Long sited: A new tool shines light on the risks of improper siting of large renewable projects, which could encroach on agricultural and forest land | Photo: Thethirdpole.net

New tool helps govts to identify sites for RE projects without conflict

According to a study, a new tool, SiteRight, can help select locations for solar and wind projects that can bring India closer to its green energy goals while avoiding adverse impacts on the environment and people. The study says if the projects are not at the “right site”, the country stands to lose 6,700–11,900 sq.km of forest land and 24,100–55,700 sq.km of agricultural land. SiteRight was created by organisations including Vasudha Foundation and Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) to help decision-makers make better site choices.

The tool, which is fully developed for two states, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, will soon include other states rich in renewable energy potential. SiteRight not only identifies socio-environmental risks to sites identified for renewable energy projects, but can also be used to find high solar and wind energy potential sites with lower impact.

Tribunal rules that states can’t reduce margins set by CERC

State regulators have no right to reduce the trading margins set by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), ruled the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL). The tribunal upheld the Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) plea regarding the trading margin of power. The Tribunal refused to reduce the margin from ₹0.07 (~$0.0009)/kWh to ₹0.02 (~$0.0003)/kWh as approved by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) and the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) in their earlier orders.

Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan DISCOMs were the worst paymasters: Official data 

According to official data, Tamil Nadu DISCOMs owed the highest to developers with dues at ₹139.52 billion (~$1.87 billion), followed closely by Rajasthan with an overdue amount of ₹107.90 billion (~$1.45 billion). Distribution companies (DISCOMs) owed ₹124.2 billion (~$1.66 billion) to renewable energy generators across 193 pending invoices by May 2021. 

Official data also revealed that the DISCOMs owed most to Tata Power Company, Adani Green Energy, and NLC India with ₹25.55 billion (~$342.93 million), ₹16.34 billion (~$219.32 million), and ₹9.93 billion (~$133.28 million), respectively. According to new norms, the DISCOMs will have to pay a late payment surcharge, which will be applicable for power-purchase agreements in which the tariffs have been determined through competitive bidding. A DISCOM with a late payment surcharge outstanding against a bill after the expiry of seven months from the due date will be debarred from procuring power from a power exchange or grant of short-term open access until the bill is paid.

Gujarat to witness three-fold increase in RE capacity by 2025: State projections

Gujarat’s renewable power generation capacity is expected to jump to 38,466 MW by 2025 and 61,466 MW by 2030, according to the state government’s projections. The projects include electricity generation as well as equipment manufacturing.

According to government data, installed capacity to generate power from renewable energy sources is expected to surge to over 38,000MW by 2025 and over 61,000MW by 2030, ET reported. The estimates are based on project plans that have already been finalised. 

Despite strong growth, electricity demand outpacing RE capacity additions

According to energy giant BP’s annual revie, disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic saw global energy demand to drop by 4.5% and crude oil demand to fall by 9.7% in 2020. The “biggest drop ever in crude demand” would have to happen every year for 30 years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Global wind and solar power capacity however grew in 2020 by a record 238GW on the back of strong activity in China. The growth in RE capacity, however, will only be enough to cover half the electricity demand increase in 2021 and 2022, projects the International Energy Agency.