With the impact of the disastrous second wave of Covid-19 infections slowly receding, India’s economic activity is getting back to normal. While the government has granted extensions for renewable energy project commissioning to account for the delays caused by the second wave, there have been a lot of encouraging developments on the project development front. In fact, many large tenders and projects have been announced and successful auctions completed in the month of July alone.
The biggest announcement came from state-owned energy major NTPC Limited. NTPC Renewable Energy Limited, a 100 per cent subsidiary of NTPC, has received approval from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to set up a mega solar park of 4,750 MW in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Moreover, the company will generate green hydrogen on a commercial scale using renewable energy produced from this park. Another state-owned agency, GAIL Limited has announced that it will invest about Rs 50 billion towards the development of 1 GW of renewable energy projects. Of the total amount, Rs 8 billion-Rs 10 billion will be invested in building biogas and ethanol plants.
On the tendering side, the Solar Energy Corporation of India has invited bids for the development of 1,200 MW of ISTS-connected solar projects in Karnataka under ISTS Tranche X. These projects will inject power at ISTS substations in Gadag and Koppal districts. In addition, NHPC has floated a tender for EPC companies to set up a 600 MW ISTS-connected solar project along with the transmission infrastructure in Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited completed two successful auctions. Its 500 MW solar auction saw ACME Solar and ReNew Solar emerging as winners for 300 MW of capacity at a quoted tariff of Rs 2.42 per kWh and 200 MW at Rs 2.43 per kWh respectively. Its 500 MW solar-wind hybrid auction saw Tata Power win a capacity of 300 MW and Azure Power a capacity of 200 MW at a quoted tariff of Rs 2.62 per kWh for both. In another recent auction conducted by Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited for 550 MW of solar projects to be developed at the Agar Solar Park in Madhya Pradesh, Avaada Energy won 200 MW at Rs 2.46 per kWh and O2 Power won 350 MW at Rs 2.44 per kWh.
After the delays and upheaval caused by the pandemic, these announcements certainly generate a sense of hope for the sector. This not only indicates a strong project pipeline but also points to competitive tariffs, which show sustained investor confidence in the sector. Aside from solar power, an impetus is being given to other niche segments such as green hydrogen, ethanol and hybrids, which demonstrates that India’s renewable energy sector is maturing and diversifying, set to witness impressive growth in the new decade.