Off target: A parliamentary panel has flagged the missing of annual targets for RE installations since and expressed concern over India’s ability to meet its 175GW target by 2022 | Photo:

Parliament panel concerned about govt missing renewables targets

A Parliament panel report has raised concerns about India’s ability to meet the renewable target of 175GW by 2022, as India has been missing annual targets since 2016. The panel pointed out that government has underutilised renewable energy budgets on an average by over 10%. The panel report said only 89.88%, 92.37%, and 86.97% of the overall allotted budgets in the past three years have been used and the ministry has given the same reasons for the shortfall each time. The panel wasn’t convinced India would meet solar target of 100GW by 2022, saying that only 31GW of solar projects were commissioned by September 2019, and to achieve the rest would be a “huge task”. The panel also said the GST on solar products and services was inconsistent between 5% to 9%, which would negatively impact the growth of the sector. Rooftop subsidies were not reaching the consumers swiftly, the panel pointed out. 

Mercom reported that solar installations in India have crossed the 35 GW mark: nearly 31 GW of large-scale solar projects were in operation as of November 2019, while 4.1 GW of rooftop solar installations were recorded as of September 2019.

Minister says India to invest Rs4 lakh crore to meet 175 GW renewable target by 2022

In the next three years, India expects to invest over $60 billion (Rs4 lakh crore) to meet the country’s 175 gigawatt (GW) renewable energy target, Power minister RK Singh told Parliament, adding that a cumulative renewable energy capacity of 83.38 GW has already been installed in the country up to October 2019. He said non-banking, government financing body, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), will raise funds from internal and external sources such as bilateral and multilateral agencies, raising masala bonds from international and domestic market, and by borrowing from banks or financial institutions. The government has also allowed 100% foreign direct investment in the sector.

Meanwhile, IREDA is planning to set up a $100 million (about Rs700 crore) fund for renewable energy projects, around $20 million is being considered for the green window, with plans of leveraging $80 million from other agencies to establish a facility of $100 million.

Rajasthan launches new solar cess between 2 lakh to 5 lakh per MW

Is the sun-rich state of Rajasthan going the Andhra Pradesh way as it introduces a solar cess midway that is likely to hike project costs “exponentially”? Rajasthan has decided to levy cess on all solar energy projects to the tune of ₹2 lakh to ₹5 lakh per megawatt, annually. The state has also proposed to hike the registration fee five-fold. The cess called Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF), is ironically imposed on solar projects for the promotion of solar energy in the state. Any solar power project that will sell power within the state, will have to pay a cess of ₹2.5 lakh per MW per year. A similar amount would apply to captive solar power units. For plants selling outside the state, the cess is ₹5 lakh per MW per year. Industry players said if one has to pay such a high cess every year, the state should also levy a tariff hike every year. The move is likely to increase project costs in the state, which enjoys low rates due to high solar irradiation.

Maharashtra discom says RPO targets “unachievable” 

Maharashtra’s discom has asked the state power regulator to reduce the renewable purchase obligations (RPO) target of 13.5% by 2025, calling it “stiff” and “unachievable” at the current rate of state solar capacity. Maharashtra needs a total solar capacity of 12,500 MW to achieve the target, while its current solar capacity stands at 4,200 MW. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited  (MSEDCL) has suggested revisions to the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission’s RPO from 2020 to 2025: the policy draft will start at 4.5%, going up to 13.5% over the next five years. Discoms will be subjected to a reduction in the annual revenue requirement at a rate of ₹0.10 (~$0.0014)/kWh for the shortfall in the total renewable power procurement target for each year, Mercom reported.

Chhattisgarh releases tariff norms for renewable projects

As Chhattisgarh decides to dump new coal plants, the state power regulator recently released norms for renewable tariffs for the state. The Chhattisgarh State Electricity Regulatory Commission would determine generic tariffs only for solar PV projects ranging upto 5 MW in capacity. It set a normative capital cost of projects at ₹4.5 crore (~$633,530)/MW and ₹4 crore (~$563,138)/MW, respectively. Operation and maintenance expenses were set at ₹700,000/MW (~$9,854) for the first year of the project. The commission has also set the capacity utilization factor at 19% for solar PV projects, Mercom reported.  The power regulator set up a capital cost of ₹52.5 million (~$739,118)/MW for wind energy projects, for the financial year 2019-20. The norms will be applicable for three years, starting April 2019. 

Only BIS approved solar modules to sell in India

India will certify all solar equipment manufacturers willing to do business in the country. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) will approve the manufacturers and solar modules. Their products will have to make to it the approved list of modules and manufacturers (ALMM), to be eligible for government supported schemes, including projects from where electricity distribution companies procure solar power for supply to their consumers. 

The implementation of the new solar power generation equipment sourcing guidelines will start on April 1, Mint reported. The move is expected to put a stop to the practice by some manufacturers picking up poor quality Chinese solar modules, rejected by developers being sold in the domestic market at a discount. The MNRE team will inspect the manufacturing facility and conduct the production and sale audit before it includes modules and manufacturers in the ALMM list for two years.

Solar manufacturers’ lobby livid over Karnataka’s new rooftop solar norms

Karnataka solar manufacturers’ lobby is up in arms against state regulator’s norms released recently to accelerate capacity additions in the rooftop solar segment. The regulator proposed  various business models, including third-party investment in rooftop solar, to facilitate smaller consumers to install solar systems at an optimal cost. The lobby, Karnataka Renewable Energy Systems Manufacturers Association (KRESMA), said the order has made DISCOMs the sole arbiter, which takes away the right of the consumer to choose his supplier. The government-owned DISCOMs should not be allowed to take away the consumers’ profit from generating through renewable sources, they said. KRESMA alleged that the shift from net metering to gross metering will make solar rooftop installations unviable.

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