Lights On briefing: Chaos at the ports, lightning strikes and more

What you need to know to start the week

Good morning and happy Monday!

Here’s a selection of stories to watch this week, plus a pinch of my confidential intel to help you anticipate what may come next.

I wake up at the crack of dawn to make sure this briefing comes to you before lunch. If you enjoy it, now may be a good time to buy me a chai:

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India’s anti-China operation starts to bite

But so far, the impacts are being felt by India alone. With a growing number of consignments from China stuck at various ports of entry, Indian companies are facing new delays in the development of solar projects. The President of Rajasthan Solar Association said to Mercom India that the move “is arm-twisting and sending a message to China,” but it’s damaging Indian industries the most. While there doesn’t seem to be an explicit order to stall import flows, the Power Minister said that imported equipment will be subjected testing to check the potential influx of malwares.

More on the chaos at the ports on today’s Finshots.

The solar industry is already facing significant delays due to the lockdown, and while the government guaranteed a blanket deadline extension of 30 days for all projects, industry leaders are now asking for much longer extensions of up to six months.

Race against time

Meanwhile, the central government is working to accelerate domestic solar manufacturing as imports are expected to decline. As per EnergyWorld, India has a cell production capacity of about 2.5GW. The government wants to treble this figure in the coming years, also adding 7GW of capacity for solar modules.

Unlikely casualties

The tensions between China and India are not just harming the solar industry, but they also put essential climate research at risk, according to The Third Pole. The retreating glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are a source of water for 1.6 billion people, and the region is one of the most biodiverse on the planet. But cross border cooperation remains fragile, and diplomatic spats can undo years of progress. I wrote about this in last weeks’ edition of From a Climate Correspondent.

Environment on the chopping board

India’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process regulates all activities that access, utilise, and pollute natural resources. A new updated set of rules has been discussed during the lockdown, and has faced widespread criticism as it seeks to relax some key environmental safeguards. The government has tried to speed up the approval process but after a public outcry it has now extended the deadline for the submission of public comment to August 10. The Indian Express unpacks the story, and the Mint has an in-depth interview with conservation biologist Neha Sinha.

Lightning on the rise

Scientists have warned that climate change may be behind the abnormal surge in lightning strikes that is killing farmers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as they return to their paddy fields with the arrival of the rains. Agrometeorologist Abdus Sattar told AFP the lightning and thunder may be fueled by temperature rises and excessive moisture. While lightning strikes are common in India, this year’s death toll in Bihar (215) has already surpassed the total number of annual deaths recorded over the past few years, even though the monsoon season has just started.

Hydropower cooperation

India and Bhutan have signed a deal for the construction of a 600MW hydropower project in the eastern region of Trashiyangtse. Hydropower is one of the main points of cooperation between India and neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

This particular agreement is significant because it’s based on a joint venture as opposed to a government-to-government agreement, which changes the power play in who controls and benefits the most from the project

Reports

That’s all for today! If you are a subscriber, watch out for the story of the week on Thursday. If not, you can sign up below. As usual, you can get in touch with comments and confidential tips by just replying to this email.