Getting costlier? Costs of large scale solar projects have risen 5% in the first quarter of 2021 as solar modules became more expensive for the fourth quarter in a row | Photo: Mercom India

COVID19 impact: Cost of solar projects rose 5% in Q1 this year compared to 2020

The average cost of large-scale solar projects increased by 5% at nearly 3.7 crore per megawatt (MW) in first quarter of 2021, compared to the 3.5 crore per megawatt same time last year because of the rising costs of solar modules and hike in prices of raw material during pandemic, Mercom reported. The study added that large-scale solar project costs rose by 4% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). The average cost per MW for rooftop solar installations was around ₹38 million (~$524.445)/MW, up 3% from the same period last year when costs stood at ₹36.9 million (~$509,242)/MW.

According to the report, solar module prices have risen for four quarters in a row for the first time in five years because of the impact of COVID-19. Module prices are expected to remain high this year because of supply shortages. 

Solar investments dip 30% in Q1, 2021 compared to last quarter of 2020: Study

The second wave of COVID 19 hit solar sector investments, which declined by 30% and stood at $1.04 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, compared to $1.49 billion in Q4 2020, Mercom reported. 

The RE consultancy Bridge to India cut the projections of India’s new solar power capacity addition to half for the second quarter of 2021 from 2.3 GW to 1.3 GW. However, India added 2.1 GW of grid-connected solar power generation capacity in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021. This rapid increase happened when the restrictions were lifted following the drop in the first wave of the pandemic. 

The total installed capacity reached 44.2 GW by March 31, 2021, the report stated. Tenders rose 40% during the same quarter compared to the last quarter of 2020. Auctions rose by 163% at 8.5 GW in Q1, 2021. Bridge to India reported that the reluctance of discoms to sign power-purchase agreements with developers was a major concern.

Solar glass maker Borosil’s revenue rise over 85% despite COVID19, domestic manufacturers say monopoly is killing their business

India’s sole solar glass manufacturer Borosil Renewables’ annual revenue in 2020-21 fiscal grew over 85% to Rs502.3 crore. Of this, nearly 22% was earned from exports. Despite COVID-19, Borosil’s profits were mainly driven by sales during the last quarter Q4 of FY 2021. Experts attributed this growth to a global crunch in glass supply caused by a spike in demand for solar glass in the local Chinese market. Around 95% of global solar glass is supplied by China. Borosil realised high prices for their glass at export rates both for domestic as well as exports markets. 

This has left the small domestic module manufacturers and buyers at the mercy of the company’s monopoly, which they said has been strengthened by the imposition of anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty on glass imports from Malaysia at the request of Borosil. Small manufacturers alleged this created an imbalance in the Indian solar market. 

Uttar Pradesh cancels 184 MW of solar projects bids, developers seek centre’s help

Solar companies have sought centre’s intervention to secure their contracts after Uttar Pradesh canceled them last week becoming the latest state government to cancel winning bids for 184-Mw discovered through auctions in February 2020. Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) alleged that the bids became time barred and infructuous because companies didn’t take any action after their bids were extended till March 2021. The companies said after the auction the UPNEDA did not release letters of Intent (LOIs) despite regular reminders, instead the agency extended the timeline of Bid Period Validity on various occasions. 

India set to generate 2.95 billion tonnes of solar waste by 2047: Study 

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi estimated that if India deploys 347.5 GW of solar panels by 2030, around 2.95 billion tonnes of solar equipment could enter India’s electronic-waste stream by 2047. The scientists said the solar equipment waste would include critical metals worth around $645 trillion, 70% of which could be recovered. 

Researchers found that the $645 trillion figure would include 44% gold, 26% aluminum, 16% copper, and 10% silver. Metals including gallium, magnesium, indium, and tellurium would also contribute to the estimated value of the anticipated solar waste mountain, PV Magazine reported. 

Safeguard duty to end in July, developers keep fingers crossed for duty-free window

The solar safeguard duty imposed on imports to protect domestic manufacturers will end in July. Project developers are waiting to make the most of the rare duty-free period that will last from August 2021 to March 2022 to ramp up their module procurement. From April 2022, Casic Customs Duty (BCD) will be implemented. But there’s uncertainty in the sector over whether the safeguard duty will be extended until the BCD starts, or there will be a duty-free window after July.

Meanwhile, the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity  (APTEL) ordered the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) to compensate Fortum Solar for the additional expenses the developer incurred due to the imposition of safeguard duty which was a ‘Change in Law’ event. The DISCOM will have to decide within two months if it would pay the company by allowing a proportionate hike in the tariffs. 

BP invests $220m in US solar projects across 12 states

In one of the most ambitious plans to expand its renewables portfolio, oil major BP is investing $220 million in US solar projects across 12 states. The projects will amount to 9 GW worth of energy, which the oil company says will be enough to power about 1.7 million homes. Earlier, BP had announced it will increase its renewables capacity to 20 GW by 2025 and 50 GW by 2030. 

The Hill reported that BP bought the new projects that it plans to build from company 7X Energy. The Guardian reported that the projects will be developed in the US, which is one of the world’s fastest growing solar energy markets and is expected to double by 2025 and quadruple by 2030.

Biden administration unveils California offshore wind plan

The US government unveiled plans to open more than 250,000 acres off the California coast to wind power development. The plan included floating 380 windmills across a nearly 400 sq-mile (1,035 sq km). The state announced an agreement with the US government that would open federal waters off California’s central and northern coasts to new wind energy farms. It will be America’s west coast first commercial offshore wind farm, which is expected to power 1.6m homes, the Guardian reported.

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