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[Episode #11] – India and Coal


Everyone knows that India is the second-largest coal importing nation in the world, after China, and that it is the fastest-growing source of global CO2 emissions thanks to its rapid adoption of coal. And it is widely believed that India will remain the world’s fastest-growing market for coal for years to come. But sometimes what “everybody knows” is wrong. Renewables are now hitting grid parity, and are poised to snatch the lead away from coal in India. Plus: We round up the cheapest solar projects ever in the US and the world.

Guest: Ashish Fernandes, Campaigner, Greenpeace

On Twitter: @ashishfernandes
On the Web:

Recording date: February 20, 2016

Air date: February 24, 2016

Geek rating: 3

Chris Nelder: So let's bring Ashish into the conversation. Welcome Ashish to the Energy Transition Show.

Ashish Fernandes: Thanks for having me.

Chris Nelder: It's often repeated that India is opening a new coal mine every month in order to fuel its growing grid power needs and that India is the world's fastest growing market for coal. But people were saying the same kinds of things about China long after they had ceased to be true. So let's set the record straight right off the bat. Is India's use of coal still rapidly increasing or not?

Ashish Fernandes: India's use of coal is increasing. I would dispute the use of the term rapidly, but it is increasing. And if you look at a global market where coal is pretty much stagnant, then yes India is the only market where you're actually seeing an uptick in the increase in coal. But I would put that increase at tepid at the moment. It's not anything like what happened with China over the last decade. Not even close.

Chris Nelder: OK. So I guess part of the reason for that is that in fact India is undertaking energy transition, it is starting to look to renewables instead of coal.

Ashish Fernandes: There are several reasons for that. So one of the things I always said to people about India is that there's never a single reason for anything. It's always a combination. Yes it's complicated, it's messy. It's confused. There are a number of things going on that have caused coal to actually not experience the rapid growth that people have thought it would. And yes renewables is starting to eat into that. Starting to play a role there.

Chris Nelder: OK. So solar in particular has really been picking up steam in India. One recent news report I saw said that a Finnish group called Fordham Energy bid 4.34 Rupees per kilowatt hour, which is about 6.3 Cents per kilowatt hour US for a 70 megawatt solar PV plant. And that's among the lowest cost projects in the world. Three other similar projects were bid at almost the same price in India. And after this reverse auction, India Prime Minister Piyush Goyal, if I said that correctly, said that solar is now cheaper than coal-fired generation. So does this mean that India has reached a major turning point in its use of coal or do you think it will continue to build coal capacity anyway?

Ashish Fernandes: I think we have reached a major turning point over the last year or a year and a half. We've seen prices progressively dropping for solar. So what this means is basically the tarrif that the DISCOMs pay to a producer has been dropping to the point where now, as you mentioned we've had three or four projects that have all come in at a similar price range of about four and a half rupees per kilowatt hour, what that means is that price is actually going to be at par or probably even cheaper than what it would cost from a new coal power plant. So yes, it is a tipping point that we're getting to. What I and a lot of us believe is that this basically undermines the economic argument for coal. So the Indian government argument's for new coal has been that India has large coal reserves. It's the cheapest source of power for our people etc. etc. That no longer is the case because we're clearly seeing the additional marginal unit from solar is going to be at the same cost, or even cheaper than what it would be from new coal. So that economic argument for building new coal has disappeared in effect. Does that mean that India won't build all coal power plants that they've talked about. I don't think the figures that have been talked about were realistic at any point for a number of reasons that we can go into. Will India need to build new coal power plants. Yes I think it's realistic to expect that there will be more coal power plants built, not the large numbers that are being talked about but yes there will be more coming on. There is an existing pipeline of about 80 gigawatts that are officially deemed as under construction. Not all of 80 gigawatts will be built, but some of them will be built.

Chris Nelder: OK. Well that's good perspective. So just to kind of bring people up to speed a little bit about how the solar market works in India. So these projects, these solar projects were the result of a reverse auction. For those who might not be familiar with them, can you explain how those auctions work in India, and does this signal anything about prices for other solar projects?

Ashish Fernandes: Sure. So it's fairly simple, without going to the very technical details but basically when a project is up for consideration builders are invited to quote the lowest tariff at which they can deliver power into the grid, and the one obviously with the lowest tariff wins the bid. That has basically driven prices down for solar, a couple of years ago you were seeing bids that were around 6 rupees per kilowatt hour, and now the new bids are all under 5 rupees per kilowatt hour. So that's really what's driven the prices down. What this does mean is that the developer is basically supposed to calculate the lowest price at which he can earn his profit and deliver power. That can be a bit dangerous in India because we've seen a similar process that was followed for coal power projects. There we had unrealistic bids and within a few years after the project was built the project proponents then basically tried to raise the tariffs which of course led to a lot of litigation and stuff like that, and a lot of those projects are still stuck in the courts. The difference I would say between those coal projects and what we're seeing now with solar is that the bidders in the coal projects were almost exclusively large Indian coal players with a lot of political influence. So it's quite fair to say that they were trying to game the system. With the solar projects you have a much wider spectrum of players, both Indian and international and a lot more respected. Whether its the Finnish group that you talked about, or SunEdison or some of the others that are involved. I think that's where the difference lies. And given the experience of the coal players who have tried to game the system, the fact that they're still losing money because their projects are now stuck in court, they have not been able to raise the tarrifs. I don't think anyone is really going to think that they can do that again.

Chris Nelder: So when a solar developer wins one of these reverse actions by submitting the lowest bid, does that have any implications for other solar projects, I mean do other solar bidders need to meet the same price or anything like that?

Ashish Fernandes: No they don't because each bid obviously varies depending on location. What the irradiation levels are in that place, what the connection infrastructure is at that particular location, etc. so it doesn't really. I mean if you look at all the products together they do give you a trend. But picking one isolated project on its own does not necessarily mean a thing. So if this was just a one off project which quoted this low price of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt hour then I would be a lot more sceptical. But the fact that we've had now four or five projects all quoting similarly, at different locations in the country is indicative.

Chris Nelder: Yeah, I mean the other projects that I saw listed were quoting basically the same price like 4.35 or something. So those are realistic numbers.

Ashish Fernandes: I would think so yes. Given the credibility of the companies behind them, if they think that it's profitable for them at that rate then I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, yes.

Chris Nelder: Right, ok. So according to Tim Buckley yfrom the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, India currently has over 4.4 gigawatts of installed utility solar capacity with another 16 gigawatts in the pipeline which are expected to be operational by 2017 at the latest. So that would put India's solar capacity almost on par with the U.S.'s 23 gigawatts by next year and that's just utility scale. Rooftops solar is also are growing quickly. And Buckley says that after installing one gigawatt per year from 2013 to 2015 that the rate of instillations is actually going to double and then double again and that by 2022 the country will be up to 80 gigawatts of solar, or nearly four times as much as the U.S. has today. That just seems like an astonishing growth rate for a country not exactly known for building infrastructure quickly, so do you think those projections for solar are realistic?

Ashish Fernandes: Ok, let's just unpack that a bit. Let's leave aside the 2022 figure for now. But if you look at what the current pipeline is, Bridge to India which is a solar consultancy, renewable consultancy based in Delhi, they put out very good data, and very good reports, and they've basically estimated what the pipeline is, and that's around 15 or 16 gigawatts over the next year, or two years. Ok, so that's already in the pipeline. So I think it's safe to say that will definitely be built. Now that represents huge growth obviously, because right now I think we have about 4 gigawatts of utility scale that's already on the grid. So to jump to 16 gigawatts in just a couple of years is a huge growth rate for sure. And I think that that's pretty much will happen, I don't see many of those projects really getting stalled for any reason. India does not have a huge record of building infrastructure fast and well, but if you look at the last five years and the amount of coal that we've built, it shows that it can be done because the last five year plan, called for about 70 gigawatts of coal, and nearly all of that was built. It's clear to see that when the government puts its mind to it. It can happen. Now the way that that coal was built unfortunately often meant overriding environmental regulations, overriding community opposition. And that's how it got built. The risk really is, with the large utility-scale solar, a lot of the issues that have plagued coal will exist there as well. I'm talking largely about land, and issues to do with land ownership and displacement of people and things like that. Some of those issues will arise with large utility scale solar. And that I feel is the real risk when we're talking about mega-solar. On off-grid stuff, yes the potential is huge, and a lot has been happening. And actually I don't think anyone has really put together proper data for how much off-grid solar has actually been put on, and how much will be put on in the next few years. I think that's going to be a lot more difficult to judge, and to estimate. But that really is where a lot of the potential is, because off-grid solar invariably will be dealing with communities who at the moment get little or no electricity at all.

Chris Nelder: I've been trying to understand and as you say India is such a complex place. I've been trying to understand how much of these sort of off-grid communities might actually be expected to eventually be connected to a large centralized grid or might just go with an off-grid solar solution and just stay there.

Ashish Fernandes: If you look at the official reports coming out, I mean governments have for the last couple of decades promised electrification for all within the next five years. And that's a rolling target, yeah.

Chris Nelder: A perennial promise.

Ashish Fernandes: Yeah exactly. But even if you look at villages, or hamlets that have been electrified. What does it actually mean to them? Usually very little. It means one light bulb in the central street maybe, that's on for a few hours every night. It might mean 10 percent to 20 percent of the houses having one power point. And that officially would mean that that village is then electrified. So it really doesn't mean much in terms of what it does. So I think the potential is large. I think the people who will be doing it will be largely the small scale social entrepeneurs, the profit margins are not necessarily what the big guys would go for in these places because of the level of complexity and the fact that it's small, it's incremental, it's not one utility scale project. But I think that the potential is definitely there for a variety of options that address this need.

Chris Nelder: OK, so speaking of sort of the disconnect between official promises and reality on the ground, in a recent article which we'll link to in the show notes you expressed some scepticism about the way that India is going about its commitment to climate targets. The government is targeting 40 percent non-fossil electricity by 2030 which of course means that 60 percent of its installed capacity would still be burning coal in 2030. And the fact that as it grows, India's electricity sector would actually add more coal, lignite, gas, and oil capacity than it would non-fossil capacity. So you've argued that the reason the government has been less than explicit about its climate targets is because it hopes to leverage those targets to bargain for more financial and technical aid from the West. So first do you think these growth projections that you mention especially, you know essentially a tripling of India's electricity generation by 2030 are even realistic?

Ashish Fernandes: I think a lot of those growth projections really depend on what the Indian economy does over the next twenty years. All the official projections talk about a 7-8 per cent growth rate.

Chris Nelder: That's pretty high. I mean that's like China's level.

Ashish Fernandes: That's China's level, and as we've seen event China couldn't sustain that for more than a decade or so. So that's really high. I would say that that's definitely overly optimistic. We might be looking a growth rate of still above 4.5-5 percent which by Western standards is pretty high. It is still very high. If you look at the basics, there is without doubt a huge demand and need for modern energy in India, Electricity. So you will have a huge growth in the delivery systems for that. That's inevitable. Will it be the 850 odd gigawatts that the government is talking about, because that's what the calculations pan out to, they're talking about 850 odd gigawatts by 2030.

Chris Nelder: Of total grid power generation capacity?

Ashish Fernandes: Yes a total generation capacity, that's up from about 170, 175 gigawatts. 170 is about coal. Total grid capacity at the moment in India is about 250. So you're talking about jumping from 250 to about 850 within 15 years. So I think it's fair to say that is a bit optimistic. You might not see 850 but you still would probably see maybe 600, maybe 700 gigawatts. I think what's important to note is to come back to what we talked about earlier, the fact that the tipping point really has been reached in terms of cost of generation. Solar versus new coal. Therefore what is the economic justification for new coal. If that economic justification doesn't exist, those new coal power plants would not be built. We are seeing existing coal power plants struggling to make a profit already. So the markets signals are quite clear that at the moment its not a good idea to try and build new coal in India. On the other hand the market signals for renewables are quite good because solar is doing quite well, and wind is doing quite well as well. Coming into the climate, where this plays into the whole climate negotations, I think its quite clear after what transpired at Paris, and if you watch the Indian government and the Indian negotiators at Paris, it was quite clear that they were playing a game of basically using this leverage, that India has coal, India has a desperate need for energy, India has historically very little contribution to the climate change merge problem. So the justification for India to continue to build coal is what they are counting on. That would make sense, except that like I said, the economic justification no longer exists. So you can meet the energy requirement through solar and through wind, and through off-grid solutions, you don't need mega-coal projects to do it anymore.

Chris Nelder: Well OK. And so you observed in your article that the Indian coal sector is basically at a standstill. That the project pipeline has stalled, the capacity factors for existing plants are really low like 60 or thereabouts, so why would the Indian government still be projecting 300 gigawatts of growth in coal capacity? That just seems like such an obvious disconnect.

Ashish Fernandes: There is an obvious disconnect and I'm afraid I don't have a very clear answer. We can speculate what the reasons for that are, and I have two main reasons that I think are responsible and in conjunction. So one is definitely leverage at the climate negotiations, using, it is in effect a threat basically. That we will do what China did. And if you guys want us to do anything different, you've got to put up the money for us to go renewable in a big way. So that's cheap financing, it's technology transfers, things like that. You've got to be flexible with us. So don't expect us to sign up in terms of commitments. We got to have some flexibility on the commitments because we are a developing country, and because we have a huge poverty issue to deal with. So its in part leverage for climate negotiations. The second bit of it is that, you've got to remember that the coal sector in India in terms of who the power producers are, the coal power producers, are a few, a handful of corporations who are very pal-ly with the current government. So you have a few corporates that are very pal-ly with the current government. They have power projects that are either under construction or have already been built and they have invested a lot in the coal sector over the last 10 years or so. They have no ethical reason to not build coal, because ethics is not something that drives their day-to-day behaviour. So they would love to see a resurrection of the coal sector. So I don't think the government is counting out the fact that maybe we can somehow ressurrect the coal sector and get those projects back online, and if they'd managed to do that, that would definitely keep their sponsors and their party contributors happy.

Chris Nelder: Interesting. This notion that the Indian government would use these climate targets as a bargaining chip with the West. I mean I don't find this a hard idea to believe. But, I also, I'm a little sceptical. I wonder like is there evidence. What reason do we have to believe that that's actually what they're thinking?

Ashish Fernandes: I think if you read between the lines that a lot of the statements that were made by the negotiators and by the environment minister, I think its fairly clear. For example, I think it was the environment minister who said that this, talking about the 40 per cent non-fossil target. This is something that we have committed to, but if there is financing and support available, we can do a lot more. That's one example. The official INDC document itself says it's quite vague, there's one sentence that's quite vague that says this is conditional to support from the developed world, support and financing. So...

Chris Nelder: They're dropping hints. Yeah, exactly, they're dropping hints. The very fact that the negotiator, one of the lead negotiators during Paris said that India is open to revising it's coal targets going by what happens here at Paris. So I think there's enough there to say that yeah, ok they are open to re-negotiating and to changing what the projections are.

Chris Nelder: Yeah, okay that makes perfect sense. Another recent article in Mining Weekly titled 'India's Coal Appetite Dwindles' pointed out that annual growth in new thermal capacity in India has fallen from over 12 percent per year in 2012 to about 9 percent in 2015. And at the same time the annual growth in renewable capacity has climbed to 18 percent. A senior official with the country's largest power producer NTPC Limited is quoted as saying that, "the pipeline of new thermal projects has completely dried up and no new plants are scheduled to come on stream in 2016. None." So it seems that for whatever reason the advance of coal has at least temporarily been halted in India. And meanwhile another 2 gigawatts of solar power will be commissioned in the first quarter of this year alone. Could it be that the mere project size is a problem here, I just wonder, is it just a lot easier to round up the capital for a two gigawatt solar project than a ten gigawatt coal project?

Ashish Fernandes: A couple of things there. One is just on the capital. I don't think that reall holds good because we know that with a solar project the capital is all upfront basically. So in effect, it's probably more difficult, I would imagine as opposed to a larger coal project where you can stretch that out over a number of years. I just want to sound a note of caution which is that we must not do what we, and when I say we I mean everyone in this world did a few years ago which is basically hyped up the coal story. And right now we're in danger of hyping up the solar story. So when you talk about those growth rates, you've got to remember that 12-9 percent shrinkage in growth rate for coal is coming off a huge base. Similarly the 18% solar growth rate is coming off a really tiny base. So just bear that in mind. That's one. Secondly when the NTPC official says no new projects in 2016, he's talking about NTPC projects, that's that company's projects. There will be some other new coal power plants that do come on stream. But yes, the larger narrative is true that the coal pipeline in India is shrinking rapidly and very few new projects are coming on stream. The projects that are getting commissioned are ones that started construction four or five years ago or maybe in some cases more than five years ago which is at the height of India's coal construction boom, that's when the boom really took off. So we're seeing the last dregs of that now coming on stream. You're going to see the numbers of new projects commissioned this year's going to be a lot less than last year. And the next is going to be a lot less than this year. That's quite clear from the data already. Why that is happening is for all the reasons I talked about, land capacity has been falling over the last few years. So I think now the average for all power plants in India is around 60 percent. For private power producers it's even lower than that - the capacity factors. Which means that they're really having trouble meeting their revenue projections. The reason for those low capacity factors is no longer the fact that coal is at a shortage in India. That was the case a year ago. This year, it's not been the case because Coal India has managed to raise its production. The reason actually is that the distribution companies that purchase power from the generators, many of them are in financial trouble. They don't have the money to purchase more power. The reason they don't is because they give away a lot of power free, there's a lot of theft of power. The distribution system is quite broken in most states and so they are in financial trouble, and they cannot afford to purchase more power. And that is really what is causing a lot of the financial distress in the coal sector in India right now.

Chris Nelder: Well I'm so glad you mentioned that because that was my next question, is why are these guys having such trouble making money when there's clearly so much demand? You know there was a recent report from October by the Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Group that said that Reliance Power which is one of the top three private power companies in India is only actually going to commission, or has commissioned, only one of five of these "ultra mega power plants" that it had been given approval to build. And the one that they built, the four gigawatt Sasan plant was commissioned just a year ago but is already looking for a second bailout, I mean it just seemed impossible to me that one the one hand there would be just this massive demand for electricity, and obviously a massive need for it, and at the same time that the companies that were building these plants were running them at 60 percent load factors and struggling to make money. It's bizarre.

Ashish Fernandes: It is bizarre. The reasons, I'll try to go into the main reasons without going too much into the weeds, but basically most people in India cannot afford expensive power, they cannot afford the price of electricity as it currently is priced in many places. So what happens is that a lot of the distribution companies which are run by state governments, provincial governments, they are subsidizing power to certain sectors, in particular to agriculture. So it can be either free or heavily subsidized. They try and recover that subsidy by charging a high rate to commercial users, so businesses, industries, etc. But very often because of the high rate of theft of power. And just because of financial mismanagement they don't break even. So they are losing money. Because they're losing money, they can't raise the tarrifs easily for political reasons, obviously, because they are controlled by the state governments so they can't raise tariffs easily because that's going to hurt them at the next election. They cannot crack down on theft for the same reasons to the point that they would like to. So they're losing money, because they're losing money they cannot enter into new purchase agreements with new power plants, even though the demand obviously is very rare, so they cannot enter into new agreements for that same reason. That's why you have power, you might have a one gigawatt power project that is only able to tie up a long-term purchase power agreement for maybe 400-500 MW. The rest it tries sell on the open market where it gets a higher price but it's a lot more unpredictable, and then they're running at maybe 60 percent capacity factors as a result. And so that's screwing up the power plant's revenue projections obviously.

Chris Nelder: Okay, so I'm glad that you brought up the issue of power theft. Because at the level of the distribution grid, far below these big mega projects we're talking about, India's notoriously messed up with rampant power theft as you point out. And there's just like people on the street hijacking grid power, running a wire from some place in their house to some overhead line. Equipment is routinely damaged. Power is very inconsistent. And power companies have a terrible time of just doing collections from their customers in addition to just sort of the internal mismanagement that you spoke of. I remember seeing a 2014 documentary about these issues called Powerless which was just amazing. And the situation to me just seemed hopelessly corrupt and broken. So do you see these kinds of problems being rectified somehow such that India might yet attain a reliable grid and be able to execute capital projects and collect from their customers, or I just wonder like how do you get from here to there?

Ashish Fernandes: It will be rectified at it's own pace. India moves at it's own pace. So things will be rectified. You've seen a number of states who've actually turned the situation around, they've actually managed to get back to some level of financial sanity and actually managed to recover what they need to recover. Unfortunately a lot of that involves privatization of the power system which has consequences as well. But it does involve privatization of the distribution system in many places. Maharashtra is a good example where the gap between recovery and expenses is not as large as it used to be. So we have seen clear indications that it is possible. What it will need is obviously a crackdown on corruption and political will, but it has happened in a number of Indian states and it can definitely in others as well, but it's a slow process. The fear really is that these same factors that have contributed to coal's staling will obviously impact solar as well because it's the same grid we're talking about. So I think that really is the fear when you're talking about utility solar and how far it can go.

Chris Nelder: That's a great point. So we seem to hear more about solar projects in India than wind, but there have actually been numerous wind projects signed or comissioned within the last couple years. I didn't find exact numbers on it when I was looking just now but it looks like they're certainly in the gigawatt range. Smaller than solar additions but still very significant. So what kind of growth potential do you think India's wind market has?

Ashish Fernandes: I think wind has definitely over the last couple of years, become like the step child of the renewables sector in India even though it actually has a much older history in India. I think the technoeconomic potential based on the feasibility studies that have been done is quite significant. 100 maybe even 150 gigawatts according to most studies, though I do remember there was one study by I think it was Lawrenece Berkeley that put the figure much much higher. I think close to a thousand gigawatts if I'm not mistaken. So I think there's a lot of potential. I think what has held the industry back is the fact that in the southern states in India for instance, which have some of the largest installed capacity of wind, there have been infrastructure problems with actually evacuating that wind power. So very often you won't have the turbines turning and that power is not going anywhere it's not on to the grid. And I think that has had an issue that has played a role. But yeah, leaving aside those issues if you like. There's a huge potential for wind for sure. I think the major advantage that wind has over solar is that it is in terms of space given that India is a country where space is at a premium. It does lend itself much more to multiple users of a particular piece of land rather than solar. So I think that's one advantage that wind has, the disadvantage of course is that it's a lot more infirmed than solar. A lot of the generation will happen during the monsoon months for sure. Less at other times of the year.

Chris Nelder: On a slightly different subject, in May of last year a severe heat wave was blamed for the deaths of at least 2,500 people in India and an estimated 20,000 or more people have died from heat related causes in India since 1990. In these massive heat waves it's common for the grid to fail and the lack of electricity in turn contributes to the death toll. So how do the Indian people feel about these tragic outcomes and is it shocking enough to mobilize them to take action to create a more reliable grid?

Ashish Fernandes: That's a tough question simply because the people who suffer the most from the heat waves tend to be the people who's houses will not be electrified in the first place. So if there was the level of awareness and beauty and globalization to say that at the very least you should be able to have a fan, a ceiling fan in your house. Then it would be an issue. But that's frankly so far removed from the level of discourse, that's quite far removed from where we are. The people who generall would die of heat waves would be a lot of the homeless obviously, people living on the streets. In makeshift shelters, with no electricity connections largely. So talking about a stable grid is several meters away from where they are in their personal life.

Chris Nelder: I see. Well then how aware and involved are the Indian people in the policy debate around building more coal power or switching to renewables. I mean is it anything like the debate around the clean power plan here?

Ashish Fernandes: I don't think it's quite at that level. I think where it is is that in the larger cities you have a section of the population that is very well aware now of the whole issue around electricity, energy, climate change, renewables, to a lesser extent of coal. Especially with the pollution problem now, there's a lot of awareness growing about the role that coal plays in the air pollution problem in major Indian cities. So I think that is definitely growing. And at the other end of the spectrum if you like in terms of demographics you're talking about rural communities who are on the front lines of the coal expansion who have either been displaced or threatened with displacement for a coal power plant or for a coal mine. And they are very aware of why they are being displaced, supposedly because India needs electricity and they are asking for solutions and for alternatives. So I think that's where you are actually seeing the debate.

Chris Nelder: OK. So you grew up in India yeah? How would you say that Indians attitudes toward climate and energy have changed in your lifetime?

Ashish Fernandes: So I think you never saw the level of scepticism or disbelief when it comes to talking about climate change that you see in the U.S. you never ever saw that in India and you still don't see it. This is something that most people get quite quite instinctively because they've that happen. I mean within my lifetime just in the last 15 years I've seen things change in India. I remember winters in Bombay being chilly enough that you needed a light jacket. And now that almost never happens. You never, never need a light jacket. You'd be sweating in the peak of winter. So, you know its things like that, you can relate to the fact that the climate is changing, that weather patterns are no longer what they used to be. That's quite clear and has always been quite clear I think to people. Where has changed is in the last few years where people have realized that energy and the energy systems that India is using have a role to play in that. And a lot of that has happened because of the opposition, they've actually started to see massive opposition to new coal power projects. And that has led to people thinking to a larger extent of the consequences of India's energy systems. That doesn't necessarily mean that a large number support a switch, they might not yet be at that level where they are actively lobbying for supporting a switch, but it is an issue that people think about and talk about now a lot more than they used to even five years ago.

Chris Nelder: Fascinating. Wow you know India is just such a fascinating and complex place with such a deep culture. I just, my mind just spins every time I think about it. It is remarkable. Well Ashish you've just been a pleasure to talk to, and you have a wealth of knowledge about this stuff and I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the show.

Ashish Fernandes: I'm very happy to be on your show Chris.