Month in a Minute: Notable Renewable Energy and Solar News from India in November 2018

Several important renewable energy news were announced in the holiday month of November including export import, REC trading and solar generation data among others


November 2018 witnessed some key announcements in the Indian renewable sector. Indian solar imports spiked considerably in the third quarter (Q3) of calendar year (CY) 2018. According to the latest data from the Department of Commerce, solar modules and cells worth $602 million (~₹42.96 billion) were imported by India in Q3 of CY 2018.

Here are some of the other key highlights from November:

The introduction of passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cell technology has markedly increased the efficiency of monocrystalline cells, making them an economically attractive option for many projects. However, the use of multi-crystalline modules still dominates the market in India, though developers have begun to seriously consider mono modules as they come with several important advantages.

The Delhi government recently approved the Mukhyamantri Solar Power Program to give the necessary impetus for solar power adoption in Delhi; this program will apply to the residential solar sector in Delhi. According to the government, there is strong solar power potential on the rooftops of approximately 1,990 registered co-operative group housing societies in Delhi which have expressed interest in installations under the RESCO model.

Solar project developers in the country continue to face curtailment issues when it comes to states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, among others. Curtailment issues remain a challenge in these states, falling somewhere between 10 and 25 percent. Curtailment is defined as a reduction in the output of a generator, typically on an involuntary basis, from what it could otherwise produce given the resources available.

According to the government, 15 states in India have achieved 100 percent household electrification under Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (SAUBHAGYA) program so far. The eight new states that have joined this list of 100 percent household electrification are: Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Sikkim, Telangana, and West Bengal.

With both solar and non-solar renewable energy certificate (REC) trading undergoing a reversal in the demand-supply situation, the trading of solar RECs has witnessed a huge slump even as trade in non-solar RECs continues its upward movement for November 2018. A total of 58,877 solar RECs were traded in November 2018, which was 217,074 fewer than the 275,951 solar RECs traded in October 2018.

The Delhi government has released its draft Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy 2018 to improve the city’s air quality through emission reductions in the transportation sector. With this policy, the government hopes that 25 percent of all new vehicle registrations by 2023 will be Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). The policy also supports the creation of jobs in driving, selling, financing, servicing and charging of EVs.

Indian solar imports spiked considerably in the third quarter (Q3) of calendar year (CY) 2018. According to the latest data from the Department of Commerce, solar modules and cells worth $602 million (~₹42.96 billion) were imported by India in Q3 of CY 2018.  This figure is approximately 38 percent more than the $436.63 million (~₹31.21 billion) of solar cells and modules imported by India in the previous quarter of 2018. However, import activity was down 17 percent compared to the same quarter in 2017.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has entered a $13 million grant agreement with India’s Energy Efficiency Services (EESL). The grant will be provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the additional financing of an ongoing ADB-supported project that is promoting end-use energy efficiency.

After announcing installation caps in the second quarter, China is currently evaluating the feasibility of increasing its solar installation target to 250-270 GW by 2022. To date, China currently has installed 165 of solar.

Maintaining its upward trend, India’s spot power prices soared in October 2018. This was the second month in a row which saw a reversal from previous months’ trend. In October 2018, the recorded spot power price was ₹5.94 (~$0.081)/kWh, a 26 percent increase from the spot power price of ₹4.69 (~$0.063)/kWh recorded in September 2018.

Recently India and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu conducted consultations at the World Tarde Organization (WTO) on the levy of 25 percent safeguard duty on solar imports from China and Malaysia. The delegations from both the WTO members met to exchange views on the safeguard measure and to reach an understanding. However no such agreement was reached. 

According to a market reportwhere sun meets water” produced by the World Bank Group and  the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), the global potential of floating solar is estimated to be around 400 GW. This is close to is the total capacity of all solar photovoltaic installations in the world at the end of 2017.

Solar power generation in India has increased substantially over the past few years. However, there was a decline in solar power generation rate quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) due to seasonal changes. This is similar to the trend last year. According to the data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), solar power generation in Q3 of CY 2018 spiked by 58 percent year-over-year (YoY) to 8,399 million units (MU) when compared to 5,324 MU generated by solar in Q3 CY 2017.