Month in a Minute: Top Headlines from the Indian Renewable Sector in December 2023

India added 1.3 GW of rooftop solar capacity in 9M 2023


India installed over 1.3 GW of rooftop solar capacity in the first nine months (9M) of the calendar year 2023, an increase of 12% year-over-year (YoY), according to Mercom India Research’s newly released Q3 2023 Mercom India Rooftop Solar Market Report. India added 431 MW of rooftop solar capacity in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, up 34.7% YoY. The installations also saw a quarter-over-quarter increase of 11.4% from 388 MW. India’s cumulative rooftop solar capacity reached 10.1 GW at the end of Q3 2023.

India saw a surge in solar open access installations with the addition of 907 MW in Q3 of 2023, a 36.1% increase over 666 MW in the previous quarter, according to the recently published Q3 2023 Mercom India Solar Open Access Market Report. The installations showed a growth of 20.6% from the 752 MW installed in the same quarter in 2022. Maharashtra added the most capacity (26.5%), followed by Karnataka (20.3%) and Tamil Nadu (19.5%). The top five states collectively accounted for 88.5% of the installations during the quarter.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Wind Energy Division, has revised its 2016 policy for repowering wind power projects to facilitate the replacement of older turbines. The ‘National Repowering & Life Extension Policy for Wind Power Projects – 2023’ allows the repowering or replacing of older turbines with more efficient ones, even before the end of their design life, through modifications in components such as gearbox, blades, generator, and controller.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) paid solar and wind power producers ₹10 billion (~$119.9 million) for the energy purchased in October 2023. The payment reflected a decline of 23% from the September disbursements. The disbursements increased by 24% on a year-over-year basis. In October, disbursements to solar and wind developers constituted 67.7% of the total payments. The nodal agency disbursed a total of ₹14.8 billion (~$177.1 million) during the month. SECI released ₹2.3 billion (~$27.3 million) towards subsidy under the Solar Park Program.

Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission rejected a plea for a 50% renewable energy obligation (RPO) procurement mandate from projects within Maharashtra. Such an imposition was against the Electricity Act 2003’s mandate to promote competition, and such restrictions on distribution licensees alone would be discriminatory, the Commission said. Maharashtra Energy Development Agency had sought directions for distribution licensees to meet 50% of the total RPO requirement by purchasing energy from renewable sources within the state.

The Ministry of Power has 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 Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry has recommended that the government formulate a consistent and stable national policy on electric mobility to create a promising environment for the electric vehicle (EV) industry to thrive. The committee thinks that frequent changes in the policies relating to EVs create uncertainties in the market and the EV industry. It also creates doubt in the minds of end users about the government’s actions.

The Department of Science & Technology has invited proposals to upgrade lab-scale technologies, which are at technology readiness levels (TRL) 3-4, to reach prototypes (TRL 5) and pilot plants (TRL 6) for establishing a complete hydrogen value chain in India. The projects funded under this initiative are expected to be completed within two to two-three years, with a maximum funding limit of ₹50 million (~$599,776). The call for proposals focuses on the indigenous development of hydrogen-related technologies, emphasizing prototypes demonstrating commercial potential.

Indian Railways has initiated the process of building a hydrogen production and refueling station in Jind, Haryana, to supply the country’s first-ever hydrogen train under the Hydrogen for Heritage initiative. The pilot project will involve retrofitting the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit rake on the Sonipat-Jind section from a diesel to a hydrogen-powered train. Under the initiative, Indian Railways plans to operate 35 hydrogen trains, the first of which will operate on the 89-kilometer stretch between Jind and Sonipat, with an expected flag-off date in 2024.

The Ministry of Power has proposed regulating short-term and general network access for distribution licensees who fail to clear their dues even after two and a half months. The Ministry has proposed amendments to the Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge and Related Matters) Rules 2023 and encouraged Interested stakeholders to submit their comments by January 12, 2024. The regulations will be referred to as the Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge and Related Matters) (Amendment) Rules, 2023.

Bihar’s New Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy aims to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and the implementation of EV charging stations in the state, ensuring EVs account for 15% of all new vehicles purchased in the state by 2028. The five-year policy, recently approved by the state cabinet, offers up to ₹125,000 (~$1,499) in purchase incentives for the first 1,000 four-wheeler EV purchases. It also extends a minimum 50% rebate on Motor Vehicle Tax for all new EVs in the state. The incentives offered will be in addition to the demand incentives available under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India II program.