India’s solar capacity addition jumps over three-fold to 7.4 GW in January-September

Source: Economic Times, 09 December 2021

The solar energy generation capacity addition rose 335 per cent to 7.4 GW in the January-September period this year from 1.73 GW a year ago, said Mercom India Research.

“In the first nine months of 2021 (9M 2021), India added over 7.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar, a 335 per cent increase YoY (year-on-year) compared to the 1.73 GW installed in the same period in 2020,” according to Mercom India Research’s newly released Q3 2021 India Solar Market Update.

According to the update, India added 2,835 megawatts (MW) of solar in the third quarter (Q3 July-September) of the calendar year (CY) 2021, up 14 per cent compared to 2,488 MW installed in Q2 2021 (April-June). Year-over-year (YoY) installations in Q3 surged 547 per cent.

Installations grew despite market challenges, according to the report.

Increased raw materials costs, severe volatility in module availability and price, curtailment of power in several states, and high freight charges have added to the difficulties for the developers, it stated.

“Despite supply challenges, the Indian solar market is headed towards one of best years on record…

“We expect a strong 2022 despite the high price of components and uncertainties surrounding the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) related transmission issue in Rajasthan. An increase in GST, curtailment and payment issues are adding to the challenges facing developers and constraining growth,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group in the statement.

There was a steep rise in the average selling prices of solar modules during the third quarter. Prices of mono PERC modules surged over 15 per cent q-o-q (quarter-on-quarter), with supply constraints after major manufacturers started cutting output in China. Freight charges peaked at around USD 9,000 per container in the quarter, according to the statement.

“Manufacturing capacity ramp-up continues at a brisk pace as domestic producers look to take advantage of the 40 per cent basic customs duty scheduled to be imposed from April 2022. “In the second quarter of next year, we can expect to see procurement strategies starting to change drastically, as imports become expensive,” said Prabhu.

According to the report, module prices have been increasing for six consecutive quarters, a trend not seen in the past ten years.

This quarter also saw the largest q-o-q increase in large-scale system costs by over 10 per cent attributed to the increase in raw material and component prices.

Tender announcements as of September increased 16 per cent and auction activity surged 181 per cent year-on-year.

Rajasthan is, now, the top solar state in India in terms of cumulative installed capacity, overtaking Karnataka, which had held the position since 2018, according to data from the report.

As of September, the top 10 states accounted for about 96 per cent of the country’s cumulative large-scale solar installations.

Rajasthan has been the top solar installer for three consecutive quarters by contributing about 63 per cent of the total large-scale solar installations in the country this quarter, followed by Gujarat with 19 per cent.

According to the report, India added close to 11.6 GW of power capacity in the first nine months of the current year.

Solar dominated capacity additions accounted for close to 60 per cent, followed by thermal power, which contributed 21 per cent. Renewables (including large hydro) made up 79 per cent of total power capacity additions in 9M 2021 (CY), it stated.

Power minister approves 23 new inter-state transmission projects worth Rs 15,893 cr

Source: Economic Times, 08 December 2021

Union power minister R K Singh has approved 23 new inter-state transmission system projects worth Rs 15,893 crore. The new inter-state transmission system (ISTS) projects comprise 13 projects with an estimated cost of Rs 14,766 crore to be developed under Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) and 10 projects with an estimated cost of Rs 1,127 crore to be developed under Regulated Tariff Mechanism (RTM), a power ministry statement said.

It further said that the Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy has approved new 23 ISTS projects “with an estimated cost of Rs 15,893 crore”.

The new transmission projects would inter-alia facilitate evacuation system for 14 GW of renewable projects in Rajasthan, 4.5 GW of RE projects in Gujarat, 1 GW Neemuch Solar Park, Madhya Pradesh and feeding areas near Akhnoor and Jammu region by establishing Siot Substation in Jammu.

These projects were approved after examining the recommendations of the National Committee on Transmission and in accordance with the National Tariff Policy 2016, notified by the central government, which provides that ISTS project is developed through TBCB, except for certain category projects, which are strategic, technical-upgradation or time-bound in nature, it stated.

India, EU decide to expand clean energy cooperation

Source: Financial Express, 02 December 2021

India and the European Union have vowed to scale up cooperation in areas of clean energy with a focus on offshore wind, green hydrogen and solar power besides deciding to encourage investments in the field of energy efficiency. Various aspects of deepening clean energy cooperation were discussed at a meeting of the India-EU Energy Panel on Wednesday.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the panel agreed on a detailed work programme until 2023 to implement clean energy and climate partnership that was agreed in 2016 Some of the areas identified for cooperation included ensuring nearly zero energy buildings and renewable energy sources, including solar and offshore wind.

At the meeting, the two sides also agreed to expand cooperation in areas of green hydrogen, grid integration, including smart grids, storage, power market design and sustainable financing for clean energy projects, according to the MEA. The two sides agreed to jointly host an India-EU offshore wind business and investment summit in the first half of next year, with an exhibition of European and Indian companies. They also decided to organise an India-EU high-level platform on smart grid replication, identifying possible opportunities and barriers for replicating and upscaling smart grid projects in India, the MEA said. It said both sides will also host an India-EU Hydrogen Forum with a focus on exchanging best practices and policies on the role of hydrogen in energy systems.

The two sides also decided to host an India-EU Financing Investment in Clean Energy Platform, aiming at encouraging investment in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy, the MEA said.In a statement, the MEA said the EU also expressed its support for the close cooperation between India and the International Energy Agency and that the two sides also agreed to cooperate on clean energy under the framework of the G20.

The MEA said the panel welcomed the fact that more and more EU member states are joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA). “The EU recently funded an approximately 1 million Euro project, with an aim to further strengthen the engagement of EU, its member states, and its academic, business and financial communities with the International Solar Alliance,” it said.

The panel agreed to explore further avenues to strengthen India-EU cooperation within the context of the International Solar Alliance. “In this respect, India underlined the importance of ISA’s One Sun One World One Grid Initiative,” it said.The meeting of the energy panel was co-chaired by Reenat Sandhu, Secretary (West) in the MEA and Mechthild Wörsdörfer, Deputy Director-General for Energy, European Commission.

Govt amends norms; power producers can replace thermal power with renewables under existing PPAs

Source: Financial Express, 16 November 2021

In a significant move aimed at gradually reducing thermal power generation, the government has amended norms to allow power producers to bundle renewable energy under existing power purchase agreements. The Ministries of Power, and New and Renewable Energy have revised the relevant norms as part of the larger efforts to have 500 GW of clean energy generation capacity by 2030.

In a statement on Tuesday, the power ministry said the revised norms would enable replacement of fossil fuels-based energy generation with energy from renewable sources under existing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
The two ministries have issued “revised guidelines providing for thermal generation companies to set up renewable energy generation capacity either by themselves or through developers by open bids and supplying it to the consumers under the existing PPAs,” the statement said.

According to the statement, as the cost of renewable energy is less than that of thermal energy, the gains from the bundling of renewable energy with thermal will be shared between the generator and distribution companies/other procurers on a 50:50 basis. As the renewable energy will be balanced with thermal energy, discoms (power distribution companies) will not be required to acquire any separate capacity for balancing of renewable energy.
This is a very significant step towards achieving the goal of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, the ministry said in the statement.

Discoms will be able to keep a tab on renewable energy supplied under the scheme towards their renewable purchase obligations and it will be without the financial burden of having separate PPAs. The latest move by the government will lead to a faster energy transition and will be beneficial for both the generators and the discoms.
The statement also said that under the direction of Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, the two ministries are poised to take some additional steps for achieving 500 GW by 2030, for which orders are to be issued shortly. R K Singh is at the helm of the two ministries.

Power Ministry asks thermal units to import coal for minimum 10% blending

Source: Business Standards, 13 October 2021

The Centre has asked thermal power generators to import coal for at least 10 per cent blending, citing shortage of domestic coal supply. This is a sharp reversal of its earlier directive of using domestic coal.

At the same time, it alleged that “several states” were selling unallocated power from central generating stations on power exchanges “at a high price” and would be penalised.

The Union power ministry’s warning came without the ministry spokesperson disclosing which states they were.

The mandate to use imported coal for blending came two days after the coal and power ministers denied any shortage of domestic coal.

“Thermal power plants based on domestic coal will use imported coal of up to 10 per cent for blending with domestic coal, wherever technically feasible, to meet the increased power demand in the country. Power generation companies (gencos) shall expedite the process of importing coal for blending to meet the requirement,” stated the notification on Tuesday.

The power ministry said the revival of the economy had led to an increase in demand and consumption of electricity.

“During the August-September period, the share of coal-based generation increased to 66 per cent, from 62 per cent in 2019. As a consultant, total coal consumption during the same period increased 18 per cent over the corresponding period in 2019. However, supply from Coal India is not commensurate with the requirement,” said a notice from the fuel management division of the Central Electricity Authority, the technical arm of the power ministry.

It further said the coal stock at power plants was fast depleting and currently stood at 7.3 million tonnes (mt).

When the crisis started in August with a coal supply shortfall, the Union power ministry earlier urged gencos to “consider import of coal”. Only state-owned NTPC imported a meagre 2 mt.

As part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, the government decided to reduce the import of coal. Union Minister for Coal Pralhad Joshi said India would have zero coal imports by 2023-24, according to a media release by the Press Information Bureau in February 2020.

In a November 2020 interview to Business Standard, Joshi said the government has decided not to import coal and that states and the Centre should work together towards it.

“Despite having large reserves, we spent some Rs 2.4 trillion in 2018-19 on importing coal. Coal India does pay for land and rehabilitation. It is building houses on wastelands, giving employment, and paying compensation for land taken. No state or central government, or their agencies, offer these many jobs. The question is whether we want to go for imports or domestically produce it by building a whole ecosystem,” he had said.

The Centre in 2017-18 had tried for zero coal imports, but it led to a shortage, compelling thermal units to resume the import of coal.

Coal stocks at thermal units fell to five days in September 2018, following complaints from several states over supply deficit. But in less than three years, a chain of events since August led to diminishing coal stock levels at thermal units. Currently, 16.8 gigawatt (Gw) of power generation capacity has zero days of coal stock and 25 Gw has less than three days of coal.

With coal supply and electricity shortage looming, several power distribution companies are panic buying on the power spot market, taking spot prices to record highs of Rs 20 per unit (kilowatt-hour, or kWh) – the ceiling price in the day-ahead market.

The Union Ministry of Power has, however, blamed states for this. “It has been observed that some states are not supplying power to consumers and imposing load-shedding in some areas. On the other hand, they are selling power in the power exchange at a high price,” said a statement from the ministry.

The statement is in regard to the 15 per cent power from central generating stations kept under ‘unallocated power’. This power is given by the central government on a need-basis to states.

“States are requested to use the unallocated power for supplying electricity to consumers of the state. In case of surplus power, states are requested to intimate, so that this power can be reallocated to other needy states. If any state is found selling power in power exchange or not scheduling this unallocated power, their unallocated power will be temporarily power-reduced or withdrawn and reallocated to other states in need,” said the statement.

The average market clearing price on Tuesday on the Indian Energy Exchange was Rs 15.85 per kWh. The maximum price was Rs 20 per kWh.

Reliance, Adani, Tata, and Jindal among 14 others applied to Rs 4,500 crore PLI scheme

Source: Economic Times, 22 September 2021

Reliance, Adani, Tata, and Jindal are some of the 18 companies that have applied for the Centre’s Rs 4,500 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme and hope to start or increase their manufacturing capacity with the help of these funds.

State-owned fossil fuel giant Coal India Limited (CIL), who is rapidly trying to expand its footprint in the renewables industry, has applied too; as have American firms First Solar and CubicPV.

ET has seen a copy of the bid document released by the Indian Renewable Development Agency (IREDA), the financing arm of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Other notable companies to apply for the bid are Larsen and Toubro and NASDAQ-listed ReNew Power.

In total, 18 companies with a cumulative capacity of 54.8 GW have applied for the scheme. The government only has capacity for 10 GW.

The companies have divided the bids up in four stages of the manufacturing process: polysilicon, wafers, cells, and modules. At present, India’s existing 15 GW production capacity has no polysilicon or wafer production capacity.

Adani, Reliance, Jindal, First Solar, and Andhra Pradesh-based Shirdi Sai Electricals have bid for the entire value chain’s integration as part of their tenders.

CIL, CubicPV, L&T, and ReNew have applied for wafer and onwards, while the rest of the nine names on the list that include Indian players such as Tata, Vikram, Waaree, Acme, and Avaada will only look at cells and modules, per IREDA’s list.

Manufacturing companies import wafers or cells from abroad, mainly China, and then assemble them into cells and modules respectively. Nearly 95% of solar equipment used in projects in India is imported from China or Chinese-origin companies.

To prevent the industry’s dependence on China, the government has also constituted a basic customs duty (BCD) tax on solar imports. It will be charged at 25% for cells and 40% for modules, and will be applicable from April, 2022.

Earlier this year in April, the union cabinet had approved the PLI scheme for manufacturing high efficiency solar photovoltaic modules with a Rs 4,500 crore outlay. The incentives are expected to bring direct investment of around Rs 17,200 crore in solar PV manufacturing.

Bids for 4,000 MWhr battery storage projects to be invited soon: Power Minister R K Singh

Source: Economic Times, 16 September 2021

India will soon invite global bids for battery storage projects totalling 4,000 MWhr (megawatt hours), Union Power Minister R K Singh said on Thursday. He made the announcement while addressing the US India Strategic Partnership Forum and industry leaders in a Virtual Energy Industry Roundtable, the Ministry of Power said in a statement.

Singh added that a battery project of 12 gigawatt hours (GWhr) will be set up in Ladakh.

“In the near future, India will have bids to invite global and domestic manufacturers for developing battery storage…India will soon have bids for 4,000 MWhr Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)…and later will take up 12 GWhr project in Ladakh,” the statement quoted Singh as saying.

India has set an ambitious target of having 175 GW renewable energy (RE) capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.

At present, India has 100 GW installed solar and wind capacity and after adding hydro, the total installed renewable capacity is 146 MW, he said.

Another 63 GW of renewable capacity is under construction, Singh said.

The minister also informed the conference that India would be inviting bids for green hydrogen in the next 3-4 months to pave the way for viable usage of hydrogen as fuel.

“We have been working continuously to increase our pumped hydro storage capacity… the world needs to come up with more number of eletrolyzers, battery storage facilities, etc to bring economies of scale in these technologies and make these commercially viable,” he said.

India’s coal ambition negating its climate action, feel experts

Source: Economic Times, 15 August 2021

Although India’s total installed renewable energy generation capacity crossed the 100 GW-mark in an incredible achievement, experts feel that the expansion and addition of new coal-based power plants is negating its climate actions. India is now fourth in the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. It has set an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

“It is good to see India moving towards achieving its Paris goals. However, what is worrying is that the way the government is doubling down on coal power. It is no longer enough to just expand renewable energy and claim it as climate action,” Nandikesh Shivalingam, director, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said on Saturday.

India’s coal consumption should peak in the next few years and there needs to be a clear phaseout plan for coal power which includes rehabilitation of affected communities and restoration of degraded land, he said.

While India is expanding its renewable energy capacity, it is also expanding its coal power plant fleet.

“Achieving 40 per cent of non-fossil fuel installed capacity nine years ahead of the Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) target is an incredible achievement for our country. It is a testament to visionary policies and business dynamism,” Ulka Kelkar, Director-Climate Program, WRI India said.

She, however, said India should avoid the risk of creating stranded assets as international financing for coal power projects is drying up.

Renewable energy that powers green hydrogen will be the key to decarbonising difficult sectors like industrial processes, Kelkar added.

Shweta Narayan from Advisor Healthy Energy Initiative India said India’s efforts to meet its demand through addition of renewal energy is commendable and should be an inspiration for rest of the world, however, the gains from this effort will become meaningless given the present roadmap of expansion and addition of new coal-based power plants.

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is a clarion call for exiting fossil fuels, including coal. India’s leadership in renewable energy (RE) will only shine when it fully moves away from fossil fuels that harm the climate and public health, she said.

Averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, according to the latest report by IPCC, a United Nations body.

At the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world had agreed to limit the global temperature rise in this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

NTPC invites global expression of interest for hydrogen fuel cell based pilot projects

State-run power giant NTPC has floated a global expression of interest (EoI) for setting up hydrogen fuel-based power backup system and a standalone fuel-cell based microgrid system, a statement said on Sunday.

Through these projects, NTPC is looking to further strengthen its footprint in green and clean fuel, the company said.

NTPC will collaborate for implementation and further commercialization of the projects. This is in line with NTPC’s initiatives towards adopting hydrogen technologies.

The power PSU is exploring the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells-electrolyser systems for backup power requirement. Currently, the backup power requirement and micro grid applications are being met from diesel-based power generators.

Looking at these as early adopter use case of hydrogen based technologies, NTPC is working towards creating solutions which are a green alternative to diesel generators.

CIL’s coal offtake jumps 38 per cent to 55 million tonnes in May

State-owned Coal India Ltd on Tuesday said its coal offtake rose by 38 per cent to 55 million tonnes (MT) in May on the back of revival of fuel demand from the power sector. “Spurred by the revival of coal demand from power sector, Coal India Ltd (CIL) scripted the highest ever coal off-take of 55 million tonnes for the month of May (in any year) so far,” the PSU said in a statement.

As coal supplies surged ahead to 55 MT in May, CIL recorded a whopping 15 MT increase in volume terms against comparable month last year, logging close to 38 per cent growth, the statement said.

With the appetite for coal signalling healthy recovery, CIL’s supply to power sector at nearly 44 MT in May this year was up by 41 per cent. The company supplied around 13 MT more to power plants compared to May last year.
Stimulated by increased activity and higher coal consumption, stock at thermal power stations fell by 5 MT in April from that of 28.9 MT at the closure of the last fiscal. However, increased supplies by CIL in May resulted in the coal stock restored to 29 MT at the coal fired plants.

In the ensuing months, the company aims to further increase its supplies.

CIL’s total coal off-take for April-May was 109.2 MT, clocking a growth of 38 per cent compared to 79 MT in the same period year ago. The supply to power sector registered a 38 per cent growth. The PSU supplied 86.3 MT of coal to power sector during the first two months of the ongoing fiscal compared to 62.7 MT same period a year ago.

Coal India has liquidated 25 MT of coal out of its inventory during April-May period. The company which began FY’22 with close to 100 MT stock at its pitheads reduced it to 74.3 MT at the end of May this year.

CIL produced 42.1 MT in May and 84 MT in April-May period of the current fiscal. The company is confident of ramping up the production even at short notice when the demand peaks to even higher levels especially with the coal seams exposed. CIL has recorded the second highest over burden removal growth of 17 per cent, in more than a decade, last year.

Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output.