India is rushing to meet its clean power goals of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel based power capacity by 2030, with timely policy interventions and well-planned auctions, but its renewable energy growth significantly depends on state-level initiatives and development activities. The central government and its agencies may issue competitive bidding guidelines to streamline the execution of projects, auction gigawatt-plus solar and wind capacities, replace 58,000 MUs of thermal power with renewables or release the Green Energy Open Access Rules to enable open access transactions in renewables, but it is ultimately the states and state-level agencies that are responsible for driving deployments.
After all, the state discoms buy a bulk of renewables generated in the country, and the state agencies are involved in processes such as land allocation, grid connectivity and approvals for net metering and open access. The states even have their own policies and targets for renewable power procurement. In the past, incidents such as tariff renegotiation in Andhra Pradesh and delays in land allocation for wind projects in Gujarat have revealed the importance of state agencies working in tandem with the central government. In view of this, the central government has recently directed state governments to set up state-level steering committees for energy transition.
All the states are moving at their own pace in terms of renewable energy installations, depending on factors such as policy and regulatory environment, financial health of state discoms, land and grid availability and solar or wind energy resource distribution in the region. States such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have witnessed the highest capacity additions from April 2018 to December 2021.
Interestingly, there has been a significant reshuffle in the rankings of states based on their total renewable energy installations. For instance, Rajasthan is the top-ranking state in terms of deployed renewable energy at present (as of May 2022), while it was ranked fourth in October 2021, just half a year ago. Similarly, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat were the top three states and now they rank at third, fourth and second positions respectively. Maharashtra has maintained its fifth rank. Renewable Watch takes stock of the state-wise renewable energy installations and policy developments, and presents the outlook for the top five renewable energy states…
The solar-rich state of Rajasthan was an early entrant in the renewable energy space. The state witnessed some of the lowest solar tariffs in the country’s history and development of gigawatt-plus solar power parks. The most recent solar auction conducted in the state by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in December 2021 for 1,785 MW of solar capacity was quite successful, with the lowest discovered tariff being Rs 2.17, the second lowest solar tariff during 2021-22. The winners of this auction were NTPC Renewable Energy, which won a capacity of 500 MW, Sprng Energy Natural Power Source with 200 MW, Calpine Subsico Solar Energy (an SPV of UPC Renewables) with 90 MW, Metka EGN Singapore Pte with 20 MW, ReNew Solar Power with 600 MW, and ACME Solar with 375 MW.
Since the beginning of 2022, Rajasthan has witnessed significant project activity with the commissioning of large renewable energy assets such as Brookfield Renewable India’s 450 MWDC solar project, ACME’s 300 MW solar project, Tata Power Solar’s 160 MWAC project, Azure Power’s 300 MW solar project and Adani Green Energy Limited’s 390 MW wind-solar hybrid project. These recent projects completed over the past five to six months have been responsible for increasing the state’s total installed renewable energy capacity to 18,707 MW as of May 2022.
More large-scale projects have been announced in the past few months apart from those allocated in SECI’s December 2021 auction. These include Rays Experts’ 3 GWp solar park in Bikaner, a 800 MW solar park in Jaisalmer being built through Rajasthan Power Generation Corporation and the 1,000 MW solar park in Bikaner being built through Rajasthan Solar Park Development Company. Moreover, the state government has signed pacts for 90 GW of renewable power capacity development with a mix of companies including THDC India, NTPC, NHPC and SJVN (10 GW each); SECI (2 GW); Reliance (20 GW), Axis Energy Group (28 GW of solar projects and a 4 GW solar module manufacturing facility), and the Sukhbir Agro Group (2 GW). All these developments will augment Rajasthan’s renewable energy capacity and cement its position as the top renewable energy destination in the country, provided the transmission-related concerns and discom-related issues are dealt with to ensure sustained industry confidence.
With its renewable-rich and barren region of Kutch, relatively healthy discoms and the right policy focus, Gujarat has become one of the most sought-after solar and wind investment hotspots in India. In addition to tenders issued by the state authorities, developers are opting for Gujarat as their choice of project location for pan-India auctions as well, as witnessed in recent years.
State discom Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) has been active in issuing tenders, which have received a consistently good response. In March 2022, GUVNL’s auction for 500 MW of solar projects (Phase XIII) saw successful bids from four parties at the same tariff of Rs 2.29 per unit. The winners in this auction were Fortum (through Alpha Energy) with 200 MW, SJVN with 100 MW, Hinduja Renewable Energy with 120 MW and UPC Renewables with 80 MW of capacity. Recently, in June 2022, GUVNL’s second auction in 2022 to develop 500 MW of solar projects under Phase XIV (with a greenshoe option of up to 500 MW of additional capacity) was won by Aditya Birla, Hinduja Renewables Energy and SJVN securing 300 MW, 120 MW and 80 MW of capacity respectively. The lowest tariff discovered was Rs 2.30 per kWh. Another company, Hindustan Salts Limited, has issued a request for proposals for a 1 GW solar project in Kharaghoda, Surendranagar district, and the power generated by the project will be sold in the market.
Apart from solar, the state is focusing on expanding its wind power capacity. To this end, GUVNL has recently issued a bid for 500 MW of grid-connected wind power projects (Phase-III), with a greenshoe option for an additional 500 MW capacity, and another one for 500 MW of renewable energy projects with a guaranteed peak power supply and an energy storage system.
All these projects will help expand the state’s installed renewable energy capacity, which currently stands at 17,330 MW. Further, a massive 30 GW renewable energy park is planned in the Rann of Kutch and clean energy equipment facilities are planned by industry majors including Adani and Reliance Industries owing to their proximity to ports, adequate infrastructure and a supportive policy environment. All these developments point towards strong renewables growth in the state in the coming years, especially with offshore wind bids also in the pipeline and regions off the coast of Gujarat being considered for offshore wind development.
Tamil Nadu, with its high wind power potential and early development of wind capacity, has long been a renewable energy leader. However, the state has witnessed fewer capacity additions in the past four years compared to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Moreover, auction activity has been limited in Tamil Nadu with a few bids launched for rooftop solar, floating solar and other small projects. At present, the state ranks third with 16,604 MW of total installed renewable energy capacity. However, the situation is expected to change in the near future, as according to a recent announcement, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company is planning to develop 20 GW of solar projects with battery storage and 3 GW of pumped storage projects over the next 10 years. First, it plans to set up a 4 GW solar power park with 2 GW of battery storage systems and 500 MW of pumped storage systems. Further, in 2021, it received approval from the state electricity regulatory commission to purchase 1 GW of solar power from SECI at a tariff of Rs 2.61 per kWh including a trading margin of Rs 0.07 per kWh.
On the wind power side, as most of the wind-rich sites in the state are already utilised by older and low-capacity turbines, there is a massive potential for repowering of these wind projects with newer high capacity turbines. This will help increase the energy generation from the existing projects and expand the state’s wind power capacity significantly. Moreover, as per a recent government notification, 4 GW of bids for leasing out offshore wind energy blocks off the coast of Tamil Nadu are soon to be issued. These developments will help the state scale up its renewable energy base.
Karnataka, with 15,952 MW of installed renewable energy capacity, ranks fourth in the country. The state government recently approved the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy for the period 2022-2027. The policy aims to reach a renewable power generation capacity of 10 GW in the next five years. Adequate steps are being taken to ensure that Karnataka meets these targets in time.
SECI conducted two auctions in February 2022 for solar power projects (Tranche X) of 600 MW each for the Koppal and Gadag substations. Ayana Renewable Power and Fortum emerged as winners, winning 300 MW each in both tenders. The Koppal substation solar auction witnessed bids of Rs 2.36 per unit and Rs 2.37 per unit from Ayana and Fortum respectively. Meanwhile, Ayana and Fortum quoted Rs 2.35 per unit and Rs 2.36 per unit respectively for the second tender for the Gadag substation.
Apart from the auction, there have been a slew of announcements from renewable energy majors regarding massive project development in Karnataka. For instance, in April 2022, Azure Power signed an expression of interest with the Karnataka government to develop solar, wind and hybrid renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 1,700 MW. Then, the ACME Group signed an MoU with the state government to invest Rs 520 billion for setting up a green hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Mangaluru, along with the associated solar power plant. Around the same time, Ayana signed an expression of interest with the state government to develop wind and solar power projects with a total capacity of 2 GW. In addition, Emmvee plans to build a 3 GW cell and module production facility in the state. Thus, while capacity additions over the past four years have amounted to only 3,200 MW, Karnataka has revamped its plans and will be able to achieve its targets provided there is regulatory certainty.
At 10,695 MW of renewable energy installations, Maharashtra is quite far behind the other four states with a difference of more than 5 GW between it and Karnataka. However, the state has been making efforts to cover this huge gap and has issued many tenders to invite developers to set up renewable energy capacity. In October 2021, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) floated a tender to procure 1,250 MW of solar power from projects developed in various districts of the state. This was followed by another tender to procure 500 MW of solar power from decentralised solar projects under Component C of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM). It also floated two separate tenders to procure 342 MW of energy from grid-connected intra-state wind projects and 300 MW from interstate and intra-state wind projects. More recently, it issued a request for proposals for the long-term procurement of power from 500 MW of intra-state grid-connected solar power projects (Phase VII).
Apart from issuing tenders, the state was successful in conducting auctions and allocating projects. In July 2021, ACME Solar and ReNew Solar emerged as winners for MSEDCL’s 500 MW (Phase VI) solar power auction, with ACME winning 300 MW at Rs 2.42 per kWh and ReNew winning 200 MW at Rs 2.43 per kWh. In October 2021, Azure Power and Adani Green Energy Fifteen were declared winners in MSEDCL’s auction to procure 300 MW of wind power. While Azure Power won a capacity of 180 MW at a quoted tariff of Rs 3.43 per kWh, Adani Green Energy won a capacity of 120 MW at a quoted tariff of Rs 3.44 per kWh. Moreover, the Maharashtra government has signed MoUs with JSW Energy Limited to set up 6,500 MW of clean energy projects worth Rs 355 billion in northern and western Maharashtra. These projects comprise a 1,500 MW hydro-based power project in Nashik and a 5,000 MW wind power project spread across 1,870 hectares in Kolhapur, Solapur, Satara and Osmanabad. This project will significantly enhance the state’s renewable energy capacity and boost investor confidence provided there is clarity on various policies and regulations.
These five states – Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra – with double-digit GW-scale renewable energy portfolios, are leading India’s renewable energy transition. These top states have adequate solar and wind power potential and are largely expanding their capacities through the auction of large utility-scale projects. New emerging hotspots are opting for various other avenues such as rooftop solar, group-captive and even open access projects along with auctions to increase their capacities. Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are a few states focusing on one or more of these strategies to encourage renewable energy development.
While all of these states are taking steps in the right direction, it is critical that regulatory clarity is maintained and bureaucratic hurdles are removed to ensure sustained renewable energy growth across states and achieve the country’s energy transition ambitions.
By Khushboo Goyal