Can India achieve power for all by 2019?

The Modi government has set itself the target to achieve electricity for all by 2019. While this is not the first time such a target has been set in India – in fact, similar targets have been set by previous governments for 2007 and 2012 – many observers think that if it can be achieved than by this government. However, it will not be easy. Let us look at what challenges needs to be solved.

  • Cost of delivery of power to the hinterlands is highest and the ability of consumers in those areas to pay for power is the lowest
  • There is a strong co-relation between states with the highest share of un-electrified population and poor financial health of a state’s utilities
  • The government wants to involve the private sector with a focus on renewable micro-grids

Trina Solar, JA Solar and Canadian Solar to explore India manufacturing

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last week, 3 MoUs were signed, potentially worth USD 260 million (refer) for solar cell and module manufacturing units. Trina Solar and JA Solar have signed MoUs with Welspun Energy and Essel Solar respectively to set up manufacturing facilities in Andhra Pradesh. Canadian Solar also signed an MoU with Gurgaon based Sun Group to develop solar projects and explore manufacturing in India.

  • Interest to invest in the renewable sector is gaining ground among both Indian and international investors
  • The central government has been making intense policy and execution efforts to grow renewable investment in India
  • BRIDGE TO INDIA expects aggregate utility scale capacity to reach 27 GW and rooftop capacity to 4 GW by 2019

Solar in the Circular Economy: a New Business Model

Solar is great. It is an abundant, free and omnipresent source of energy. We just need to convert it into a form of energy we can use: heat/cool or electricity. The only problem is that in order to convert it, we need to manufacture specific equipment (collectors, panels, inverters, etc.) – and that is costly. This is where our global energy transition is stuck. What we try to do is reduce the cost of this conversion equipment and find clever ways of financing it. But what about changing the industry entirely: into a circular economy, where we just lease the materials we need to convert sunlight into electricity?

  • Solar is a technology, not a fuel: the equipment can be reused
  • The challenge of financing could be entirely avoided in a circular economy approach
  • A community of interest of manufacturers, EPCs and developers/land owners could scale solar up much more rapidly

Why Net-metering is failing – Part 2 – The DISCOM’s side of the story

From generation to delivery, India incurs one of the highest electricity losses globally. These losses can be as high as 30-40%. In comparison, other growing economies such as Brazil and China suffer only 17% and 5% losses respectively. For India to achieve its energy security and energy access goals it needs to plug these losses – and grid modernization has to be a very important component of this. In a bottom up approach, a larger integration of distributed generation can be an important part of the puzzle. It can help bypass the inefficient grid altogether. In the absence of cost effective storage, grid-modernization at the local level in form of net-metering can be an important tool. Unfortunately, despite central government’s best efforts, net-metering has not been readily adopted by all states or their DISCOMs. Reasons for their reluctance vary for each company and state. Focusing mainly on the residential segment, this article discusses their rationale and provides course correction required to make net-metering a success. [Refer – part 1 – consumers side of the story]

  • Net-metering is in an experimental stage. Each state and DISCOM will have to customize its policy and commercial aspects for itself for net-metering to be successful
  • The narrative supporting net-metering needs to change and reflect instead that it reduces AT&C losses and need for land
  • Infrastructure upgrade is a default requirement for India, and net-metering is another reason for faster upgrades and integration of new and better technologies

India to allocate 10 GW under central government schemes this year?

Today, there was a meeting called by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to discuss their revised plans for 10,000 MW of solar PV projects expected to be tendered in the next few months under National Solar Mission (NSM). These projects will be split between tariff based bidding (3,000 MW) and Viability Gap Funding (VGF) based bidding (7,000 MW).

  • MNRE claimed that tenders for further 2,500 MW of projects under the same scheme will be announced in the next two months
  • For the VGF based bidding projects, MNRE has so far received confirmation from states for 2,670 MW of projects
  • BRIDGE TO INDIA’s opinion is that these allocations might stretch beyond the timelines stated today due to multiple operational reasons

Global Energy Trends and Implications for India (Part 5/5): Transitioning to a low carbon energy system payoff

The global energy system is in a period of rapid transformation: electricity plays an ever more important role, as do renewables, distributed generation and electric vehicles. Energy efficiency is improving. Emissions are a large and growing concern. New technologies and business models are disrupting and challenging a traditionally risk-averse and slow-moving industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just published its new “Energy Technology Perspectives” outlining the global trends until 2050 (refer). Here are some of the key findings and the implications they might have for India.

  •  Investing into a low-carbon energy system pays back purely in energy terms (leaving aside environmental and climate externalities)
  • On a global level, and discounted at an annual rate of 10%, savings add up to USD 5 trillion until 2050
  • For India the goal – a low-carbon energy system – should be clear. The challenge is how to design the market.

100 days on, still Haryana’s innovative solar rooftop policy sees no light

It has been more than 100 days since the government of Haryana has made it mandatory for all buildings with an area of 500 sq. yards or more to install solar rooftop systems. Unfortunately, there has been very little progress in the implementation of the policy. A pervasive culture of delays and an expectation that policies are not enforced makes the market very slow to react. Will this well intentioned policy join the fate of so many others and simply be ignored?

  • The mandatory solar rooftop policy in Haryana is ineffective so far
  • A lack of information and support from the government hampers implementation
  • The government itself has not executed any pilot solar installation

Global solar manufacturers look to India for new manufacturing capacity

Over the past months, several international PV module manufacturers have announced plans to ‘Make in India’. While Trina Solar and Canadian Solar have declared that they are setting up manufacturing capacities in India, First Solar and SunEdison have stated that they are studying the viability of manufacturing capacity in India.  As per BRIDGE TO INDIA’s sources; at least two other large international manufacturers are seriously considering setting up cell and manufacturing capacities in the country. As per our estimates, around 2,000 MW per year of manufacturing capacity is in the planning stages.

  • Firstly the anticipated demand of solar in India is on the rise
  • Secondly financial incentive of up to 25% of the capital cost of module manufacturing facilities is available under the M-SIPS
  • Some of the state governments are providing further incentives for setting up solar manufacturing facilities
May 5, 2015