Still messy: The Centre-Andhra Pradesh tiff drags on, with the state now claiming it is being punished for having the highest share of variable renewables | Photo: GreenUbuntu

Centre should pay RE producers, not punish Andhra for having highest RE share, says minister

As power distribution companies (discoms) are being dragged to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) over payment dues, the Andhra Pradesh government has written to Centre saying it is being punished for being the first state in the country to have the highest share of variable renewable energy at 25%. Compared to other states, which entered into renewable energy agreements later, Andhra Pradesh was paying more for renewable energy integration, it said, adding that it is in the middle of a severe financial crisis because of ‘abnormal integration’ of renewable energy into the grid. The government said while it was paying for the welfare of different sections of the state, the Centre should pay for its wind and solar energy promotion policies.

CRISIL says India to miss RE target by huge 42%, Centre issues rebuttal, says will exceed target

Rating agency CRISIL said India may miss its 175 GW by 2022 renewable energy target by a massive 42%. At the recently held climate action summit in New York, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared to more than double the RE target to 450GW, but CRISIL cited regulatory challenges and policy flip-flops, amid record-low renewable power tariffs, as reasons for its excessively low assessment. The renewable energy industry is currently witnessing a slowdown for over a fiscal now. The government issued a rebuttal saying the CRISIL report doesn’t take into account initiatives taken by India to facilitate RE.

The government said by September 2019, India had installed over 82GW of renewable energy capacity with over 31GW of capacity under various stages of installation. By early 2021, India would have installed more than 113GW of RE capacity, which is around 65% of the target, the Centre said. The government said that in addition, around 39GW of RE capacity is under various stages of bidding, which would be installed by September 2021, achieving over 87% of the target. “With only 23,000 MW of renewable power capacity left to bid, India is confident that the target of installing 1,75,000 MW of renewable power capacity will not only be met, but exceeded,” the government statement said.

Solar tenders drop to half over a month, auctions witness rise

Solar tender announcements plummeted to half at 3GW in September, from 6.5GW in August. However, solar auctions spiked in September (930MW) compared to August (695MW). Annually, the capacity tendered in September 2019 was nearly 119% higher compared to September 2018, which witnessed tender announcements of ~1.4 GW. Auction activity was higher by over 70% compared to the same month last year, Mercom reported.

Meanwhile, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation extended its bid submission deadline for its 2GW solar tender. The minimum tariff payable to the project developer has been revised to ₹2.65 ($0.037)/kWh from the earlier ₹2.95 ($0.041)/kWh. Bidders are expected to quote a fixed levelized tariff for 25 years.

Centre to set up solar-wind projects on “wasteland” along India-Pak border 

To avoid land acquisition issues and diversion of agricultural land to set up solar and wind energy farms, India has decided to set up solar and wind projects along the international border it shares with Pakistan in the state of Gujarat and Rajasthan. A 30-km long and 20-km wide stretch of land has been identified along the border in Kutch district of Gujarat, and along the border in Bikaner, Barmer and Jaisalmer districts of Rajasthan. The idea of using “wasteland” comes at a time when India’s RE sector is going through a crisis, as banks are shying away from funding projects. With developers ready to sell power at rock-bottom tariffs, banks consider the solar and wind projects “unviable”. The issues of non-allocation of land-to-wind power projects, as well as transmission- and connectivity-related challenges are also causing a slowdown in the RE sector.

Corporate solar power funding jumps 34% to $9 billion in 2019

According to Mercom, global business funding in the solar sector rose 34% to $9 billion in the first nine months of 2019. In September, the funding more than doubled to $3 billion from $1.3 billion in the same quarter last year. According to the report, solar developers globally continue to do well with positive demand outlook: over $100 million investment was made in companies focused on technology and manufacturing, which according to experts is refreshing.

The sector witnessed 13% rise to $1 billion in global venture capital funding in the first nine months of 2019. Global VC funding in the third quarter (July-September) totalled $208 million.

Punjab draft policy targets 3 GW of solar capacity by 2030

The state of Punjab has set a target of achieving 21% of its energy requirements through renewable energy by 2030. The draft renewable energy policy aims to reach a solar target of 3GW by 2030, which will include utility-scale, canal-top, rooftop, floating, and hybrid solar projects. The draft policy also includes 1,500 MW, biomass, biomass and bagasse co-generation, and small hydro.

The state vows to incentivise solar manufacturing such as cell, wafer, modules, and balance of system (BoS), by exempting state goods and service tax (SGST), electricity duty, stamp duty, and property tax. The policy has also announced fiscal incentives for small hydel and canal-top solar projects. Mercom pointed out that incentives can create world trade issues since recently India won a WTO trade ruling against several states in the US for providing subsidies to domestic solar companies.

Poland plans to triple solar energy capacity this year

Under criticism for rising air pollution and hit by growing pressure from the European Union to cut emissions, coal-friendly incumbent Polish government announced plans to triple its solar energy capacity in 2019 to 1.5GW: which is just over 3% of Poland’s current total installed power capacity of around 45 GW. Reuters reported that in June, Poland led eastern EU states in blocking a push by France and others to commit the bloc to net zero emissions by mid-century. The Polish energy minister recently put the cost of reaching a net zero emissions economy in Poland at 700-900 billion euros.

Renewable electricity exceeds fossil fuels in UK for the first time since industrial revolution 

The UK’s wind and solar farms and biomass plants provided more electricity to their consumers than fossil fuel sources for the first time in the last quarter. In September, the share of renewables energy in the UK rose to 40%. New offshore windfarms built in 2019 helped push renewables past fossil fuels, which made up 39% of UK electricity. The latest analysis by Carbon Brief shows that coal-fired power was less than 1% of all electricity generated.

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