Upward bound? The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is mulling hiking the basic Customs duty on Chinese solar imports to 20% | Photo: Alibaba

India to impose higher 20% duty on Chinese solar equipment from Aug 1?

India may impose a higher 20% basic Customs duty on Chinese solar imports as soon as the tenure of the current 15% safeguard duty lapses on July 29. The move to impose 20% duty will make solar cells, modules and inverters imported from China expensive. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning to make the proposal to the ministry of commerce and industry.

The government has assured that the fresh tariffs are not applicable to the already bid-out projects and quoted electricity tariffs. The government is collating details along with the tentative equipment import date. The safeguard duty on solar equipment from China and Malaysia was imposed on July 30, 2018. 

India imported $2.16 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels, and modules in 2018-19. The massive import bill had led the NDA government in its previous term to impose a safeguard duty. Modules account for nearly 60% of a solar power project’s total cost.

Renewable energy projects currently account for over a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity.

SECI clears $12.5 million in dues to solar and wind energy companies 

Addressing the issue of payment delays, state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India last month settled ₹94 crore ($12.5 million) worth of bills for solar and wind power it purchased from the developers. The central agency also paid ₹10.42 crore in GST claims to companies. 

In March 2020, MNRE had warned SECI and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) that GST and Safeguard Duty compensation to solar project developers should be paid within two months, else they will have to pay a surcharge. They also have the option of paying  on an annual basis spread throughout the power-purchase agreement (PPA) tenure.

SECI’s 2 GW solar PV project oversubscribed by 2.35 GW

Soon after lifting of three-month-long COVID-19 restrictions and the government’s decision to remove ceiling tariffs for solar and wind projects, the 2 GW tender by state-backed Solar Energy Corporation of India has been oversubscribed by 2.35 GW. The interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected solar PV project received overwhelming bids totalling 4,350 MW solar capacity from 12 project developers. The bidders included ReNew Power, Tata Power, Azure Power, NTPC, NLC, SolarPack, and ENEL.

The minimum capacity utilisation factor (CUF) condition for the tender was 17% with a commissioning timeline of 18 months. Government may hold the reverse auction for this tender next week.  

Renewable Energy Certificate sales drop by 55% since 2019  

According to official data, Renewables Energy Certificate (REC) sales dropped 55% in May 2020 to 3.33 lakh units, compared to May 2019, when the sales touched 7.5 lakh units.

REC is a market-based instrument, one REC is created when one megawatt hour of electricity is generated from a renewable energy source. In May 2020, a total of 2.78 lakh RECs were traded on the India Energy Exchange (IEX), compared to 5.5 lakh in May 2019.

Power Exchange of India (PXIL) recorded sales of 0.55 lakh RECs in 2020 as against around 2 lakh last year. 

French firm EDF to set up 2 GW of solar, wind capacity by 2022 in India 

French energy company EDF (Electricite de France), headquartered in London, is planning to invest in 2 GW of solar and wind power capacity by 2022 in India. The company is also looking to make acquisitions in the country’s hydropower. EDF has set up an ambitious target to double its installed capacity of renewables to 50 GW by 2030, globally . 

The company is also setting up one of India’s largest smart metering infrastructures, which involves installing 5 million smart meters across the country. 

EDF is also currently negotiating the contract of building India’s largest nuclear power project of six atomic power reactors totalling 10 GW, which they took over after previous contractor Avera declared bankruptcy.

EU to exceed target of achieving third of energy from RE sources by 2030  

COVID-19 crisis will not be able to dent the European Union’s target of achieving a third of its energy from renewables by 2030. In fact, as per EU countries’ latest energy policies, the region will beat its target by one percentage point achieving 33% share of RE by 2030. The region has witnessed a fall in RE investments because of COVID-19 lockdown.

Overall, renewable energy sources including wind, solar, hydropower and bioenergy made up just under 19% of final EU energy consumption in 2018, Reuters reported. But the commission plans to inject billions of euros in clean energy projects from its recovery fund of 750 billion euros. 

The International Energy Agency has also predicted a fall in RE investments for the first time in 20 years because of coronavirus lockdowns. IEA says the sector will bounce back if countries offer support.

Around 9 GW solar capacity added in Q1 between China, US and India

According to a Wood Mackenzie report, China, US and India were the top solar power installers in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. China installed a massive 4 GW of solar capacity in the first quarter this year followed by the US where 3.6 GW of new solar capacity was installed during the same period. India ranked third with 1.1 GW of new solar capacity in Q1 2020.  The report said for the US, it was the largest ever Q1 solar power installation, marking 42% rise year-over-year.  

For India, the installation of 1.1 GW marked a huge 43% decline from 1.89 GW of solar power the country added during the first quarter of 2019. In fact, the Q1 2020 figure is the lowest since Q4 2016. China also recorded a fall from 5.2 GW in Q1 2019 to 4 GW in Q1 2020.

Air pollution, aerosols can lower solar power generation by over 50% : Study 

A new study shows that solar panels power generation can fall by 50% in parts of the world with substantial air pollution and low rainfall, particularly if the panels are not cleaned. 

The researchers combine solar photovoltaic (PV) performance modelling with long-term data on surface irradiance, aerosol deposition and rainfall rates to provide a global picture of how air pollution and dust affect PV generation. 

The study said without cleaning PV generation in heavily polluted and desert regions is reduced by over 50% by PM, with soiling accounting for more than two-thirds of the total reduction.

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