Soon on the roof: Rooftop solar’s poor performance seems to have spurred the Centre into announcing upgraded targets – no less than 38GW by 2022 | Photo: BridgeRoof

India announces rooftop norms, incentivises DISCOMs to install 18 GW

India released norms for the second phase of its grid-connected rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) programme, involving 22 GW rooftop solar PV projects. The Centre is targeting to install 38 GW of rooftop solar by 2022, of which 4 GW will be in the residential sector and 34 GW under other sectors such as government, commercial, industrial, and educational.  The programme also aims to promote domestic manufacturing of solar cells and modules. Under the plan, DISCOMS will implement the 4GW residential programme with Central Financial Assistance (CFA). One of the parameters for allocating the capacity will be the demand raised by the DISCOM and the capacity required for the fulfilment of solar renewable purchase obligations (RPO) of the state. 

Centre may invoke electricity act to insure Andhra pays dues to solar developers

The Centre is not taking any chances. It may invoke the Electricity Act to ensure the Andhra Pradesh government doesn’t default on payments to solar power developers in its ongoing war over lowering of tariffs. Although it has requested the state government to not cancel previous Power Purchase Agreements, it also plans to take legal recourse under the Electricity Act of 2003, which states that power offtake can only be curtailed for safety reasons. The Centre has directed Power System Operation Corp. Ltd (Posoco), which oversees India’s electricity load management functions, to see if Andhra Pradesh is backing down on electricity procurement because of grid safety, and has asked it to prepare a report on this.

Centre to reduce states’ funds for missing UDAY targets

The draft of phase two of UDAY power sector reforms have proposed to cut state funds if their discoms fail to maintain performance benchmarks. Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) was launched to rescue debt-laden power distribution companies. Power minister RK Singh said the second phase will add features like system strengthening, expansion of access, loss reduction and reforms in one package. The release of funds will be aimed at exceeding reform targets. The funds would be cut if discoms fail to cut losses, the minister said.

New solar norms for farming sector to boost domestic manufacturing 

India will allow only manufacturers of solar water pumps or solar modules to bid for KUSUM tenders in the farming sector, to assure quality and post-installation services. The KUSUM programme is aimed at helping the farmers install solar pumps and grid-connected solar power projects. The government expanded the selection criteria to include enough vendors to meet the demand. The Centre has also allocated capacities to various states in line with the demand received and KUSUM target to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022 with the central government support of ~$4.99 billion. 

Meanwhile, the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has announced a tender for 175,000 off-grid solar water pumping systems as part of decentralized Solar PV Application Programme. The bidders will be allotted 90-120 days for installing the pumps, which have to be manufactured in India.

Environment ministry relaxes lease rent on wind power projects

In a relief to wind power producers, the Indian environment ministry has decided to relax the lease rent charged mandatorily from wind power companies. The move is aimed at boosting investments in the wind sector and provide cheap and clean power. In addition to mandatory charges, the wind power companies had to pay an additional lease rent of Rs30,000 per MW, which was not the case with solar projects. India has pledged in Paris in 2015 to receive 40% of power from renewable resources by 2030. 

Govt declares ocean energy as green power

India has classified the resource of ocean energy as renewable. Now, energy produced using tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion shall be considered as renewable and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO), an official statement said. According to MNRE, the total identified potential of tidal energy is about 12,455 MW. India’s wave energy potential along the country’s coast is estimated to be about 40,000 MW. This energy is, however, less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India subject to suitable technological evolution.

ADB pledges $12 bn support for flagship Indian RE schemes

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to lend mainly India’s renewable energy programmes $12 billion in the next three years (until 2022). ADB chief Takehiko Nakao said  the bank expects India’s growth in 2019 at 7% and in 2020 at 7.2%, despite downside risks in the global economy. ADB plans to back India’s renewable energy, solar-pump irrigation, electric vehicle and battery schemes.  India, the biggest borrower of ADB funds, is the bank’s founding member since 1966.

China: Inspectors to assure regions maximize renewable energy usage

To boost renewables in the country, China’s parliament plans to send inspection teams to provinces to monitor if they are prioritising renewable energy. Chinese regulators want to end subsidies to renewable energy plants running a debt of over $14 billion. Inspectors will assure the states are maximising power purchases from local renewable power providers. Regions are accused of wasting massive amounts of potential renewable energy, either by failing to build enough grid capacity to carry the power or choosing power from coal or natural gas. China’s total renewable power (including hydro and biomass) touched 728 GW in 2018, up 12% on the year and amounting to 38% of total installed generation capacity.

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