Coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed thousands of lives across continents, has virtually brought the world economy to a standstill with millions of people placed under lockdown and global supply chains thrown into disarray.
As the pandemic rages on,renewable energy sector too is taking a hit. Factory shutdowns across the world, including in China have disrupted both upstream and downstream supply chains for wind turbines and solar panels, with consequences for clean energy progress this year around the world.But disruption in supply is only part of the equation. It is being feared that as policymakers and businesses focus on short-term stimulus packages to help the economy, energy infrastructure investments and planning will temporarily go by the wayside.
While world leaders are busy taking action to contain the pandemic, only time will tell when the crisis matures and what will be its impact on the humanity as well as the economy. It is certainly a progressing story, by the minute.
Renewable Watch will be running this live tracker about the key developments in the clean energy space that may impact or influence India’s renewable energy sector.
Renewable energy preferred over coal amid covid-19 pandemic
According to a report by Moody’s, covid-19 pandemic might lead to an increase in the clean energy transition amidst falling demand. The report states that renewables have shown more resilience across the US, Europe, China and India even as coal generation has continued to decline. The lockdown has led to a 20 per cent decrease in India’s power demand, with coal generation suffering the highest impact. The impact of recession and weaker growth expectations is going to be expected across all consumer segments including commercial, industrial and residential, leading to a decrease in the production of oil and coal. On the other hand, renewable energy continues to replace thermal power and made up the bulk of recent capacity additions both in India and the world over.
UN discourages reliance on coal in covid-19 recovery plans
In a virtual event on June 25, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres presented the UN Response to covid-19 which highlights the actions taken by UN during the pandemic as well as a roadmap for recovery. During the event Guterres stressed on the importance of sustainable and non-polluting energy sources instead of coal in reviving economies from the covid-19 crisis. He remarked “there is no good reason, for example, for any country to include coal in their COVID-19 recovery plans. This is the time to invest in energy sources that don’t pollute, don’t cause emissions, generate decent jobs and save money.”
His speech comes just a few days after India’s decision to auction 41 coal blocks for commercial mining to increase the country’s self-reliance. Presently, India is the second largest importer of coal.
BloombergNEF forecasts less than 2 GW ofwind capacity addition in India in 2020
According to a recent report on the global wind market by BloombergNEF, the year 2020 is set to witness less than 2 GW of wind power capacity additions in India due to the covid-19 pandemic. Just 1,306-1,506MW of wind capacity additions are expected in 2020, which is significantly lower than 2,370MW installed in 2019 and 2,290MW in 2018. The expected range is based on the pandemic and the duration for which it lasts. According to the report, 1,506 MW will be installed in 2020 and 3,799 MW in 2021, if covid-19 remains a single-wave pandemic. However, the installations will be limited to 1,306 MW in 2020 and 3,164 MW in 2021, if covid-19 becomes a multiple wave pandemic. In case it turns out to be an enduring pandemic, the 2020 estimates will remain at 1,306 MW, but the 2021 installations will decline to 2,649 MW.
SECI’s 2 GW solar tender oversubscribed by 2.35 GW
Even as the covid-19 pandemic rages on, Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI’s) recent Tranche IX tender for 2 GW of the interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected solar projects has been oversubscribed by 2.35 GW. The tender has attracted 12 bidders with a total capacity of 4.35 GW. ReNew Power, NTPC Limited and Tata Power Renewable Energy placed bids for the highest capacities. Other bidders included O2 Power, Eden Renewables, Azure Power, SolarPack, ENEL Green Power, Ayana Renewables,IB Vogt, NLCand AMP Solar. The tender was issued in March 2020 with a bid submission deadline of May 28, 2020 which was later extended to June 15, 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic.
Improved air quality amid covid-19 leads to greater solar insolation on panels in Delhi
There has been a roughly 50 per cent reduction in air pollution in Delhi owing to the lockdown so as to contain the covid-19 pandemic. According to a recent study published in the journal Joule, this improved air quality has resulted in high levels of sunlight reaching the solar panels. In fact, in late March 2020, the solar plants in Delhi received 8.3 per cent more sunlight than previous years. Recent air quality and weather data from Delhi between 2017-2020 was used to compare air pollution and solar radiation observed in 2020 with those of previous years. Thus, with increase in the amount of sunlight passing through the air due to better air quality, the energy yield is also expected to be much higher from these solar projects. Similar results are expected in urban solar installations in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Wuhan, and Dhaka which have high air pollution levels and covid-19 restrictions.
Government proposes new custom duties on solar imports
A basic customs duty is set to be imposed on solar imports assoon as the current safeguard dutyexpires on July 31. This 20-25 per cent basic customs duty has been proposed to curb imports of solar panels, according to a recent announcement by R. K. Singh, the Union Minster for Power and New and Renewable Energy. India imports a bulk of its solar cells from China even after the imposition of a 25 per cent safeguard duty in July 2018 on import of solar cells from China, Malaysia and a few more countries.
It is proposed that since the domestic manufacturing capacity of solar cells is lower than modules, the duty for the former will be 15 per cent. The duty on panels is proposed to be progressivelyincreased to 40 per cent. This move comes amid covid-19 pandemic which started in China and led to the disruption of solar equipment supply to India and rest of the world as Chinese manufacturing facilities were temporarily shut down. The supply chain restrictions meant a delay in commissioning of a large number of solar assets in India.
Appeal on REC price revision rejected by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the Green Energy Association that sought a stay order on the revision of prices of renewable energy certificates (REC). The petition was requesting a stop on the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (CERC’s) decision to revise the minimum price of RECs from Rs 1,000 to zero. The Green Energy Association argued that by doing this the existing RECs would lose their values drastically. The Green Energy Association had first gone to the Appellate Tribunal of Electricity (APTEL), which dismissed their plea, following which it went to the Supreme Court. It also said that most REC-based projects are located in the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh, which are severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and the price revision will further add to the developers’ woes.
Solar provides relief to residential consumers amid COVID-19 in Australia
Due to the impact of COVID-19, Natural Solar estimates a 105 per cent increase in power demand in Australian homes. This is based on an analysis of the real-time energy consumption of thousands of households, through data collected from live monitoring systems nationwide. In March 2019, these systems reported that the average household was using 513kWh monthly, which increased to 1,052 kWh in March 2020 and 1,094 kWh in April 2020, which might lead to inflated energy bills for the consumers. However, the analysis shows that homes with solar and battery storage systems will save money on their bills during this time.
Regulatory risks for renewable energy developers, says ICRA
According to ICRA, open access charges might increase in the near future as discoms mitigate the disruption to their cash flows, which have been severely hit due to COVID-19. This will impact renewable energy developers that have a significant part of their portfolio dependent on third-party power purchase agreements. Lately, many states have amended their open access regulations where they have reduced waivers on open access procurement of renewable energy or completely withdrawn them. This has increased open access charges across many states affecting the viability of such transactions.
Solar and wind projects might get extension on ISTS waiver
At a recent event organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Raj Kumar Singh, the Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy said that the government is considering the extension of waiver on ISTS charges for renewable projects by at least six months. This comes after another announcement in November 2019, which revised the deadline from March 31, 2022 to December 31, 2022, and said that ISTS charges and losses for solar and wind projects would be waived off as long as they are commissioned before December 31, 2022. The new proposal comes in light of COVID-19 as many projects might face delays and if approved would extend the ISTS waivers till June 30, 2023.
According to FICCI’s press release, Singh also mentioned strict penalties for non-compliance of renewable purchase obligation (RPO). Further, he highlighted the government’s focus onpromoting the local manufacturing units for solar to address the issue of over-dependence on foreign imports.
Nigerian health centers opt for solar amid COVID-19
All On is an independent impact investment company that received seed funding from Shell and has completed the first phase of its solarisation of Nigeria’s emergency health centers. The company that works with various partners across the country to address energy access issuesformeda COVID-19 Solar Relief Fund on March 31, 2020with support from solar companies like Auxano, Arnergy, GVE, and Lumos. According to All On, all the solar installations were deployed within two months. As part of this program ten rooftop solar and storage installations are being installed across Lagos, Oyo, Kaduna, Rivers, and Enugu states along with 95 solar home systems.
NSEFI asks SECI for bid extensionin light of COVID-19
The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has requested the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to extend the bid submission deadline of the 2 GW solar tender (Tranche IX). The said tender is for solar projects connected to the interstate transmission system (ISTS). NSEFI wrote a letter to SECI requesting that the deadline for this tender should be extension to July 15, 2020 instead of the planned timeline of June 22, 2020, owing to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and restrictions in different parts of the country. It has also requested SECI to look into other concerns of the stakeholders including tariff adoption, connectivity approvals and ISTS charges. The bids which were invited in March 2020, have already been extended once.
NTPC gives discount to discoms amid COVID-19
As discoms’ revenues continue getting hit due to the reduced industrial activity and fewer collections, NTPC has decided to give a rebate of Rs 13,630 to discoms on fixed or capacity charges. This discount is applicable during the lockdown period. Moreover, it also decided to delay the collection of Rs 20,640 fixed charges from discoms amid the coronavirus pandemic, which the company says would be collected later in three equal installments without any interest.
Renewable energy jobs to rise post-COVID crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major economic crisis for the country putting millions of jobs at risk. This has prompted the central government to announce a special economic package worth 10 per cent of GDP. A recent report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), along with the National Institute of Public Policy and Finance (NIPFP), analyses how parts of this package could be used. According to this report, renewables can help in creating 1.3 million full-time jobs provided India achieves 160 GW of solar and wind power by 2022. Moreover, another 528,000 jobs can be created along with a viable renewable energy market by investing an amount of Rs 52,000 million during 2021-28. This would also reduce coal imports in the country and increase the share of clean energy. From 2028 onwards, no funding would be required for renewables owing to its cost-competitiveness. The report highlights distributed renewable energy, hybrid energy, emergency and disaster management systems, city gas distribution and urban transportation as key emerging sectors with high potential post-coronavirus.
Haryana discoms get one-time waiver of RPO backlog amid COVID-19 crisis
In a one-time measure, the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) has waived off renewable purchase obligation (RPO) backlogs up to 2019 for state discoms amid COVID-19 crisis.This came after a review of state discoms RPO targets and its achievements, which showed a huge backlog. However, due to the unprecedented circumstances posed by the pandemic and to avoid extra expenses, the commission decided to waive off the backlog this time. It then directed the discoms to achieve higher generation as RPOs are only the required benchmark capacity. Further, the discoms demanded to restrict open access power procurement during off-peak hours of the day and impose additional surcharges. The commission has decided to allow discoms to levy Rs 1.15/kWh additional surcharge for open access.
COVID-19 hits India’s solar imports
The coronavirus pandemic began in China and caused a shutdown of its industries including solar manufacturing units. This disrupted the global solar supply chains and India which depends on Chinese imports for a bulk of its capacity witnessed a slowdown in activity. The solar imports saw a year-on-year decline of 77 per cent in first quarter of 2020, with $151 million worth of imports compared to $650 million in 2019. The decline was 72 per cent when compared to fourth quarter of 2019. Solar exports increased by 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 when compared to 2019. However, the decline was 53 per cent when compared to fourth quarter of 2019.
MNRE creates a new department for FDIs in solar
A recent notification by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) states the creation of a Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) cell in MNRE for processing FDI proposals. This notification comes after the government of India had recently reviewed the FDI policy for curbing opportunistic takeovers or acquisitions of Indian companies due to current COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has stated that“an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under Government route and the FDI proposals involving investments from these countries shall now be processed by the concerned Administrative Ministry or Department.”
Deadlines extended for One Sun One World One Grid plan
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has extended the various deadlines for its recently proposed One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) plan. This was done at the request of many consulting firms amid the lockdown in many parts of the country. The deadline for the pre-bid meeting has been extended till June 22, from June 5, 2020, that for the submission of proposals from July 6, 2020 toJuly 22, 2020. The deadline for submission of questions has been extended from June 15, 2020 to June 29, 2020.
Batteries important for a future dependent on solar and wind power
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the importance of big energy storage systems for unlocking solar and wind power. With a decline in energy demand due to the pandemic, European grids overloaded with green electricity. Due to the intermittent nature of solar and wind power, this has raised the threat of blackouts and highlighted the need for energy storage in a renewable energy system.Europe is striving to rid its power grids of carbon emissions through greater penetration of renewables. However, with battery installations declining last year according to BloombergNEF, the predicted boom in energy storage market is not happening nearly fast enough.
New DSM regulations get postponed amid COVID-19
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has postponed the implementation of the fifth amendment to the deviation settlement mechanism regulations (DSM). The revised date is December 1, 2020 which was earlier scheduled for June 1, 2020.This extension comes as various stakeholders have expressed difficulties in implementing the provisions of DSM given the current crisis. This is the second extension due to coronavirus outbreak in the country, and the previous extension was shifting the date from April 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020. Thus, the applicability of the existing provisions is now up to November 30, 2020.
Solar capacity additions decline due to COVID-19
According to a Bridge to India report,989 MWof solar power capacity was installed in the first quarter of 2020, much less than the target, due to the novel COVID-19 disease. About 1,864 MW of utility scale solar capacity was scheduled to be commissioned in Q1 2020.The report added that this trend is likely to continue during the coming months, with slow progress in the coming six months. Capacity additions of only 500 MW and 1,184 MW in the second and third quarter respectively are expected.India’s total installed capacity reached 37,916 MW by March 31, 2020, with 32,176 MW of utility scale solar and 5,740 MW of rooftop solar.
Adani Group pauses its acquisitions including renewables
Amid COVID-19, the Adani group has decided to take a pause on fresh in the face of rapidly changing economic conditions both at home and globally. As reported by media outlets, the group was in the process of acquiring several large infrastructure assets, including potential investments in the Krishnapatnam and Dighi ports, cold chain logistics firm Snowman Logistics, Guwahati and Jaipur airports and solar assets from Essel Group. Among the many delayed acquisitions, is also the transfer of solar power assets from the Essel group to Adani’s renewable energy arm. Only 205 MW of Essel’s total solar portfolio have been handed over to Adani so far, out of a total 685 MW as per a 2019 agreement between Adani Green Energy and Essel Infrastructure.
COVID-19 impacts European renewable energy auctions
AURES, a European research project on auctions for renewable energy support in the EU, recently assessed the impact of COVID-19 on renewable energy auctions. The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequential lockdown leading to halting of economic activity, has strongly decreased the power demand and there is high uncertainty for the mid-term. Industry associations worry that a reduced power demand and tighter budgets could reduce new auction volumes of RES projects. However, environmental groups, industry associations and international organizations such as the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency, have called for an increased investment in clean energy highlighting renewables central to bringing the economy back on track. In fact, many EU Member States have stressed that the Green New Deal should be central for theeconomic recovery after COVID-19.
Deadline extended for GUVNL’s 700 MW solar tender
The Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) has once again extended the bid submission deadline for its tender for the development of 700 MW of solar projects at the Dholera Solar Park.The reason for the extension is the national lockdown to contain COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline for the submission of bids has been extended to July 31, 2020, which was earlier May 30, 2020. The technical bid opening date has now been extended to August 04, 2020, from June 01, 2020, and the financial bid opening will take place on August 13, 2020.
Deadline extended for bidding of transmission systems of solar projects in Rajasthan
The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has extended the bid submission deadline for its tender to establish transmission systems to evacuate power from solar energy zones in Rajasthan.The deadline for submission of bids is revised to June 17, 2020, for soft copy and June 19, 2020, for the hard copy. The PGCIL invited bids in April under phase II, part-A of the transmission program for the evacuation of power from solar energy zones in Rajasthan (8.1 GW).
The scope of work includes conducting a detailed survey, design, prototyping, fabrication, supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of the transmission lines. The project has two packages, one transmission line package each at Ramgarh-II SEZ PP-Fatehgarh-II (TW01) and Ramgarh-II-Jaisalmer-II (TW02). The projects are given 15 months to complete from the date of notice of award.
Chandigarh extends deadline for solar installations till March 2021
The UT administration has extended the solar installation deadline till March 31, 2021. after the recent deadline ended on March 31. Since lockdown was in force, the UT had decided not to impose any penalty on residents till the situation improved. Debendra Dalai, CEO of Chandigarh Renewal Energy, Science and Technology Promotion Society (Crest), said they had proposed to extend the deadline because of many factors like lockdown, shortage of manpower with companies for installation of solar plants on residential houses and concern of residents of allowing people to enter their houses for installation of plants due to coronavirus.
As residents were not coming forward for installation of solar plants because of initial capital investment, Crest has also decided to start renewable energy service company (RESCO) model. The UT will rope in companies under RESCO model, where they will install solar plants at private properties. In return, the building owner will be charged much lesser tariff for the solar-produced electricity in the tariff bills as compared to normal tariffs.
Wind power generation expands to 3,396 MW in Gujarat
Higher wind speeds have increased wind power generation in Gujarat. Maximum wind power generation in the state stood at 3,396 MW on May 25, shows data compiled by the Gujarat government’s state load dispatch centre (SLDC). With the resumption of industries at low capacity following the relaxation in lockdown, power demand in Gujarat increased to 15,000 MW on May 25 from around 9,000 MW on March 23 and is likely to rise further. Private sector power plants accounted for 45.5 per cent (6,718 MW) of the maximum demand catered to on March 25, state and central sector power plants contributed 12.5 per cent (1,723 MW) and 18.4 per cent (2,071 MW), respectively. The contribution of solar power remained at 3.9 per cent (1,024 MW).
According to the western region load dispatch centre (WRLDC), total wind power generation capacity in the state is 5,691 MW. WRLDC data pegged Gujarat’s peak wind power generation at 50.64 million units on May 24.
KERC extends the validity of the existing tariff structure for solar projects until March 31, 2021
The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has extended the validity of the existing tariff structure determined by the Commission in August 2019, after the earlier regulation expired in April 2020. The extension has been provided for one year from April 01, 2020, to March 31, 2021. The extension will facilitate the seamless development of solar projects, including rooftop solar installations in the state. According to the order, the tariff will be applicable for all new solar projects for which power purchase agreements (PPAs) have been entered on or after April 01, 2020, and projects which will achieve commercial operation on or after April 01, 2020.
The Commission noted that as of March 2020, rooftop solar projects accounted for only 240.14 MW capacity, which was far behind the target of 2.4 GW that is to be achieved by 2022.
Nearly 4 GW of solar in Q1 2020 amid COVID-19 in China
Nearly 3.95 GW of solar capacity was installed nationwide in China during the first quarter of (Q1) of 2020 according to the new energy statistics and the data released by the National Energy Administration (NEA). Out of the 3.95 GW, 2.23 GW was added through the large-scale solar PV installations, while distributed solar PV made up 1.72 GW. At the end of March 2020, total cumulative installed solar capacity in the country stood at 208 GW, out of which 144 GW was through large-scale solar, and 64 GW through distributed solar.
As per the government statistics, China installed a total, the capacity of 30.1 GW in the calendar year 2019. North and South China had more installations as compared to other parts of the country. The new installations for Q1 2020 was a 24 per cent decline compared to the same period last year, mainly due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
REC sales down by 35 per cent in April
Sales of renewable energy certificates (RECs) declined over 35 per cent to 0.24 million units in April compared to 0.37 million in the same month in 2o19, according to official data. A total of 0.19 million RECs were traded on the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) in April 2020, compared to 0.22 million in the same month of 2019. Power Exchange of India (PXIL) recorded sales of 0.05 million RECs in April as against 0.14 million earlier. The IEX data showed that both non-solar and solar RECs witnessed higher supply, with sell bids exceeding buy bids. There were buy bids for over 0.21 million RECs against sell bids for over 0.45 million RECs in April this year.
Similarly, the supply was high at PXIL. There were buy bids for over 0.05 million RECs and sell bids for over 0.12 million units for the month. Overall supply for RECs was high as the total buy bids at both power exchanges was over 0.26 million units against sell bids of over 0.67 million units.
Demand drops due to COVID-19 results 3% revenue dip in FY 2020 for Tata Power
Tata Power has announced its annual results for FY 2019-20. According to the company’s income statement, in the FY 2020, its revenue declined by 3% and stood at Rs 289.48 billion as compared to Rs 299.84 billion in the last financial year. The company attributed the decline to lower power demand, delay in project execution in its solar EPC business on account of COVID 19, and lower coal prices. The company’s consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was up by 15% at Rs 83.17 billion as compared to Rs 72.35 billion last year. This was attributed to lower losses in its Mundra project, new capacity addition in the renewables segment, and steady performance across all businesses.
Details for bailing out power discoms amid coronavirus crisis released by REC
Under the discom bailout program, the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will provide loans to discoms to clear their dues.The loans under this program will be co-funded by REC and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) in equal amounts. As per the announcement, 50% of the loan will be provided in Tranche-I, and the balance 50% will be provided in Tranche-II. The limits set under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) program will not apply to these loans.
This follows government’s announcement regarding an economic stimulus package for discoms where they would receive Rs 900 billion to help recover from the coronavirus crisis.The loans will be provided at the sole discretion of the REC. The duration of the loan will be valid for ten years, and this will include the moratorium, not exceeding three years. Depending on the duration of the loan, the period of the moratorium will be decided on the merit of each case.
IEA Bioenergy cites importance of biomass to cope with COVID-19
IEA Bioenergy, the biofuel wing of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has promoted biomass to alleviate energy concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the flexibility and long-term viability of the energy source. During a webinar, chair of the IEA Bioenergy Executive Committee Jim Spaeth highlighted the flexible nature of biomass, and that it could see increased usage as traditional energy sources struggle amid the pandemic; he noted that worldwide energy demand is set to fall by 6%, seven times greater than the decline following the 2009 financial crisis.“On the positive side, this reminds us of the flexibility bioenergy provides,” Spaeth said. “An example is that ethanol plants have been diverted to produce disinfectants, however in comparison that’s only a small volume.”
Clean energy groups not heavily impacted by coronavirus
Europe’s largest renewable utilities have reported solid profits and little business impact during the first quarter, while conventional fuel companies have suffered. Denmark’s Ørsted A/S, Spain’s Iberdrola SA and other renewable-focused utilities showed greater resilience in their financial performance, although some companies with retail arms and other operations still registered a hit.
Most of the utilities’ wind and solar farms are under long-term contracts with either governments or private off-takers, which is why theyhave demonstrated a higher degree of resilience in the crisis so far. Thermal and hydro power plants usually have greater exposure to wholesale prices. As power demand has dwindled, green generators have also benefited from priority access to the grid in many European countries, which has forced thermal power plants to switch off first. Combined with growing portfolios and favorable weather conditions in some geographies, this meant many utilities saw higher results from their renewable operations during the first quarter and could continue to do so.
ACME Solar to cancel 600 MW project in Rajasthan
ACME Solar has decided to cancel the project the 600 MW project in Rajasthan, which it had won at a historic low rate of Rs 2.44 per unit in 2018. The company in its petition to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has cited coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons for the cancelling the PPA for the project with the government agencies.The petition is to prevent Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) from encashing the bank guarantee and letter of comfort submitted for the project. ACME had signed the PPA with SECI and power supply agreement (PSA) with PGCIL.
KERC extends RPO compliance for FY 2020 to August 2020 amid COVID-19
The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has decided to extend the time for complying with the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) for FY 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the nationwide lockdown. The extension has been provided for three months. Now, the obligated entities can meet their RPO for the FY 2020 by August 31, 2020. The Commission added that if any entity fails to meet the RPO or a part of it within the extended time period of three months, then it will have to purchase the renewable energy certificates to the extent of 110% of the amount of the RPO shortfall. Failing to do so will call for legal action against the entity.
Bridge to India forecasts low renewable energy capacity addition in 2020
According to Bridge to India, renewable energy capacity addition progress in the second quarter and third quarter of financial year 2019-20 would continue to be affected by the coronavirus disruption. It said that though project construction activities were allowed to commence from 20 April 2020 onwards but, a further two to three months were expected to be lost in remobilisation effort blockages.
With 37 GW of solar and wind projects currently in the pipeline, at least 34 GW is due for completion in the next two years after removing the 3 GW capacity for the manufacturing-linked tender. According to the release, there might be further hold-ups depending on government approvals or reopening of power purchase agreements (PPAs) in case of open access projects.
Mexican Government justifies the role of COVID-19 for slowing renewable energy growth
The Mexican government has cited the coronavirus pandemic as a justification for new rules that will reduce the role of renewable energy like solar and wind power, granting a reprieve to the government’s own aging, fossil-fuel power plants. The decree over the weekend has sparked outrage among Mexican and foreign investors who had been allowed to sell their power into the government-operated grid.
Industry associations said it will affect 28 solar and wind projects that were ready to go online, and 16 more under construction, with a total of $6.4 billion in investments, much of it from foreign firms.The government defended the new rules, saying they “will allow the National Electrical System to ensure reliability in the face of a decrease in demand for electrical power due to the pandemic, and due to the fact that renewable energy projects are intermittent and produce oscillation in the electrical system and cause interruptions.”
Sustainable funds in India attract finance amid Covid-19
Sustainable funds in India have attracted more than $500 million in January-March largely due to growing investor interest in environmental, social and governance issues, says a report. Sustainable or ESG (environmental, social, and governance) funds in Asia (excluding Japan) witnessed an inflow of over $900 million during the quarter under review, according to the report by Morningstar. Such funds offer exposure to themes such as renewable energy, low carbon, green transport and environmental protection.
600,000 US jobs lost in clean energy space due to pandemic: report
The US clean energy sector has lost 17 per cent of its work force, or nearly 600,000 jobs, as lockdown halts production of components and slows installations, according to a report.The sector lost 447,200 jobs, about triple the 147,100 lost in March when states first began implementing lockdown orders to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the analysis of US unemployment data conducted by BW Research Partnership.
While they represent a tiny fraction of the nation’s total job losses during the period, the clean energy industry’s fall in employment has exceeded estimates. After a similar study last month, BW Research had projected 500,000 job losses sector-wide by the end of June. It now expects 850,000 job losses, about a quarter of all clean energy jobs, in that time.
Rs 900 billion bailout package to support power discoms amid coronavirus crisis
In a press conference in New Delhi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced that power distribution companies would receive Rs 900 billion as part of the Government of India’s stimulus package to help the Indian economy recover from the coronavirus crisis. This one-time liquidity injection will be infused through the Power Finance Corporation and REC Ltd in two equal installments.
Central public sector power generation companies have also been ordered to give rebates to discoms, which will, in turn, be passed on to the final consumers (industrial). These funds are intended to help discoms out of this unprecedented situation as their revenues have dropped drastically. These loans would be given against state guarantees solely for clearing liabilities to power generating companies, to help improve the viability of utility power purchase agreements for renewable power generators as well since discoms would now be able to pay their dues.
KERC lowers late payment surcharge for power discoms
The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has issued an order lowering the late payment surcharges (LPS) by distribution companies to generation companies and transmission licensees in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. After receiving directions from the state government, the Commission reduced the rate of LPS to 0.6 per cent per month for payments delayed beyond 15, 30, 45, and 60 days from the date of presenting the bills. This would apply for bills generated between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020. The LPS rate before this revision stood at 15 per cent per year or 1.25 per cent per month.
Southern states generate more solar power than north during lockdown
Southern states generated more solar power during the lockdown, as a share of the total power supply in April. Despite the less demand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were able to use 2,655 million units of solar power compared to all other states, which generated 2,133 million units in the month. Among southern states, Karnataka lead with 1,092 million units, followed by Telangana (594.09MU) and Tamil Nadu (514.30MU). Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were able to harvest wind power too during April.
Compared to April 2019, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu harvested more solar power this time around. In April 2019, Karnataka generated 791 million units and Tamil Nadu 400.11 million units of solar power. Consequently, evacuation of solar power by these two states increased by 28.53 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 38 per cent in Karnataka. In the case of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, solar power evacuation came down by 19 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.
ReNew Solar Power emerges as winner lowest bidder in round-the-clock tender
ReNew Solar Power Pvt Limited has emerged as the lowest bidder at a tariff of Rs 2.90 per unit for 400 MW renewable energy capacity in an auction by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). It can develop solar, wind, and hybrid projects under this tender. It would supply power to the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Three out of the four bidders, namely ReNew Solar Power, Greenko Energies and HES Infra were finally shortlisted for the e-Reverse Auction.
Solar and gas generation rise amid lockdown in India
India’s solar and gas-fired electricity generation rose in April even as overall power demand fell to the lowest in at least thirteen years, a Reuters analysis of provisional government data showed. Solar-powered electricity generation rose 16.9 per cent, accounting for a record 5.6 per cent of the country’s total output, while gas-fired power output was 13.7 per cent higher, an analysis of daily load despatch data from state-run power operator POSOCO showed. However, wind-powered electricity generation fell 11.4 per cent. Electricity generation from coal fell 32.3 per cent to 1.91 billion units per day, the data showed, with its contribution to overall electricity generation falling to 65.5 per cent, compared with an average of over 73.7 per cent last year.
Prime Minister Modi holds a meeting to take a stock of the power sector
In a recent meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed various measures and long-term reforms for enhancing sustainability, resilience, and efficiency of the sector. The meeting was attended by the Home Minister, Finance Minister, Minister of State for Power, and Minister of State for Finance along with senior government officials amid the ongoing lockdown. Among many other things, the discussions included measures regarding the ease of doing business, wider adoption of renewables, flexibility in the supply of coal, increasing the role of public-private partnerships, and taking measures to boost investments in the power sector.
REC trading declines in April due to COVID-19
There was a significant decline in the trade volume of both solar and non-solar renewable energy certificates (RECs) in April 2020. The non-solar clearing price touched as low as Rs 1,000 per REC on both the exchanges, while solar RECs’ cleared price was Rs 2,400 per REC in IEX portal and Rs 2,000 per REC in PXIL.
The non-solar clearing price remained at Rs 1,000 per REC on both the exchanges, while the solar REC clearing price was Rs 2,400 per REC.A cumulative sum of 20,842 solar RECs was traded on both the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) and Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL). Out of the total, 15,991 and 4,851 solar RECs were traded on the IEX and PXIL, respectively.
Q2 performance impacted by the pandemic, says Siemens Gamesa
Siemens Gamesa’s performance in the second quarter of FY 2020 (January-March) suffered a direct impact of €56million on the company’s profitability. This complicated situation further intensified the challenges in the onshore business, mainly in the Indian market and the execution of projects in Northern Europe.
Siemens Gamesa has reacted rapidly to address this unprecedented crisis and to safeguard the health and safety of its employees, by enacting strict health and safety protocols ahead of official guidelines, both at plants and offices, and applied new solutions to assure operations continue – including re-routing certain supply chains, optimizing remote monitoring to guarantee service operations and, in offshore, extending periods for maintenance teams working at sea. The company has also maintained a sound liquidity position, with credit lines amounting to €4.0billion, against which it has drawn just €1.1billion. Although the lack of short-term predictability has led the company to withdraw the guidance it issued in the first quarter of 2020, the long-term prospects for the industry and Siemens Gamesa remain sound. The company registered a record order backlog of €28.6billion (+21 per cent YoY) and is well positioned to take advantage of sector growth outlook thanks to its geographical diversification and leadership in technology.
Wind power firms call on governments to maintain efforts for increasing green energy
Wind power companies have called on governments to ensure efforts to encourage low-carbon energy are maintained amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement seen by Reuters. Some governments have set themselves goals of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, as pressure to act against climate change grows.The wind energy sector called on them to keep up their climate commitments in the statement. It was signed by companies including Vestas, Iberdrola, Orsted, Mingyang Group, Nordex and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and industry groups such as Global Wind Energy Council.
Wind turbine maker Vestas reports operating losses
Despite strong sales and a booming order book, Vestas has reported an operating loss before special items of 54 million euros versus the 91 million euros operating profit forecast by analysts, while its EBIT margin fell to -2.4 per cent.Quarterly sales topped forecasts, but Vestas failed to squeeze as much profit out of the sales as expected by analysts.”In line with our expectations, our EBIT margin in the first quarter was negatively impacted by the delivery of low-margin projects,” chief executive officer Henrik Andersen said in a statement.
Extension for filing responses regarding review investigation of continued solar safeguard duty
An extension has been announced by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) for filing responses to the questionnaire regarding the review investigation for the continued imposition of safeguard duty on solar imports.The date for the submission of responses has been extended from April 30, 2020, to May 11, 2020. The extension has been announced in view of the ongoing lockdown to arrest the development of the coronavirus pandemic. No further extension will be granted.Before this, the DGTR, under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, had extended the deadline from April 10, 2020, to April 30, 2020.The period of investigation for the present investigation is from April 1, 2016, to September 30, 2019.
World’s lowest solar tariff recored at Abu Dhabi
The Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower), has received the lowest ever tariff of $0.0135/kWh for its 2 GW solar project. The Al Dhafra solar PV project is expected to power approximately 160,000 households across the UAE. EWEC delivered a virtual read-out of five consortia’s technical and commercial bids for the 2 GW solar independent power producer project in Abu Dhabi. The project will be almost double the size of the approximately 1.2 GW Noor Abu Dhabi solar project, one of the largest operational solar PV projects in the world, which commenced commercial operations in April 2019.
Renewable energy rules amended in Germany due to COVID-19
The German cabinet adopted an amendment to clean energy rules aimed at enabling immediate measures to be taken during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the changes to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) includes the extension of implementation deadlines for wind energy and large solar and biomass plants. Project operators who were awarded a contract before March 2020 have been given an extra six months to build the plants.In addition, the cabinet took the opportunity to finally abolish special regulations for citizen energy cooperatives, which had already been suspended anyway.By 2030, the German government plans to ensure its energy mix consists of 65% renewable energy, yet this expansion is failing due to building permits, citizens’ complaints and a lack of power lines.
Iberdrola makes plans to defy coronavirus
Ready cash, multibillion-euro investments, price hedging, regulated networks business and capital gains should help global wind power producer Iberdrola defy the impact of the new coronavirus to boost profit at a high single-digit rate in the full year, the company said. Despite the demand-sapping spread of the virus, which has brought to a halt entire economy including its home market Spain, Iberdrola also maintained a pledge to invest 10 billion euros this year.
Powering more than 30 million homes and businesses in Spain, the United States, Brazil and Britain brought in net profit of 1.26 billion euros in the first quarter versus a RefinitivSmartEstimate of 1.20 billion.This included a 289 millioneuro boost from the sale of a stake in wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa, a one-off bonus Chief Executive Ignacio Galan said gave the company “headroom” to alleviate the impact of the disease.Around 40 per cent of 2020 investments are destined for Iberdrola’s renewables business.
Interest for developing renewable manufacturing hubs
The Tuticorin Port Trust and the states of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have expressed interest in setting up renewable energy manufacturing parks. This is in response to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) recent notice to states and ports asking them to earmark land with potential for setting up renewable hubs. The latest press release issued by the MNRE said that the ministry has been working towards bringing in foreign investment by reaching out to trade commissions and representatives of various countries, inviting them to invest in these manufacturing hubs at a time when many companies are planning to shift their manufacturing bases away from China.
Operations resume at Swelect Energy Systems’ Bengaluru plant
Rooftop solar installation company Swelect Energy Systems Ltd said it has resumed operations at Solar Photovoltaic Modules Manufacturing Plant located in Bengaluru with effect from April 25. The company had shut down operations at its plants located in Bengaluru and Salem from March 24 due to the lockdown announced to combat COVID-19. As per the directions issued by the Joint Director, Department of Industries Centre (DIC), Bengaluru, the company has been permitted to resume its operation after following the guidelines issued by the central government during the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
Inox Wind resumes production at its facilities
Wind turbine maker Inox Wind Ltd has resumed operations at all three manufacturing plants. These plants are located at Barwani (Madhya Pradesh), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and Una (Himachal Pradesh). In a regulatory filing Inox Wind said “after obtaining requisite permission from concerned district administration, the company has now resumed operations at all its three manufacturing plants in compliance with all the safety guidelines/ directives issued by the central/state governments and local administration to safeguard the employees, labourers and all other stakeholders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The company had shut down these plants following the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Renewable firms backed by large investors seek moratorium
Renewable energy companies backed by large investors such as Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, Singapore’s state investor GIC and American private equity firm TPG Capital are among those that have sought moratorium on their loans from lenders. On April 23, rating agency ICRA released a list of 328 companies, from its rating universe, including large corporates like JSW Steel, Tata Power, and Piramal Enterprises, which have sought moratorium on loan repayment from banks. According to ICRA, while some of the companies could be facing liquidity issues due to the nationwide lockdown, others may be simply looking to conserve cash. Among those that have sought relief from lenders are some renewable energy companies backed by global investors with billions of capital.
Laying of transmission lines allowed during COVID-19 lockdown
The Ministry of Power (MOP) has issued a notice asking the states and union territories to allow the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and other private interstate transmission utilities to operate, maintain, and conduct construction-related activities of the interstate transmission systems (ISTS) during the nationwide lockdown until May 3, 2020. In its letter to the administrations of all states and union territories, the Ministry explained that electrical power transmission is an essential service for the smooth and uninterrupted flow of power within and between states, and was included in the list of activities permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) during the lockdown period.
Africa to use renewables to cope with COVID-19 pandemic
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have agreed to work together to promote renewable energy across the African continent and to cope with the Coronavirus outbreak. According to the press statement issued by IRENA, the two organizations will focus on innovative solutions to drive the development of renewable energy, including decentralized systems, and to increase access to energy across the continent.
The collaboration between the African Union and IRENA is in line with the ongoing AU programs, which include the Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, Renewable Energy in African island states, Development of Small Hydropower Potential in Africa, Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility, and the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). The other initiatives include the Desert to Power, Coalition for Sustainable Energy Access, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy suspends guidance
Wind turbine firm Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has withdrawn financial guidance for the 2020 financial year. In a statement dated April 21, SGRE said the “uncertainty associated with COVID-19” was “compounding challenges in India and Northern Europe.”SGRE joins Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas — which this week announced its decision to lay off around 400 employees — in suspending guidance for 2020.
SGRE said “COVID-19 disruptions” in its supply chain, manufacturing operations, project execution and commercial activity had “primarily affected and adversely impacted the situation” in its onshore business. In addition, it said offshore and service operations “might” see some disruptions across the coming months, but that these were “so far expected to be significantly lower.”
30 days blanket extension for commissioning of renewable energy projects
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has granted an extension of 30 days for commissioning of renewable energy projects beyond the lockdown period. The renewable energy implementing agencies may grant extension of time for commissioning of such projects, impacted due to coronavirus lockdown, equivalent to the period of lockdown and additional 30 days for normalisation beyond the curb period, the ministry said in a statement on April 21. This will be a blanket extension and there will be no requirement of case to case examination, as also there will be no need to ask for any evidence for extension due to lockdown, it said. The ministry has also said that all implementing agencies of the MNRE will treat lockdown due to COVID-19, as force majeure.
Renewable energy share goes up amid COVID-19, says Wartsila
Finnish company Wartsila said the coronavirus outbreak has caused the share of renewable energy in Europe’s power production to increase rapidly. The pandemic has caused demand for electricity to fall across Europe, Wartsila said, according to data it collected and analysed. Countries such as Germany, Spain and Britain have had to temporarily shut down coal-fired power generation, causing the share of renewable energy to increase rapidly in the power mix.
Wartsila’s data analysis showed coal-based power generation fell by 25.5 per cent across the European Union and the United Kingdom in the first three months of 2020 year-on-year, as a result of the response to COVID-19, with renewable energy reaching a 43 per cent share. The drop in demand has sent electricity prices down, and the low electricity prices, combined with renewables-friendly policy measures, have begun squeezing out fossil fuel power generation, the company said, citing data it had collected.
South Africa’s green energy plans suffer due to pandemic
The coronavirus shutdown has drastically lowered electricity usage and left Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which supplies about 95 per cent of the nation’s power, with excess capacity. Economic growth and energy demand are likely to remain muted for several years, casting doubts over when additional plants will be needed. Eskom, which was previously forced to implement rolling blackouts because its aging plants couldn’t deliver sufficient output, has already declared force majeure with wind-energy producers because it doesn’t need their output. South Africa’s power demand has plummeted by as much as 9,000 MW since the lockdown came into effect on March 27. Just days earlier, Eskom had issued a request for proposals to supply it with emergency power, with submissions due to close on April 30.
Closure of wind power plant in North Dakota due to coronavirus outbreak
North Dakota’s Department of Health said there were 110 confirmed cases of coronavirus in people connected to the LM Wind Power plant in Grand Forks, a total that includes both employees and “their close contacts.” The site, which produces rotor blades for wind turbines and employs 900 people, closed on April 15 after eight workers tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement, a spokesperson for GE, which owns LM Wind Power, said the Grand Forks facility would be temporarily closed for at least two weeks in order to “conduct an extensive disinfection process.” Employees would continue to be paid “as usual” during this time, they added.
Cabinet to approve a bailout package for power discoms
The Union Cabinet is likely to approve a package to help ailing discoms due to revenue loss owing to lower power demand amid the coronavirus lockdown. This includes setting up of an alternative investment fund to pay off their dues towards electricity generation companies. The discoms may be charged nominal interest rate and administrative expenses on that. The package may also include steps like directions to the state and central power regulators to reduce electricity tariff.The payment of dues would help discoms to increase their electricity supply and ensure 24X7 uninterrupted power supply.
MNRE gives impetus to RE manufacturing parks in India
With greater focus on domestic manufacturing in the wake of coronavirus epidemic, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set up Renewable Industry Facilitation & Promotion Board to facilitate investment in the sector, the ministry said in a release on Saturday. The Ministry said it has also got in touch with trade commissioners/ representatives of various countries inviting them to “invest in this promising opportunity in India”.
The Ministry has written to various state governments and various port authorities to identify land parcels of 50-500 acres for setting up such parks.”Tuticorin Port Trust, States of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have already expressed their keen interest in setting up renewable energy Manufacturing Parks,” it said.These facilities will manufacture equipment like silicon ingots and wafers, solar cells and modules, wind equipment and ancillary items like back sheet, glass, steel frames, inverters, batteries etc. The hubs will also export equipment and services in the renewable energy sector, the release said.
Liquidity risk manageable for renewable power producers
Lower power demand and payment concessions amid a lockdown in India to contain the spread of COVID-19 will increase curtailment risks and extend receivable days for Indian renewable energy producers, says Fitch Ratings. However, the renewable energy generators rated under Fitch’s Corporate Rating Methodology have adequate liquidity, low near-term debt maturities, and expectations of support in certain cases, so it does not expect any negative rating action in the near term.
Power demand will see a sharp decline, with a return to growth helping to improve the receivable position of the rated renewable issuers. Fitch expects lower power demand would lead to some curtailment of renewable power generation, although this will be generally lower than that of coal-fired power, because renewable energy continues to hold ‘must-run’ status and the government has directed that curtailment of renewable power be restricted unless needed for grid stabilisation. Nonetheless, the poor financial health of distribution utilities may result in renewable power producers facing curtailment in some cases.
The rated renewable energy restricted groups’ liquidity will be supported by cash collections from direct customers after the lockdown ends and their undrawn working-capital facilities. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India has allowed Indian renewable companies to halt payments on their rupee term loans for three months if they wish, while commissioning deadlines may be extended as the government has declared the pandemic a force majeure event that will absolve project developers from contractual liabilities.
Sale of IL&FS Wind Power Services completed
IL&FS has completed the sale of IL&FS Wind Power Services (IWSPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of IL&FS Energy Development Company Limited (IEDCL), to ORIX Corporation, Japan. IWSPL is engaged in providing supervisory and management support services to seven companies that own and operate wind power generating assets. Prior to this IL&FS Group had divested the 51 per cent equity stake held in the Wind Companies to ORIX. The sale was approved by Justice (Retd.) D.K. Jain and subsequently by NCLT, Mumbai in February 2020. IWSPL, classified as a “Green Company”, has no outstanding debtand is the first company to go out of IL&FS Group with employees.
Government permits construction of renewable energy projects
The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed the construction of renewable energy projects in its revised guidelines regarding lockdown measures.The guidelines were revised following the government’s decision to extend the lockdown period till May 3, 2020.The ministry in its order said that in order to mitigate hardship to the public, select additional activities would be allowed, which would come into effect from April 20, 2020. Oil and gas exploration and refinery will also be allowed to operate. In addition, industries and industrial establishments such as coal production, mines and mineral production, their transportation, supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations will be allowed. The generation, transmission and distribution of power will also remain functional. However, it added that these guidelines will not apply on containment zones demarcated by states and union territories.
Suzlon Energy’s shareholders’ meet cancelled amid lockdown
Suzlon Energy said it has cancelled the extra-ordinary general meeting of its shareholders scheduled to be held during the day in view of the extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3, to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The extra-ordinary general meeting was originally scheduled to be held on March 24, 2020 and was subsequently postponed to April 7, 2020 and was further postponed and rescheduled to April 15.
Under-construction solar projects face greatest impact due to coronavirus
Due to supply chain issues, the under-implementation solar projects in India have faced a greater impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to credit ratings agency Care Ratings. It said in a report that the outbreak of COVID-19 has also coincided with the actual solar project execution schedule as maximum execution happens in the last quarter of the financial year in India. When the situation started improving in China, India entered the nation-wide lockdown phase, which also impacted the sector. The report titled ‘COVID-19 Impact: Indian Renewable Sector’ said that implementation of new solar projects will face delays, causing developers to miss their completion deadlines.
MNRE to promote renewable energy manufacturing
In a bid to minimise the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the heavily import-dependent domestic solar industry, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has asked state and port authorities to identify land sites suitable for renewable energy manufacturing and export services hubs.“All states and ports are requested to identify land parcels of 50-500 acres for setting up renewable energy manufacturing and export services hub,” said Anand Kumar, secretary, MNRE, in a twitter post recently.In an earlier tweet, Kumar had said that the ministry would provide full support to companies planning to expand or setup bases in India for manufacturing and export of services in the renewable energy sector.
COVID-19 to impact India’s wind installation for 2020
The coronavirus-led lockdown has impacted India’s wind energy target for 2020, as all major turbine manufacturers, including Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, GE and Inox Wind, have suspended production, industry executives said. BloombergNEF has lowered its expectation of how much wind energy capacity India will add in 2020 to 1.95GW from an earlier forecast of 2.56GW. It has cut that down by 24 per cent due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown. There is a further downside risk to the current forecast if the lockdown extends beyond April 14.
51 GW of renewable energy auctions delayed in Brazil due to coronavirus
The Brazilian government has postponed the national energy generation and transmission auctions of clean energy comprising more than 51 GW which were scheduled for May this year, for an indefinite time frame due to the pandemic. This includes auctions both A-4 and A-6, as well as tenders for the transmission lines.Before the pandemic, Brazil’s 3-year plan comprised of an A-4 auction during the H1 of 2019, 2020 and 2021, followed by an A-6 auction in H2.With the occurrence of the pandemic, how this plan will get reworked, taking into consideration the indefinite delay, remains unclear.
Discoms cite COVID-19 reason for not paying power generators
Many discoms, including those in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, have been refusing to pay the power generators claiming their inability to collect power dues from the consumers. On the other hand, the discoms’ claim of force majeure due to Coronavirus outbreak for not paying generators has been rejected by the Solar Energy Corporation of India.As of February, discoms owed power generators Rs 924.25 billion.
No plans to reduce renewable energy growth target, says MNRE
The government has no plans to reduce its target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity in the country by 2022 in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and the nationwide lockdown. The country will receive raw materials for building renewable energy capacity of 6-7 GW, which are currently stuck in Chinese ports, in another month. Moreover, renewable energy auctions conducted by the Solar Energy Corporation of India are currently receiving good responses.
500 MW solar plant comes online amid coronavirus pandemic
A 500 MW solar PV plant, described by Spanish utility Iberdrola as “Europe’s largest,” sent its first MWh of energy to the grid earlier this week, a welcome bright spot for an industry that in the months ahead could experience difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.The Núñez de Balboa facility is located in Extremadura, a region in the west of Spain. According to Iberdrola, it has over 1.4 million solar panels and will be able to supply energy to 250,000 people per year.The plant is a collaboration between Iberdrola and Ecoenergías del Guadiana and construction work on the project finished in December last year.
Additional time for generators to file tariff petitions amid COVID-19 outbreak
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) is giving extension to the power generators to file tariff petitions as relief from the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.The Commission has relaxed the provisions and permitted the generating companies to file the tariff petitions along with the truing up petitions for the 2019-24 period by June 30, 2020, where tariff orders for 2014-19 have been issued.The Commission, however, made it clear that in case of existing generating stations or existing transmission assets, where final orders for the 2019-24 period are yet to be issued, the filing of tariff petitions for truing up of tariff for the 2014-19 period and the determination of the tariff for the period will be governed by the directions in the order dated October 28, 2019.
ALMM deadline extended to September 30, 2020
MNRE has decided to extend the deadlines for Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) List I (solar PV modules) and ALMM List-II (solar PV cells) by six months from March 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020 amid coronavirus. The MNRE had issued Approved Models and Manufacturers of Solar Photovoltaic Modules Order 2019 to ensure the reliability of solar PV manufacturers and protect the consumers’ interests. The ALMM order provides for the enlistment of eligible models and manufacturers of solar PV cells and modules complying with the Bureau of Indian Standards certification and publish the same in the list called the ALMM.
E-mail invoicing for renewable generators amid coronavirus pandemic
Due to difficulties faced by renewable energy generating stations in issuing physical copies of invoices under current circumstances, invoices are to be issued over e-mail for Regional Energy Accounts (REA), State Energy Accounts (SEA), and billing through Joint Meter Readings (JMR). MNRE noted that due dates are to be calculated as per the terms of the power purchase agreements between the involved parties and waived off hard copy submissions. It added that in the event a JMR could not be signed because of the lockdown, an invoice can be generated by the renewable energy developer based on the meter readings, with attached photographs of the readings or downloaded meter data. MNRE directed that alternatively, discoms could pay based on the invoice for the same period in the last year if it is lower. It, however, noted that once the lockdown ends, all power developers are expected to submit hard copies within 15 working days.
Discoms to be charged for deemed generation for not honouring PPAs
The government said in a notice that discoms not honouring their power purchase agreements will be charged for ‘deemed generation.’ This move is aimed at providing relief to renewable energy producers as some of the discoms are still resorting to RE curtailment without any valid reason. Discoms that curtail the use of renewable energy will have to pay solar and wind power developers for the electricity deemed to have been generated and the only exception would be on account of issues arising due to grid safety.
Coronavirus delays 3 GW renewable projects
Indian states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have the highest coronavirus infection rates, also correspond with the areas that are favourable to wind and solar development. The research and consultancy firm, Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement the timing of the lockdown is unfortunate as the first quarter is typically one of the busiest periods for wind project installations.With over 3 GW of wind projects under construction scheduled for 2020 completion, supply and labour disruptions from the current lockdown could delay 400MW into 2021, equating to a downgrade of 11 per cent for 2020.
Similar to the wind sector, India’s solar PV installations are expected to be hit hard as the industry is dependent on Chinese PV module imports for 80 per cent of total requirements which has been disrupted due to the coronavirus. Consequently, its full year downgrade stands at 2.9 GW, a 24.8 per cent reduction resulting in a revised 2020 outlook of 8.9 GW of solar PV installations.
Real-time power market implementation postponed
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak in India, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has decided to postponed the implementation of the real-time power market (RPM) until June 1, 2020. It was scheduled to start from April 1, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, necessary trials could not be completed, and the date had to be postponed.CERC amended three regulations – the Indian Electricity Grid Code Regulations, Power Market Regulations, and Open Access in Inter-State Transmission Regulations to introduce the framework of real-time markets.
Wind turbine firms close due to coronavirus restrictions
Europe’s largest wind turbine makers have had to shut down factories in Spain, due to an almost total lockdown in the country to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Denmark’s Vestas has suspended production at its two Spanish plants, a spokesman told Reuters, adding that its service and maintenance business was still working. Vestas has also paused manufacturing and construction in India, which is under a nationwide lockdown too, he said.Top rival Siemens Gamesa suspended production at six Spanish factories on Monday, bringing total closures there to eight, a spokeswoman said.
“Must run’ status for renewable energy generators
Renewable energy generators have been provided ‘must run’ status during the course of the COVID-19 lockdown according to MNRE. Furthermore, considering the ‘small contribution of renewable power producers’ to the total power mix, discoms have also been told to continue the regular payments cycle due to renewable energy producers, as existed before the lockdown. This was done in response to state discoms in Punjab,Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh serving notices on their renewable energy generators to curtail production, and for expressing an inability to pay them.
Digital invoicing amidst coronavirus lockdown
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has requested all state discoms and agencies to allow submission of invoices digitally amid covid-19 lockdown. According to SECI, the submission of digital invoices will make it feasible to release the payment to developers, making their projects sustainable. SECI’s office is closed until the lockdown period due to which it is not viable for power developers to submit the energy invoices in SECI’s office, and similarly SECI cannot raise the hard copy of the invoice of its buying utilities.
$100 million raised via green bonds by SBI
The State Bank of India has raised $100 million via dedicated bonds despite challenges in global financial markets, due to COVID19 outbreak. Japan-headquartered MUFG Securities has solely helped the lender for this issuance. The proceeds will be used to fund non-convention energy sector. This is the third set of green bonds the government-backed bank offered. The bonds will be issued through SBI’s London branch on the last day of the financial year and will be listed on the Singapore’s stock exchange – SGX. Rating company Fitch graded the issuance with BBB- on par with New Delhi’s sovereign issuance. The bond sale is supposed to be the first green issuance by a public sector bank in the financial year that ended on March 31, 2020.
Three-month moratorium on state owned discoms for payments
The government has approved a three-month moratorium on state owned discoms to make payments for the electricity bought by them and reducing the payment security amount by half for future power purchases. These measures including waiving penalty for late payments, are part of the government’s efforts to ensure round-the-clock electricity supply during the three-week long countrywide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic. CPSU generation or transmission Companies will continue supply or transmission of electricity even to discoms which have large outstanding dues to the generation ortransmission companies.
India’s energy consumption falls amid lockdown
India’s daily power consumption has suffered a 26 per cent fall in less than ten days since March 18, 2020. The fall, captured in official data released by Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), is attributed to the slump in the economic activity in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Data released by POSOCO, showed the country’s overall energy consumption dropped from 3,586 GWh on March 18 to 2,652 GWh on March 26. Data also shows the steepest decline in consumption was recorded in the Western region where it fell 35 per cent to 771 GWh on March 26 as compared to 1,187 GWh on March 18.
Deadline extension for all renewable projects under construction
All renewable energy projects currently under implementation will be given an extension of time for commissioning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tweeted Anand Kumar, Secretary Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The duration of the lockdown and the time required to remobilize the workforce will also be taken into consideration while granting the extension, according to his tweet. The announcement was made in light of the Prime Minister of India’s recent declaration of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Although power has been declared as an “essential” activity, power projects are only allowed to operate with minimum manpower.
MNRE asks for free movement of material and engineers in states
A Ministry of New and Renewable Energy notification to the state authorities has mentioned that there is a need to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the current scenario of COVID-19 outbreak and nationwide lockdown. Besides allowing permission for staff, vehicles and associated workforce to move around, the ministry has also asked states for a waiver under Section 144, nationwide lockdown, curfew or any other limitation on a “number of people to gather in locations like sites, substations, transmission lines and towers etc. and other related locations where it may be required for operation and maintenance activities of renewable power generation and associated equipment”.
Renewable energy supply chain disruption to be treated as Force Majeure
The government on directed all the renewable energy implementing agencies under the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) to treat delay on account of disruption of the supply chains due to spread of coronavirus in China or any other country, as Force Majeure. These implementing agencies may grant suitable extension of time for projects, on account of coronavirus, based on evidences or documents produced by developers in support of their respective claims of such disruption of the supply chains. MNRE has asked all project developers claiming disruption and desirous of time extensions to make a formal application to SECI or NTPC or other implementing agencies, giving all documentary evidence in support of their claim. The implementing agencies have also been asked to ensure that no double relief is granted due to overlapping periods of time extension granted for reasons eligible for such relief.
Sterling and Wilson Solar positive despite coronavirus
Sterling and Wilson Solar (SWSL), a Shapoorji Pallonji group company, is set to execute its order book, which is valued at Rs 130 billion, despite the delay in shipping of solar panels from China and forthcoming debt repayments. In November, the promoters of failed to honour their repayment commitments and sought more time from the company’s board to repay loans worth Rs 23,410 million. They repaid Rs 10,000 billion in December 2019 and proposed to facilitate entire repayments of balance loan amounts in phases by September 2020. Almost 90 per cent of the company’s solar panels procurement is from China. While the company’s solar procurements from China have been affected because of the coronavirus outbreak, but the company is positive deliveries will happen on time and will not severely affect project schedules.
Canadian Solar states limited impact from Covid-19
Canadian Solar, a leading solar PV module manufacturer, has stated limited impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on its production facilities. The company, which has almost 73 per cent of its manufacturing capability located in China, had faced severe disruptions from mid-January by way of capacity loss amid the Covid-19 carnage. However, Canadian Solar’s manufacturing subsidiaries in China are located in Changshu, Jiangsu province, which has not been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, hence were able to resume the production post extended Chinese New Year holidays. Canadian Solar stated that the impact on its delivery schedule is mostly limited to the capacity loss in the last week of January and the first ten days of February. Since mid-February production has been restarted and, the company is now settled to make up for the lost production.
Windergy India 2020 postponed due to COVID-19
Due to the evolving public health concerns and travel advisories around COVID-19, WINDERGY India 2020, scheduled to be held from 28-30 April 2020 is currently postponed. The organisers, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA) and PDA Trade Fairs Pvt Ltd believe, this is the best option to prioritise the stakeholders’ health and safety. The new dates are yet o be announced.
JinkoSolar predicts no significant impact of COVID-19
JinkoSolar believes it could take shipments past the 20GW mark in 2020 after breaking financial and operational records last year, amid claims that COVID-19 will not “materially” hurt its business.Over Q1 2020 alone, the company expects $1.00-1.08 billion in revenues, gross profit margins of 19-21 per cent – up from 18.2 per cent in Q42019 and 18.3 per cent in FY 2019 – and shipments of 3.4-3.7GW. The firm continues to believe it will end this year with shipments of 18-20GW, nearly all of which are likely to be high-efficiency mono products.
Coronavirus concerns lowers 2020 solar PV outlook
BloombergNEF (BNEF) published its outlook for the solar PV industry.BNEF reports that production of PV components is starting to resume in China. This could alleviate pressure on supplies of key components and equipment. However, there will be shortages in the short term.The current situation in China has shown that the value chain for renewable energy needs to be regionally diversified, says BNEF. More production facilities are also needed in Asia, Europe and the United States – especially for batteries.BNEF’s revised forecast suggests that the global PV market could be poised for a significant contraction this year.
500 MW GUVNL solar tender witnesses tepid response
Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) has got bids for just 430 MW of submissions in its latest 500 MW solar tender. Tata Power, Juniper Green and Vena Energy were the only firms to submit bids under the tender, resulting in undersubscription. A reverse auction was due for March 16, 2020. The tender had a low ceiling tariff of Rs 2.65 per kWh, despite an order from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy directing state utilities and central agencies not to include upper ceiling tariffs in future renewable energy auctions. The low ceiling tariff combined with the uncertainties due to COVID-19 are believed to be responsible for the lukewarm response.
Taiwan and India extend solar power project commissioning dates
Taiwan has extended PV power project completion dates as a result of component shortages caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said that PV power plant projects nearing completion would be granted a two-month extension, due to component shortages coming from China.The extensions apply to earlier 2019 projects to June 2020 and later 2019 projects to August 2020. Chinese PV trade bodies have already requested a similar policy be adopted in China. Reports also suggest that India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is expected to announce extensions for completions dates of PV power plants, again due to components coming from China.
Coronavirus declared as a force majeure event
Indian Ministry of Finance has declared solar project developers who miss contractual obligation deadlines because of coronavirus-prompted supply chain disruption can invoke force majeure clauses to avoid financial penalties. The announcement came after the lobby group, the National Solar Energy Federation of India, wrote to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to request the extension of scheduled commissioning dates for affected projects to help Indian developers cope with delayed deliveries and component shortages due to the virus outbreak in China.
LONGi Group announces production will be back on track soon
LONGi Group, a major global solar technology provider based in Shannxi Province, China, today announced there has only been a limited impact on operation due to Coronavirus outbreak and the production will be on track soon.The company said in a statement some of LONGi’s production bases have started production while other manufacturing facilities will resume work in line with regulations. The company says that as the production capacity for monocrystalline cells and modules enjoy a certain level of flexibility, production will accelerate when the virus outbreak is over.
India to announce solar project deadline extensions to help with supply chain issues
India is considering extending solar commissioning deadlines in order to counter the disruption caused by the coronavirus on Chinese solar imports, Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said. A Crisil report warned that 3GW of solar projects worth Rs 160 billionare at risk of incurring penalties for missing their scheduled commercial operation date. Anand Kumar told media that the government would consider loosening schedules ifdevelopers can prove shipment delays due to the virus.India sources 80 per cent of its solar modules from China, where supply chains, manufacturing processes and transportation have been ruptured as the country deals with the virus outbreak.
Tongwei investing in new solar cell manufacturing hub in China
Major polysilicon and merchant solar cell manufacturer, Tongwei Group and subsidiary Tongwei Solar are to significantly increase high-purity polysilicon production and high-efficiency solar cell production over the next five years.Tongwei said that a new 30GW solar cell manufacturing hub in Jintang County, Chengdu, China would be built over a five-year period at an estimated cost of $2.86 billion and be built on 600 acres of land.The first phase of the 7.5GW solar cell project would be started before March 2020 and is expected to be completed during 2021. Phase two will bring the new cell capacity to a total of 15GW.Tongwei expects to reach a cell capacity of 60GW in 2022 and could expand capacity to between 80GW to 100GW in 2023, subject to demand.