Resilient Renewables: Coronavirus lockdown and economic slump has tipped the scales in India in favour of Renewables, analysts expect dirty coal to peak as early as 2025 | Photo: NS Energy

ReNew bags India’s first round-the-clock solar power supply tender, vows power cost will be lower than $0.038/kWh

India’s first tender for round-the-clock solar power supply, with storage, was bagged by Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power at a supply price of Rs3.6 ($0.038) per unit. The Haryana-based company won the 400MW capacity project to supply solar power round-the-clock, with an option to run it with a hybrid wind/hydro plant, or have storage.

ReNew quoted the lowest price of Rs 2.9/unit. The tariff would rise by 3% annually for 15 years, taking the levellised (average) tariff to Rs 3.6/unit, which is closer to the average rate of power from thermal units in India, currently.  The round-the-clock tender floated by  Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will have 80% plant load factor (operational capacity)..

India’s CO2 emissions fell for the first time in 40 years, renewables gain on coal: Analysis

An analysis by Carbon Brief has revealed that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in India have fallen for the first time since 1982, not just as a result of a lockdown in the country to contain the spread of coronavirus. The study said that a slump in the demand for power and competition from renewables had hit the use of fossil fuels badly even before coronavirus struck. The study found that Indian carbon dioxide emissions declined 15% in March, and approximately fell by 30% in April. Most of the fall in power demand has been borne by coal-fired generators, which explains the massive fall in emission reductions, the study said.

Pandemic tips scale in favour of solar power, polluting coal to go earlier: IEEFA

Coronavirus has hastened the switch from polluting coal power to renewable energy in India, concludes the latest IEEFA study. Renewable energy has proven resilient over coal amid 30% fall in energy demand over a month-long lockdown. The trend towards cheaper renewables was visible before the pandemic, but analysts say it became clearer since the lockdown began, when the scales tipped in favour of renewables against coal. Run on solar and wind energy, developers do not face the same supply chain disruptions as power plants running on fossil fuels.

IEEFA reports says renewable energy delivered over two-thirds or 9.39GW of India’s new generating capacity additions in the FY 2019/20. Compared to RE, new thermal power plants delivered 4.3GW during 2019/20. Experts say India’s coal capacity is heading for a peak as early as 2025-27.

Still, experts do not rule out an uptick in coal generation and new capacity once the lockdown lifts, saying coal will continue to meet base-load demand. None of the new coal plants in the pipeline have so far been cancelled thus far despite recent setbacks to coal power.

India’s solar, gas-fired power spikes at coal’s expense: Reuters study

Reuters’ analysis of state data shows India’s solar and gas-fired power generation increased in April even as the rate of overall power demand witnessed the maximum fall in 13 years. Data analysis of daily load despatch from state-run power operator POSOCO showed that solar-powered electricity generation rose 16.9%, accounting for a record 5.6% of the country’s total output, while gas-fired power output was 13.7% higher. However, wind-powered electricity generation fell 11.4%. In comparison, coal fell 32.3% to 1.91 billion units per day, the data showed. Coal’s contribution to overall electricity generation fell to 65.5%, compared with an average of over 73.7% last year.

Draft norms for states to set tariffs for RE projects released

To get some tariff uniformity across the states, India’s power sector regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has released a draft policy for determination of tariff from RE sources, the last date to submit comments is May 28. Regulations will apply from July 2020  upto March 2023. The draft says the tariff will include factors such as return on equity, interest on loan and working capital, depreciation and operation and maintenance costs. The regulations will apply to cases where tariffs are determined by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), not to projects bid out by the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

Tariffs will be determined on a case-to-case basis for solar, wind, and renewable hybrid energy projects and renewable energy storage projects. A tariff order will be released a month before the start of the year for each year of the control period.

Regulations, market approach stopping wind and solar expansion in Australia?

A study by Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) says that the country already has the technical capability to safely operate an electricity grid where 75% of energy comes from wind and solar generation, but the market framework and regulations were not allowing that to happen.

Exploring the possibilities to incorporate more renewable energy into the system while maintaining grid security, the study found that the country’s wind and solar capacities were increasing rapidly, but unless the country made changes in market and regulation norms, the operator was forced to limit the contribution of the renewable resources to 50% or 60% of electricity supply at any point in time, even if they are the cheapest option for providing electricity.

The overall share of renewable energy in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) reached 26% in April, at times rising to over 50% during sunny and windy periods when demand for heating and air-conditioning was low. The study calls for policy changes much ahead of 2025 to allow expansion of clean energy, including adopting new standards to maximise the potential of rooftop solar panels and construction of new transmission lines.

India rises two spots, ranked 74 on WEF’s global energy transition index

India climbed two spots to number 74 in this year’s Global Energy Transition Index released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). India improved on all energy counts, including economic development and growth, energy access and security, and environmental sustainability. The study measured readiness for clean energy transition in 115 economies. The study says 94 have made progress since 2015, but environmental sustainability continues to lag.

Sweden grabbed the top spot on the Energy Transition Index (ETI) for the third consecutive year, followed by Switzerland and Finland. The WEF said the “emerging centres of demand” such as India (74th) and China (78th) have consistently improved the enabling environment. The study says India improved its ranking owing to the government-mandated renewable energy expansion programme, now extended to 275 GW by 2027. Energy efficient initiatives such as subsidising EVs, bulk procurement of LED bulbs, smart meters, and programmes for labelling of appliances have also been praised in the report.

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