Month in a Minute: Top Headlines from Indian Renewable Sector in December 2021

India’s installed renewable energy capacity, including hydropower, crosses 150 GW


Here is a recap of some of the most important headlines from December 2021:

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) announced that India crossed the 150 GW milestone of installed renewable energy capacity, including hydropower, in December 2021. The Power Minister RK Singh told Rajya Sabha that India had installed 46.25 GW of grid-connected solar energy as of October 31, 2021. In addition, 36.65 GW of solar projects are under various stages of implementation, and another 24.56 GW of capacity has been tendered. So far, 107.46 GW of solar capacity has been installed or under various stages of implementation or tendering.

Reliance New Energy Solar Limited (RNESL), the green energy arm of RIL, signed an agreement with sodium-ion battery technology provider Faradion to acquire a 100% stake for £94.42 million (~$127.42 million). Faradion has an enterprise value of around £100 million (~$134.96 million). RNESL will acquire 88.92% of Faradion’s shares for £83.97 million (~$113.32 million) at closing expected in early January 2022. The remaining 11.08% shares will be acquired within three years for around £10.45 million (~$14.10 million). RNESL will also subscribe to Faradion’s new equity shares for £31.59 million (~$42.63 million). Of this, £25 million (~$33.74 million) will be used to accelerate the commercial rollout and the balance for debt repayment and other fees.

India installed 1.3 GW of rooftop solar capacity in 9M 2021, a 202% increase compared to the same period last year. The numbers were revealed in Mercom India Research’s ‘India Rooftop Solar Market Report Q3 2021.’ Rooftop installations were also up by 189% compared to the same period last year. The numbers were the highest recorded for the 9M period of any given year. At the end of Q3 2021, cumulative rooftop installations stood at 6.7 GW. India added 448 MW of rooftop solar capacity, registering a 14% drop quarter-over-quarter in Q3 of the calendar year 2021, compared to 521 MW in Q2.

MNRE reinstated the earnest money deposit (EMD) requirement and set it at 2% of the estimated project cost for upcoming renewable energy tenders. It also directed the implementing agencies, which include the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), NTPC, and NHPC, to set the performance bank guarantee at 4% of the estimated project cost (in cases where the procurer specifies the site) and 5% (in cases where the generator chooses the site) for all upcoming tenders.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) disbursed ₹5.21 billion (~$68.9 million) to solar and wind developers for the power purchased in October 2021. The disbursed amount accounted for 96% of the total amount paid by the nodal agency in October 2021. In October, the total amount disbursed by the agency was ₹5.42 billion (~$71.7 million), which included solar and wind purchases, developers’ reimbursements, duties, and other reimbursements. Clean Solar (Bhadla), Wardha Solar (Maharashtra), SB Energy One, Sprng Renewable Energy, and ReNew Wind Energy (AP2) were the primary beneficiaries of the payments.

The Supreme Court of India ruled that captive power consumers were not liable to pay an additional surcharge under Section 42 (4) of the Electricity Act, 2003. The court said that since it would be a significant liability for the distribution company (DISCOM) to refund the additional surcharge collected, the amount must be adjusted in future bills for wheeling charges. It said that captive users formed a separate class other than the consumers defined in the Electricity Act, 2003, and should not be liable to pay an additional surcharge.

The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) requested Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju to re-examine the Punjab Renewable Energy Security, Reform, Termination, and Re-Determination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021. The Bill, passed in the Punjab State Assembly on November 11, 2021, has been referred to the President of India for his approval by the Punjab Governor. NSEFI contends that if the President approves the Bill, it will be detrimental to the renewable energy industry and will allow redetermination of the already finalized tariff of operational projects. It will also violate the Electricity Act, 2003, and go against the National Electricity Policy, 2005, and the National Tariff Policy, 2016.

The Ministry of Power approved 23 new interstate transmission system (ISTS) projects to augment the seamless transfer of power from surplus to deficit regions. The estimated cost of the projects is ₹158.93 billion (~$2.11 billion). The new ISTS projects will include 13 projects with an estimated cost of ₹147.66 billion (~$1.96 billion) under the tariff-based competitive bidding process. The other ten projects with an estimated cost of ₹11.27 billion (~$149.38 million) will be developed under the regulated tariff mechanism.

The Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) traded 457 million units (MU) of renewable energy in November 2021, a 23% month-over-month (MoM) increase compared to 372.4 MU in October. The exchange saw a trading volume of 9.47 billion units (BU) of energy during the month, with a 54% year-over-year (YoY) growth. Energy consumption increased 2% YoY to 100.4 BU in the month. Peak power demand in November 2021 reached 166.19 GW, with a 3% YoY growth.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) approved $500 million of debt financing to First Solar to set up a 3.3 GW vertically integrated solar module manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The investment helps DFC diversify solar supply chains and promote the commitment of the U.S. to tackle climate change at home and abroad. First Solar produces thin-film solar panel modules that do not use polysilicon.

Virescent Renewable Energy Trust, a platform created by global investment company KKR to procure renewable energy assets in India, announced that it acquired a 49 MW solar portfolio from five special purpose vehicles (SPVs) of Focal Energy for ₹3.54 billion (~$46.73 million). The solar assets are located in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, and the portfolio has a mix of central and state government off-takers. Virescent will own 100% equity in the SPVs Globus Steel and Power, Focal Energy Solar One India, Focal Energy Solar India, SunBorne Energy Rajasthan Solar. Virescent will also indirectly acquire 66% in Focal Energy Solar Three India.

Reliance Industries (RIL)  availed $736 million equivalent green loans from five banks to fund its acquisition of Norway-headquartered solar cells, modules, and polysilicon manufacturer REC Solar Holdings. The five lending banks were ANZ, Credit Agricole, DBS Bank, HSBC, and MUFG. The financing comprises a $250 million six-year term loan, a $150 million working capital facility, and a $336 million five-year bank guarantee facility. International law firm Milbank advised the lenders concerning the green loan to finance Reliance’s acquisition of REC Solar.

The foreign direct investment (FDI) in India’s renewable energy sector stood at $1.03 billion (~₹77.55 billion) for the first half (1H) of the financial year (FY) 2021-22. The FDI inflow into the renewable energy sector so far in 2021-22 is more than what was invested in the whole of the last financial year. With another six months to go, this could be the best year for foreign direct investments in the sector. There has been no FDI into coal production after 2013-14, and the investments in petroleum and natural gas have been stable. The renewable energy sector accounted for 3.4% of the total FDI inflow during 1H 2021-22. The cumulative FDI inflow in the renewable sector stood at $10.23 billion (~₹770.24 billion) between April 2010 and September 2021.

REC Limited, a public infrastructure finance company, involved in financing power projects,  reached an agreement with Germany-based KfW Development Bank for official development assistance (ODA) loan of $169.5 million. After the Ministry of Finance’s approval, the agreement was signed under the Indo-German Bilateral Partnership. REC will utilize the proceeds of the ODA loan to part-finance solar generation projects in India at competitive interest rates.

ITC Limited, an Indian multi-business conglomerate, commissioned its first offsite solar project in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. The 14.9 MW solar project, to be built with an investment of ₹760 million (~$10.14 million), is expected to help the company reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. The solar project will cater to around 90% of ITC’s power demand in the state. The project would generate over 22 million units of green energy annually for ITC’s hotel, food manufacturing facilities, paper manufacturing facility, and printing and packaging factory in Tamil Nadu.