Category: News

India’s 1.2GW tender pits dispatchable renewables as viable alternative to conventional power

The state enterprise Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued at the beginning of the month a tender for 1,200MW of renewable power that can be used to alleviate peak demand issued on the grid, in effect mandating the use of energy storage systems (ESS).

An invitation has been issued for bids to build, own and operate renewable generating facilities and enter into 25-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with SECI.  Solar and wind (or combined or hybrid systems) must be capable of dispatching power to the grid for at least six hours each day. Off-peak energy will be provided a flat tariff payment of Rs. 2.70/kWh (US$0.038), while a separate peak tariff will be determined through ‘e-Reverse Auction’, the SECI invitation document said.

According to SECI, while India has already installed 80GW of renewable energy and ambitious policy including the National Solar Mission will push it further ahead, the inability of renewable generators to dispatch energy to the grid at times when it is most needed is a key factor in preventing wind and solar from displacing and replacing fossil fuels.

SECI said that, “owing to their intermittent and infirm resource-centric nature, renewables have not been able to replace conventional power to fulfil peak load demand of Discoms (distribution companies).”

While capacity for generating renewables is far more viable from an environmental and even economic perspective, integrating it and at the same time dealing with steep increases in electricity demand at peak times in particular are incurring “significantly higher costs” for Discoms, SECI said.

The pairing of renewables with energy storage “will result in making available firm dispatchable renewable power, meeting the demand pattern of Discoms during peak hours, and that too, at competitive tariff.”

Projects for connection to Inter-State Transmission System

Incidentally, the 1,200MW tender defines a solar-wind hybrid power project as a project using the two technologies whereby “the rated power capacity of one resource is at least 25% of the rated power capacity of the other resource”. As SECI is seeking new capacity, existing projects cannot apply.

As long as the six-hour peak stipulation can be met, bidders have been given flexibility to determine the technologies used, type and power rating of the ESS portion of each project and “maybe include but not be limited to” batteries, pumped storage, mechanical, chemical or “combinations thereof”.

Projects will be connected to India’s Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) and the SECI Request for Selection, issued on 1 August, states that each project must be able to interconnect to the transmission network at 220kV or above. Minimum capacity of renewable electricity generation of each project must be 50MW and the maximum is 300MW, with project capacities to be submitted in multiples of 10MW only. The ESS portion must be at least equal in capacity in MWh to the project’s contracted capacity, as per its PPA. e.g. a 50MW project would need at least 50MWh minimum energy rating of ESS installed.

The RFS document can be seen here, while also today SECI’s tender for 20MW of floating solar PV and 60MWh of energy storage systems, distributed across islands in Lakshadweep, closed today. It was launched in February this year.  Last week sister site PV Tech reported on another SECI tender, albeit solar only, seeking developers of 1.5GW of solar as part of the second phase of the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) program.  

India’s 1.2GW tender pits dispatchable renewables as viable alternative to conventional power

The state enterprise Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued at the beginning of the month a tender for 1,200MW of renewable power that can be used to alleviate peak demand issued on the grid, in effect mandating the use of energy storage systems (ESS).

An invitation has been issued for bids to build, own and operate renewable generating facilities and enter into 25-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with SECI.  Solar and wind (or combined or hybrid systems) must be capable of dispatching power to the grid for at least six hours each day. Off-peak energy will be provided a flat tariff payment of Rs. 2.70/kWh (US$0.038), while a separate peak tariff will be determined through ‘e-Reverse Auction’, the SECI invitation document said.

According to SECI, while India has already installed 80GW of renewable energy and ambitious policy including the National Solar Mission will push it further ahead, the inability of renewable generators to dispatch energy to the grid at times when it is most needed is a key factor in preventing wind and solar from displacing and replacing fossil fuels.

SECI said that, “owing to their intermittent and infirm resource-centric nature, renewables have not been able to replace conventional power to fulfil peak load demand of Discoms (distribution companies).”

While capacity for generating renewables is far more viable from an environmental and even economic perspective, integrating it and at the same time dealing with steep increases in electricity demand at peak times in particular are incurring “significantly higher costs” for Discoms, SECI said.

The pairing of renewables with energy storage “will result in making available firm dispatchable renewable power, meeting the demand pattern of Discoms during peak hours, and that too, at competitive tariff.”

Projects for connection to Inter-State Transmission System

Incidentally, the 1,200MW tender defines a solar-wind hybrid power project as a project using the two technologies whereby “the rated power capacity of one resource is at least 25% of the rated power capacity of the other resource”. As SECI is seeking new capacity, existing projects cannot apply.

As long as the six-hour peak stipulation can be met, bidders have been given flexibility to determine the technologies used, type and power rating of the ESS portion of each project and “maybe include but not be limited to” batteries, pumped storage, mechanical, chemical or “combinations thereof”.

Projects will be connected to India’s Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) and the SECI Request for Selection, issued on 1 August, states that each project must be able to interconnect to the transmission network at 220kV or above. Minimum capacity of renewable electricity generation of each project must be 50MW and the maximum is 300MW, with project capacities to be submitted in multiples of 10MW only. The ESS portion must be at least equal in capacity in MWh to the project’s contracted capacity, as per its PPA. e.g. a 50MW project would need at least 50MWh minimum energy rating of ESS installed.

The RFS document can be seen here, while also today SECI’s tender for 20MW of floating solar PV and 60MWh of energy storage systems, distributed across islands in Lakshadweep, closed today. It was launched in February this year.  Last week sister site PV Tech reported on another SECI tender, albeit solar only, seeking developers of 1.5GW of solar as part of the second phase of the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) program.  

Energy storage, EVs boosted by India Budget

India’s newly appointed finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has unveiled the country’s full-year budget that discussed support for lithium battery and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, as well as a focus on solar charging infrastructure for EVs.

The budget runs up to 31 March 2020, following prime minister Narendra Modi’s recent thumping victory in the world’s largest democratic election.

In ‘Mega Investment in Sunrise and Advanced Technology Areas’, the government plans to invite international companies to set up huge manufacturing plants, via competitive bidding processes, in promising sectors such as solar PV cells, lithium storage batteries, and Solar EV charging infrastructure, among others. Sitharaman promised such firms investment linked income tax exemptions and other indirect tax benefits.

 

Sitharaman’s Budget sought to “leapfrog” India into a global hub of EV manufacturing, which would boost solar-plus-storage and charging infrastructure sectors in tandem. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) has already been lowered from 12% to 5% for EVs, while the government will provide additional income tax deduction of INR150,000 (US$2,185) on the interest paid on loans taken to purchase EVs.

Dr Rahul Walawalkar, president, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), welcomed the GST and income tax reductions, claiming that they would speed up the EV revolution. He also praised exemption from custom duties for EV components such as e-drives and onboard chargers.

Walawalkar also enjoyed the support for mega factories for lithium-ion and solar chargers in India:

“This is a very important step to ensure energy security for India to avoid over-reliance on imports of key components of EVs. We expect that setting up of these gigafactories will also help us in expanding the market for stationary energy storage projects for supporting renewable integration and reducing the usage of diesel for backup power generation.

“At the same time, IESA urges the government to expand the incentives to other advanced energy storage technologies including thermal storage, flow batteries, metal-air batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors and mechanical storage technologies such as gravity storage.”

Walawalkar also welcomed a reduction in customs duties from 5% to 2.5% on Cobalt mattes, a critical ingredient for advanced lithium-ion batteries. However, he also urged for a greater commitment to e-waste management and recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

Sitharaman also said the government would try to replicate its success at rolling LED lightbulbs across the country with a similar focus on promoting the use of solar stoves and battery chargers in the country.

This will create a huge demand for advanced batteries and support the push for gigafactories in India, said Walawalkar.

Other responses

Radhika Choudary, co-founder and director, Freyr Energy:

“We are excited to see the government’s continued focus on renewable energy. Promoting solar-enabled charging stations for Electric Vehicles and encouraging manufacturing of solar Photo Voltaic cells under Make in India will boost the growth of the solar Industry. In addition to this, we feel that an income tax benefit on the interest taken for solar installation would have helped in more adoption of the solar power at the residential and industrial level.”

Hemant Kanoria, chairman, Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited:

“This budget aims to build on various policy reforms already undertaken by this government over the last five years. The target investment figure of INR100 trillion for infrastructure over a five-year horizon will surely be encouraging for the country. This only re-emphasizes this government’s continued infrastructure focus. The announcements towards the creation of national grids for power, water, gas, internet set the tone for the building of a vibrant, new India and such steps will definitely improve the standard of living for the masses in a significant way.

“Overall, the budget has covered many aspects broadly and may be due to paucity of time, the numbers and also the implementation steps have not been articulated as yet.”

Prime minister Narendra Modi:

“The budget will simplify the tax process and help in modernizing the infrastructure in the country.”

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.”

Energy-Storage.news 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.

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