News Highlights from India’s Renewable Sector in January 2020

The month saw some significant developments in the clean energy sector


The beginning of the year 2020 witnessed some exciting developments in the renewable energy sector. There were several major company and government updates in January.

Here is a recap of the month’s most important developments, which made the headlines.

The National Institute of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog’s sustainable development goals (SDG) index showed that Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana held the top spots in terms of progress towards sustainable development targets.  The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals intending to end poverty, fight inequality, and address the urgency of climate change. The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030, is part of UN Resolution.

The MNRE has directed wind power developers in the vicinity of Air Force station at Bhuj to comply with the no-objection certificate (NOC) issued by the Ministry of Defense. One of the mandatory requirements is the standard obstruction markings and lightings as per IS 5613 notification and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards on wind turbines.

Meanwhile, Chennai-based renewable energy company SunEdison Infrastructure Limited (formerly YKM Industries Limited) informed that its subsidiary SIL Rooftop Solar Power Private Limited (SIL), has acquired 100% fully paid-up equity share capital along with voting rights of Sherisha Solar Private Limited (SSPL).

The company announced this development through a recent corporate filing at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). With this acquisition, Sherisha Solar has become a “step-down subsidiary” of SunEdison. In the BSE Filing stated that this acquisition has been in effect since January 3, 2020.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financial arm of the World Bank, announced its plan to lend $36 million (~₹2.57 billion) for a 250 MW solar project by Mahindra Renewables Private Limited (MRPL) in Rajasthan. The project is expected to be developed in the district of Jodhpur in the state. It is part of the Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) 2 GW interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected solar project that was auctioned in 2018.

Total corporate funding in the solar sector increased by 20% in 2019, reaching $11.7 billion in 117 deals, up from $9.7 billion in 139 deals in 2018, according to Mercom Capital Group’s recently released 2019 Q4 and Annual Solar Funding and M&A Report.  The increase in corporate funding was mainly due to large debt financing activity in the first (Q1) and last (Q4) quarters of 2019 compared to 2018.

Renewable energy company Suzlon Energy Limited disclosed an outstanding debt of ₹127.85 billion (~$1.8 billion), according to the company’s Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) filing. The company filed the disclosure of defaults on payment of interest, repayment of principal amount on loans from banks and financial institutions in the filing. The outstanding debt towards various lenders is inclusive of interest calculated by the company up to December 31, 2019.

In another development, ENGIE, a French multinational electric utility company, has announced that it is selling a 74% stake in its solar assets in India to Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus (EIYP). This transaction is a part of a strategic partnership between the two companies. The French power distribution company said it would sell 12 solar assets with a total operating capacity of 813 MW (DC) to EIYP and Sekura Energy Limited, a portfolio company of EIYP.

It was also reported that renewable energy (including large hydro) accounted for almost 36% of India’s total power capacity mix at the end of the calendar year (CY) 2019, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The country’s total installed power capacity stood at about 371 GW as of December 31, 2019. Of this, renewables (including large hydro) accounted for about 133.2 GW, up from 122.8 GW last year, an 8.5% rise.

Jinko Solar, a China-based solar module manufacturer, announced that it had broken the world record for maximum conversion efficiency for its bifacial solar modules, hitting 22.49%. With this, the company says it has set a new industry standard for the efficiency of mass-produced solar cells.

The Indian Prime Minister’s office has proposed waiving the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Compensation Cess, (earlier called the Clean Energy Cess which was India’s version of carbon tax) on coal to reduce the financial strain on distribution companies, besides helping the thermal power projects install flue gas desulphurization to curb pollution.

The government of Gujarat has implemented a program for the distribution of battery-operated vehicles (BOVs), especially two-wheelers to the students of grade nine and above. The initiative has been taken to promote eco-friendly vehicles in the state. Those students who opt for such vehicles will get the benefit of state subsidy to the tune of ₹10,000 (~$141) per vehicle. The program is executed through the dealership network of Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) authorized manufacturers. High speed (>25 km/hr) battery-operated two-wheelers have also been distributed to those students of grade 12 and above with a valid driving license

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has asked the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to extend the financial closure and scheduled commissioning dates for a wind power project.

The project was developed by Mytrah Vayu (Vedavati) Private Limited (MVPL).

In June 2019, the MVPL had filed a petition with the Commission seeking the extension of the financial closure and scheduled commercial operation date (SCOD) of its 100 MW wind project in the state of Maharashtra.

In the electric vehicles segment, the Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) has so far approved 2,636 electric vehicle charging stations in 62 cities across 24 states and union territories under the second phase of FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India) program. According to the government’s statement, nearly 106 proposals were received from the public and private entities for the deployment of approximately 7,000 EV charging stations. After the evaluation of these proposals, the government has approved 2,636 charging stations for 24 states. Out of these, 1,633 charging stations will be fast-charging stations, and 1,003 will be slow charging stations.

Wind, solar, wind-solar hybrid, and hydro projects must be treated as ‘must-run’ power projects, suggested a panel reviewing the Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC) 2020.

The draft report also suggests that such projects should not be subjected to curtailment on account of merit order dispatch or any other commercial consideration.

The Ministry of Power announced the release of its ‘State Energy Efficiency Index 2019’ report, which keeps tabs on the progress made by the Indian states and union territories regarding energy efficiency initiatives.

The report covers energy efficiency initiates in 36 states and union territories (UT) based on 97 indicators. The index was developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE).

Bengaluru-based startup Numocity Technologies has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Ideaspring Capital, Rebright Partners, and ABB Technology Ventures (ATV). The early-stage startup is focused on providing end-to-end solutions for the electric mobility infrastructure in the country.

ReNew Power Private Limited, a domestic renewable project developer, has raised $450 million (~₹31.96 billion) through a dollar bond issuance.  The bonds were priced at a coupon rate of 5.875% and will be issued in two tranches with an average maturity of five-and-a-half years.

Lastly, solar energy projects are providing rural economies with new sources of revenue, employment and business opportunities, product and policy innovation, capacity building, and, most notably, affordable energy.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has directed the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to pay the dues claimed by ACME Solar along with late payment surcharge within 30 days of the order. The payment is for reimbursing the sum that was incurred as additional capital expenditure after the introduction of GST Law. Last year, ACME Solar Holding Ltd had issued a letter to NTPC for the payment of dues totaling ₹226.8 million (~$3.179 million) for solar projects in Karnataka and ₹99.2 million (~$1.39 million) for projects in Telangana.

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