Floating power: India's announcement of the world's cheapest floating solar power plant follows a 45% drop in costs in the last two years | Photo: Mercom

India achieves lowest cost of floating solar power in the world

India has achieved the world’s lowest cost of ₹35 per watt in the country’s first large-scale FSPV plant of 70 megawatt capacity. The developers quoted as low as ₹35 per watt to set up a floating solar project, indicating a sharp decline in the investment cost for floating solar photovoltaic (FSPV). The Energy and Resources Institute analysis expects the cost to go down further. The study says the investment cost had decreased in the past two years, with a significant drop of 45% in cost seen since 2018. Major reasons for lower bids was the fall in the cost of floaters because of improvement in manufacturing process, reduction in the material cost, reduction in thickness of floaters, and aggressive biddings, ERI said, adding that it was important to check whether this is not impacting the overall quality of the projects. 

Scientists say degradation in the quality of FSPV projects has a higher potential to impact local biodiversity compared to ground-mounted solar PV. Currently, India has over 1,700 MW worth of FSPV projects in the pipeline.

Coronavirus outbreak in China may hit domestic solar manufacturing in India: Icra

The spread of coronavirus in China is threatening to disrupt the supply of key components required to manufacture solar modules, posing concern for India’s domestic solar developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The solar energy sector is already facing several headwinds because of the long delays by state distribution utilities in making payments, ratings agency Icra said. Experts say for domestic manufacturers, sales volumes are likely to be impacted in the last quarter of FY 2020 and in the near term, given this uncertainty. They expect a spike in prices of solar PV modules in the near term from the current level ranging between 20-21 cents/watt that might increase expected bid tariffs. Experts say alternate supply chains other than China in the long run would be critical for domestic IPPs/OEMs. Meanwhile, India’s power minister said the industry is under no compulsion to import solar cells, modules and other equipment from China. They are free to meet their requirements either from the domestic market or alternative sources.

Andhra Pradesh releases 2,984 cr to clear power dues of renewable firms and discoms

The Andhra Pradesh government paid ₹2,984 crore clearing the long pending dues of solar and wind power generators, central generating stations (CGS) and state generating stations up to 2019. Of the total, ₹2,199 crore will go to CGS and SGS, and the rest will go to solar and wind power companies. The money was released to cover 25% losses of discoms between the year 2017 and 2019. The state cleared dues after Andhra Pradesh high court’s order even as it is in dispute with the firms over the issue of renegotiation of power purchase agreement . The PPA  issue has been referred to the AP electricity regulatory commission.

By 2050 renewable energy sector will employ 42 million people: IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency has estimated that the renewable energy sector can employ 42 million people globally by 2050. In 2017, 12 million people were working in the sector. The study says the total number of energy jobs could touch 100 million by 2050. The report said the solar energy sector has grown the fastest, which currently employs 3.6 million people worldwide. Asia could account for 64% of jobs in renewables by 2050, the Americas 15%, and Europe 10%, the report stated. In terms of total number of energy jobs, Asia could have over 60% by 2050, the Americas could amount for 13%, and Europe 12%, IRENA said.

Centre to appoint board to help renewable energy investors to cut risks

India plans to set up boards to help the renewable energy sector bring investments. The proposed Renewable Energy Promotion and Facilitation Board  will help developers minimise investment risks over adverse policies of state governments. The central board will be a link between renewable energy developers and state governments and authorities to ensure smooth implementation of renewable energy projects in the country. The board will also coordinate with various financial institutions to enhance access to easy finance, the government said. ET reported that the board will meet once in two weeks, but developers and investors could meet the chief of board every Wednesday. 

Renewable energy investors face difficulties in land procurement and transmission connectivity, and erratic policy changes. Industry experts said payment delays by state distribution companies, curtailment of projects and  state governments threatening to renegotiate power purchase agreements (PPAs) have added to the issues.

India to have renewable energy standardisation cell to ensure high quality

India is set to create a standardisation cell to ensure quality standards in the renewable energy sector. The proposed Renewable Energy Standardisation Cell (RESC) will follow international standards such as International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to apply in Indian climatic conditions. The RESC standardisation cell will interact with subject specialists from research and development institutions, test labs, industries, and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to seek inputs for developing and updating Indian standards in the relevant areas, Mercom reported. The government’s move is part of its National Lab Policy that aims to create a robust system for testing, standardisation, and certification for the renewable sector. Centre said to reach the target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, it was imperative to develop and update the standards for various renewable energy components and set up performance testing and certification facilities to ensure their quality.

Rooftop solar growth remains too slow to meet 2022 target

India’s rooftop solar installation growth is too slow to meet the government’s ambitious target of 40 GW of rooftop capacity by 2022, a Bridge to India report said. The country installed a rooftop capacity of only 1,896 MW in 2019, taking the total rooftop capacity to 5.5 GW. Experts say discoms are reluctant to support installation and integration of rooftop solar energy because of potential revenue loss for each unit of power generated. ET quoted experts saying Maharashtra witnessed the fastest growth in rooftop capacity. Experts point out that developers are moving towards open access where projects are located elsewhere rather than on the roofs of their customers’ premises, because scaling is easier via the open access route. Bridge To India said India added 380 MW in 2019. In 2020, 1 GW of open access projects are expected to come.

Andhra Pradesh to install and supply 10 GW of free solar power to farmers

The Andhra Pradesh government has said it will develop 10 GW of solar power projects as a permanent solution to supply free power to farmers, Mercom reported, adding that the government incurs more than ₹100 billion (~$1.39 billion) to meet the agriculture subsidy, lift irrigation power charges, and aquaculture subsidy annually. To meet the subsidies sustainably, the government felt that there is a need for evolving an alternative mechanism to provide quality power and a nine-hour daytime free power supply to farmers. For this purpose the state decided to form Andhra Pradesh Green Energy Corporation Limited (APGECL) for the installation of 10 GW of solar projects. Andhra Pradesh accounts for 3.4 GW of large-scale solar projects in operations, and approximately 1.6 GW of projects are under the development pipeline as of December 2019.