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

Solar surpasses large hydro to become the top renewable energy source


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

Solar is now the top renewable energy source in India, with 46.8 GW of installed capacity. Solar energy has overtaken large hydro, which had an installed capacity of 46.51 GW as of October 31, 2021. Solar energy accounted for 12% of the installed capacity across all sources and 31.47% of the installed renewable energy capacity. Large hydro represented 11.9% of the overall installed power capacity.

India generated around 51.67 BU of solar power in the first nine months (9M) of the calendar year (CY) 2021, an 18% year-over-year (YoY) increase compared to 43.97 BU in the same period last year. In the third quarter (Q3) of CY 2021, solar generation stood at 16.03 BU compared to 18.12 BU generated in the previous quarter. However, solar generation increased 23% YoY compared to 12.99 BU in Q3 2020.

India reduced its peak power deficit from 16.6% in financial year (FY) 2008 to 0.4% in FY 2021, backed by several policies and infrastructure interventions such as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, Integrated Power Development Scheme, and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. The government’s multi-pronged interventions had resulted in the deficit nearly wiped out over the last three years from 0.8% in 2018-19 to 0.4% in 2020-21.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the COP26 Summit that India aims to become a net-zero economy by 2070 and has set a target of installing a non-fossil energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030. The prime minister said India would meet 50% of its electricity requirements from renewable energy by 2030. India would reduce 1 billion tons of carbon emissions from now onwards until the end of the decade. He said that the country would also reduce its economy’s carbon intensity by less than 45% by 2030. Modi said that India expects developed countries to provide $1 trillion of climate finance at the earliest.

The Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) traded 372.4 million units (MU) of renewable energy in October 2021, a 31% month-over-month (MoM) decline compared to 543 MU in September. The exchange saw a trading volume of 9.16 billion units (BU) of energy during the month, with a 36% YoY growth. Energy consumption increased 3% to 114 BU in the month. Peak power demand in October 2021 reached 175 GW, with a 3 % YoY growth.

The Ministry of Power has outlined a detailed mechanism allowing the bundling of thermal and hydropower projects with standalone renewable energy projects or renewable energy projects with battery storage systems either through setting up renewable energy generation capacities themselves or through developers by inviting bids. The generated power can also be supplied to distribution companies (DISCOMs) under existing power purchase agreements (PPAs). DISCOMs can count the renewable energy procured under the new mechanism towards their renewable purchase obligation (RPO) without the financial burden of a separate power purchase agreement (PPA).

Union Power Minister RK Singh has said the government will soon increase the funding allocation for the production linked incentive (PLI) program for manufacturing domestic solar cells and modules to ₹240 billion (~$3.22 billion) from the existing ₹45 billion (~$605.4 million).

The Union Government has approved the sale of the government-owned solar cell and module manufacturer Central Electronics Limited (CEL) to Nandal Finance and Leasing Private Limited for ₹2.10 billion (~$28.02 million). The letter of intent and the share purchase agreement will be issued after the successful bidder meets the precedent conditions. The transaction is expected to be completed during the financial year 2021-22.

Jindal, Shirdi Sai, and Reliance won IREDA’s solar module manufacturing production linked incentive (PLI) auction. Jindal India Solar Energy was awarded a PLI of ₹13.90 billion (~$186.8 million), and Shirdi Sai Electricals a PLI of ₹18.75 billion (~$252 million), for a capacity of 4 GW each. Reliance New Energy Solar was awarded a PLI of ₹11.90 billion (~$160 million) for a capacity of 2,483 MW. IREDA has announced PLI totaling ₹44.50 billion (~$598 million) for a total capacity of 10,483 MW.

Imports of solar cells and modules increased by 448% to $1.97 billion in the first nine months of CY 2021. India had imported solar cells and modules worth $359.93 million in the same period last year. In the third quarter of CY 2021, Indian solar imports stood at $953 million, a 580% increase compared to $140 million in the same period last year. Solar imports increased by approximately 25% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) in Q3 2021 compared to $762 million in the previous quarter.

Public infrastructure finance company REC Limited recorded a 15% year-over-year (YoY) growth in its total income in the second quarter (Q2) of the financial year (FY) 2022. The company’s total income rose to ₹100.79 billion (~$1.34 billion) in Q2 FY 2022 from ₹87.91 billion (~$1.17 billion) in the same period last year.

Virescent Renewable Energy Trust (VRET), a renewable energy infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) from KKR’s Virescent Infrastructure, has raised a total of ₹21.5 billion through listed non-convertible debentures and long-term debt financing. VRET raised ₹10 billion (~$134.41 million) in its maiden issuance across 3, 5, and 7 year-tranches. VRET has tied up an additional ₹10 billion (~$134.41 million) in long-term financing from L&T Finance to ensure a complete debt tie-up of its near-term acquisition pipeline. VRET has also availed a working capital facility of ₹1.5 billion (~$20.16 million) from Tata Capital.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) concluded with nearly 200 countries agreeing with the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep the target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. For the first time, the conference agreed to accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of coal power. The text of the pact includes ‘phase-down of unabated coal power’ and ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,’ as well as ‘mid-century net-zero.’ This language has never been included in UN text before.

The new Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) was launched at the COP26 summit to accelerate investment in green energy transitions and renewable power solutions in developing and emerging economies worldwide. Over the next decade, GEAPP aims to unlock $100 billion in public and private capital and reach one billion people with reliable, renewable energy, avoid and avert four billion tons of carbon emissions, and create, enable, or improve 150 million jobs.