Costly proposition: India's proposed Basic Customs duty on solar enquipment could negatively affect the country's solar installation targets | Photo: Bloomberg Quint

Basic Customs Duty projected to increase solar tariff exponentially

India’s solar target of 280 GW by 2030 may be impacted adversely by Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on solar equipment that will kick in from April 1, 2022, stated a report by India Ratings and Research. It will increase power purchase costs by ₹9 billion annually the report said. Solar tariffs will also increase as well as a result. Another study by CARE Rating said solar power prices could rise between 25-30 paise per unit if only cells are imported, while the cost will rise further to 40-45 paise if modules are imported.

Experts warned this will take the sheen off the solar power considering that about 10 GW of solar capacity is in the offing in the next 12 months. This amount would increase exponentially with the commissioning of new projects and is likely to also affect India’s target of 280 GW solar capacity by 2030. 

Currently, India levies safeguard duty only on equipment from China, Thailand and Vietnam. But the report points out that BCD will be applicable on all the countries making it tough to import from anywhere in the world.     

Parl panel asks for policy paper on DISCOMS’ reluctance to enter long-term renewable energy PPAs      

While addressing the issue of the reluctance of DISCOMS to sign up long-term renewable energy PPAs with power companies, as tariffs continue to fall in the short term, a Parliamentary panel asked Centre to release a policy paper to provide a remedy to “the conundrum”. The panel said the situation is causing disruption as a long-term PPA is a prerequisite for financing any new power project. 

The panel noted that the total installed capacity of renewable energy as on January 1, 2021, is 92.54 GW, which comprises 38.79 GW from solar power, 38.68 GW wind power, 10.31 GW bio power and 4.76 GW small hydro power.

The panel said only a little more than 50% of the target has been achieved and the remaining 82.46 GW capacity has to be installed in just one-and-a-half years, considering India has set a 40 GW solar target by 2022. The panel said only 20% of the approved solar parks are fully developed and another 10% partially developed, leaving 70% unachieved.

To achieve net zero in 2050, India needs to generate 83% of power from renewables: Study

To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, India needs to generate at least 83% of its electricity from (non-hydropower) renewables sources by 2050, revealed a first-of-its-kind analysis released by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). This would entail increasing non-hydro renewable capacity by 55-fold in the next 30 years from the 160 Terawatt-hour (TWh) (10%) 2019, said the study titled  ‘Peaking and Net Zero for India’s Energy Sector CO2 emissions’. 

The country needs to increase the use of electricity in industrial production from 20% in 2018 to 70% in 2050, according to the study. India is required to reach peak emissions by 2030 if it was to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, “a pace of transition unlike anything the world has seen before,” the study said.

China added 100 GW wind capacity in 2020, more than the whole world: BNEF

Despite the pandemic, China added new wind energy in 2020 that was more than the whole world had set up in 2019. A BNEF study has revealed that China led the world’s biggest ever increase in wind power capacity as developers built almost 100GW worth of wind farms. As the country’s subsidies lapse in the wind energy sector, China’s new offshore wind capacity last year rose nearly 60% compared to 2019. This is more than half of the world’s new wind power capacity, the study stated. China was followed by a boom in the US, where developers built 16.5GW of new wind capacity last year, before the phase-out of a government tax credit scheme. 

States preference for floating solar panels causing irreparable damage to the environment?

With land acquisitions delaying solar projects and India’s target of 100 GW by 2022 looming large, state governments are turning to aquatic bodies to float solar panels, which is causing an irreparable loss of biodiversity, reported Mongabay. According to TERI, the cumulative capacity of floating solar projects in India was 2.7 MW in 2019, while over 1.7 GW capacity projects were reported to be in various stages of development. Scientists warned about the long-term impacts of large-scale floating-solar projects on freshwater ecosystems.

Their major ecological concerns included temperature variation, prolonged stratification, low Dissolved Oxygen (DO), anaerobic decomposition, impact on aquatic life, growth of shade-resistant cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and impact on feeding habitat of migratory as well as resident birds. The Mongabay report pointed out claims of reported benefits of floatovoltaics, including its land neutral characteristics, reduction in water evaporation, and less algal growth, are shallow and not based on long-term scientific studies.