Mercom India’s Most Read News Stories from 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we bring you our ten most popular articles from the year


Here is a collection of the most-read news stories and in-depth articles of 2023. Most of the top stories this year were from the rooftop solar segment. Other popular themes among readers included articles on auctions, policy changes, green energy trading, and module manufacturing.

IREDA’s Loans Program for Rooftop Solar, PM-KUSUM Consumers

The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), in December 2023, launched its retail division with an emphasis on providing loans in the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sector. The strategic initiative targets borrowers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program, rooftop solar consumers, and other B2C segments. Shortly after the launch, IREDA approved its first loan amounting to ₹580 million (~$6.95 million) under Component B of the KUSUM program, underscoring its aim to emerge as the preferred lender in new segments, mirroring its success in other renewable energy sectors.

Electricity Rules Amendments to Expedite Residential Rooftop Solar Installations

In December, the Ministry of Power proposed amendments to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2023, to accelerate the residential rooftop solar installations in the country. The proposed amendments, once implemented, will direct DISCOMs to expedite the application process for the rooftop solar installations, metering setup, and feasibility study duration. Stakeholders can submit their comments by January 12, 2024. The amendments include approval for new connections and modification in existing connections, the metering process, and managing consumers as prosumers.

End of the Road for Polycrystalline Solar Modules?

In September, Mercom reported on how the recent ‘Approved List of Models and Manufacturers’ (ALMM) rules by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy effectively prevent polycrystalline modules from being used in government projects. This was after it set 19% as the minimum efficiency for the modules to be listed in ALMM. The minimum efficiency for modules used in utility/grid-scale power projects is 20%; for rooftop solar and solar pumping projects, it is 19.5%, and for solar lighting, 19%. Polycrystalline efficiencies have peaked at 17-18% from being listed in the ALMM going forward. However, not all stakeholders are satisfied with this decision. Several view the removal of polycrystalline modules from the Indian market as stringent and argue that the ALMM efficiency mandate was unwarranted. They believe the government could have allowed the technology to phase out gradually over time. Although the demand for polycrystalline modules has declined considerably in India, several manufacturers still produce and supply them to small-scale solar projects, especially agricultural solar pumps.

Contract to Evacuate 23.5 GW of Renewable Power in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh

In October, The Power Grid Corporation of India emerged as the successful bidder for the execution of the two inter-state transmission system projects – Bhadla III Transmission and Ananthapuram Kurnool Transmission from PFC Consulting, to evacuate a total of 23.5 GW of renewable energy in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The Bhadla III Transmission project is dedicated to establishing a transmission system to evacuate power from the renewable energy zone in Rajasthan (20 GW) under Phase-III Part B1. The Ananthapuram Kurnool Transmission project is focused on creating a transmission project for solar energy zones in Ananthapuram (2,500 MW) and Kurnool (1,000 MW) in Andhra Pradesh.

Consumers to Pay 20% Lower Electricity Tariff During Solar Hours

The Ministry of Power, in June, amended the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, directing state commissions to ensure the tariff for solar hours (the duration of eight hours in a day) must be at least 20% lower than the normal tariff for all consumer categories (except agricultural consumers). The Ministry introduced provisions for Time-of-Day (ToD) tariffs and regulations around smart and prepaid meter usage for consumers. The ToD tariff refers to the differentiated tariffs for peak and non-peak hours in a day. Commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers with higher consumption tend to affect the grid stability during peak hours. The new ToD tariffs are expected to play a crucial role in encouraging the C&I segment to shift their demand to non-peak hours with cheaper electricity rates compared to peak hours when it would be more expensive.

Green Energy Trade at the IEX in August 2023

The Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) recorded the lowest renewable energy units traded in 2023 at 242.3 million units (MU) in August 2023, a 44.6% year-over-year (YoY) decline from 437 MU and an 11.9% drop from the 275 MU traded in July. The renewable energy trade at the IEX has witnessed a downward trend throughout 2023 as compared to the previous year, with the highest green energy units traded in March 2023 at 391 MU. The Green Day-Ahead Market and Green Term-Ahead Market segments witnessed an unprecedented surge in weighted average prices during the month, leading to lower trading volumes.

GUVNL’s 800 MW Solar Auction Results

In July 2023, KPI Green Energy, SAEL Industries, and NLC India were declared winners of Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam’s (GUVNL) auction to develop 800 MW of grid-connected solar power projects (Phase XX) at the Khavda Solar Park in Gujarat. The developers were given the option avail of a greenshoe option of an additional 800 MW. KPI Energy bagged 100 MW by quoting ₹2.70 (~$0.033)/kWh. SAEL Industries and NLC India won 400 MW and 300 MW by quoting ₹2.71 (~$0.033)/kWh each.

Maharashtra Sets Net Metering Cap for Rooftop Solar Projects at 5 MW

In November 2023, The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission increased the net metering cap for rooftop solar power projects to either 5 MW or the consumer’s contract demand/ sanction load, whichever is lower. Net metering in the state was earlier capped at less than 1 MW. The increase in the net metering cap comes across as an effort to encourage the adoption of commercial and industrial rooftop installations. The Commission has also allowed consumers to opt for group net metering, net billing, or behind-the-meter connection. The amendments are a part of the latest Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (Grid Interactive Rooftop Renewable Energy Generating Systems) (First Amendment) Regulations, 2023.

Auction Results of Performance-Linked Incentive Program for Solar Modules Tranche II

In March, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) declared the winners who would be eligible to receive a total of ₹139.4 billion (~$1.69 billion) under Tranche II of the performance-linked incentive (PLI) program to manufacture 39.6 GW of solar modules. Some eligible companies include Shirdi Sai, First Solar, Reliance, ReNew, and Tata Power. The MNRE approved incentives amounting to ₹195 billion (~$2.36 billion) for Tranche II. Out of this, ₹120 billion (~$1.45 billion) had been set aside for vertical integration of manufacturing polysilicon, ingots, wafers, solar cells, and solar modules.

SECI’s 2 GW Solar Auction Results

In July, SAEL, ReNew, Eden Renewables, Jakson, Shiva Corporation, and Avaada Energy were declared winners in SECI’s auction to set up 2 GW interstate transmission system-connected solar projects (Tranche XI) in India. SAEL and ReNew bagged 600 MW each, quoting ₹2.60 (~$0.032)/kWh. Eden won 300 MW by quoting ₹2.60 (~$0.032)/kWh, and Jakson secured 200 MW by quoting ₹2.60 (~$0.032)/kWh. Shiva Corporation quoted ₹2.60 (~$0.032)/kWh for 100 MW. Avaada was the only bidder to quote ₹2.61 (~$0.032)/kWh and bagged 200 MW out of the quoted capacity of 500 MW.