Category: News

India’s Madhya Pradesh consults on 500MW of energy storage and manufacturing

Indian firm Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company (MPPMCL) has invited expressions of interest (EOI) for setting up 500MW of grid-scale energy storage capacity as well as a storage manufacturing facility in the central Indian state.

Under prime minister Narendra Modi’s first term heading the government, the Saubhagya Yojna electrification scheme brought an extra 2.7 million customers online in Madhya Pradesh, where distribution companies now supply power to 11.5 million domestic consumers out of a total population of 82.3 million.

On top of the added pressure on the grid from a major uptick in customers, India is also seeing increasing penetration of solar and wind generation, which brings its own grid integration challenges. With its wide availability of barren lands, Madhya Pradesh is a well-suited state for such clean energy ventures, although power demand is limited when compared to many other states. As of 31 January, the state has 3,827MW of installed renewable energy – 19.3% of its energy mix.

Current ‘Must-Run’ rules for renewables in India, mean that renewable energy generation cannot be curtailed by distribution companies (Discoms) even if there is more supply than demand, which then requires Discoms to curtail other generation units and bear the costs of a fixed cost contract.

The state government expressed its intention in the EOI document to maintain quality, reliability and security of the grid for the benefit of consumers and for this ancillary services were needed. Such services from energy storage systems could maintain grid frequency and network voltages among other capabilities.

The increasing share of renewables, MPPMCL said, necessitates maintaining adequate active power reserves and reactive power sources.

Utility-scale storage is expected to play a prominent role in providing the necessary ancillary services in the state, whether through batteries, pumped hydro storage, compressed air energy storage, flywheels or other forms of storage technology. MPPMCL expressed some added interest in chemical batteries due to their flexibility in modular design, higher efficiencies, wide-ranging discharge times and lower maintenance costs.

Energy storage will also be able to smooth out electricity supply from wind and solar and ensure supply matches demand thus relieving Discoms from further financial burdens of curtailment.

The aim of the EOI is to invite global companies to demonstrate their technologies and share their experiences before developing up to 500MW of storage capacity with at least 8 hours of discharge per day and continuous discharge capabilities for 3 hours.

Any technology can be proposed and micro-grids with batteries for grid stabilisation are eligible.

Manufacturers and services providers for storage can also use the EoI to interact with the government of Madhya Pradesh as the first step in its plan to become a hub for storage manufacturing.

Companies have two months to submit their proposals.

Having gone quiet for some time, India this year reignited interest in its storage and solar-plus-storage sectors with two major tenders from Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The government is also now interested in gravity-based storage.

India invites proposals for gravity-based energy storage projects

India is looking at gravity-based energy storage to take advantage of the technology’s short response times and flexibility when it comes to grid integration of clean energy sources.

With the South Asian nation’s increasing penetration of renewable energy onto the grid, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been compelled to look at energy storage proposals via a research programme. The programme covers a spectrum of technologies, in the knowledge that different storage products will be more suitable to different applications and that the demands on any single storage system can vary across locations.

In a notice describing gravity-based storage, MNRE stated: “In such systems, electricity is used to lift mass to higher elevation thereby storing potential energy and lowering this mass discharges the energy which can again be converted to electricity. Globally, a number of entities are working in this segment.” is as aware of at least two companies who are providing such storage systems. Swiss company Energy Vault has made its gravity-based technology (pictured above) commercially available and Indian energy giant Tata Power expected to be the first customer. Meanwhile, a UK-based company, known as Gravitricity, also offers such technology, which it describes on its website as a huge “clock weight” with a cylindrical weight of up to 3,000 tonnes suspended in a deep shaft by a number of cables.

MNRE has now invited preliminary project proposals on ‘Gravity Storage’, that will be examined by a committee before shortlisted proposals are then invited to submit a final proposal.

The stated aim of the invitation is “to develop state of the art technical know-how and develop a prototype system that has commercialisation potential in the short term.”

Proposals should be sent to MNRE by the end of this month.

A technical analysis of how India’s plans for 175GW renewable power by 2022 will get integrated to the Indian power grid, can be found in this report from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

ROUND-UP: JAKS 50MW Vietnam buy, Mono PERC in Belgium, India manufacturing delay, Iran water aid

JAKS MoU to buy 49.5MW Vietnam solar project

14 May: JAKS Resources Bhd has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vietnam-based LICOGI 13 to acquire a 49.5MW solar project and to form joint ventures for other solar and wind energy projects, according to a stock exchange filing.

The Lig-Quang Tri Solar Power Project (LQT) will come into operation at the end of June 2019 in the central province of Quang Tri, Vietnam.

ReneSola provides 5.4MW of mono-PERC modules to Helexia in Belgium

14 May: ReneSola has signed an agreement to provide 5.4MW of 310W mono-PERC modules to Helexia for deployment on rooftop solar projects in Belgium.

Helexia, an energy equipment and solutions provider, currently operates more than 150 solar plants with a combined power output of 60MW and is enjoying fast growth in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium. 

SECI delays PV manufacturing-linked tender again

14 May: Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has once again postponed its tender for 3GW of solar linked with 1.5GW of PV manufacturing.

The new deadline for submissions is 31 May this year.

Renewables could solve Iran water scarcity

14 May: Renewable energy plants may help solve water scarcity issues in the Iranian province of Isfahan, according to an official at SATBA.

Iran has suffered from a drought crisis particularly last summer when water scarcity reduced the capacity of electricity generation in some of its power plants, especially Isfahan province.

There were six renewable power plants with total capacity of 15.11MW in Isfahan province by mid-April 2019, including four solar power plants, one small hydropower plant, and one wind power plant operating. 

Surprisingly ‘aggressive’ tariffs in Maharashtra’s 250MW solar auction

Bids have ranged between 2.87-2.91 rupees (U$0.041) per unit in a 250MW solar auction at a challenging location, known as the Dondaicha Solar Park in the state of Maharashtra, India.

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued the tender last October.

The bidding results were as follows:

Bidder Capacity (MW) Tariff (INR/kWh)
Talettutayi Solar (SolarArise) 50 2.87
Tata Power (TPREL) 100 2.88
NTPC 100 (bid for 250) 2.91

Vinay Rustagi, managing director of consultancy firm Bridge to India, told PV Tech: “This is a challenging site – relative lower irradiation, forest land, difficult access – and has high solar park charges. There was limited bidding interest and it is therefore surprising to see tariffs on the aggressive side, all factors considered. “

The capacity has been split into five projects of 50MW each, with plants to be set up on a Build Own Operate (BOO) basis. Power procured by SECI from the projects will be sold to the State Discom Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Limited (MSEDCL).

India’s auction activity has picked up slightly in recent days, with 750MW also awarded in two separate auctions in the state of Gujarat.

Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL)’s 500MW auction at the Raghanesda Solar Park saw French power giant Engie grab 200MW, with two local state-run firms and Tata Power picking up the remaining 300MW. Tariffs ranged between 2.65-2.70 rupees.

Later, GUVNL’s 1GW auction at the Dholera Solar Park saw just 250MW awarded to Tata Power and local state-run firm GIPCL, with tariffs remaining at the ceiling price of 2.75 rupees per unit.

Rustagi has previously said that there is a disappointing trend in India solar at present of low interest in various tenders.

India solar heads cheerful with cross-political support – CEO survey

Most company chiefs in India’s solar space are optimistic about its future growth, according to this year’s ‘India RE CEO Survey’ from consultancy firm Bridge to India.

CEO’s expect 58GW of solar additions over the next five years, split between 47GW of utility-scale solar, 8GW of rooftop PV, and 3GW of floating solar (wind 21GW).

While opinions on large-scale solar additions were evenly spread, the industry has been conservative in its outlook for rooftop PV, with a clear majority (78%) expecting less than 10GW deployment over the five-year period, despite Bridge to India forecasting 18GW of rooftop.

The survey involved 41 Indian and international, EPC, O&M, developer and manufacturing companies, with around half the respondents from India itself. Despite policy reversals and various other operational challenges, 34% of the respondents were very optimistic, 39% were optimistic, and just 7% were not optimistic about the future.

The main challenges listed by leaders, in order of importance, included:

  • offtake risk
  • land acquisition
  • uncertainty in policy environment
  • Discom demand for renewable energy
  • network connectivity
  • debt and equity financing

The long-held view of many in the sector that bids have been irrationally or fairly aggressive has not changed in the last year with more than 90% still believing this to be the case.

Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were the top three states in terms of ease of doing business, whereas Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana were the hardest states to do business in.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge to India, said: “Overall, the survey paints an optimistic picture for renewable energy sector growth. If effective measures for Discom reform and network connectivity are put in place, we can expect much higher capacity additions in the coming years. We also believe that the sector enjoys broad cross-political support and there is unlikely to be retreat irrespective of who forms the government.”

With India in election mode, CEOs also expect any new government to improve business execution and provide policy stability.

PV manufacturing outlooks of those questioned were downbeat after the safeguard duty, manufacturing-linked tenders and the KUSUM and CPSU scheme had failed so far to reignite the domestic sector.

There was a very wide variety of responses on grid-scale energy storage deployment, with 48% of CEO’s believing that it would be below 1GW, and just 23% expecting deployment to go beyond 2GW.

Gujarat awards 500MW in latest solar auction at 2.65 rupees low

The first auction for capacity at the Raghanesda Solar Park in the Indian state of Gujarat was scrapped due to high tariffs, but a second attempt has drawn far lower tariffs.

Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL)’s auction saw French power giant Engie grab 200MW, with two local state-run firms and Tata Power picking up the remaining 300MW. The 700MW tender was disappointingly undersubscribed earlier this week and now just 500MW have been awarded.

High tariffs last December of between 2.84-2.89 rupees from the likes of Softbank, Fortum and Engie, led GUVNL to cancel its first auction, but the Discom then reduced solar park charges to try and attract lower bids in its second attempt.

The results of this second auction were as follows:

Bidder Capacity (MW) Tariff (INR/kWh)
Engie 200 2.65
Gujarat State Electricity Corporation 100 2.68
Gujarat Industries Power Company 100 2.68
Tata Power 100 (bid for 200) 2.70

Tender and auction cancellations in Gujarat have led to some heavyweight firms avoiding the state due to the uncertainties and it remains to be seen whether GUVNL will follow through with its latest auction.

Japan tells India to review solar cell safeguard duties for product clarity

Japan has called on India to immediately review its safeguard duty on imported solar cells to ensure that products that have different characteristics from solar cells are excluded from the measure.

A Geneva trade official told PV Tech that there has been some concern from Japan about products that weren’t exactly falling into the category of the product covered by the safeguard being subjected to the duties. No details on which products are under dispute were provided.

During what was just a one-minute intervention during a World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting, India also said it wanted to discuss the issue bilaterally with Japan.

India brought in safeguard duties on solar cell and module imports from developed countries as well as China and Malaysia in July 2018. They are due to end in August 2020.

India ‘poorly positioned’ to handle growing solar waste

India is unprepared for expected rapid growth in solar PV waste due to a lack of policy framework and guidelines for waste management, according to a new report by consultancy firm Bridge to India.

The ‘Managing India’s PV Module Waste’ report estimates that PV waste volumes will increase to 1.8 million tonnes by 2050, with the country having scaled up installations at breakneck speed from 3GW in 2014 to 28GW in 2018.

Bridge to India has advised that proactive measures are needed, with government and private sector players working together to mitigate the potentially hazardous impacts of such waste on the environment and human health and to maintain sustainable growth in the sector. The country is also said to be lacking the awareness and operational infrastructure required for recycling PV modules.

By comparing international case studies with India’s own e-waste policy, the consultancy has generated a number of recommendations in the report which can be accessed here.

Ultimately, Bridge to India has called for “immediate efforts” to formulate a robust regulatory framework for allocating responsibility and specifying standards for PV waste management.

India’s short-term hurdles won’t stop four-fold PV boom in a decade

Policy headwinds in India will not divert the PV sector from a decade-long path of colossal growth backed by the government, according to Fitch Solutions.

The firm’s latest update predicts Indian PV capacity to ramp up by an average, annual 15.3% between 2018 and 2028, jumping from 26GW to 105.9GW in the period.

The government, Fitch Solutions said, will keep up the momentum through a recipe of “aggressive” growth targets, numerous tenders and policies to unlock investment towards solar.

Thailand, Vietnam imports to sidestep tariffs for China

According to the firm, India’s adoption last year of 25% tariffs for Chinese and Malaysian cells and modules will create uncertainties and costs but these will lessen in the long term.

The duties, Fitch Solutions argued, will likely be scrapped after their two-year expiry date, if it emerges they didn’t succeed in kickstarting a local manufacturing scene able to compete with Chinese imports.

In the interim, the firm continued, plummeting technology costs mean developers can resort to alternative import routes; Thailand and Vietnam, which Chinese manufacturers are expanding to, are already being tapped into.

According to Fitch Solutions, the lack of clarity around the goods and services tax – thought to up PV costs by 5.8% since its roll-out in 2017 – looks set to dispel. Last December’s government clarifications pave the way for developers to negotiate tax reliefs for existing PPAs.

PV’s wish list as India heads to the polls

The Indian PV predictions herald a brighter outlook after a tough 2018, when execution challenges and policy uncertainty sparked a 27.8% drop in installations.

The government – currently in the midst of six-week general elections – has been urged by consultants to “work hard” to restore investor confidence after last year’s “hammering”.

The prediction of Fitch Solutions is that even if prime minister Narendra Modi is not re-elected – in its view, such a scenario is not likely – his successors would respect existing policies to promote renewables.

As the firm noted, the reform set in motion in recent years includes 12GW in installations through the Central Public Sector Undertaking programme, the adoption of renewable power obligations and grid upgrades; Tamil Nadu and other states are adding to the efforts with separate targets and schemes.

PV IndiaTech Talk: Finlay Colville to deliver 1-hour manufacturing seminar

PV Tech can reveal that our head of research, Dr. Finlay Colville, will deliver a one-hour presentation seminar during the forthcoming PV IndiaTech 2019 conference taking place in Delhi on 24-25 April 2019.

The talk – titled Global manufacturing trends, benchmarking: how India competes as a production powerhouse in the PV industry from 2020 onwards – will provide the Indian PV sector with key metrics needed to evaluate the viability of upstream investments demanded under the country’s emerging domestic-content requirement policies.

Ahead of Finlay’s talk – scheduled to close the final day of PV IndiaTech 2019 on 25 April 2019 – PV Tech took the opportunity to chat with Finlay about what to expect from his seminar, and the drivers behind the content and value of such a presentation at the event.

Mark Osborne: Thanks Finlay for taking the time to preview the PV IndiaTech 2019 event, the full details of which were recently covered in a blog on PV-Tech earlier this week. Can you start by explaining what prompted you to undertake a one-hour seminar assignment as part of the agenda over the two days of the event?

Dr. Finlay Colville: Most times at events, my inputs are limited in scope and often confined to specific global PV issues within a 20-30 minute presentation slot. However, this time, a longer and more detailed talk was deemed to be of value due to unique circumstances impacting the whole India PV value-chain today.

During the research our team has undertaken over the past six months, through hundreds of discussions with the entire Indian PV sector – from government bodies, policy-makers, investors, manufacturers, suppliers, site builders and asset owners – it became clear that everyone in India has a fundamental need to understand global technology trends and how changes under the broad Make-in-India initiative will impact component production and site supply during the decade from 2020 to 2030. By 2030, India is likely to have surpassed its long-term aspiration to have more than 300GW of PV deployed and a significant portion of this will involve cells, modules, materials and BoS components that are produced by Indian companies or JV’s involving partnering overseas entities.

Virtually everyone we spoke to asked us what the real technology roadmap of the PV industry would be, which companies were driving the benchmarks for product performance, cost and pricing, and critically what India should invest in to be competitive with product coming out of China.

It therefore seemed important that a one-hour seminar could be of great value at the event, with our research and methodology adopted within the PV-Tech market research team offering an unbiased bottom-up perspective.

Is it simply a case of India adding more cell lines that are based on p-mono PERC, or is it more complicated than this?

In short, it is much more complicated, and way more far-reaching than simply adding a few gigawatts of mono PERC that is now a 50GW+ manufacturing industry installed within China, and where some leading cell makers are intent on adding tens of GW’s of new capacity in the next few years.

The decision-making within India today includes more basic questions such as:

Should the investments covered under DCR policies be confined to cells and modules, or is there a viable roadmap where poly/wafer capacity can have any viability and global significance?
If wafer production is chosen, how does the country possibly compete with leaders such as GCL-Poly and LONGi Solar?
What role does thin-film play, given this is a technology that has seen huge investments in recent years from the industry’s leader First Solar – a company that has huge experience of setting up GW-level fabs globally with efficiency of build and ramp-up.
Should investments be based on having a large number of 500MW to 1GW factories, or is there a need to back a small group of technologies/companies and drive economy-of-scale benefits in 5-10GW operations?
How do the investments translate to having materials supply for cell/module assembly covered under Make-in-India mandates, and what needs to be ringfenced also at the balance-of-systems level?

The key thing India has in its favour here is based on the 300GW by 2030 target, and probably being the lowest-risk 100GW-plus deployment country in the world during the decade from 2020 to 2030. This simple fact means that every major company making, using and owning solar products and assets either has, or will have soon, an India-specific business plan to cover the next 10 years.
Therefore, India does have an incredibly powerful hand to play in setting out the ground rules for what this 300GW will look like, and crucially how it must come to fruition alongside a viable and profitable manufacturing sector.

So while, every solar company globally should be aware of technology trends and price/cost forecasting, India has to quickly be up-to-speed across every segment of its industry, from government advisers thought to IPPs and long-term portfolio owners.

There have been many announcement though in the past ten years of JV’s, MoU’s and initiatives, almost all of which have come to nothing. So what is different now?

Yes, there was a time when the announcements were barely worth reading, but in the past 12 months, lots of things have happened that have changed the landscape and relevance of the country for inward investment and domestic-owned capacity expansions.

First, the country now has 25GW-plus of deployed solar capacity, and the stats in terms of cell and module supply do not make happy-reading for many within India, as more than 90% has been imported from China. And a large portion of this has been product that is lower-performing than cells and modules used in other global regions.

Attempts to have anti-dumping and other import tariff based additives placed on overseas origin-of-manufacture have not had any meaningful impact, very similar to every other case of AD-related actions taken within the solar industry.

Crucially, the WTO-compliant DCR carve-out allocations now dominate policy-makers intentions and this changes everything for domestic production within India.

Different today also is that the PV industry has gone through a rapid evolution of high-efficiency and yield-enhancing product availability for utility-scale solar farm deployment. We are now at a time in the growth of PV where simply being the lowest-cost producer of p-multi mono-facial Al-BSF product wins out. And this is driving productivity gains at a rapid rate, and now there is scope for technology differentiation and ASP premiums that are clear winners when forecasting site returns and IRRs to the finance community. Technical due-diligence within the banks is real, and works!

Returning to your one-hour seminar at the event, can you give some teasers as to what you will be covering?

Anyone that has tuned into my online webinars during the past few years will be aware roughly of the topics covered when looking at manufacturing value-chain metrics, and the seminar at PV IndiaTech will broadly follow these guidelines, but focused on “what does this mean for new capacity within India, and how can it compete and be of value to developers and EPCs in the next few years”.

The seminar will start by looking at the likely technology split for module supply globally over the next five years, including some of the factors that drive inflection points in technology availability. This will be followed by going through the c-Si value-chain, from poly to module, explaining the cost benchmarks for both p-multi and p-mono and how this sustains further ASP erosion going forward.

In particular, the talk will focus on the companies that are the drivers behind low-cost manufacturing, for polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules. This is essential today, as this sets the low-cost threshold that everyone is judged against and is the difference between margins being positive or in the red.

The tricky bit comes next and is the question that the entire Make-in-India solar proposition is founded on: how can India prosper when investing in new manufacturing capacity going forward, and how can it compete with China. One can almost forget other countries outside India in terms of benchmarking: everything is about China as the benchmark.

So, one final question. Do you think there will be one clear call-to-action or will the debate rumble on for years to come, in terms of how India adds new capacity and is competitive on the global stage?

The good thing is there is no single route to be competitive going forward, but several. Everything does come back to investor returns and not module ASP or site-build capex. It seems simple and obvious to say, but all too often when solar farms builds kick off in countries, this is not fully implemented.

When you look globally at how utility-scale market evolve, there is a transition point from EPC driven site capex to investor-driven site returns. India would appear to be pending this key inflection point, but the more that completed site builds come under the spotlight in terms of performance ratio reviews, the more likely investors are to have an influence on capex, supplier choice and – importantly – technology selection.

Therefore, whether the offer is p-multi, p-mono PERC or n-type, there are attractive IRRs on offer going forward in the next few years, but in each case, product quality and supplier selection are paramount, and the role of third-party testing labs, factory auditors and independent engineers.

This means there is no binary selection process in terms of technology for new capacity, but more the requirement to focus on being aligned with benchmarks whether n/p type or mono/multi based, or in that matter mono-facial/bifacial, and so on for fixed-axis or tracking.

A few years ago, project development and module selection was weighted largely to p-multi (60 or 72-cell), but globally this has moved dramatically in the past few years. India will make this move in the next 12-18 months, at exactly the point where new manufacturing capacity comes online. As such, it would appear prudent to have knowledge on which technologies will be part of industry supply for utility-use in the next few years, and how each can offer returns to investors, with reliable and predicable yields.


The PV IndiaTech 2019 event takes place in Delhi on 24-25 April 2019. Details on how to attend can be found through the event website here.

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