Month in a Minute: Top Headlines from India’s Renewable Sector in August 2020

August saw a surge in power demand after the national lockdown was lifted


August saw the India renewable sector trying to come to terms with the new normal in the COVID-19 world. Here is a recap of the month’s most important headlines:

Mercom released its Q2 2020 India Solar Market Update report, which said that India had added only 205 MW of solar capacity in the second quarter of 2020, an 81% decline from the previous quarter’s 1,090 MW of additions. The report also showed that government agencies had announced nearly 6 GW of solar tenders during the second quarter of 2020, a 58% decline compared to 13.4 GW in the previous quarter. The report mentioned that the average large-scale solar project cost was approximately ₹34 million (~$455,532)/MW in Q2 2020, a decline of 10% from the same period last year.

India’s solar imports declined by 83% in the second quarter (Q2) of the calendar year 2020, totaling $69 million (₹5.15 billion) as compared to $399 million (₹29.7 billion) during the same period last year. The slowdown in the imports was primarily due to the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Indian solar industry has been dependent on imported solar cells and modules since the inception of the National Solar Mission. But now, the government has shifted focus towards local manufacturing. Mercom took an in-depth look at what it would take to ramp-up solar manufacturing in India.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) paid nearly ₹4.4 billion (~$58.8 million) to project developers for the purchase of solar and wind power in June 2020. This represented about 63% of SECI’s total payments made during the month.

The Ministry of Power waived interstate transmission system (ISTS) charges and losses on all solar and wind projects commissioned before June 30, 2023. This would apply to solar, wind, and hybrid projects with or without storage.

Between April and June 2020, nearly 15.7 billion units (BU) of electricity was generated from solar-based sources in India, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority. This was a 26% increase compared to the same period last year.

Mercom India hosted a webinar to discuss the pressing issues and opportunities in the Indian renewable energy sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The round table discussed various issues, including the imposition of basic customs duty and how it was a necessary step to encourage the domestic manufacturing sector.

The distribution companies owed renewable generators ₹101.11 billion (~$1.3 billion) in overdue payments (excluding dues under dispute) spread across 544 invoices at the end of June 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Power’s payment ratification and analysis portal (PRAAPTI).

The ‘Global Offshore Wind Report 2020’ published by the Global Wind Energy Council expressed its apprehensions on India meeting its offshore and onshore wind energy targets by 2022. The wind council suggested proper planning for tenders along with demonstration-scale projects to enable India to achieve its targets.

Tata Power announced its earnings for the quarter ended June 30, 2020, and posted a net profit of ₹2.68 billion (~$35.9 million), a 10.3% increase from ₹2.43 billion (~$32.6 million) in the same period last year.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MORTH) announced that all the states and union territories had been allowed the registration and sale of electric vehicles without pre-fitted batteries. The move is likely to provide the necessary boost for the wider adoption of EVs across the country.

Indian Hotels Company Limited announced that it had signed a power purchase agreement with TP Kirnali Solar Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company Limited. Under the agreement, Tata would provide renewable energy for IHCL’s Mumbai-based hotels for 25 years.

Sterlite Power, a power transmission infrastructure developer, announced that it had sold a 14.7% stake in the India Grid Trust for an amount of ₹8.4 billion (~$112.2 million) to institutional and high net-worth individual investors.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the introduction of the ‘Green Term-Ahead Market’ contracts on the Indian Energy Exchange, adding that it would provide an avenue for short-term trading of renewable energy.

NTPC, in its corporate disclosure to the BSE, declared that it received the approval of NITI Aayog and the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management to set up a wholly-owned company for its renewable energy business.

The Competition Commission of India approved the proposed acquisition of New Delhi-based C&S Electric by Siemens Limited. The proposed move would lead to the acquisition of 100% of the share capital of C&S Electric by Siemens Limited.

The government of India’s Department of Science and Technology invited proposals from Indian researchers in the area of carbon capture, utilization & storage under the Accelerating CCUS Technologies (ACT) program in collaboration with other ACT member countries.

The Ministry of Power suggested that the power generation and transmission companies should reduce the late payment surcharge up to 12% annually for distribution companies. This suggestion would apply to all late payments made under the liquidity infusion program.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited paid nearly ₹5.2 billion (~$70.2 million) to developers for the purchase of solar and wind power in July 2020. This represented about 75% of SECI’s total payments made during the month.

NTPC Limited announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, NTPC Vidhyut Vihar Nigam Limited (NVVN), had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Greenko Energies Private Limited to explore opportunities to supply round-the-clock renewable energy.

Mercom interviewed a spokesperson for Amazon India to find out more about the company’s green initiatives to incorporate green energy and sustainability efforts into its operations in the country.

Data from POSOCO, the National Load Despatch Centre, showed that power demand in the country rose after it dipped during the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown. The data showed that after the lockdown was lifted, the average daily power demand stood at 3,595 million units for the period between June 1, 2020, and August 27, 2020.

An in-depth article explored how technological advancements can play a vital role in the expansion of India’s solar manufacturing sector. One such technical upgrade is to increase the size of solar cells and wafers.