Category: News

Gujarat auctions 500MW of PV and tenders 175MW in solar parks

Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) has auctioned 500MW of grid-connected solar capacity with winning tariffs in the range of INR2.55-2.66/kWh (US$3.6-3.8 cents).

Paryapt Solar, a unit of UPC Solar, a firm that primarily develops renewables in North America, put in the lowest bid of 2.55 rupees per unit for 50MW of capacity.

The results of the auction were as follows:

Bidder Tariff (INR/kWh) Capacity (MW)
Paryapt Solar Energy 2.55 50
Gujarat State Electricity Corporation 2.67 75
Juniper Green Energy 2.67 120
Adani Renewable Energy Park 2.67 150
ReNew Solar Power 2.68 105 (bid for 250)

PV Tech yesterday reported results of a 1GW solar auction in the state of Maharashtra, which saw winning prices in the range of 2.74-2.75 rupees per unit.

175MW solar park tenders

Gujarat State Electricity (GSECL) has also released tenders for 175MW of PV in solar parks.

The scope of the work includes design, engineering, supply & procurement, construction, erection, testing, commissioning, operation & maintenance of a 75MW project at Dhuvaran and a 100MW at Raghanesda Ultra Mega Solar Park.

India green-lights 26GW solar for farmers scheme

India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved its solar for farmers scheme that aims to support 25,750MW of solar by 2022 with INR344 billion (~US$4.84 billion) of central government backing.

The programme, known as Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM), which aims to increase farmers’ financial and water security by offering a steady source of income, is broken down into three sections: 

  • 10GW of decentralised ground-mount PV projects
  • 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps
  • 1 million grid-connected pumps

A report from one analyst firm last year suggested that a switch from conventional irrigation-pump systems to solar-powered ones in India would save enormous sums of money and generate income for farmers nationwide.

Targets and subsidies

The CCEA has decided that the country should go full steam ahead on the target for standalone solar pumps, while the grid-connected pumps and ground-mount PV project sections will kick off as pilots with up to 100,000 pumps and 1GW of solar capacity respectively.

The 10GW solar programme will be made up of plants ranging between 500kW to 2MW in size to be set up by individual farmers, cooperatives, panchayats, farmer producer organisations (FPO) on barren or cultivable lands. The power produced will be purchased by distribution companies (Discoms) with feed-in tariffs (FiTs) determined by the respective state regulator (SERC).

Discoms will also be incentivised with INR0.40/kWh (US$0.56 cents) for a period of five years.

Standalone pumps will be supported up to 7.5-HP with solar PV capacity in kW equal to the pump capacity in HP. For the grid-connected pump scheme, again pumps up to 7.5-HP can be solarised, but in this case, the solar PV capacity can be up to two times the pump capacity.

The solar power will be used for irrigation with any excess power sold to Discoms.

For the pump schemes, a central government subsidy of 30% of the benchmark cost or the tender cost, whichever is lower, will be provided. The State Government will then give a subsidy of 30% and the remaining 40% will be provided by the farmer.

A higher central government subsidy of 50% will be provided for North Eastern States, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Finally, the Indian government believes that the scheme will generate 631,000 job years for both skilled and unskilled workers.

Yesterday, the CCEA also approved a major new rooftop solar support scheme.

Solar Energy Corporation of India tenders for floating solar, 60MWh storage on Lakshadweep islands

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued a sizeable solar-plus-storage tender for the island archipelago of Lakshadweep involving 20MWac of floating solar projects coupled with 60MWh of battery energy storage systems.

The scope of the work includes design, engineering, supply, construction, erection, testing and commissioning of the projects at various locations as well as 10 years of operations and maintenance (O&M) services. The locations and capacities are as follows:

The total package of the tender will be awarded to a single bidder through a reverse auction.

SECI wants to develop clean energy projects under its ownership across the 11 islands of the union territory of Lakshadweep, as it announced in mid-January, with an aim of powering the inhabited islands in Lakshadweep partly or wholly through renewable energy sources.

The deadline for bid submissions is 1 April this year.

In November 2017, the Lakshadweep Energy Development Authority (LEDA) also invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) for the development of 10MW of floating solar plants on the islands.

Domestic content solar PV scheme to kick off

SECI has also prepared the first tender under its Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) scheme that mandates the use of locally-sourced cells and modules. This 1GW tender, supported by viability gap funding (VGF), will be available on 28 February.

The organisation has also said that a 97.5MW of grid-connected rooftop PV tender for government buildings across the country under the CAPEX or RESCO models will be made available on 21 February.

India approves US$1.6bn of rooftop solar support

India has approved the second phase of its programme to hit 40GW of grid-connected rooftop solar by 2022 and announced INR118 billion (~US$1.656 billion) in central government subsidies to support residential solar systems and incentivise distribution companies (Discoms).

Bridge to India’s latest quarterly report found that India had an installed capacity of 3,855MW of rooftop solar at the end of 2018, which was less than 10% of the 2022 target. Despite record installs last year and strong projected growth, Bridge to India had said that the India rooftop solar should still be given more government support.

The government has responded with two main focuses.

Residential backing

The second phase of the rooftop programme, now offers 40% subsidy support for residential solar systems of up to 3kW in capacity and 20% subsidy for rooftop PV systems between 3-10kW.

Another 20% subsidy will be offered to rooftop systems that are part of a Group Housing Society or Residential Welfare Association (GHS/RAW). In such cases, support will be limited to 10kW of solar per house and up to 500kW for each GHS/RAW.

The aforementioned subsidy support will extend to 4GW worth of residential capacity and it will be provided to individual systems on the basis of benchmark cost or tender cost, whichever is lower.

India’s government made clear that such support will not be made available for the institutional, educational, social, government, commercial or industrial segments.

Enticing Discoms

The Phase-II programme, newly approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, will also try to increase the involvement of Discoms, by offering performance-based incentives relating to how much rooftop capacity has been installed in a Discom’s jurisdiction each financial year. It must have added more than 10% compared to its installed base at the start of each year to become eligible for the incentive at the end of the 12-month period. This backing will be limited to the first 18GW of installations under the programme.

Showing huge optimism in terms of the rollout of the scheme, the government expects 38GW of additional rooftop PV to be deployed under the scheme by 2022, and for 939,000 jobs to be created.

Despite wide-ranging problems with the large-scale solar sector in India, for which investor confidence needs to be rebuilt, the rooftop solar sector has consistently been seen as a bright spark in India and strong growth is expected to continue in the coming year at least.

Giant solar firms are also seeing potential in the residential sector for the first time – rather than just the well established C&I sector, spearheaded by major PV manufacturer, EPC and rooftop firm Tata Power Solar, which is steadily rolling out its residential rooftop solar solution across India, one city at a time.

Investor appetite for Indian solar needs ‘rebuilding’

The Indian solar market’s difficult 2018 saw investor confidence ”hammered” by mounting execution challenges, policy uncertainty, and a poorly designed tendering spree, according to the latest quarterly report from consultancy firm Bridge to India.

The ‘India Solar Compass Q4 2018’ reported that at the end of 2018, the country’s installed solar capacity stood at 28,057MW, spread across 24,202MW of utility-scale and 3,855MW of rooftop solar. The PV pipeline stood at 17,658MW.

Meanwhile, Just 1,446MW of capacity was added in Q4 2018, of which 990MW was in utility-scale solar and 456MW in rooftop solar.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director at Bridge to India, said: “2018 was an extremely testing year for the solar market. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Issues such as safeguard duty and GST created uncertainty for the entire industry, costs went up, execution challenges mounted and to make matter worse, the DISCOMs cancelled many tenders because of unrealistic tariff expectations. 2019 is expected to be better but the new government will have to work hard to re-build investor appetite. Rooftop solar remains a bright spot but even this market has seen some serious policy reversals in the last few months.”

Utility-scale solar capacity addition has been “sluggish” since Q2 2018 and Q4 2018’s figures were down by 46% over the same quarter in 2017. However, the rooftop solar market continues to grow strongly and is up 47% over the previous year. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat led the way in large-scale capacity additions in Q8 2018.

The top three states for total large-scale commissioned capacity continue to be:

Karnataka – 5,328MW
Telangana – 3,501MW
Rajasthan – 3,081MW

The top three developers in 2018 for commissioned capacity were Indian firms:

Adani – 740MW
Acme – 720MW
Essel Infra – 460MW 

Chinese firms GCL, Risen Energy and JA Solar were the leading module suppliers with Sungrow, ABB and Huawei the leading inverter suppliers. Meanwhile, Indian firms Sterling & Wilson and Mahindra Susten led the EPC market.

Module prices have fallen to US$0.20/W, down 44% year-on-year, however, Bridge to India noted that this reduction was mostly offset by the 25% safeguard duty and 5% GST as well as more than 10% Rupee depreciation. Moreover, prices are expected to harden in 2019 by 5-10%. 

The huge and unprecedented number of new tenders at more than 51GW in 2018, with 15GW just in Q4, was thwarted by a similarly huge number of tender cancellations with just under 17GW of tendered capacity withdrawn and another 9,238MW of tenders undersubscribed in the course of the year.

In its ‘India RE 2019 Outlook report’ released in January, Bridge to India forecast the South Asian country’s renewable energy deployment to grow by 50% year-on-year in 2019 with a total of 15,860MW of installations

Prices remain competitive in 1GW Maharashtra solar auction

A 1GW solar auction has been completed in the Indian state of Maharashtra with tariffs remaining competitive but the number of winning players further narrowing, according to an industry analyst.

The results of the auction were as follows:

Bidder Tariff (INR/kWh) Capacity (MW)
Acme Solar 2.74 300
Shiv Solar 2.74 50
ReNew 2.75 300
Avaada 2.75 350

The prices were only slightly higher than the previous state auction held in May 2018, where winning bids had stood at INR 2.71-2.72/kWh.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director at consultancy Bridge to India, told PV Tech: “The interesting observation in these results is that the field of winning developers is narrowing. We see the same 3-5 developers (ReNew, Adani, Avaada, Softbank) leading most auctions. But the tariffs are still on the competitive side. The developers are keen to build as much pipeline as possible before the elections.”

Vikram Solar overcomes terrain, GST and safeguard challenges for 200MW project in Andhra Pradesh

India-based PV module manufacturer and EPC player Vikram Solar has commissioned a 200MW solar project on difficult terrain for the local utility in district Anatapuramu of the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The plant built for Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO) will power nearly 150,000 homes once connected to the grid. It is split into two blocks of 100MW and spread across 404 hectares of undulating, rocky terrain. Power will be evacuated at 33kV level in two pooling substations of 33/220kV capacity, which will further evacuate power to 220/400kV main substation.

The project includes 848,680 modules, ranging from 320-330Wp. Vikram Solar will also carry out operation and maintenance (O&M) of the plant for a period of five years from the date of commissioning.

Kuldeep Jain, COO, EPC, Vikram Solar, said: “We faced many challenges during the execution of this project. Undulated land required boulders/rocks to be excavated from the site. Multiple and yet careful execution of blasting required to reach the desired trench depth for cable placement, and non-availability of natural earth material for backfilling presented engineering challenges. On the other hand, confusion surrounding GST rate applicability impacted cash flows, and implementation of Safeguard delayed delivery of modules. However, meticulous planning and strategy development in engineering and operations helped us in successfully completing the project with an average installation of around 4MW per day.”

Earlier this month, Vikram Solar secured the project order for a 1MW floating PV project that will be located at Ghosunda Dam, near Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, India.

India’s first grid-scale storage project launches: 10MW li-ion system will ‘pave way’ for the future

Described as a project of ‘strategic importance’ for India’s entire energy sector, the country’s first grid-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage system officially went into service this week.

An inauguration event was held for the 10MW / 10MWh system today, 13 February, at the site in Rohini, Delhi. It is located at a substation owned by Tata Power Distribution, the grids and networks business of India’s mammoth Tata Group. Owned and operated by AES Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation, which have jointly delivered the project, the system will help provide flexibility to the local grid.

Tata Power DDL has over 2 million customers, and the Discom’s (distribution company) CEO Sanjay Banga said that: “This, India’s first grid-scale battery-based storage system, will address our key challenges in the areas of peak load management, system flexibility, frequency regulation and reliability of the network.”

“At Tata Power-DDL, we continually strive to integrate new technologies for strengthening our network to provide reliable and quality power supply to our consumers,” Banga said.

Fluence, the technology provider joint venture (JV) formed by AES together with engineering company Siemens, supplied the battery system itself, based on the Advancion lithium-ion battery storage platform originally developed through the AES parent company ahead of the JV’s independent launch last year. 

A pathfinder project

Last month, Dr Rahul Walawalkar, president, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) and CES (India), told that the project marked real “strategic importance” for India’s energy sector and strongly emphasised the role the battery system, which will perform tasks including frequency regulation, would play as a pathfinder for future project, market and regulatory developments.

The project marks a first step forward for energy storage in a country which has an enormous target to reach 225GW renewable energy generation by 2022. By 2027 the network could also require 46GW of peaking capacity, typically the most polluting and expensive energy in the grid in nearly all parts of the world. The Rohini project is set to be a pathfinder for India, to demonstrate how battery storage can help reduce the ramping capacity needed to fire up fossil fuel plants, help integrate renewables by smoothing their output to the grid and in general provide critical flexibility to the grid.

As solar on the grid increases in India, thermal power plants will start to be shut off during the day. As the power contributed by solar wanes with the sun in the evening, there can be the potential for a shortfall of energy as evening peak demand occurs. Using battery storage has the potential to greatly mitigate the need for thermal power plants to ramp up, or even to be there at all. At present this need is resulting in 57GW of ramping requirements over 6 hours each night in India.

A paper presented to by Fluence today argued that energy storage can deliver “twice as much flexibility as any other electric power asset because it can both deliver and absorb power from the network, acting as a buffer to the intermittency of renewables and eliminating the need for wasteful curtailment [of renewable energy]. Storage can be sited anywhere in the network including densely populated load centers and rural areas on the edges of the network. It has no direct emissions or water use. This project is a first step for widespread deployment of energy storage in India.”

“Tata Power’s collaboration with AES and Mitsubishi is one of the significant milestones in the Indian power sector. Grid-scale energy storage will pave the way for ancillary market services, power quality management, effective renewable integration and peak load management of Indian grids,” Tata Power CEO and managing director Praveer Sinha said. 

Read the India Energy Storage Alliance executive director Dr Rahul Walawalkar’s thoughts on what 2019 will bring for energy storage in India in areas including gigafactory-scale manufacturing and clarity on renewable energy policies. 

Indian manufacturers ‘elated’ with 12GW domestic content solar scheme

India has approved a 12GW solar scheme for central public sector undertakings (CPSUs), which are state-owned enterprises, spanning the military, health, energy, government and mining sectors, among others.

Importantly, the scheme mandates the use of domestically sourced solar cells and modules. Talk of such a programme has been in the works for more than a year as the government tries to appease demand at home not just to support solar PV deployment but also to foster a domestic manufacturing industry and reduce the dependence on Chinese imports.

Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) first proposed the 12GW CPSU scheme, which has now been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with significant Viability Gap Funding (VGF) subsidy support of INR85.8 billion (US$1.2 billion).

Time is precious

Sunil Rathi, director at Indian PV manufacturer, Waaree Energies said: “We are elated with CCEA’s inclination towards boosting domestic module and cell manufacturing in the country, by allocating 12GW of PV projects exclusively to domestic players. The move is expected to have a dampening short-term and a positive long-term impact on the industry. While on the face of it, the proposal is set to provide relief to solar domestic manufacturers for the next four years, even with immediate implementation, the on-ground reality indicates a gestation period of at least a year, till this proposal actually yields operational benefits. The move fails to provide the much needed immediate support to the sector, due to which, mid-scale players may not be able to sustain the pressures for the next year.”

“On the upside, this proposal is bound to attract foreign investment in the long run. We foresee players from China and Malaysia setting up manufacturing hubs in India, thus furthering the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Moreover, while there are ample module manufacturers in the country to meet the government demands, the proposal would provide impetus to existing and new players to venture into cell production, thus creating job opportunities and enhancing the GDP contribution in the long run,” he added.

H.R. Gupta, general secretary of India Solar Manufacturing Association (ISMA) and managing director of Indian cell manufacturer Indosolar, told PV Tech that he was also “elated” with this “well thought out” plan. He agreed with Rathi that the caveat at present is that smaller players might struggle if the scheme is not expedited.

However, there is already planning to accelerate the rollout, with Gupta meeting with government tomorrow on this topic. Gupta said it is also in the government’s interest to speed up the rollout in order to meet UN climate objectives and its own 2022 solar targets. The scheme requires around 4GW of installations a year and if the government loses one year that will be problematic.

“Some big entities like NTPC and others can be cajoled to get to the ball rolling,” he added. “Time is a precious commodity now and they have to think in terms of every month, what will they add, otherwise they will overload the system.”

While Distribution companies (Discoms) have been cancelling multi-gigawatts of completed solar auctions due to discovering higher than expected tariffs over the last year, the CPSU scheme protects against that because the power generated is for self-consumption by the CPSUs rather than for sale to the Discoms. Moreover, any high tariffs will be mitigated by the huge US$1.2 billion VGF subsidy support.

Gupta noted that all of the CPSUs, whether in steel, oil and gas, railways or defence, have a huge amount of internal power demand, while the utility NTPC itself requires 8-9GW of auxiliary power.

“So we’ve done the homework. We see there’s much more than 12GW demand from CPSUs and its WTO-compliant as they are not selling the power to the consumer,” he added


An original 10GW solar tender, combined with 5GW of manufacturing had a turbulent ride last year, as its capacities were reduced and players consistently failed to show interest. Even after drawing local firm Azure Power to bid for 600MW of manufacturing and 2GW of solar capacity, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) still decided to scrap the bidding. Last week, SECI released its latest attempt with another size reduction to 3GW solar / 1.5GW manufacturing. In this case, the maximum tariff payable to the project developer is fixed at INR2.75/kWh (~US$0.039) for 25 years.

Sanjay Sharma, general manager at SECI, told PV Tech that this tender will still go ahead and it expects greater participation from players as it is has removed the focus on ingots and wafers to now including modules and cells only. However, the combination of solar project development and manufacturing is highly problematic as it requires joint ventures or non-integrated companies to enter territory outside of their expertise.

The new CPSU scheme has been deemed a chance to support domestic manufacturing whilst also staying compliant with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. A WTO complaint had thwarted India’s original local support programme known as the Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) back in September 2016 and the Indian government has been searching for other ways of incentivising ‘Make in India’ ever since. One attempt was its safeguard duty on solar imports brought in last July, but this has now been widely labelled as an own goal that failed both to draw new manufacturers to India and to alleviate the financial woes of existing Indian manufacturers. The safeguard duty period was only set for two years, despite that timeframe being considered the minimum required to set up new manufacturing capacity, effectively rendering the duty redundant.

Gupta said the manufacturing-linked PPA model will go hand-in-hand with the CPSU scheme rather than being exclusive to each other.

“If they are thinking what would be the right solution to attract investment from the likes of Softbank, GCL or others – they are interested in 1, 2 or 3GW fabs and they can promise large PPAs accordingly,” added Gupta

The grid-connected power projects for CPSUs are to be set up between 2019/20 and 2022/23, requiring INR480 billion (US$6.7 billion) investment. The Indian government believes the programme will provide 60,000 jobs during one-year construction phases and 18,000 full-time O&M jobs over a period of 25 years. It also envisions 120,000 jobs when including the manufacturing roles it hopes to spur.

Sharma said that SECI will be facilitating some of the tendering involved in the scheme but other agencies may also be involved. It is too early at this stage to provide further details, he added.

Gupta was delighted with the programme as he said that India spending several billion dollars a year on imports of solar cells and panels was “one of the most shortsighted things” it could do.

In other news, the CCEA has also approved a proposal for continuation of the scheme of ‘Exploration of Coal and Lignite’.

The PV India Tech conference will be held in New Delhi on 24-25th April 2019.

India plans 14MW of solar with 42MWh of battery storage in Ladakh

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is planning two hybrid projects with a combined total of 14MW solar PV and 42MWh of battery energy storage in Leh and Kargil, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The plan comes just a few weeks after Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) released a highly ambitious tender for 7.5GW of solar also in the remote and high altitude desert region of Ladakh in the far north of India. The viability of this venture has been questioned by engineers and a pre-bid meeting is to be held on 18 February in New Delhi.

However, the new solar-plus-storage projects, located in different parts of the Ladakh region, will include far smaller project sizes with 7MW of solar and 21MWh of storage each. Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA) and Kargil Renewable Energy Development Agency (KREDA) will facilitate securing the required land area for each project.

SECI will oversee the scheme and act as project management consultant.

The project will have a fixed tariff of INR2/kWh (US$0.028) alongside viability gap funding (VGF) which is a subsidy provided by the government to a maximum of INR1.82 billion (US$25.4 million) for each project in this case. The VGF will be dispersed in two tranches will the final 50% offered on successful commissioning.

SECI will issue a tender and award the projects via competitive bidding. Projects are to be commissioned within 18 months of being awarded and successful bidders will also be responsible for O&M services on the plants. 

In other news, SECI is also planning to develop its own renewable energy projects at the Indian archipelago of Lakshadweep, with an eye on coupling the projects with battery energy storage.

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