Green Conservatives call for earlier UK coal power phase-out

Closing coal plants by 2023 rather than 2025 will cut carbon emissions and air pollution, and boost clean energy projects, Tory thinktank tells government

The UK should close all its coal-fired power stations two years earlier than the government’s pledge of 2025, according to green Conservatives including former energy minister Lord Greg Barker.

The move would not cause the lights to go out, would cut both carbon emissions and air pollution and would boost cleaner energy projects, according to a report from Bright Blue, a thinktank of Tory modernisers.

The report also concludes that if the troubled Hinkley C nuclear plant is cancelled it could be replaced by renewable energy.

Overall, the report found that encouraging renewable energy, energy efficiency, storage and electricity interconnectors to other countries would benefit energy bills and security of supply, as well as tackling climate change.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd pledged in November to phase out unabated coal burning by 2025, a move that was widely praised. But the government has also cut solar power subsidies, blocked onshore wind farms, cut support for energy efficiency and cancelled a £1bn carbon capture and storage project.

Thanks to a Conservative government, the UK is now committed to taking dirty, polluting coal out of our energy mix completely,” said Barker. “So we should take maximum advantage of this bold move. The government should give investors [building greener energy projects] even greater certainty and with that, put UK plc firmly at the forefront of the global drive for clean and smart energy technologies.

The new report includes analysis by Aurora Energy Research of how closing coal plants early might affect the nation’s security of supply. This included a “high stress” scenario in which the expansion of renewables is slow, Hinkley C is cancelled and coal power stations close early.

Despite what some exaggerated claims suggest, a coal phase out even under a ‘high stress’ scenario, will not result in the lights going out,” said Ben Caldecott, author of the report and associate fellow of Bright Blue. “Our analysis shows the significant benefits for pollution and system security of further encouraging renewables, interconnection, storage, demand side response and energy efficiency.

The report said there is “plenty of time” under each scenario to commission any new gas power stations needed to keep the lights on.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate change said: “The government is absolutely committed to phasing out power production from unabated coal and we are the first country to set an end date for doing so. We will consult on how we plan to do this in the coming months.”

The report said: “The UK should [take] the lead in promoting coal phase-out internationally. The UK has significant technical and moral leadership it can deploy to encourage other countries to agree to a coordinated phased approach for closing down coal-fired power stations. The world’s climate future really does hinge on what other countries do with their coal fleets.

On Hinkley, the report said: “The future of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station appears to be highly uncertain. Should the project not materialise, renewables can easily fill the capacity gap in the late 2020s. This should be ‘Plan B’.” It noted the fast build time and rapidly falling cost of renewable energy and said: “The ability of these technologies to deliver this capacity is already impressive and will be even more so in the mid to late 2020s.”



India ranks second in retail potential

BusinessIndia jumped 13 positions and was placed second in retail potential in the 2016 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), released by AT Kearney, a Chicago-based consultancy. The country was ranked 15 in the previous year. The report profiled 30 developing countries.

India’s high ranking is driven by GDP (gross domestic product) growth, improved ease of doing business, and better clarity regarding FDI (foreign direct investment) regulations. India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy, overtaking China, and retail demand is being fueled by urbanisation, an expanding middle class, and more women entering the workforce,” said Mike Moriarty,

AT Kearney partner and co-author of the study. India’s retail sector has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8 per cent between 2013 and 2015, according to the report.

Analysts, however, did not agree that FDI was a key driver of retail growth in the country. They even questioned if India had made it easy to do business. They argued that while investment was allowed by the government into multi-brand retail stores, the riders put in place made it almost impossible for money to truly flow into the country.

India ranks second in retail potential “Most of the growth we see is driven by domestic funding. Look around, there is Aditya Birla Group or Reliance or Future, which are the biggest players in the market,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of Technopak.

He said FDI was allowed in single brand retail stores and despite the likes of Zara and H&M, along with some other luxury brands, opening shop in India, their contributions are minimum.

India’s growth story still comes from independent and unorganised retail markets,” he said. Singhal argued that India’s retail market was $550 billion, in which $380 billion came from food and groceries and $45 billion from fashion.

Of the $380 billion in grocery, very little is from organised stores. Most fresh produce is still sold in the markets,” he said.

This is, however, set to change.

The government has allowed 100 per cent FDI in food retail and we believe that those kind of stores will be profitable,” said Debashish Mukherjee, a partner and co-head of consumer industries and retail products practice for India and Southeast Asia, A T Kearney.

He said despite the riders, multi-brand stores will find traction in India. “These are business experience problems and once that is seen through you will see the market mature,” said Mukherjee.

The report admitted that infrastructure bottlenecks and state-level power dynamics still remained big concerns. The cash-and-carry segment was doing brisk business, the report said, where existing players such as Walmart and Metro planning to expand their base and targeting 70 and 50 stores, respectively, by 2020.

E-commerce was once again a big driver for retail growth in India, with several foreign brands using the likes of Jabong and Amazon to make their entry into the country. But, here too, FDI that did poured into the country was used for funding operational losses and providing discounts. Alibaba’s decision to enter the Indian market also influenced the ranking. Mukherjee said even if there were some barriers put in place they defined what the market would be. “This clarity has helped India get investments,” he said.

Analysts believe retail spending and corresponding investments are set to grow. “A strong monsoon will kickstart rural spend and you should see strong growth numbers in the October quarter,” said Singhal.

India’s rank was further amplified by the collapse of the South American and Russian economies.

We also took Mexico and Chile out of the list because we believe that they have becomes developed economies in the retail perspective,” said Mukherjee.


PM invites Swiss business leaders to invest in India


Modi in Switzerland

Seeking to create two or three Switzerlands within India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi courted Swiss business leaders to boost domestic manufacturing and skill development.


Prime Minister Modi held wide-ranging talks with prominent business leaders from Switzerland including officials of ABB, Lafarge, Novartis, Nestle, Rieter and Roche. Addressing a business-roundtable, he told the Swiss watch industry that the diamonds on their watches come from Gujarat and “so I am fully sensitive to your concerns.

“Within my country I need to create 2 or 3 Switzerlands.So scope for partnership is immense,” he told the business leaders. “We want to have manufacturing of global standards.Hence Swiss model of skill development very relevant for us.

India, he said, is not just a market of 1.25 billion. “We have skills and a government open to business.

Their discussion focused on ways to enhance trade cooperation between the two countries.

He also talked about government’s commitment towards easing business environment in the country.

The Prime Minister urged the Swiss business leaders to explore the Investment opportunities in India.

India surpasses US to become second largest internet market: Report

India has surpassed the US as the world’s second-largest internet market and internet user growth remains consistent led by acceleration in India, a new report has said.

According to venture capitalist and analyst Mary Meeker, who released the annual “Internet Trends Report 2016” at the Code Conference in California on Wednesday, the smartphone user and shipment growth have slowed in India.

India has low internet penetration — nearly 30 per cent — among the population and also low cost of smartphones have resulted in slowdown of smartphone user and shipment growth.

According to the report, the average cost of a smartphone in India is $158 which is among the lowest in the world.

India has been branded as a mobile-only market as over 300 million of its estimated 400 million internet users access the Internet only through mobile devices.

The report, prepared by Meeker who is an analyst at the US-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also mentioned that “internet advertising continues to grow, but so does ad-blocking, pushing the envelope on development of more innovative ad formats“.

Internet will need to be overhauled as adblockers were installed on 420 million smartphones, growing at 94 per cent year-on-year. This growth is driven by users in India, China and Indonesia.

The report noted that new online-first brands have rapidly grown in popularity for the millennial generation.

In communication, video and images shared are growing as a means of storytelling and messaging has evolved from simple, expressive conversation to business-focused use cases, with Asian platforms often leading the way.

More efficient and often more convenient than typing, voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction, the report noted.

Source: Business Today