Small increases in wind speed yield large increases in energy production- a turbine in a 25 Km/h wind can generate twice as much energy as a turbine in a 20Km/h wind on onshore infrastructure. Also, Wind is less turbulent at sea than over land which results in lower mechanical fatigue load and hence longer lifetime for the turbines.
  • Wind Consistency: Wind speed is more consistent at sea than on land where low winds occur most of the time. At sea, periods of complete calm are extremely rare and short-lived.
  • Offshore wind farms are usually located near to the cities and load centres and thus transmission losses are minimised.
  • Lesser disputes: There are lesser disputes for land and large space is available which could be capitalised to build windmills.
  • Larger windmills: Windmills can be built that are larger and taller than their onshore counterparts, allowing for more energy collection. They tend to be far out at sea, meaning they are much less intrusive, allowing for larger farms to be created per square km.
  • Environmental benefits: Wind farms have a relatively less negative impact on the environment. As any renewable energy source, offshore wind farms do not require the consumption of water to operate properly, and also do not emit any environmental pollutants or greenhouse gasses during its operation.

Challenges:

  • Higher Installation Cost: Offshore wind turbines require stronger structures and foundations than onshore wind farms. This can cause higher installation costs.
  • Manufacturing of Equipment: Offshore wind farms typically have larger turbines and longer windmill blades. But most firms in India don’t yet make such high-capacity machines, so components will have to be imported. This might affect investor interest.
  • Higher Maintenance Cost: The action of waves and even high winds, particularly during storms or hurricanes, can damage wind turbines. Eventually, offshore wind farms require maintenance that is more costly and difficult to perform.
  • High energy tariff: Offshore windmills are more expensive than onshore ones, power generated from the former could cost around Rs 12 per unit, compared to around Rs 2.43 for onshore wind power, the cheapest source of renewable energy in India today.

Policies related to Wind Energy:

  • National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy: The main objective of the National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy, 2018 is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid systems for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.
    • The wind-solar PV hybrid systems will help in reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability.
  • National Offshore Wind Energy Policy: The National Offshore wind energy policy was notified in October 2015 with an objective to develop the offshore wind energy in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along the Indian coastline of 7600 km.

Way Forward:

  • India, a late starter, needs to move faster to narrow the gap in the offshore wind energy production.
  • The government needs to ensure that tariffs do not fall below the remunerative threshold.
  • Power distribution companies, open access consumers and captive users can purchase clean energy as part of their total electricity consumption through a renewable purchase obligation.
  • In India, the GST Law exempts electricity and power sales from GST. In contrast, wind power generation companies cannot claim input tax credits when they pay GST to purchase goods and/or services for setting up the project.
  • More intensive sea wind zones must be discovered.
  • The offshore wind needs dedicated frameworks and policies for its promotion and to establish a presence in the Indian power market.
  • The need of the hour in India is a clean and renewable source of energy, in which off shore wind power can play a major role.

 

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