Month in a Minute: Top Headlines from the Indian Renewable Sector in June 2024

The average cost of large-scale solar power projects in India fell 28.2% year-over-year in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, primarily due to a significant drop in module prices over the year. Since Q1 2023, large-scale solar project costs have dropped consecutively for five quarters. Q1 2024 recorded the lowest quarterly average project cost. The average project cost was down 7.1% quarter over quarter (QoQ).

India added over 1.8 GW of solar open access capacity in Q1 of the calendar year 2024, a nearly 152% increase year-over-year (YoY) compared to 722 MW, according to the newly released Q1 2024 Mercom India Solar Open Access Market Report. The installations also represent a two-fold QoQ increase from 909.3 MW. Falling module prices drove the rise in installations due to surplus production in China and the suspension of the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers order for projects commissioned until March 2024.

India imported solar cells and modules totaling over $2 billion (~₹167 billion) in Q1 of the calendar year 2024, up 147.5% YoY, according to data from the Department of Commerce. Solar cells accounted for 21% of the quarter’s imports, and solar modules 79%. Module and cell imports fell 2.1% QoQ from $2.05 billion (~₹170.9 billion). In Q1 2024, China accounted for 73% of India’s solar imports compared to 69% in Q4 2023. Imports from China totaled $1.5 billion (~₹121.8 billion), representing a 3.6% QoQ growth.

Green Day-Ahead Market has provided new opportunities for renewable energy generators and distribution companies (DISCOMs) to trade surplus power on exchanges. Power generators affected by long-delayed payments from DISCOMs and those with surplus power from projects linked to power purchase agreements can sell their excess power on exchanges, preventing it from going to waste. In the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2023, Adani Hybrid Energy was the top entity selling power through the exchanges, accounting for 14.2%, followed by Adani Solar Energy (8%).

Pralhad Joshi has been appointed the Minister of New and Renewable Energy in the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Manohar Lal Khattar is the new Minister of Power. In the previous government, R K Singh held both the Power and MNRE portfolios as Cabinet minister. This time, two Cabinet ministers will handle the two portfolios separately.

India achieved 1.8 GW of solar open access capacity in the first quarter of 2024, doubling from 909.3 MW in Q4 2023, according to the Q1 2024 Mercom India Solar Open Access Market Report. Installations increased by 152% year-over-year. Implemented by the Ministry of Power, Green Energy Open Access Rules have enabled consumers with a total contracted demand or sanctioned load of 100 kW or above to utilize green energy through open access. The earlier limit was 1 MW.

Solar developers are facing longer lead times for power transformers as manufacturing capacity for this key component in large-scale solar projects has failed to keep pace with demand, slowing solar deployment in India. This bottleneck in transformer availability is expected to have ripple effects across India’s infrastructure buildout, potentially delaying the timelines for solar project construction and other energy projects.

India’s energy landscape is rapidly evolving, with solar power emerging as a crucial part of the country’s renewable energy mix. Among the various initiatives, open-access solar has shown significant promise. Open access solar demand in India has grown considerably and consistently since 2019 as commercial and industrial entities realized the savings in operating costs, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PM Surya Ghar Yojana, an initiative by the government to install rooftop solar systems in 10 million households, has hit several roadblocks in its implementation across various states. Despite ambitious targets, the program appears to be struggling due to many challenges stakeholders face, including state DISCOMs, installers, and consumers. The installers also described the loan process for consumers under the program as time-consuming, with extended processing times for approvals from institutions like the Small Industrial Development Bank of India.

The recent hike in electricity generation duty from ₹0.012 (~$0.00014)/kWh to ₹0.15 (~$0.0018)/kWh for rooftop solar systems in Kerala is threatening to disrupt the pace of renewable energy adoption in the state. The state expects an additional annual revenue of ₹240 million (~$2.87 million) from the increased duty. This sharp increase contradicts the central government’s policy against imposing generation duties on renewable energy sources like solar.

The Union Cabinet has approved a Viability Gap Funding program with a total outlay of ₹74.53 billion (~$893.34 million) for offshore wind energy projects. The program includes ₹68.53 billion (~$821.43 million) for installing and commissioning 1 GW of offshore wind energy projects, split equally between the coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. An additional ₹6 billion (~$71.92 million) will go towards upgrading two ports to support the logistics requirements of these projects.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has released a framework for the enlistment of solar photovoltaic modules and inverters under the PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana to assist consumers in making informed choices when selecting high-efficiency products with better warranties for their rooftop solar installations. The ministry said it has prescribed minimum technical standards for various components of rooftop solar installations to ensure quality.

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission has released guidelines for prosumers and consumers to sell and purchase electricity through secure peer-to-peer transactions. The Delhi DISCOMs had filed a petition to determine charges to enable these transactions. The Commission’s guidelines cater to prosumers, excluding those carrying out ground-mounted projects and consumers who choose to transact energy among themselves through an online platform of service provider(s) or distribution licensees.

The Ministry of Commerce has allowed developers of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and units in SEZs to install solar systems for captive consumption, following demands from the Export Promotion Council for Export Oriented Units and SEZs. In a clarification, the ministry said that duty benefits under Section 26 of the SEZ Act are allowed for SEZs to install, operate, and maintain renewable energy equipment like solar panels exclusively for captive use on the condition that the power generated is not wheeled out to the domestic tariff areas.

The Government of India has greenlighted new Interstate Transmission System programs totaling ₹135.95 billion (~$1.63 billion) to evacuate 9 GW of renewable energy from Rajasthan and Karnataka. The first program focuses on the Rajasthan renewable energy zone, designed to evacuate 4.5 GW of renewable power. This includes 1 GW in Fatehgarh Complex, 2.5 GW in Barmer Complex, and 1 GW in Nagaur (Merta) Complex.

The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency has raised ₹15 billion (~$179.5 million) through bonds, reflecting strong investor confidence in India’s renewable energy sector. The bond issuance, which included a base issue of ₹5 billion (~$59.8 million) and a green shoe option of ₹10 billion (~$119.7 million), received an overwhelming response from investors. The bonds were oversubscribed by 2.65 times.


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