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Updated by Renewable Watch on Mar 13, 2019
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Solar-Wind Hybrids in India 

Reducing Deviations - Renewable Watch

With the large-scale integration of wind-and solar-based generating stations, managing the national and regional grids could be a daunting task for the state load despatch centres (SLDCs). Unless steps for managing variable renewable integration into the grid are initiated, issues such as poor grid management, inefficient load generation balancing, lack of grid security and instability are likely to persist across all renewable-rich states.

Early Mover - Renewable Watch

To promote both wind and solar power uptake in Gujarat, the state government has launched the Gujarat Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy, 2018. It is the first state to have released a policy framework for hybrid projects based on the guidelines released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The policy, with an operational period of five years, has provisions for both brownfield and greenfield wind-solar hybrid projects. It encourages renewable power producers supplying to the grid as well as those using the power for captive purposes. It must be noted that the state has 1,637 MW of operational solar power capacity and 5,614 MW of wind capacity. This capacity can be utilised in a better way if converted into hybrid plants. These projects have a rated capacity of 40-45 per cent as against 20 per cent of stand-alone solar and wind power projects. However, hybrid power projects face geographical and designing constraints.

Bridging the Gap - Renewable Watch

The pursuit to resolve the challenges in the Indian renewable energy sector has given rise to many innovative solutions, especially in the wind and solar energy segments. The complementarities of the two technologies harnessed through hybrid power plants, have emerged as a solution. Coupled with energy storage, these solar-wind hybrid plants can seamlessly supply power round the clock with much greater control as compared to plants without storage. In light of the country’s need for better grid integration, the recently released National Solar-Wind Hybrid Policy by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) permits the addition of battery storage to any solar-wind hybrid power plant. It is interesting to note that while the initial investment for solar-wind hybrids plus storage will be much more than that for only solar plus storage plants, the resulting higher quantum of energy generated and availability of better quality power could greatly enhance the cost benefits of the storage system.

Wind Woes - Renewable Watch

After the success of its past four wind auctions, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) released its fifth tender, in May 2018, to encourage wind capacity addition. A capacity of 2,000 MW of inter-state transmission system (ISTS)-connected wind power projects was tendered with a submission deadline of July 10, 2018. Bids were invited for capacities ranging from 50 MW to 300 MW, to be developed on a build-own-operate basis, as in the case of the previous tenders.

Risk Assessment - Renewable Watch

The last seven rounds of bidding, four undertaken by the Solar Energy Corporation of India and one each by the states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, proved to be quite successful. A total wind capacity of 7.5 GW was tendered in these auctions. In a span of just 15 months, wind power tariffs reached a new low of Rs 2.43 per kWh, resulting in improved wind power offtake. This has also boosted the confidence of developers and discoms alike.

Towards a Green Tomorrow - Renewable Watch

In June 2018, the Andhra Pradesh government signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with NTPC Limited (NTPC) for the procurement of 750 MW of power from three solar power plants of 250 MW each. Being developed by Sprng Energy, Ayana Renewable and SB Energy as part of the Ananthapuram-I Solar Photovoltaic Power Project (Phase II), power from these plants will be procured at Rs 2.72 per kWh. Further, a 2 per cent rebate will be offered to the state discoms as an incentive for timely payments. These projects are expected to start supplying power in a few months.

Two Good - Renewable Watch

Solar module costs have witnessed a rapid decrease over the past two years leading to a reduction in the overall costs. However, the on-field energy efficiency has remained stagnant especially in countries like India due to the extremely low adoption of experimental technologies. As a result, solar power technology is in a constant pursuit to lower its cost per energy unit generation as compared to traditional power generation systems.

Performance Edge - Renewable Watch

While rapid expansion in solar photovoltaic (PV) deployments worldwide is under way, there is a massive thrust on developing the most efficient solar modules at competitive prices as well. Research and development in solar module production at present is focused on lowering production costs without compromising on system efficiencies. This is being achieved by reducing raw materials and consumables required for module production as well as enhancement in cell or module architectures. Moreover, ways to increase captured light and reduce module degradation rates are being explored to improve the overall system performance. This will, in turn, lead to an overall reduction in the levellised cost of energy.

Creating Ripples - Renewable Watch

Once dismissed as a quirky, niche segment likely to be relegated largely to land-scarce countries like Japan, the concept of floating, canal-top and canal-bank solar PV projects now seems poised for a potential breakthrough in India.

Tough Target - Renewable Watch

As the 2022 deadline for renewable capacity addition draws nearer, the solar energy industry remains divided on whether the targets will be achieved in time. While the utility-scale target seems achievable on the whole, experts agree that India is still far from installing 40 GW of rooftop solar. Regulatory and policy gaps continue to exist in the segment and need government intervention at both central and state levels. At a recent event organised by Renewable Watch on “Achieving the 100 GW Target: Need for Progressive Policies and Technologies”, key developers and technology experts discussed the current status of solar power development, the issues facing the segment and the market outlook…

IBC SOLAR Energy - Renewable Watch

IBC SOLAR Energy (IBC) is the international project development division of the IBC SOLAR Group, which provides vertically integrated services in the solar space. IBC has operations spanning the solar value chain, from project development and financing to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), and operations and maintenance. It is headquartered in Germany, which is also its largest market.

Quality in Question - Renewable Watch

The adoption of the competitive bidding framework for the allocation of solar power projects has led to a significant reduction in the solar tariff levels. It has reduced developer margins and made returns unsustainable for the majority of the stakeholders involved. This may soon create a scenario where cost-cutting measures may be adopted for improving margins and compromising on project quality may become a common practice. To address some of these issues and highlight the impact of poor quality on project performance, a study was carried out by PI Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin AG (PI Berlin), on behalf of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB).

Solarising Dwarka - Renewable Watch

Delhi’s largest discom, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL), a joint venture between Reliance Infrastructure and the Government of the National Capital Territory, launched the Solar City Initiative on January 7, 2018 with the purpose of setting up grid-connected rooftop solar projects to manage the ever increasing peak electricity demand in Delhi. BRPL partnered with GIZ and The Energy and Resources Institute for the implementation of this project. At the launch of the initiative, BRPL’s chief executive officer Amal Sinha said, “The aim of the Solar City Initiative is to accelerate rooftop solar development by aggregating consumers and bringing in significant participation from solar developers.” The initiative, moreover, plans to educate consumers about the benefits of solar energy, along with the various business models for setting up such projects through a dedicated website and a 24×7 helpline number.

Solar Schedule - Renewable Watch

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has come up with a timeline for floating utility-scale solar tenders and conducting auctions. According to the schedule, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) can only float solar tenders and conduct auctions in four months – December, March, June and September. NTPC and other public sector undertakings (PSUs) like NHPC Limited and Central Electronics Limited will have January, April, July and October to work on their tender and auction commitments. Meanwhile, state agencies will utilise the months of February, May, August and November for similar activities.

Fresh Fillip - Renewable Watch

Hydropower generation is all set to pick up pace in Himachal Pradesh with significant changes in the hydro policy announced recently by the state government. Although small-hydro power (SHP) has been the mainstay of harnessing renewable energy in Himachal Pradesh, long-awaited clearances at various stages, local issues, escalating costs and uncertainty regarding financial viability have been ailing this segment. In many cases, clearances take up to 20 years, which has been putting off many developers. Many projects have stalled as there have been no bidders despite repeated advertisements. The changes made in the new policy are expected to revive the stalled projects and attract developers to invest in new projects.

Solar EPC Trends - Renewable Watch

As the country moves towards achieving its 100 GW solar capacity target by 2022, the segment is beginning to witness increased capacity additions. The total installed solar power capacity has reached 23 GW as of June 2018, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent from 2013-14 to 2017-18. This rapid development is supported by aggressive competitive bidding and declining equipment prices, which have led to a rapid decline in solar power tariffs. To keep pace with these changes in the solar power segment, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) industry is also evolving rapidly.

Sun Lit - Renewable Watch

With a total area of about 40 square km and a population of just over 55,000, Diu has become the first district in India to run entirely on solar energy during the day. Diu, which is among the 10 least populated districts of India, has the perfect mix of resources barren land and high solar exposure required for setting up solar panels.

Rooftop Solar Goals - Renewable Watch

India’s biggest solar parks are being built in states like Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan and Gujarat – essentially, in regions with sunshine and vacant arid land. But across the country, transit systems, airports, hospitals, campuses, malls, industrial units and office complexes are looking to set up their own solar power plants, mostly on rooftops. So far, the growth in rooftop solar installations has been modest, with only 352.8 MW of capacity being added in 2017-18, against a revised and scaled-down target of 1,000 MW. Now however, with a number of positive policy and technology developments taking place, the pace of installations is expected to pick up. The country’s total installed rooftop solar capacity has crossed 2 GW. In terms of scale too, the size of rooftop projects, at least in the commercial and industrial (C&I) segments, is increasing steadily. In Amritsar, Punjab, a 19 MW project across the 82 acre RSSB Educational and Environmental Society campus is currently the largest rooftop solar project anywhere in the world. In Kochi, the international airport has a 12 MW solar plant, making it the first fully solar-powered airport in India. With favourable project economics, a progressive regulatory scenario and easier availability of finance, segment growth is clearly picking up. Since January 2018, over 500 MW of rooftop capacity has been tendered in the country. Unlike previous years, a large share of tendered capacity has been announced by state agencies instead of central organisations, indicating state governments’ new-found interest in the segment. The largest tender this year was announced in June 2018, by the Gujarat Energy Development Agency, to set up 125 MW of capacity. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar have also issued rooftop solar tenders, marking a shift in policies. These tenders are largely focused on government and institutional players. Rooftop solar uptake in the C&I spaces, in contrast, has not been dependent on any tender pipelines and is being totally driven by commercial aspects. Urban homes and residential societies, however, have not been as enthusiastic owing to the lack of awareness as well as the high upfront cost of these projects. With this background, Renewable Watch analyses the key recent developments in the rooftop solar segment and their impact on future capacity addition…

Competitive Pressures - Renewable Watch

Policy changes during 2016 and 2017 created a temporary depression in the upward trajectory of wind power capacity addition, leading to mixed sentiments in the segment for over a year. Of all the changes, the introduction of the competitive bidding regime yielded several positives. With over 15 GW of capacity either tendered or in the process of being tendered, the segment seems to have regained momentum in 2018. The current installed wind capacity in the renewables sector stands at 34.4 GW, implying that an average of 6 GW of capacity needs to be added per annum to achieve the 60 GW target by 2022. In the long term, the government intends to have 140 GW of wind power capacity by 2030.

Slow but Promising - Renewable Watch

The rooftop solar segment has been slow to take off. The underlying reasons have been the government’s primary focus on utility-scale solar projects and the perception that rooftop solar is slow to scale up. With a modest cumulative capacity of 3.4 GW, the share of rooftop solar in the country’s total solar installed capacity is fairly low at 13 per cent.

Sunny Isles - Renewable Watch

Andaman & Nicobar, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, is made up of 572 islands, of which only 37 are inhabited. These islands are scattered over a distance of more than 750 km, with their northern tip near Myanmar and the southern tip towards Indonesia. The capital, Port Blair, is located 1,200 km from the Indian mainland. Hence, connecting these islands to the national power grid is not a feasible option. The geographical and topographical constraints of the region, including separation by sea over great distances, make the construction of a single power grid for the islands a challenge. Their entire power requirement is therefore met by stand-alone power systems. Each island has independent generation, transmission and distribution systems.

Bringing in Reform - Renewable Watch

Honduras, with a per capita GDP of $2,480 in 2017, is the second poorest country in Central America and the third poorest in Latin America, ahead of only Haiti and Nicaragua. The country, however, has ample natural resources to achieve energy self-sufficiency. It has significant solar energy potential owing to its geographic location, as well as an estimated hydroelectric potential of 5,000 MW.

Quality Concerns - Renewable Watch

Considering that the life cycle of a solar power plant spans about a quarter of a century, durability and consistency of solar panels become extremely important. The quality of panels and all other components directly impacts the cost of energy, revenues and returns on investment for project developers and operators. Quality control, therefore, assumes paramount importance to generate the best yields from a solar power plant. While there is a move towards the adoption of new technologies, inadequate quality standards for these technologies make critical decision-making difficult.

Malaysian 49 MW Solar Power Plant Connected to the Grid - Renewable Watch

On 16 March 2017, Sinar Kamiri Sdn Bhd (“Sinar Kamiri), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mudajaya Group Berhad(“Mudajaya”)signed the PPA with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (“TNB”) to develop and operate the 49MW solar PV power plant(“Project”), which has already been completed on 27 November 2018.

First 5MW SKY Project—Contributed by TATA Power & GoodWe - Renewable Watch

Suryashakti Kisan Yojana project (SKY project) which was launched by Gujarat government in early 2018 brought tremendous attentions as Gujarat is poised to become the first state in the country to roll out a scheme where farmers can utilize solar to generate electricity for farming and irrigation as well as selling the surplus to the electric grid to obtain additional income.