Gist of The Hindu: SEPTEMBER 2023
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Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) scheme
- Recently, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, approved the Scheme for Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for the development of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS).
About Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS):
- The approved scheme envisages the development of 4,000 MWh of BESS projects by 2030-31.
- Financial support of up to 40% of the capital cost as budgetary support in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) is provided by the union government.
- The VGF shall be disbursed in five tranches linked with the various stages of implementation of BESS projects.
- By offering VGF support, the scheme targets achieving a Levelized Cost of Storage (LCoS) ranging from Rs. 5.50-6.60 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), making stored renewable energy a viable option for managing peak power demand across the country.
- To ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach the consumers, a minimum of 85% of the BESS project capacity will be made available to Distribution Companies (Discoms).
- The selection of BESS developers for VGF grants will be carried out through a transparent, competitive bidding process, promoting a level playing field for both public and private sector entities.
- This will not only enhance the integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid but also minimise wastage while optimising the utilisation of transmission networks.
- This will reduce the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
- The competitive bidding process approach will foster healthy competition and encourage the growth of a robust ecosystem for BESS, attracting significant investments and generating opportunities for associated industries.
- This scheme is designed to harness the potential of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power; the scheme aims to provide clean, reliable, and affordable electricity to the citizens.
What is battery storage?
- Battery storage, or battery energy storage systems (BESS), are devices that enable energy from renewable, like solar and wind, to be stored and then released when the power is needed most.
Satkosia Tiger Reserve
About Satkosia Tiger Reserve:
- Location: It is located in the heartland of Odisha and spread over four districts viz. Angul, Cuttack, Boudh and Nayagarh.
- The river Mahanadi flows through the valleys in the middle of the Reserve.
- The Reserve has an area of 1136.70 sq km with 523.61 sq km as the core area. The area is also a part of the Mahanadi Elephant Reserve.
- Satkosia is the meeting point of two bio-geographic regions of India: the Deccan Peninsula and the Eastern Ghats.
- Landscape: The terrain is hilly, with moderate to steep slopes and narrow valleys.
- Vegetation: The forest vegetation comprises North Indian tropical moist deciduous Forests and Moist peninsular low-level sal.
- The main tree species is sal, which grows in gregarious formations.
- Other associate species are Asan (Terminalia alata), Dhaura (Anogeissus latifolia), Bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus), and Simal (Bombax ceiba).
- The reserve has a low population of tiger, leopard, elephant, spotted deer, sambar, chowsingha, barking deer, bison, wild dog, sloth bear, jackal, giant squirrel and porcupine.
- It is the natural habitat of two endangered species, viz., freshwater crocodile and the gharial.
- The Indian Army recently launched 'Project Naman', which will entail establishing facilitation and grievance redressal centres for veterans and the kin of personnel who have lost their lives.
About Project Naman:
- The Project will entail establishing facilitation and grievance redressal centres for veterans and the kin of personnel who have lost their lives.
- The first such centre will be established in Delhi Cantonment.
- 'Naman' will house a Common Service Centre, which will facilitate the veterans and their relatives.
- It will offer all government-to-customer services and also facilitate the updating of pensioners' accounts on the SPARSH portal of veterans, next of kin and dependents.
What is the SPARSH portal?
- It is being implemented by the Ministry of Defence to meet the pension sanction and disbursement requirements for Armed Forces viz. Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence Civilians.
- The Defence Pensioner will be given a completely transparent view of his pension account through this portal, which will capture and maintain a complete history of events and entitlements the pensioner right from the date of commencement of pension to the date of cessation of pension due to his/her last eligible beneficiary.
- This system will be administered by the Defence Accounts Department through the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions).
MQ-9B Predator Drone
- India is in the final stages of drafting the Letter of Request (LoR) to send to the United States government for the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B Predator drones from General Atomics (GA).
About MQ-9B Predator Drone:
- The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper", an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.
- These are high-altitude, long-endurance drones armed with strike missiles that can take out enemy targets with high accuracy.
- It was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).
- The MQ-9B has two variants — SkyGuardian and its sibling SeaGuardian.
- The Indian Navy has been operating the MQ-9B Sea Guardian since 2020.
- It can carry up to 5,670 kg and has a fuel capacity of 2,721 kg.
- The drone can operate at over 40,000 feet.
- The Predator also has a maximum endurance of 40 hours, making it useful for long-hour surveillance.
- It can support land, maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, strike, electronic warfare and expeditionary roles.
- It is also capable of automatic take-offs and landings.
- It can safely integrate into civil airspace, enabling joint forces and civil authorities to deliver real-time situational awareness anywhere in the maritime domain -- day or night.
National Carbon Registry
- Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has developed open-source software that allows countries to effectively manage national data and processes for trading carbon credits.
About National Carbon Registry:
- This software has recently been accredited as a digital public good (DPG).
- As a DPG, the registry uses open-source code, which allows countries to replicate and adapt the information to fit their own needs and contexts.
- The registry’s modules, software and technical documentation can be reused and tailored by countries, which could potentially reduce production costs and implementation timelines.
- The registry follows national and international best practices, which include UNDP, the World Bank, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Key Facts about the United Nations Development Programme:
- It is the United Nations' lead agency on international development.
- It works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality.
- It helps countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, and institutional capabilities and to build resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Its work is concentrated in three focus areas: sustainable development, democratic governance and peacebuilding, and climate and disaster resilience.
- Scientists recently said they unearthed in Fujian Province the fossil of a Jurassic Period dinosaur they named Fujianvenator prodigiosus.
About Fujianvenator prodigiosus:
- Fujianvenator is a member of a grouping called avialans that includes all birds and their closest non-avian dinosaur relatives.
- Despite their modest beginnings, birds survived the asteroid strike 66 million years ago that doomed their non-avian dinosaur comrades.
- Its lower leg bone - the tibia - was twice as long as its thigh bone - the femur.
- Such dimensions are unique among theropods; it also had a long bony tail.
- The forelimb is generally built like a bird’s wing but with three claws on the fingers, which are absent from modern birds. So you can call it wing.
Key facts about the Jurassic Period
- It is the second of three periods of the Mesozoic Era.
- Time period: Extending from 201.3 million to 145 million years ago.
- It immediately followed the Triassic Period(251.9 million to 201.3 million years ago) and was succeeded by the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 66 million years ago).
- It was a time of significant global change in continental configurations, oceanographic patterns, and biological systems.
- During this period, the supercontinent Pangea split apart, allowing for the eventual development of what is now the central Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Erg Chech 002
- Recently, some unusual rocks containing distinctive greenish crystals were found in the Erg Chech sand sea.
About Erg Chech 002:
- These are the rocks containing distinctive greenish crystals that turned out to be from outer space, left over from the dawn of the Solar System.
- They were all pieces of a meteorite known as Erg Chech 002, which is the oldest volcanic rock ever found.
- It is known as an “ungrouped achondrite,” which means their parent bodies and family relationships are unknown.
- Achondrites are rocks formed from melted planetesimals, which are what we call solid lumps in the cloud of gas and debris that formed the Solar System.
- Erg Chech 002 contains a high abundance of lead-206 and lead-207, as well as relatively large amounts of undecayed uranium-238 and uranium-235.
- Aluminium-26 was distributed quite unevenly throughout the cloud of dust and gas which formed the solar system.
Key facts about Erg Chech
- It is a sandy region of the Sahara in western Algeria and northern Mali.
- It consists largely of shifting dunes.
Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty
- The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) concluded with the member states mandating the INC secretariat to develop a zero draft to end plastic pollution including in the marine environment.
About Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty:
- It is an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution including in the marine environment.
- The zero draft has 10 placeholders to discuss issues like the preamble, definitions, principles and scope, in addition to the institutional arrangements and the final provisions.
- Member states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China at INC-2 stressed the importance of defining the scope of the legally binding instrument.
- India had agreed with this proposal.
Plastic Pollution in India
- As per reports from the Central Pollution Control Board, plastic waste accounts for 8% of the overall solid waste, with Delhi being the largest contributor, followed by Kolkata and Ahmedabad.
- India produces more than 3 million tons of plastic waste, but the recycling rate for the total plastic waste stands at just 30%.
Courtesy: The Hindu