A Correction

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Green energy talk yet to translate into figures

New survey finds little improvement in employment trends in the area of environment conservation and responsible energy utilisation

The year 2010 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Biodiversity. The year was launched with the Copenhagen summit. The 40th Earth Day in April coincided with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia. Last week, world representatives met in Cancun to take the campaign to save Planet Earth forward.

There has been much emphasis on conservation of the environment; most importantly the responsible use of energy. However, despite the tremendous interest and promise of activity generated in this direction, there has been surprisingly very little employment created in this connection.

According to the Ma Foi Randstad Employment Trends Survey 2010, India created 7.39 lakh jobs between January and September, but the energy sector did not perform well, registering a small increase of 0.64% over the last quarter.

“We were surprised with the results,” admits E Balaji, director and president of Ma Foi Randstad. “India has gone back to hiring, and the economy is recovering. There was such hype about the energy sector and everyone was expecting an expansion. But then, we saw that most of these projects have either failed to take off, got stalled, or have remained at the blueprint stage.”

Indeed, every foreign leader—from Obama to Sarkozy—visiting the country, talked about collaboration to develop energy projects. The government and several experts too have been vocal, at every climate/environmental convention, about new green technologies. But this has not translated into visible initiatives, much less job creation.

State governments have sanctioned power plants over the last few years, to bridge the demand-supply gap. Research reports, however, have indicated that there could be a fall in power demand. Moneylife has reported that there was a decline in power generation in November, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). Authoritative agencies expect power supply to rise and reduce the deficit in the coming months, while merchant power rates reduce.

An IDFC Securities report says that in November “NTPC’s generation grew by 2.7% y-o-y, but fell 9% m-o-m, due to a sharp 23.6% m-o-m fall in gas-based generation; PLF (plant load factor) of NTPC thermal plants for November 2010 was 85% compared to 89% in November 2009 and 88.6% in October 2010. Among private power producers, the highest fall was seen in the case of Jaiprakash Power’s Baspa and Vishnuprayag plants (-47.8% m-o-m). GVK’s Jegurupadu and Gautami power plants both reported a sharp fall in generation on year-on-year and month-on-month basis.”
But the future for efficient energy generation and utilisation may not be so bleak.

Mr Balaji explained that many corporates are showing interest in this area, especially green energy, so the activity level and scope will increase. “This quarter, the sector will perform better,” he said, “and we must not forget that power is a long-term thing.” But it would require smart regulatory norms and incentives from the government to allow the sector grow to its full potential, he said. 


Wednesday’s Market Preview: Flat-to-positive opening on the cards

The local market is likely to witness a flat-to-positive opening on the back of mixed global cues. The US markets ended higher overnight on assertions that the Federal Reserve will continue with its plan to boost the economy and on good economic data. Markets in Asia turned negative after opening with marginal gains in early trade on Wednesday, on economic concerns in the region. The SGX Nifty was down 4 points at 5,955 compared to its previous close of 5,959.

Trading opened on a positive note on good cues from the global arena. Along with support from the broader indices, the market also witnessed buying in oil & gas, metal and capital goods stocks. The market received a push at noon following the announcement of better-than-expected wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation numbers for November, taking the benchmarks further northwards. Some bit of nervousness resulted in range-bound trading in post-noon trade. The market pared some of its gains after scaling its intraday high, albeit ending in the green.

The Sensex closed the session at 19,799.19, up 107.41 points (0.55%) from its previous close. The Nifty rose 36.45 points (0.62%) to settle at 5,944.10.

The US markets ended higher on Tuesday on the Fed’s reiteration that it would continue with its economy-boosting measures. The central bank kept overnight interest rates unchanged and pledged again to buy $600 billion in Treasury debt through next June. This apart, November retail-sales data from the Census Bureau beat analysts’ forecasts, and small-business sentiment improved to its highest level in three years, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

The Dow gained 47.98 points (0.42%) at 11,476.62. The S&P 500 added 1.13 points (0.09%) at 1,241.59. The Nasdaq rose 2.81 points (0.11%) at 2,627.72.

Markets in Asia were mostly in the red after opening with marginal gains in early trade on Wednesday on economic concerns in the region. The quarterly Tankan index of sentiment at large manufacturers dropped to 5 in December from 8 in September, the Bank of Japan said in Tokyo. A positive number means optimists outnumber pessimists. On the other hand, South Korea’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to a six-month low as the nation’s economic expansion encouraged manufacturers to hire more workers. The jobless rate fell to 3.2% in November from 3.6% in October, statistics showed.

The Shanghai Composite declined 0.29%, the Hang Seng was down 0.65%, the Jakarta Composite shed 0.04%, the KLSE Composite fell 0.09%, the Nikkei 225 was 0.04% lower, the Straits Times fell 0.16%, the Seoul Composite was down by 0.07% and the Taiwan Weighted fell 0.27% in early trade. The SGX Nifty was down 4 points at 5,955 compared to its previous close of 5,959.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) on Tuesday hiked petrol prices by about Rs2.95 a litre effective 15th December, and other state-owned oil companies IOC and HPCL will follow suit on Wednesday.

The oil ministry gave the three companies a go-ahead to raise petrol prices after international crude oil prices touched $90 per barrel.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the largest fuel retailer in the country, and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) will do the same by an equal measure today, sources said.


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