Growing Need for Round-the-Clock Renewable Power to Shape Future Projects

Experts shared their views at the Mercom India Renewables Summit 2023


The renewable landscape is rapidly changing from the traditional development of standalone solar and wind projects to a combination of both in hybrid projects, primarily driven by the urgent need for round-the-clock (RTC) supply and to tide over the intermittency of renewable resources.

While stakeholders are exploring commercially viable energy storage solutions, hybrid projects are already addressing the challenge of variable supply and grid safety to some extent.

Additionally, hybrid projects’ popularity is due to optimizing land and transmission systems and providing a longer-duration power supply.

India added 13 GW of solar capacity in the calendar year 2022, a 27% increase year-over-year, compared to 10.2 GW installed in CY21.

India’s cumulative installed solar capacity now stands at 63 GW, according to Mercom India Research’s newly released 2022 Q4 & Annual India Solar Market Update. India’s large-scale solar project pipeline stood at 58 GW, with another 51 GW of projects tendered and pending auction at the end of 2022.

The current and future trends in renewable energy was one of the topics industry experts discussed on Day 1 at the ‘Mercom India Renewables Summit 2023,’ an exclusive event being held on April 26-27 in New Delhi.

The session titled ‘Changing Landscape of Renewable Projects’ on April 26, 2023 featured a diverse range of experts: Dilip Nigam, Adviser at MNRE; Deepak Ushadevi, MD & CEO at Ciel et Terre; Prashant Choubey, President at Avaada Energy; Venkatesh R, CEO at Everrenew Energy; and Manish Karna, AVP-Business Development, Adani Green.

“India has the largest hybrid project at a single location in Rajasthan. The capacity utilization factor for hybrid projects is 37-42%, and bringing the RTC angle is of utmost importance for hybrid projects,” Karna said.

Nigam said India is anticipating 7-8 GW of module manufacturing capacity by December 2024, in addition to a planned 16.8 GW of wafers, cells, and module manufacturing capacity by April 2025 and 16.5 GW of module manufacturing capacity by 2025.

Nearly 25.6 GW of module manufacturing capacity has been registered under the ALMM order, he noted.

“We are planning 13 GWh and 12 GWh battery storage projects in Ladakh. It will provide the necessary impetus to the battery storage projects in the country, and battery storage projects will play an important role in achieving the renewable target of 500 GW by 2030,” said Nigam.

Ushadevi, stressing the need for floating solar in the country, said, “Until now, we have had 2 GW of tenders for floating solar projects, and in the next four to five years, and another 4-5 GW of floating solar projects are expected to be developed in the next few years.”

“There is a need to assess the size, geotechnical conditions, and other factors for developing floating solar projects. Each project has its limitations, and we must take care of that while developing a floating solar project. We need to take a fresh look at floating solar projects and help it develop as a viable alternative,” he added.

Regarding the renewable tender trajectory issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Choubey said: “A renewable trajectory was the need of the hour, and we are happy that it came at the right time. It is a significant development, and how it will get translated into implementation needs to be seen. Also, the ISTS waiver is a blessing. The ISTS waiver will continue providing the right impetus for developing renewable energy projects.”

However, Venkatesh raised the potential bottlenecks in the path of a massive increase in planned renewable capacity. “The development of substations is essential for the evacuation of power, and there should be specific timelines for that. When we talk about central connectivity, the role of nodal agencies becomes important. There is a need for a single window for connectivity approvals,” he said.

“The renewable energy trajectory gives developers and investors clarity regarding how things will shape up this year. Earlier, there was a tussle between NTPC, SECI, NHPC, and other agencies. But now things have changed. If the public sector undertakings (PSUs) can learn from each other, that would help. The PSUs must learn from each other and put their best foot forward,” noted Karna.

Speaking on the challenges wind project developers face, Venkatesh said, “Crane availability is one of the main issues for wind power projects. Other issues include the consignment of wind turbine blades and logistics that pose challenges to the development of wind projects. Land acquisition is also a problem.”

“ISTS waiver is a good thing. This will expedite the connectivity process and help develop the evacuation infrastructure. There is a need to plan the transmission network, and the State Load Despatch Center (SLDC) should be more proactive in its approach,” he added.