A concerted effort by the US gas industry to push LNG on to developing Asian nations is jeopardizing renewable-energy investment across the continent.
General Electric (GE) has been working to persuade Bangladesh to buy its LNG power technology. And Vietnam’s new draft long-term energy plan’s increased focus on liquefied natural gas is included at the expense of solar-power development.
The Bangladeshi government’s signaled move to replace 13 under-construction coal power projects with LNG will see an opportunity to fix its power system missed.
Bangladesh has a growing overcapacity problem in its electricity sector. Power plants receive capacity payments despite lying idle much of the time, pushing up the average cost of electricity. This risks the financial sustainability of the sector, as demonstrated in Pakistan, where capacity payments are on course to reach US$10 billion a year by 2023.
Switching from coal to LNG will do nothing to solve the growing overcapacity issue in Bangladesh.
Furthermore, a shift to LNG would expose Bangladesh to even greater fossil-fuel price volatility. Japan – currently highly dependent on imported LNG – saw its electricity prices surge to record levels in January as LNG prices spiked.
Bangladesh’s new Eighth Five-Year Plan highlights that further reliance on imported LNG and coal will increase the cost of electricity generation. The result will be higher electricity prices for consumers or further subsidies – an unsustainable burden on Bangladesh’s economy.
The high cost of LNG is already causing Bangladesh’s fossil fuel subsidies to increase unsustainably.
The new Five-Year Plan also notes that fossil-fuel subsidies have held back renewable-energy development in Bangladesh. The nation’s Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) is now recommending a new solar target to address this.
SREDA’s draft National Solar Energy Roadmap recommends aiming for a high-deployment solar installation target of up to 30,000 megawatts by 2041. However, this target risks being crowded out by an increased focus on LNG-fired power investment.
Amid continued growth in electricity demand, a switch in focus to renewable energy could help address overcapacity relative to the continued rollout of large fossil-fuel-fired power stations if it’s also accompanied by grid investment to make better use of existing capacity.
LNG pushing out solar in Vietnam’s new power plan
Vietnam was able to add an astonishing 9,000MW of rooftop solar in 2020. However, despite Vietnam’s major renewable-energy installation achievements, solar-power development is now at risk from an increased focus on LNG.
Like Bangladesh, Vietnam has been scaling back focus on coal-fired power as more banks distance themselves from coal finance and because of the very long development timeframes of such projects.
Vung Ang 2, one of the latest coal power projects to have concluded the pre-investment phase, required 12 years for the sponsors and Vietnamese state agencies to reach an agreement on the contract terms alone. A further five years is expected for the plant’s construction, without accounting for new construction risks.
However, new LNG-fired power proposals are more challenging to execute than coal power. The need for new associated, additional infrastructure – regasification, storage, pipelines, and market development – means new LNG-fired power proposals can’t be implemented at the rate suggested by project sponsors promoting overambitious targets.
While many conventional coal and LNG power projects in Vietnam failed to progress during the development process, only managing to meet half of the country’s targeted capacity for 2016-2020, solar power developers over-delivered by five times, in a fraction of the time.
Notwithstanding this, Vietnam’s latest draft long-term power plan (Power Development Plan VIII) sees increased LNG-fired power ambition crowding out solar. A total of 18GW of LNG-fired power is now planned to be added by 2030 while solar additions are suddenly capped at just 2GW.
Like Bangladesh, Vietnam would benefit from a switch in focus away from more lengthy, large-scale fossil-fueled power additions and toward grid and battery-storage investment. This would enable a continuation of Vietnam’s solar and wind development progress rather than a curtailment.
It would also enable the nation to optimize investments in the renewables-plus-storage technologies that are expected to see sharply declining costs over the coming decade.
However, if the emphasis switches to LNG, Vietnam will face much the same set of risks it faced when its focus was on coal, with the added problem of increased fuel-price volatility and massive new investments required to build a full value-chain of LNG infrastructure.
A switch from one fossil fuel to another that is exposed to even greater price risk does nothing to improve the sustainability of a power system exposed to capacity payments, large financial losses and government subsidies.
Developing Asian nations do not need growing fossil-fuel subsidies dialing up stress on government finances and necessitating power tariff hikes that impact consumers and businesses.
Instead, nations like Bangladesh and Vietnam will be better served by ever-cheaper modern technology that can reduce the cost of electricity generation and support their development. That means the focus must be on cheaper renewable energy.
Australia’s capital Canberra to enter seven-day lockdown
Australia’s capital Canberra was ordered into a seven-day lockdown on Thursday (Aug 12), after a single COVID-19 case was detected in the city that has largely avoided virus restrictions.
About 400,000 people in the nation’s political hub will be under stay-at-home orders from 5pm local time, joining millions more already under lockdown in Australia’s southeast.
“This is the most serious public health risk that we are faced in the territory this year. Really, since the beginning of the pandemic,” Australian Capital Territory chief minister Andrew Barr said.
He added that the COVID-positive person had been in the community while infectious.
Canberra has not been in lockdown since a nationwide shutdown in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
After months of pursuing a “COVID zero” strategy, Australia is struggling to contain multiple outbreaks of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
More than 10 million people in the country’s biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, are currently in lockdown as authorities try to bring case numbers down.
Much of western New South Wales state was also placed under lockdown late Wednesday, amid concerns for a sizeable Indigenous population feared more vulnerable to coronavirus.
“I ask all our Aboriginal community as well to please stay at home, come forward for a test if you have symptoms and of course please get vaccinated with any available vaccine as soon as you can,” New South Wales Health’s Marianne Gale said.
In Sydney, the epicentre of the outbreak, almost 6,500 cases and 36 deaths have been recorded since a cluster emerged in mid-June.
The city is expected to spend at least nine weeks under stay-at-home orders, with several hotspot suburbs placed under harsher restrictions on Thursday.
Australia won global praise for its successful coronavirus response in the early stages of the pandemic, and most of the country was enjoying few restrictions by late 2020.
But a glacial vaccination rollout has been no match for the Delta variant, leaving cities and towns reliant on repeated lockdowns as they attempt to stamp out the coronavirus.
The nation has recorded more than 37,500 cases of COVID-19 and 946 related deaths to date in a population of 25 million. AFP
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Russia to reveal ‘mystery plane’ at MAKS 2021
After months of speculation, that something top secret and special was happening at Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, the countdown has begun.
UAC, part of the Russian state corporation Rostec, has teased the reveal of a new fighter jet on July 20, 2021, on the first day of the MAKS 2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Aerotime Hub reported.
The upcoming aircraft, dubbed “Checkmate,” could be a light fighter jet “with a supersonic speed capability and low radar signature,” a source told Russian news agency TASS.
And according to a newly released trailer (attached below), this aircraft could be mainly oriented towards export.
“Russia is one of the few countries in the world with full-cycle capacities for producing advanced aircraft systems, as well as a recognized trendsetter in the creation of combat aircraft,” a Rostec spokesman commented.
“The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse genuine interest not only in our country but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.”
In teasing its release, a press statement by Rostec gave props to Russia as one of the few countries in the world which had “full-cycle technologies for the production of advanced aircraft systems.,” Newsweek reported.
It says the upcoming unveiling will be of a “fundamentally new military aircraft.”
It also praised Russia’s status as a world leader in “making combat aircraft,” suggesting that the new plane could be a fighter jet.
“We are convinced that the new product developed by UAC specialists will arouse genuine interest not only in our country but in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad,” the statement added.
Chess is a motif of the aircraft’s promotion which is surrounded by mystery.
At midnight Monday, the UAC website launched a countdown clock next to an image of a black knight chess piece. It invited web users to “turn the chessboard” and view a 34-second trailer.
Adding to the intrigue is a tweet in Russian on the UAC Twitter account that says: “everything is easier than it seems. #checkmate. Something is planned.”
Meanwhile, Defenseworld.net noted that Rostec had previously said it was developing a single-engine fighter jet.
It reported that speculation also included other possibilities such as a down-sized Su-57, or a 4.5 generation jet to challenge the F-16 Viper and the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Block III.
The War Zone also reported that the shadow of an aircraft over water in Rostec’s promotional video was similar to the Mikoyan MiG-35 multirole fighter jet.
There is strong speculation that Russia intends to do a hard sell with India.
For more than a decade, Russia has been attempting to sell the MiG-35 (NATO code name Fulcrum), an upgraded version of the MiG-29 fighter, to the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force was apparently not impressed with the Fulcrum, but Russia has continued to describe India as a prospective buyer.
According to The Week Magazine, in May of this year, Russian news agencies reported the Sukhoi design bureau was developing a single-engine fighter.
At the time, TASS had reported, “The Sukhoi company is developing a single-engine light tactical plane with the take-off weight of up to 18 tonnes. The plane’s maximum speed will be above 2 Mach (twice the speed of sound).
“It will also have super-manoeuvrability and improved take-off and landing performance, thanks to a thrust vector control engine …”
If confirmed as a single-engine fighter, the new fighter could be considered the Russian counter to the US F-35 project, which has been developed with industrial partnerships with multiple nations such as the UK, Australia, Italy and Israel.
That would also make the “Checkmate” name apt. Especially if the price point is much lower than the F-35 or other US and European fighter jets, currently being offered.
The 2021 edition of the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon is to take place at Zhukovsky airport near Moscow from July 20 to 25, 2021.
Sources: Aerotime Hub, Newsweek, Defenseworld.net, The War Zone, The Week Magazine
Tech giants give vaccines to Taiwan, sidestep China
Taiwanese tech giants Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company announced Monday they will each donate five million coronavirus vaccine doses to the government in a deal with a China-based distributor. Taipei has been struggling to secure enough vaccines for its population and its precarious political status has been a major stumbling block. As Taipei and […]
The post Tech giants give vaccines to Taiwan, sidestep China appeared first on Asia Times.
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