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Current Affairs 25 July 2023


  1. Roadmap of Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access: Advancing Sustainable Solutions
  2. Zero First Information Report
  3. The Ethanol Impetus
  4. Marine heat waves
  5. Batagaika Crater
  6. Tiger orchids

Roadmap of Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access: Advancing Sustainable Solutions


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the International Solar Alliance jointly revealed the ‘Roadmap of Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access’ report during India’s G20 presidency in 2023. The report highlights the significant contribution of solar energy in achieving electricity access and delivering socio-economic advantages on a global scale. It centers on achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030 and emphasizes the importance of solar mini grids as sustainable energy solutions. The unveiling took place during the 4th G20 Energy Transition Working Group in Goa.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Report on Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access
  2. Solar Mini-grids: Empowering Communities with Sustainable Electricity
  3. Challenges in Deploying Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access

Key Highlights of the Report on Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access

  • Emphasis on Solar Energy: The roadmap identifies solar energy as a crucial solution to achieve Universal Energy Access by 2030, addressing electricity needs globally.
  • Electrification Targets: Approximately 59% of the unelectrified population (396 million people) can be served through solar-based mini-grids, while 30% (203 million people) through grid extensions, and the remaining 11% (77 million people) through Decentralized Renewable Energy solutions.
  • Investment Requirements: To accomplish the electrification goals, a total investment of around USD 192 billion is required, distributed among solar-based mini-grids, decentralized renewable energy solutions, and grid extensions.
  • Viability Gap Funding: Approximately 50% (USD 48.5 billion) of the investment needs viability gap funding to support the deployment of mini-grids.
  • Addressing Challenges: The roadmap stresses the importance of tackling challenges related to policies, regulations, and financial risks to ensure successful and sustainable scaling up of solar energy solutions.
  • Skill Development and Awareness: Technical and financial expertise, skill development, and awareness creation are essential in energy access-deficit regions to drive effective electrification initiatives.
  • Advocating for Investments: The report calls for increased investments, ecosystem development, and optimal resource utilization to accelerate progress towards universal energy access.
  • Solar PV-based Cooking Solutions: Integration of solar PV-based cooking solutions with electrification initiatives is emphasized to enhance energy access in remote and underdeveloped areas.

Solar Mini-grids: Empowering Communities with Sustainable Electricity

  • Solar mini-grids are small-scale electricity generation and distribution systems utilizing solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, storing electricity in batteries.
  • They are designed to provide reliable and affordable electricity to communities lacking access to the main power grid or experiencing frequent power outages.
Addressing Energy Access Challenges:
  • Approximately 9% of the global population lacks access to electricity, with Sub-Saharan Africa and rural areas facing the greatest impact.
  • Solar mini-grids present a vital solution to bridge this gap and offer sustainable energy to underserved communities.
  • They can also power clean cooking solutions, benefiting the over 1.9 billion people without access to clean cooking.
Advantages of Solar Mini-grids:
  • Solar energy, coupled with energy storage, provides reliable electricity even during disasters or outages.
  • Being clean and renewable, solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
  • The scalability of solar mini-grids allows adjustment based on community energy demand, offering flexibility.
Affordability and Economic Viability:
  • Solar energy is a cost-effective alternative to expensive diesel generators in remote regions with high fuel transportation costs.
  • It offers a sustainable and economically viable solution to reduce electricity expenses.
  • Support through Feed-in Tariffs and tariff restructuring encourages the deployment of decentralized solar.
  • Anticipated battery cost reduction through large-scale procurement further drives solar mini-grid development.

Challenges in Deploying Solar Energy for Universal Energy Access

  • Lack of Supportive Policies and Regulations: The absence of enabling policies and regulations hinders the widespread deployment of solar energy for universal energy access, creating barriers for implementation.
  • Equipment Manufacturing and Execution Challenges: Challenges in equipment manufacturing, on-ground execution, and maintenance need to be addressed to ensure sustained affordability and efficiency of solar energy systems.
  • Dust Accumulation on Solar Panels: Dust accumulation on solar panels can reduce their output by up to 30% in a month, necessitating regular cleaning. However, current water-based cleaning methods consume large amounts of water, and waterless methods are labor-intensive and can cause scratching.
  • High Financial Risks in Underdeveloped Regions: High financial risks in underdeveloped regions increase project costs for developers, making it challenging to bridge the gap between consumer affordability and supplier viability.
  • Need for Technical and Financial Expertise: There is a need for more technical and financial expertise to effectively implement and maintain solar mini-grids, ensuring their long-term success and sustainability.

-Source: Indian Express

Zero First Information Report


Hundreds of zero FIRs registered in police stations across Manipur and the stalled investigations in these cases are among key challenges the state police are facing.


GS II: Government Policies & Interventions, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Zero FIR
  2. What is an FIR?
  3. What are cognizable offence and non-cognizable offence ?
  4. What is the difference between a complaint and an FIR?

About Zero FIR

  • Zero FIR refers to a First Information Report (FIR) that can be registered regardless of the geographical jurisdiction where the offense took place.
  • It allows the police to initiate the legal process and investigation without delay, irrespective of the location of the crime.
  • The concept of Zero FIR ensures that the police cannot evade their responsibility by claiming lack of jurisdiction.
  • Once a Zero FIR is filed, it is later transferred to the appropriate police station with the actual jurisdiction for further investigation and legal proceedings.
  • The introduction of Zero FIR was recommended by the Justice Verma Committee following the heinous Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi in 2012.
  • Zero FIR imposes a legal obligation on the police to promptly initiate an investigation and take necessary action, removing the excuse of jurisdictional constraints.

What is an FIR?

  • An FIR is the document that has been prepared by the police after verifying the facts of the complaint.
  • The FIR may contain details of the crime and the alleged criminal.
  • The term first information report (FIR) is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, or in any other law, but in police regulations or rules, information recorded under Section 154 of CrPC is known as First Information Report (FIR).
    • Section 154 (“Information in cognizable cases”) says that “every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe”.
    • Also, “a copy of the information as recorded…shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant”.
Three important elements of an FIR:
  • The information must relate to the commission of a cognizable offence,
  • It should be given in writing or orally to the head of the police station
  • It must be written down and signed by the informant, and its key points should be recorded in a daily diary.
What happens after an FIR is filed?
  • The police will investigate the case and will collect evidence in the form of statements of witnesses or other scientific materials. They can arrest the alleged persons as per law.
  • If there is sufficient evidence to corroborate the allegations of the complainant, then a chargesheet will be filed. Or else, a Final Report mentioning that no evidence was found will be filed in court.
  • If it is found that no offence has been committed, a cancellation report will be filed. If no trace of the accused persons is found, an ‘untraced’ report will be filed.

What are cognizable offence and non-cognizable offence?

  • A cognizable offence/case is one in which a police officer may, in accordance with the First Schedule of the CrPC, or under any other law for the time being in force, make an arrest without a warrant.
  • In the First Schedule, “the word ‘cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer may arrest without warrant’; and the word ‘non-cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer shall not arrest without warrant’.”

What is the difference between a complaint and an FIR?

  • The CrPC defines a “complaint” as “any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report.”
  • However, an FIR is the document that has been prepared by the police after verifying the facts of the complaint. The FIR may contain details of the crime and the alleged criminal.
  • If, on the basis of a complaint, it appears that a cognizable offence has been committed, then an FIR under Section 154 CrPC will be registered, and police will open an investigation. If no offence is found, the police will close the inquiry.
  • Section 155 (“Information as to non-cognizable cases and investigation of such cases”) says: “When information is given to an officer in charge of a police station of the commission within the limits of such station of a non-cognizable offence, he shall enter or cause to be entered the substance of the information in a book…and refer the informant to the Magistrate. No police officer shall investigate a non-cognizable case without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such case or commit the case for trial.”

-Source: Indian Express

The Ethanol Impetus


Prime Minister, at a G20 Energy Ministers’ meet recently, said that India has rolled out 20% ethanol-blended petrol this year and aims to “cover the entire country by 2025”.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Biofuel
  2. Ethanol and Ethanol Blending in India
  3. Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme (EBP)

About Biofuel

  • Biofuel is a fuel produced from biomass over a short time span, distinct from the slow natural processes forming fossil fuels like oil.
  • It is usually reserved for liquid or gaseous fuels used in transportation, while biomass may refer to any fuel source.
  • Common biofuels include bioalcohols (e.g., ethanol, propanol, butanol), biodiesel, and bio-oils.
Blend with Petroleum Products:
  • Biofuels are often blended with refined petroleum products like gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and jet fuel for consumption.
  • Some biofuels, called drop-in biofuels, do not require blending and can be used directly.
Generations of Biofuel:
  • First Generation (1G): Produced from consumable food items containing starch (rice, wheat) or sugar (beets, sugarcane) for bioalcohols and vegetable oils for biodiesel. They may impact food security due to low yields.
  • Second Generation (2G): Derived from non-food feedstocks like agricultural, forest, or industrial waste and used vegetable oils.
  • Third Generation (3G): Known as ‘algae fuel,’ obtained from algae in biodiesel and bioalcohol forms. Algae yield is higher than 2G, but challenges in scaling up extraction remain.
  • Fourth Generation (4G): Made from non-arable land without biomass destruction. Includes electro fuels and photo-biological solar fuels.

Ethanol and Ethanol Blending in India:

  • Ethanol is an agricultural by-product obtained mainly from the processing of sugar from sugarcane, but it can also be derived from other sources such as rice husk or maize.
  • Ethanol blending is the practice of mixing ethanol with petrol in order to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in vehicles.
  • E20 fuel refers to a blend consisting of 20% ethanol and 80% petrol.
  • In February 2023, the Prime Minister of India launched the E20 fuel pilot project in Bengaluru, which involves blending 20% ethanol with petrol.
  • Initially, this pilot project covers at least 15 cities and is expected to be gradually implemented nationwide.
  • Over the years, India has been steadily increasing the proportion of ethanol blended with petrol. The blending rate has risen from 1.53% in 2013-14 to 10.17% in 2022.
  • The government has advanced its target of achieving 20% ethanol blending in petrol from 2030 to 2025, aiming to further reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • As part of its G20 presidency, the Indian government has proposed the establishment of a global biofuel alliance with countries like Brazil. This alliance would focus on promoting the use of biofuels internationally.

Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme (EBP)

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in 2003- and this initiative is pursued aggressively in the last 4 to 5 years to reduce import dependence of crude oil as well as mitigate environmental pollution.
  • The Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) seeks to achieve blending of Ethanol with motor sprit with a view to reducing pollution, conserve foreign exchange and increase value addition in the sugar industry enabling them to clear cane price arrears of farmers.
  • Although the Government of India decided to launch EBP programme in 2003 for supply of 5% ethanol blended Petrol, it later scaled up blending targets from 5% to 10% under the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP).
  • The Government of India has also advanced the target for 20% ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030.
  • Currently, 8.5% of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.

Advantages of Ethanol Blending

  • Use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
  • The unregulated carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde emission were, however, higher with E10 and E20 compared to normal petrol. However, these emissions were relatively lower.
  • Increased use of ethanol can help reduce the oil import bill. India’s net import cost stands at USD 551 billion in 2020-21. The E20 program can save the country USD 4 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) per annum.
  • The oil companies procure ethanol from farmers that benefits the sugarcane farmers.
  • Further, the government plans to encourage use of water-saving crops, such as maize, to produce ethanol, and production of ethanol from non-food feedstock.

-Source: Indian Express

Marine heat waves


July is expected to be the warmest month ever recorded on Earth, following the hottest June on record. Both land and sea surface temperatures have risen significantly, with ocean temperatures staying at record highs since 2016, leading to the occurrence of marine heat waves worldwide.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Marine Heat Waves (MHWs)
  2. Impact of Marine Heat Waves (MHWs)
  3. Impact of Global Warming on Marine Heat Waves and Oceans

Marine Heat Waves (MHWs)

  • A marine heat wave is an extreme weather event characterized by a significant increase in sea surface temperature in a specific region of the ocean.
  • It is defined as when the surface temperature rises 3 to 4 degrees Celsius above the average temperature for at least five consecutive days.
  • MHWs can persist for weeks, months, or even years.
  • Currently, MHWs have affected several regions, including the north-east Pacific, the southern hemisphere in the southern Indian Ocean and the Pacific, the north-east Atlantic, tropical North Atlantic, and the Mediterranean.

Impact of Marine Heat Waves (MHWs)

On Weather Pattern:

  • MHWs can intensify storms like hurricanes and tropical cyclones due to higher ocean temperatures, leading to increased evaporation and heat transfer to the air.
  • As the world gets warmer, MHWs are expected to become more intense and prolonged.

On Ocean Life:

  • MHWs can cause coral bleaching and the death of marine species, altering migration patterns.
  • They can lead to fish kills and destruction of kelp forests, fundamentally changing ecosystems.
  • MHWs fuel the growth of invasive alien species, disrupting marine food webs.
  • Wildlife may be at increased risk, as seen in whale entanglements in fishing gear.

On Humans:

  • Storms traveling over warm oceans gather more water vapor and heat, resulting in more powerful winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding when they reach land, causing heightened devastation for humans.
  • MHWs have significant socio-economic impacts on coastal communities, affecting fisheries and livelihoods.

Impact of Global Warming on Marine Heat Waves and Oceans:

  • Increased Frequency, Duration, and Intensity: Rising global temperatures have led to longer-lasting, more frequent, and intense marine heat waves (MHWs) in recent decades.
  • Ocean’s Role in Heat Absorption: The oceans have absorbed about 90% of the additional heat resulting from greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
  • Sea Surface Temperature Rise: The global mean sea surface temperature has risen by nearly 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1850 due to this heat absorption by the oceans.
  • Correlation with Air Temperature: As global air temperatures increase, ocean temperatures also rise, contributing to the occurrence of more MHWs.
  • Impact of El Nino: The current El Nino weather pattern, characterized by abnormal warming of equatorial Pacific Ocean waters, is likely to exacerbate extreme heat events and break temperature records in various regions.

-Source: Indian Express

Batagaika Crater


Recently, stunning drone footage has revealed details of the Batagaika crater which is getting affected due to climate change.


Facts for Prelims

Batagaika Crater: The World’s Biggest Permafrost Crater

  • Location: Batagaika Crater is situated in Russia’s Far East and is known to be the largest permafrost crater in the world.
  • Formation: Scientists believe the crater resulted from melting permafrost that was frozen during the Quaternary Ice Age approximately 2.58 million years ago. It began to form when the surrounding forest was cleared in the 1960s, leading to the melting of the underground permafrost and causing the land to sink.
  • Local Name: Some locals in Russia’s Sakha Republic refer to it as the “gateway to the underworld,” while it is scientifically classified as a mega-slump.
  • Climate Impact: The formation of the Batagaika Crater is attributed to various factors, including higher air temperatures, a warming climate, and anthropogenic influence.
  • Scientific Importance: The exposed ice and soil along the crater’s edges are believed to hold geological and biological history spanning up to 200,000 years, providing valuable clues to prehistoric life on Earth.
  • Environmental Concerns: The soil beneath the crater, reaching depths of about 100 meters (328 feet), contains a significant amount of organic carbon. As the permafrost thaws, this carbon will be released into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.

-Source: Indian Express

Tiger Orchids


Recently, Tiger Orchids (Grammatophyllum speciosum) bloom at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), Palode, Kerala.


Facts for Prelims

Tiger Orchid

  • Appearance: The Tiger Orchid, also known as Grammatophyllum speciosum, is renowned for being the largest orchid species globally. It derives its name from the splendid flowers, which feature striking brown spots on a yellow backdrop, resembling the appearance of tigers.
  • Flowering Pattern: In its natural habitat, the Tiger Orchid produces flowers in alternate years after 8 to 12 years of growth. While it blooms in January or July, not all plants flower every year.
  • Ornamental Use: Due to its attractive foliage and large flowers, the Tiger Orchid is commonly cultivated as an ornamental orchid in gardens and parks.
  • Record Height: The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized this orchid as the world’s tallest, with recorded specimens reaching heights of up to 7.62 meters.
  • Distribution and Habitat: The Tiger Orchid is found in various countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It thrives in terrestrial habitats, such as primary rainforests, freshwater swamp forests, and riverine areas, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical/monsoonal climate zones.
  • Conservation Status: The Tiger Orchid is listed under CITES Appendix II, indicating a level of concern for its conservation.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023