Important Headlines from India’s Renewable Industry in September 2019

Some ongoing troubles for the industry like PPA renegotiations in Andhra Pradesh dragged on into September 2019


The month of September was a busy one for the Indian solar industry with the annual REI Expo held in the national capital between September 18 and 20, 2019. Besides this annual event, the month also saw some other important developments in the sector, especially with the ongoing tiff in Andhra Pradesh between the administration and the renewable industry.

Other important headlines from the month:

The Union Minister of Power R.K. Singh wrote a letter to Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy regarding the non-payment of dues from state electricity distribution companies to renewable energy developers. Singh has pointed out that state DISCOMs owe more than ₹20 billion (~$280 million) to renewable energy developers.

According to Singh, the non-payment of dues to developers may cause them to default on their borrowings from government institutions like Indian Renewable Energy Development Association (IREDA), adding to non-performing assets in the sector and the developers could further drag DISCOMs to the National Company Law Tribunal.

In yet another letter to the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Later in the month, Power Minister R.K. Singh again urged Jaganmohan Reddy not to revisit power purchase agreements for solar and wind projects in the state.

In the latest letter, Singh has addressed the concerns raised by the Andhra state government and mentioned that the financial distress suffered by distribution companies in the state was not due to renewable energy projects. Instead, the distress was caused by the inability of the state to increase tariffs in FY17, FY18, and FY19 consistently.

The state of Andhra Pradesh also witnessed another development when the Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (APTRANSCO), through a letter, instructed its chief engineer to remove “irregular connections and loads” from wind energy projects.  According to APTRANSCO, after examining a security and vigilance report, it was found that there was an excess capacity of wind generators in the state. APTRANSCO claims that the approvals were given for projects of a capacity of 2,193 MW against the sanctioned capacity of 2,095 MW at the 400 kV Uravakonda substation.  The letter also contains a list of wind projects installed in Andhra Pradesh which had temporary and permanent approvals from APTRANSCO.

The Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) recent report states that the total payment due for 513 renewable projects amounts to ₹97.356 billion (~$1.356 billion) as of July 31, 2019, thus showing an increase of nearly ~ ₹15 billion (~$0.21 billion) compared to the previous figure of ₹82.3 billion (~$1.14 billion) for the same period. Interestingly, the report also states that one of the renewable developers withdrew its information submitted on August 12, 2019, regarding the payment dues of ₹17,225 million (~$240 million). Including that, the amount would come to ₹114.6 billion (~$1.56 billion). In total, these 513 projects have renewable energy projects generating capacity of over 26 GW.

The Uttar Pradesh Solar Energy Developer Association (UPSEDA) wrote a letter to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the additional secretary of the cabinet secretariat highlighting its concerns regarding the second phase of the rooftop solar program. According to UPSEDA, the guidelines for the latest rooftop solar program only allow the transfer of subsidies granted under this program to empaneled vendors and system integrators instead of directly to the beneficiary account, which was the case in all previous programs of the MNRE (including the first phase of the rooftop solar program).

As India’s electric mobility revolution has just begun, the electric vehicle market in India is buoyant amid increasing policy support from the government. The adoption of EVs in the country is poised to grow in the coming years, although battery charging infrastructure remains a valid concern among potential consumers. Mercom analyzed this issue in a comprehensive news story.

The month also witnessed the Indian Oil Corporation and the National Thermal Power Corporation coming together to establish electric vehicle charging stations in Greater Noida. This electric vehicle charging station can charge four vehicles at a time. To encourage vehicle owners to utilize the station, the entities are providing free charging in the interim.

The U.S.-based Bloom Energy along with real estate developer Atelier Global, India’s leading natural gas companies GAIL and Indian Oil Corporation, and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), recently announced a first-of-its-kind commercial real estate development in Bangalore that will be powered by clean, reliable electricity generated on-site using natural gas.

Tata Power Delhi Distribution (TPDDL) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financial arm of the World Bank Group, have signed a memorandum of understanding to assess the energy storage capacity requirement in TPDDL’s area for ensuring sustainable and reliable power distribution and to strategize energy storage deployment in the electric utilities. Over the next eight months, the two organizations will jointly conduct a study in South Asia to examine and recommend the optimum energy storage capacity that can be implemented for Tata Power-DDL’s 2,000 MW distribution system. Based on the results, an assessment will be made on the storage potential in other smart cities.

Mercom moderated a session at the Renewable Energy India (REI) Expo 2019 titled India’s Solar Sector: A Multi-Billion Dollar Market Opportunity Amid Testing Times. The panelists of this session were leaders from various stakeholders in the country’s renewable energy space such as NTPC, L&T Finance, Solis Inverters, Cleantech Solar, LONGi, CleanMax, and Adani Solar. The discussion emphasized the challenges faced by the solar industry. Most panelists acknowledged the fact that the solar industry in India had come a long way over the last five years, though it is now suffering from a slowdown due to numerous reasons such as the lack of financingpayment delaystariff caps in tenders, land acquisition, and the broader economic downturn. The consensus call taken by the panel was that the government needs to treat the solar sector with care and avoid policy flip flops.

Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.