Shifting tracks: Indian Railways commissions 4.7 Mega Watt (MW) land-based solar plants on its land along the tracks as part of 20 GW target by 2030 | Photo: The Weather Channel

Solar power plants along railway tracks

India Railways is setting up solar plants on the vacant land along its tracks. Railway minister Piyush Goyal told Rajya Sabha that  4.7 Mega Watt (MW) land-based solar plants have already been commissioned under the plan, including 50 MW at Bhilai in Chhattisgarh and 2 MW at Diwana in Haryana.

The Indian Railways wants to install solar plants of 20 Giga Watt (GW) capacity by the year 2030 on vacant land. Bids for 3 GW solar plants have already been invited, the ministry said.

Resilient Renewables: IEEFA says plenty of appetite among RE investors despite policy issues, COVID-19 

A new IEEFA report revealed that although renewable projects are facing a slowdown because of policy issues and a collapse in electricity demand due to the COVID-19 crisis, recent auctions suggest there remains plenty of appetite among domestic and foreign investors to build renewable infrastructure.

Analysing seven renewable energy capacity and storage auctions held to-date in 2020, IEEFA found that together they attracted some $10-20 billion of investment commitments, despite the pandemic. The note highlighted the Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) 2 GW solar auction in June. It delivered India’s lowest-yet renewable energy tariff at Rs2.36/kWh ($31/MWh) with zero indexation for 25 years.

International players won the bids, including Solarpack (Spain), Enel (Italy), Amp Energy (Canada), Eden Renewables (France), IB Vogt (Germany), Ayana (UK), ReNew Power (Indian, but backed by Abu Dhabi’s ADIA), CPPIB (Canada), JERA (Japan) and Goldman Sachs (US). 

Tata needs more incentives for domestic manufacturing to beat China imports

Government incentives for domestic solar products manufacturing are not enough to match the scale and supply of Chinese imports, said Tata Power Renewables’s Ashish Khanna. Indian domestic manufacturing needs government support to set up plants to manufacture newer technology products to beat the scale of existing imports, he said, adding Tata has no plans to set up new manufacturing plants because they are waiting for long-term policy incentives. 

Mega RE park not on “wasteland”, may damage environment

The Gujarat government’s plan to develop a 41,500-megawatt (MW) hybrid renewable energy park in Kutch for which it has cleared the proposal for allotment of 60,000 hectares of land has raised concerns about the impact on ecology and wildlife in the region, Mongabay reported.

The RE park is expected to attract an investment of about ₹1.35 trillion and the Prime Minister had given 2022 as the deadline for its completion. The Gujarat government has already approved land allocation for several government-owned and private companies. 

Report suggests the government considers the territory finalised for the Kutch project to be wasteland, but that may not be the case for the local people. Recently, acting upon a plea by locals, the Rajasthan high court stayed work at an Adani solar energy park after Rajasthan termed its land as a barren or wasteland.

’Great success’: Sweden, Norway to end joint green subsidy scheme in 2035

Norway and Sweden will close down its joint green power support scheme in 2031, 10 years earlier than proposed. According to Norwegian energy minister Tina Bru, technological and market advancements had resulted in a faster and bigger build out of renewable electricity than the electricity certificates system was designed to support, Reuters reported. 

Both countries called the joint venture great success. It was introduced in 2012 with a target to expand renewable power generation by 24.4 TWh by 2020, with Norway to finance 13.2 TWh and Sweden 15.2 TWh, irrespective of the location of the assets. Sweden later said it would fund another 18 TWh until 2030, to be built domestically.