Need more of that: Solar is a key mandate in DISCOMS’ RPOs, despite their unresolved financial stresses

RENEWABLES: Compliance cell to track states; New solar selection norms; Tariffs keep falling; Wind without transmission infra? China, India solar biggies

Compliance cell to monitor renewable obligations

Centre launched a compliance cell to track Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) targets of states. With monthly reports, the cell will coordinate with states, and Centre and state regulators. RPOs are key in achieving the ambitious 175 GW by 2022 renewables target. India needs a rate of over 19 GW of solar per year. In 2017, 25 states and union territories were behind targets, leaving solar RPO deficit of 2,033.94 MW.

New solar selection norms

Centre announced new norms to select solar park developers: park capacity to be minimum 100 MW in planes, 50MW in hilly regions; state distribution companies (Discoms) not anymore obliged to buy minimum 20% power; private developers to maintain state land, allowed to lease/sell the land to other solar project developer (SPDs); developers who own the land to get assistance of ₹1.2 million/MW; project deadline 18-months in principle.

And the tariffs keep falling: 30% to 49% less

Karnataka fixed generic tariff of grid-connected solar projects of capacity less than 5 MW at ₹3.05 ($0.0447)/kWh, ₹1.31 or 30% less than previous ₹4.36 ($0.07)/kWh, all thanks to declining tariffs in state tenders. Tariff for rooftop projects of 1MW or less was fixed at ₹2.67 (~$0.0391)/kWh (without subsidy), and ₹3.56 (~$0.052)/kWh, with subsidy. Generic tariff for rooftop solar without subsidy was fixed at ₹2.53 (~$0.037)/kWh or 49% less than the previous of ₹5.20 (~$0.08)/kWh. Generic tariff for wind projects less than 25MW was fixed at ₹3.45 (~$0.0505)/kWh, which is ₹0.29 (~$0.0042)/kWh less than the previous ₹3.74 (~$0.0548)/kWh.

Karnataka, country’s top solar state, exceeded 5GW of cumulative solar installations in Q1 2018, with market share of 24% of India’s total installed capacity during that same quarter.

China, India ‘leading large solar projects’

IEEFA study says China and India are leading global solar sector with world’s largest operating utility-scale solar projects. Costs are falling because of scale and speed of construction. Solar capacity added in 2017, was up 31% from 2016. Of the top 10, China’s 1547MW Tengger Desert Park ranked on top, followed by Andhra Pradesh-backed 1000MW Kurnool Solar Park, Adani’s 648 MW Kamuthi Solar Plant ranked 6.

Transmission infra ‘key for success of RE’

In an alert, rating agency ICRA has warned that the infrastructure was highly inadequate to evacuate power from the many wind power projects bid out by Centre’s solar energy corporation of India (SECI) in the past 15 months: 5.1GW bid out so far. It may take 2-3 years to increase infrastructure, but developers get only 18 months from the time Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) are signed.

Rooftop Installers seek more time, subsidy

Set to miss June deadline, rooftop solar installer lobby, the Distributed Solar Power Association (DiSPA) has sought 6 more months (with subsidy), to complete installations on roofs of state buildings. Developers (Sunsource, Azure, ReNew, TEP, Cleanmax, and Amplus) blamed “concerned ministries” for delay. Over 95 MW of rooftop PPAs have been signed, 100-120 MW are in the pipeline. India’s rooftop installations grew by 56% year-over-year to reach 1.6 GW in 2017.

Greenko and Adani Top Developers in 2017

Mercom rated 2017 India’s best solar year at 9,629 MW (more than double of 4,313 MW installed in 2016). India’s total solar capacity in 2017 touched 19.6 GW. Greenko was the top installer, followed by Adani and ReNew. There are over 200 utility-scale firms, each with at least 5MW projects running. NLC owns most large-scale projects in pipeline among state firms, while ACME pipeline projects top private firms. Chasing 4GW by 2022 target, NLC finally commissioned 300 MW of grid-connected solar projects in Tamil Nadu.

Priority lending ‘improved renewable finance’

A top finance ministry official said Centre’s inclusion of renewables in the priority sector lending has improved securing finance for renewable projects and introduction of competitive bidding has driven the costs. Centre plans to launch five funds of $5 billion each, to promote green energy.

Indian firm sells stake; GE ‘can’t match’ wind, solar; Slowdown in next 6-9 months?

Renewable energy generator firms, Europe’s Statkraft and India’s Bharat Light and Power (BLP) ended partnership. In the US, GE spokesman said “solar is very cheap” and his company’s gas units were “just not cutting it.” Vistra and Dominion Energy are also “done with gas-fired power plants” are shifting to solar. Schneider Electric’s India solar business chief expects a slowdown in solar sector in the next “6-9 months” because of delays in bidding and PPAs.

India’s solar digital villages

Centre plans to set up solar powered digital service centres in 2.5 lakh village panchayats. 700 digital villages will be established by the year end. Digital centres will provide govt and private e-services, will have solar lighting, LED assembly unit and Wi-fi.

Norms for first offshore Wind farm relaxed

Centre’s National Institute of Wind Energy relaxed deadline and eligibility norms for 1GW wind capacities to be set up off the Gujarat coast. Now, previous experience of installing offshore wind projects, have been reduced from over 500MW to over 250 MW. There will be no competitive bidding, instead the shortlisted parties will be consulted for preparation of bidding documents.

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