Sweetening the deal: A massive production-linked incentive scheme is the latest step taken by India’s government to kick start solar manufacturing in the country | Photo: PV Magazine USA

Cabinet approves ₹4,500 cr solar manufacturing incentive

Cabinet has approved 4,500 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to help domestic manufacturing of high efficiency solar PV modules. The manufacturers will be selected through a transparent competitive bidding process. The subsidy will be offered for 5 years post commissioning of solar PV manufacturing plants, on sales of high efficiency solar PV modules, government statement said. 

The government said the scheme is aimed at an additional 10,000 MW capacity of integrated solar PV manufacturing plants. This subsidy will see a direct investment of around 17,200 crore in solar PV manufacturing projects and demand of 17,500 crore over five years for “Balance of Materials”, the statement said. Centre also said it is expected to generate 30,000 jobs and indirect employment for about 1,20,000 persons.

Global RE energy capacity was up 50% in 2020 from 2019: Study

A new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency revealed that globally, a record 260 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity was added worldwide in 2020, up 50% from 2019. The agency said solar and wind accounted for 91% of new renewables and over 80% of all new electricity capacity added in 2020 was renewable. 

As RE costs fall like never before, the rise in new capacity is partly because of the decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey, according to the study. Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year. The share of RE in generation globally is 30%, the agency said. 

Delhi gets India’s first grid-connected community storage facility

India’s first grid-connected community energy storage system was installed at Rani Bagh in New Delhi. The 150 kW/528 kWh battery energy storage system installed by DISCOM Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited will support the utility in managing the peak load, voltage regulation, power factor improvement, frequency regulation, and deviation settlement mechanism at the substation level. The storage facility will also provide a power backup of 150 kW for four hours in case of a grid outage.

If there’s an outage of distribution transformers or supply failure, the battery will connect to the privileged bus and provide 150 kW for four hours to critical services such as hospitals, commercial complexes and the Delhi Jal Board. The system will charge during the off-peak hours and discharge the power during peak conditions.

India initiates anti-dumping probe on Chinese solar component

India initiated an anti-dumping investigation on ‘fluoro backsheet’ imported from China. Fluoro backsheet is a polymer component used in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic modules and protects against dirt, dust, and moisture. According to Indian module manufacturer RenewSys, the Chinese fluoro backsheet is identical to what is manufactured in India.

 The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) started the probe after RenewSys approached it to impose anti-dumping duty on importing fluoro backsheet from China. Domestic manufacturers claim Chinese equipment manufacturers keep lowering their rates, which is bleeding Indian company’s dry. Experts also pointed out that ultimately it’s the consumers who have to pay high prices. 

Parliamentary panel says solar power targets of public sector units too low

A parliamentary panel has asked the government to increase the target for the scheme to set up grid-connected solar projects by central public sector undertakings (CPSUs). The CPSU projects use domestically manufactured solar cells and modules. But, so far, very few CPSUs have participated in the scheme, the panel said, adding that the government should take proactive steps and encourage them to participate in the scheme. 

Under Phase-I of the scheme of 1,000 MW, only nine CPSUs participated, including NTPC and BHEL, while under the Phase-II of scheme of 12,000 MW, seven CPSUs have participated so far.

The panel also said that the country’s rooftop solar target of 40GW by 2022 is highly unlikely to be met. It pointed out that the government could never cross over 500 MW installed solar rooftop capacity in any year since 2015, even as an exaggerated target of 17,000 MW has been set to be achieved in 2022-23. The panel pointed out that the MNRE could only install 1,948 MW of solar power rooftop in more than five years.

Biden marks East Coast – from New York to New Jersey – as wind energy zone 

US President Joe Biden is set to “jump-start” the off-shore wind power along the East Coast, NYT reported. The nationwide plan will generate wind energy enough to power 10 million homes. The Biden administration marked an area between Long Island and New Jersey as a priority offshore wind zone. It targets installing 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide by 2030. 

The Biden government also plans to offer $3 billion in federal loan guarantees for offshore wind projects and upgrade the nation’s ports to support wind construction and meet the targets. The White House claimed the wind turbines would avoid 78 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The move is part of an approximately $3 trillion economic recovery plan.

Saudi Arabia announces ambitious RE capacity target: 50% by 2030

With less than 1% of the country’s energy coming from renewables now, Saudi Arabia plans to generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030. The oil producing nation will also plant 10 billion trees in the coming decades, its crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced.

Experts said such a bold target will need massive investments in solar technologies, considering renewables made up only 0.02% of Saudi Arabia’s final energy consumption in 2017, according to the IEA. Experts pointed out that the government had “a lot of work to do” to achieve its 50% goal, particularly by investing in energy storage.

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