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The shock doctrine: The central government has warned DISCOMs from seven states that continued non-payment of dues to generators could see them dragged to the NCLT for debt recovery | Photo: Business Today

India’s power minister cautions 7 states over mounting discom dues

Union power minister RK Singh has warned state discoms that if they don’t clear their dues of around ₹5,355 crore, they could be dragged by power producers to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the recovery of payments. The minister said power producers are likely to default on their payments due to non-clearance of dues by discoms. Andhra discoms have the largest outstanding dues of ₹2,000 crore, followed by Tamil Nadu ( ₹1,892.54 crore) and Telangana ( ₹1,565.08 crore). Due to large pending payments, many renewable energy power producers may default in making payments to Ireda (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) and other financial institutions. Any default would make them NPAs (non-performing assets). Renewable power producers’ outstanding dues have reached over ₹8,000 crore.

Meanwhile, Singh said the Centre was set to launch a new tariff policy, UDAY 2.0, to resolve the issue of discom losses, without which 24-hour power supply won’t be possible.

Intent is not to terminate solar & wind PPAs but to arrive at mutually agreed tariff: AP Govt

Andhra Pradesh government has told court that state discoms were not trying to change Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and unilaterally reduce tariffs, but they were “exploring options”. The state lawyers said the government has the right to attempt to bring DISCOMs and renewable energy developers to the table to negotiate tariffs for which PPAs have already been signed. Therefore, the state government is competent to appoint the High-Level Negotiation Committee (HLNC) to manage power purchase by DISCOMs in Andhra Pradesh, Mercom reported.

Ten-fold growth needed in India’s rooftop solar installation to reach 40 GW target: MNRE

To achieve 40 GW solar rooftop target India’s cumulative rooftop solar installation will have to grow 10 fold, says the latest report by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The report titled “SARAL: State rooftop solar attractiveness index” for financial year 2018-19, shows progress in some states. Over the past one year, Maharashtra has added more than 450 MW of rooftop solar capacity. Delhi introduced the most detailed net-metering regulations and Karnataka introduced a comprehensive e-portal that acts as a single-window clearance for all applications, the report said. Karnataka topped the SARAL index with a score of 78.8. Other top scorers included Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

Centre’s subsidised benchmark cost for rooftop solar for individual households is 54/W

The Centre issued a clarification on subsidies for grid-connected rooftop solar installations for individual residential households. Rooftop solar installations up to 3 kW will get 40% subsidy. Installations above 3 kW, and up to 10kW, will get a subsidy of 40% for the first 3 kW and 20% for the remaining capacity, and for installations above 10 kW, it is 40% for the first 3kW and 20% for the remaining 7kW. There’s no subsidy beyond 10 kW capacity. The benchmark cost for the rooftop solar system, up to 10 kW, is ₹54 (~$0.75)/W for 2019-20. Considering the cost calculated through tenders is ₹50 (~$70)/W, the subsidy would be calculated on ₹50 (~$70)/W being lower than the benchmark cost, Mercom reported.

Rajasthan’s Solar Policy 2019 aims for 25 GW by 2020-21

The Indian state of Rajasthan has launched a solar policy targeting 25GW of solar capacity in the next 2 years and 50GW over the next six years to meet its renewables purchase obligations (RPOs), Mercom reported. Rajasthan has 3.5 GW of solar capacity as of Q2 2019, with 442 MW of solar projects under development. The state plans to promote decentralized grid-connected projects, rooftop solar, utility-scale solar, solar parks and solar-based electric vehicle charging stations through its policy.

Centre postpones solar auction for the third time, but unveils plan for large state-run solar parks

The Centre had to postpone 1200 MW solar tender for the third time, as developers didn’t show interest despite tariff ceilings were increased ( ₹ 2.65 to ₹2.68 per unit). Tariff ceilings, land acquisition risks and diminishing liquidity in financial markets have been keeping solar investors away, experts say. Two auctions conducted by the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) earlier this month received just two bidders each. According to Bridge to India, number of bidders in the renewable energy market has fallen from over 200 in 2015 to only 31 in 2019.

In a separate development, state-run companies such as NTPC Ltd, NLC India Ltd and Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd are being roped in to construct “ultra mega renewable energy power parks (UMREPP)”. These parks with capacities of 2,000 MW are expected to cost around $2 billion each and are being planned across several solar and wind rich states.

NSEFI expresses reservations on domestic component requirement KUSUM pumps

After holding consultations with industry stakeholders, the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), has expressed concerns about the mandatory domestic content requirement of the KUSUM program. According to the industry coalition, the objectives of KUSUM to facilitate installation of 10,000 MW of decentralized ground-mounted grid-connected renewable power projects, 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps and 1 million grid-connected solar-powered agriculture pumps completely are challenging and progress is likely to be hampered by lack of clarity regarding payment mechanisms for manufacturers and disbursement mechanisms to be followed by DISCOMs.

India, China to cooperate in R&D for developing efficient solar cell

Niti Aaayog has said India and China will cooperate in research and development of new technology for manufacturing solar cell from alternate material, and improve the efficiency of solar cells. This was decided during the sixth India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, held recently. Both countries will form six standing joint working groups to address economic and commercial issues across infrastructure, energy, high-tech, resource conservation, pharmaceuticals and policy coordination.

India’s solar installations fall 14% to 1.5 GW in June quarter

India’s solar installations fell 14% to 1,510 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of 2019, compared to 1,761 MW in the previous quarter. Solar installations were also lower on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis and had stood at 1,665 MW in the corresponding April-June 2018 quarter, the report said. Solar installations in the first half of 2019 were 3.2GW, which was a shocking 35% less compared with 5.1GW of solar capacity installed in the first half of 2018. Mercom attributed the drop in the second quarter of 2019 to a slowdown in rooftop solar installations and partial-commissioning of solar projects. The report expects India to install over 8GW of solar in 2019 and estimated 70 GW solar installations by 2022.

Study says US solar market to slowdown in 2019, but its forecast for next 5 years raised by 7GW

The latest quarterly report by US solar lobby and Wood Mackenzie predicts slowdown in the solar market, as large projects are shifted to 2020. The study forecast 17% growth in 2019 to 12.6 GW, down from the previous forecast of 25% for this year. The report, however, raises the five-year growth forecast by 6.7GW citing strong solar commitment from utilities. Over 20% of the demand from 2019 to 2024 is expected to come from corporations, who have pledged to shift to renewables to power their operations, Reuters reported. But this lukewarm trend in the sector hasn’t stopped the UN from projecting a robust outlook for RE. The latest UN study says global investments in renewable energy sector will reach $2.6 trillion by 2020, more than triple the amount compared to the previous decade.