This post is the 2nd part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered all of the Infrastructure and Energy Current Affairs of September, October 2021, and April 2022.
List of Contents
- Task Force to Prepare Road Map for Coal-based Hydrogen Production
- Emergency Landing Facility(ELF)
- Khavda Renewable Energy Park
- Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism
- Zojila Tunnel
- Geospatial Energy Map of India
- PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP)
- Green Day Ahead Market(GDAM)
- India’s First pure Green Hydrogen plant
- Shinku-La Tunnel
- Projects launched by the Prime Minister in Jammu
To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC Prelims 2022– Click here
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID), is a Maharatna CPSU under the Ministry of Power, Government of India. It is playing a strategic role in the development of the Indian Power Sector.
POWERGRID owns and operates the Inter-State transmission network of the country. Its transmission system availability is consistently over 99%. This is at par with international utilities.
POWERGRID has won this International recognition for its efforts in talent development practices and programmes. The talent development initiative in POWERGRID is driven by the POWERGRID Academy of Leadership (PAL).
PAL is POWERGRID’s state-of-the-art Institute of Learning in Management and Technology, catering to both domestic and international clients. At PAL, training and initiatives are organized for enhancing employee performance, boosting employee productivity, improving and strengthening company culture.
Task Force to Prepare Road Map for Coal-based Hydrogen Production
The Ministry of Coal has constituted a Task Force and Expert Committee to prepare a road map for Coal based Hydrogen Production.
About the Task Force for Coal based Hydrogen Production
The Task Force will be headed by an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Coal.
Its terms of reference include identification of roles to be played by each stakeholder ministry and monitoring of activities towards achieving coal based Hydrogen production.
About the Coal Based Hydrogen Production
Coal is one of the important sources of Hydrogen making(Brown Hydrogen). The other sources of Hydrogen making are Grey Hydrogen (produced from natural gas) and Green Hydrogen (produced through electrolysis of water using renewable energy).
Moreover, production of Hydrogen from coal can be cheaper and less sensitive to imports for India in comparison to Grey Hydrogen and Green Hydrogen.
Challenges in Coal Based Hydrogen Production
Coal has not been encouraged for the production of Brown Hydrogen because of the fear that while extracting hydrogen via coal (from the moisture embedded in coal) there may be carbon emission. Hence, due to this, 100% of Hydrogen produced in India is through Natural Gas.
Moreover, production of hydrogen from coal has challenges in terms of Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage(CCUS).
Note: CCUS is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it, so it will not enter the atmosphere.
Emergency Landing Facility(ELF)
Union Defence Minister and Minister for Road Transport and Highways have jointly inaugurated Emergency Landing Facility(ELF) for the Indian Air Force(IAF).
About Emergency Landing Facility(ELF)
Purpose: It will be used for emergency landings of the Indian Air Force aircrafts.
Located at: It is a 3 km stretch located on Gandhav-Bhakasar section on National Highway-925 in Barmer, Rajasthan.
Developed by: GHV India Pvt. Ltd under the supervision of IAF and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has developed this ELF.
Significance of Emergency Landing Facility
This is the first time that a National Highway will be used as an Emergency Landing Field (ELF) for IAF aircraft.
This emergency landing area is strategically important from the national security point of view also as it is just 40 kilometres from the India-Pakistan border.
The government also announced that the Emergency Landing Facilities will be developed at 19 other places to strengthen the country’s security.
Khavda Renewable Energy Park
According to the Central Electricity Authority, there will be a need for 27GW of grid-scale battery energy storage systems by 2030 with four hours of storage. Hence, India has planned to set up around 14 gigawatt-hour (GWh) grid-scale battery storage systems at the Khavda renewable energy park in Gujarat.
About Khavda Renewable Energy Park
Khavda Renewable Energy Park is the world’s largest renewable energy park in Gujarat’s Kutch.
The park will be built along the Indo-Pak border at Khavda.
The park will generate 30GW of clean energy. It will be a hybrid renewable energy park, as it will produce power using both solar energy and wind energy.
Applications of Large Battery Storage systems
Large battery storages can help keep power grids stable, given electricity is produced intermittently from clean energy sources such as solar and wind.
One of the most critical advantages of battery storage is the ability to store energy as it is generated and then redistribute it when needed rather than as it is produced.
This ability reduces the need to curtail renewable generation and allows the energy to be deployed during periods of high electricity demand.
Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism
The Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy has given his assent to amendments in the existing Renewable Energy Certificate(REC) mechanism.
About the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism
The Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism is a market-based instrument to promote renewable energy and facilitate the compliance of renewable purchase obligations (RPO).
It is aimed at addressing the mismatch between the availability of RE resources in the state and the requirement of the obligated entities to meet the renewable purchase obligation (RPO).
Important changes made in the REC mechanism
From now on, the validity of the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) would be perpetual, that is till it is sold.
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) will have a monitoring and surveillance mechanism to ensure that there is no hoarding of RECs.
The renewable energy (RE) generators eligible for RECs will be eligible for the period of the power purchase agreement (PPA) as per the prevailing guidelines.
The RECs can be issued to obligated entities (including discoms and open access consumers) which purchase RE power beyond their renewable purchase obligation (RPO) compliance notified by the Centre.
No REC will be issued to the beneficiary of subsidies/concessions or waiver of any other charges.
The government is planning to complete the massive Zojila tunnel before Republic Day 2024.
About Zojila Tunnel
Zojila Tunnel is a 14.15 km long road tunnel under Zoji La pass. Once completed, it will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel.
This tunnel along with a 6.5 km long Z-Morh Tunnel will ensure year-long road connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil, which currently remains closed for about seven months due to heavy snowfall on the Zoji La pass.
Construction Agency: The Zojila Project is being executed by Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd. (MEIL), and Gurgaon-based APCO Infra under the tender process conducted by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.(NHIDCL).
About Zojila Pass
Zoji La is a high mountain pass in the Himalayas in the Indian Union Territory of Ladakh.
The pass connects the Kashmir Valley to its west with the Dras and Suru valleys to its northeast and the Indus valley further east.
The National Highway 1 between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range traverses the pass.
Geospatial Energy Map of India
Firstly, to provide a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country. This will enable visualisation of energy installations such as conventional power plants, oil and gas wells, petroleum refineries, coal fields and coal blocks, etc. Further, it will visualise district-wise data on renewable energy power plants and renewable energy resource potential.
Secondly, to attempt to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy and their transportation/ transmission networks to provide a comprehensive view of energy production and distribution in a country.
The Geospatial Energy Map of India will be useful in planning and making investment decisions. It will also aid in disaster management using available energy assets.
PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP)
The Prime Minister has launched the Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity. The Gati Shakti scheme will subsume the Rs 110 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) that was launched in 2019.
About PM Gati Shakti
PM GatiShakti is a digital platform that connects 16 ministries — including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation — with a view to ensuring holistic planning and execution of infrastructure projects.
Aim: PM Gati Shakti aims to institutionalize holistic planning for major infrastructure projects. The projects will be designed and executed with a common vision and will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state governments such as the Bharatmala road project, Sagarmala waterways plan, ports and the UDAN scheme.
Coverage: Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, Agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
It will also leverage technology extensively, including spatial planning tools with ISRO’s satellite imagery. This will be used for real-time monitoring of projects.
Services will be provided by the PM Gati Shakti
Planning and obtaining clearances: The portal will offer 200 layers of geospatial data, including on existing infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic information about forests, rivers and district boundaries to aid in planning and obtaining clearances.
Centralised tracking of projects: The portal will also allow various government departments to track, in real-time and at one centralised place, the progress of various projects, especially those with multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact.
Prioritize projects: Through Gati Shakti, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross-sectoral interactions”.
Project clearances: The portal will also highlight all the clearances that any new project would need, based on its location — and allow stakeholders to apply for these clearances from the relevant authority directly on the portal. The objective is to streamline the process and shorten the period required for clearances.
Green Day Ahead Market(GDAM)
The Union Minister of Power & New and Renewable Energy has launched the Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM).
About Green Day Ahead Market(GDAM)
GDAM is a marketplace that will enable electricity generation and distribution companies to buy or sell renewable energy through open access on a day-ahead basis.
Operation of GDAM
Green Day-ahead market will operate in an integrated way with the conventional day-ahead market.
The Exchanges will offer the market participants to submit bids together for both conventional and renewable energy through the separate bidding windows.
The clearance will take place in a sequential manner – renewable energy bids will be cleared first in accordance with the must-run status of the renewables, followed by the conventional segment.
This mechanism will allow renewable energy sellers to subsequently bid in the conventional segment if their bids remain uncleared in the green market. There will be separate price discoveries for both conventional and renewables.
Advantages of the Green Day Ahead Market(GDAM)
Firstly, it will deepen the green market and will provide competitive price signals, besides offering an opportunity to the market participants to trade in green energy, in the most transparent, flexible, competitive, and efficient manner.
Secondly, it will provide another option to renewable generators to sell power as well as accelerate the renewable capacity addition.
Thirdly, it is expected to create a domino effect that will lead to a gradual shift from Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) based contracts to market-based models which will build and deepen the markets to the next level.
An IndiGo-operated ATR 72-600 aircraft landed at Kishangarh airport using an approach process guided by GAGAN or GPS-aided GEO Augmented Navigation.
With this trial, India has joined a small group comprising the US, Japan and Europe with its own satellite-based augmentation system(SBAS).
Developed by: The Airport Authority of India(AAI) and Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO)
Purpose: It is a satellite-based augmentation system(SBAS) developed to provide the best possible navigational services over Indian FIR (Flight Information Region) with the capability of expanding to neighbouring FIRs.
Note: While GAGAN is primarily meant for aviation, it can provide benefits to several other segments such as intelligent transportation, maritime, highways, railways, security agencies, and telecom among others.
Working of GAGAN: GAGAN uses a system of ground stations – in Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Jammu and Port Blair – to provide necessary augmentation to the GPS navigation signal.
– A network of precisely surveyed ground reference stations is strategically positioned across the country to collect GPS satellite data. Using this information, the master control centre in Bengaluru generates messages to correct any signal errors.
– These correction messages are then uplinked and broadcast through geostationary communication satellites to receivers onboard aircraft using the same frequency as GPS.
Coverage Area: GAGAN covers the area from Africa to Australia and has the capability to cater to 45 reference stations for expansion to neighbouring countries.
The system is also interoperable with other international SBAS systems such as the U.S. Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and the Japanese MTSAT Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS).
India’s First pure Green Hydrogen plant
Oil India Limited(OIL) has commissioned India’s First pure Green Hydrogen pilot plant at its Jorhat Pump Station in Assam.
About India’s First pure Green Hydrogen plant
Located at: Jorhat Pump Station in Assam
Process: The plant produces Green Hydrogen from the electricity generated by the existing 500kW Solar plant using a 100 kW Anion Exchange Membrane(AEM) Electrolyser array. The use of AEM technology is being used for the first time in India.
Importance of Anion Exchange Membrane(AEM) Technology
Electrolysis is the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, and when powered by renewable energy, it’s shaping up to be a key step in the production of green hydrogen.
Typically, electrolyzers use proton exchange membranes(PEMs) to produce hydrogen. But the problem with this method is that it needs expensive metals like platinum, and ruthenium to remain in an acidic environment.
An alternative to this method is anion exchange membranes(AEMs). This method can operate under alkaline conditions, so they don’t need expensive metals. Hence, the materials involved are thus some 3,000 times less expensive.
However, AEMs have not found commercial success in hydrogen electrolysis because they don’t perform as well, and they don’t last as long.
India will soon be home to the world’s longest highway tunnel beneath Shinku-La Pass.
About the Shinku-La Tunnel
The Shinku-La tunnel will be built at Shinku La Pass at an altitude of 16,580ft.
The tunnel will be 4.25 km in length. It will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and Himachal.
Built by: Border Roads Organization(BRO) under Project Yojak by 2025.
Significance: Once constructed, it will be the world’s longest and highest tunnel at this altitude.
About Shinku-La Pass
Shinku-La Pass is a mountain pass between Zanskar Valley in Ladakh and Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
This pass may be considered as an entry point to Lugnak Valley in Zanskar.
Projects launched by the Prime Minister in Jammu
The Prime Minister has launched several development projects in Jammu aimed at “reducing Dilli Saey Doori (distance from Delhi)”.
Projects launched by the Prime Minister in Jammu
Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel: It is an 8.45 Km long tunnel that would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km. The tunnel would help establish an all-weather connection between Jammu and Kashmir.
Ratle Hydroelectric Project: It is an 850MW hydroelectric project that will be constructed on the Chenab River in Kishtwar District in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kwar Hydroelectric Project: It is a 540MW hydroelectric project that will also be built on Chenab river in Kishtwar District in Jammu and Kashmir.