Renewable energy in India : News & Updates

RISING SUN

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India’s Renewable Investments Near $20 Billion
For the first time in history, investing in India’s renewable energy sector surpassed that of traditional fossil fuel-based power production. India achieved this groundbreaking feat in 2017 according to the recent numbers released in the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Investment 2018 report.

Ringing in at nearly $20 billion, last year’s investment in Indian renewables accounted for over a third of investments in the power sector thanks to nearly double the money being poured into solar and wind projects. By comparison, in 2017 all investments in power projects based on coal, gas, and oil as fuel reached totaled just $16 billion altogether.

India’s rising investments in the renewable energy sector has dovetailed with a fall in coal power investments and thermal power generation. Investment for new coal plants plummeted to their lowest numbers in 15 years, according to the IEA report.

Leading the charge is the southern coastal state of Karnataka, home of the booming tech city Bengaluru and locus of the subcontinent’s renewable energy frontlines. Over the last 12 months the region became India’s biggest renewable power producer, boasting an installed power capacity of 12.3 gigawatts (GW). This is comprised of 5 GW of solar energy, nearly 5 GW of wind energy, and 2.6 GW of other renewable power sources like hydro and biomass.

Reflecting the national trend, Karnataka’s renewable energy has far outstripped coal, which currently stands at around 9.8 GW of capacity in Karnataka. Another striking comparison can be found in the state’s production numbers just 5 years ago. In 2013, Karnataka had a coal capacity of 6.8 GW, far less than the current capacity, but dwarfing the mere 4 GW of renewables capacity at the time.

This sweeping change is thanks in large part to the recently decreasing prices of wind and solar power. At the same time, India’s thermal power sector is collapsing, and coal prices are rising. For a nation that makes up a huge part of global power expenditures, it’s a no-brainer. In 2017 India, China, the United States and Europe together account for a whopping two thirds of worldwide electricity network investments.

By all accounts, this is just the beginning of the renewables revolution in India. A few years ago, the nation publicly set what was, at the time, an ambitious goal to reach 175 GW of wind and solar energy by March of 2022. This was already a lofty plan, but in June India increased that target to 227 GW -- a staggering 28 percent bump. In the time that the goal was originally announced, India has so far managed to add about 70 GW, and they’ve announced a plan to auction off 40 GW of renewables every year until 2028.

As India charges ahead, the rest of the world is falling behind on energy sector investing. In 2017 global energy investments were just $1.8 trillion after three consecutive years of decline. This is a fall of 2 percent as compared to 2016, and the IEA projects that the decline will continue over the next few years.

Thanks to this global decrease in spending and a booming domestic demand for energy, India is able to soar through the ranks to the top of the charts. If India reaches their goal for 2022, they will be in third place worldwide for installed renewable energy capacity, coming in just behind China and the United States.

In addition to renewable energy, China and India are also leading the charge for electric vehicles in a time when other major players are shying away from alternative energy spending. By bucking global trends, India is making major headway --not to mention headlines-- on the way to a greener, high-powered future. Their aggressive renewable policies are a breath of fresh air in a fossil-powered world, and in a rapidly changing energy landscape, the first world may soon be turning to India to show them the way to a cleaner future.
By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com
India’s Renewable Investments Near $20 Billion | OilPrice.com
 

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World’s first thermal battery plant inaugurated in India: Here are its commercial applications
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the world’s first thermal battery plant in Amaravati on August 6. Owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Pvt Ltd (BEST), the plant uses new technology that will help the state reduce its carbon footprint by nullifying its dependence on factors such as weather.

It is an efficient alternative to fossil fuels and is considered better than solar energy in some ways. This new energy storage form will have wide-ranging commercial applications.

What is thermal battery technology?
A thermal energy battery is used for storing and releasing thermal energy. It allows for available energy to be temporarily stored and be released for use whenever necessary.

Standard battery technology is based on charging and discharging cycles mainly operated by electricity. The most commonly used Lithium-ion battery works on electrical energy. However, thermal batteries operate on thermal energy, which can be defined as energy created by temperature differences.

Lithium batteries are expensive, have adverse effects on the environment and last for up to seven years. The technology BEST plans to use will last longer and will be more environment-friendly.

By using this technology, Andhra Pradesh plans to become 100 percent eco-friendly. This project will electrify urban and rural areas and provide thousands of jobs within the next three years.

Applications with power grids

The possible integration of thermal batteries with power grids is one of its main applications. This will help boost industrial demand and provide substantial support to public transport and telecom grids.

Thermal batteries can function as long as heat is available for them to operate, which can be helpful in power transmission to remote areas. India’s rising regional energy requirements can be resolved using this technology.

The telecom industry will also benefit as thermal batteries will help boost signal strength and network connectivity, which will thereby increase internet and smartphone penetration.

Use in e-vehicles technology

The thermal batteries can be used in electric vehicles as well. India’s automobile industry has an ambitious target of going completely electric by 2030. Car manufacturers can use thermal battery technology to manufacture vehicle with clean energy at minimal maintenance cost and set up charging stations for the same.
World’s first thermal battery plant inaugurated in India: Here are its commercial applications
 

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Milestone! 10% of India’s total electricity output now comes from renewable power
Despite a slowing of the pace at which solar power projects are being built owing to tariffs plunging to levels unviable for the developers, the country has crossed a milestone on the renewable energy front. Renewable-power units (solar and wind) have over the last few years been raising their share in India’s electricity output; in April-October 2018, this share touched the 10% threshold.

The share of renewables in total installed power capacity is also on a rise — from 14% in FY15, this has risen to the current level of over 20%.

Under the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change ratified in Paris in 2015, India has an obligation to increase the share of non-fossil-based power in total installled capacity to 40% by 2030. The government has set a target to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022 – 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass/bagasse and 5 GW from small hydro projects.

Between FY15-FY18, electricity generated by renewable sources increased at a whopping compound annual growth rate of 18.2%. To put this in perspective, the CAGR of conventional power production in the same period was only 4.8%.

Not only was solar capacity addition in 2017 more than that of coal, solar capacity added in the year (8,040 MW) was more than twice the net addition in the coal-based power sector (4,004 MW). While solar capacity showed an annual increase of 95% in 2017, high-emitting generating capacities added in the year was 75% lower than in the previous year. Until 2017, the thermal capacity addition was keeping a scorching pace – 91,731 MW capacity was added in the segment against the original target of 72,340 MW during FY13-17.

Experts have attributed the growth in renewable energy to the country’s global commitments to cut carbon footprint, falling solar rates (it is another matter the decline has dented the developers’ confidence after a certain threshold) and unlocking of potential energy demand through ‘24X7’ power schemes.

Solar power tariffs have fallen from an exorbitant Rs 17/unit in 2009 to just Rs 2.44/unit, mainly on the back of declining module prices, improvement in technology and increased competition in the sector. The lowest tariff for wind power currently stands `Rs 2.43/unit.

However, a certain segment of the industry is concerned about the viability of such low rates as project costs are seen to be going up with the recently imposed import duties on solar modules. On the other hand, if the tariffs start going up, states may become reluctant to buy solar power unless it is still cheaper after paying the mandatory fixed cost to thermal units under the power purchase agreements.

To aid domestic manufacturing, the government has levied a 25% safeguard duty on import of solar cells — the basic ingredient needed to manufacture solar panels — for a year ending July 19, 2019. The duty would be 20% for the next six months till January 29, 2020, and 15% in the subsequent six months.
Milestone! 10% of India’s total electricity output now comes from renewable power
 

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World Leader In Renewable Energy: India Bags Second Rank In Climatosope Report 2018, China Slips To Seventh
According to the Climatescope Report 2018, India has jumped three places to rank second in terms of overall improvement in the deployment of renewable energy, as reported by BloombergQuint. Energy researcher BloombergNEF published the report.

The survey, which took into account over 103 countries, judged them on three parameters: strong government policies, a demonstrated track record of clean energy investment, and a commitment to de-carbonisation despite grid constraints. Chile, the South American nation, fared the best, followed by India, and Jordan, the Middle Eastern country.

Commenting on India’s vibrant renewable energy industry, the report said, “The Indian market is home to the largest and most competitive auctions in the world, which contracted over 10.5 GW from wind and solar in 2017 alone.”

However, the report was less sympathetic towards China which moved to the seventh rank this year, from last year’s top position. It noted that “ while China remains the largest market for clean energy build by far, curtailment issues and the halting of subsidies to solar generators dented its score.”

Despite such notable accomplishments, the government is expected miss its ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy in the country by 2022. Out of the total, 100 GW was expected to come from solar panels, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydropower.
World Leader In Renewable Energy: India Bags Second Rank In Climatosope Report 2018, China Slips To Seventh
 

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India likely to attain one of its climate targets a decade in advance
As India prepares to reveal, this evening, the latest information on the amount of greenhouse gases it has been emitting for the last few years, a new analysis by an international energy research body shows New Delhi was in line for achieving at least one of its emission-reducing targets a decade earlier than planned.

The Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a US-based organisation that conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and environment, has said that India was likely to attain the goal of having 40 per cent of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources by the year 2020 itself, instead of the original target of 2030.

Attaining 40 per cent electricity-from-renewables by 2030 was one of the three key targets India had promised to achieve as part of its ‘contribution’ to the global fight against climate change. The other two were reducing emission intensity of the GDP (emissions per unit of GDP) by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels, and creating additional carbon sink of about 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through extensive afforestation by 2030.

Officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests concede that the afforestation target may not be fully achieved, but that India was likely over-achieve the other two targets.

IEEFA has based its conclusions on the new projections for the power sector contained in the National Electricity Plan of 2018, and other data. “IEEFA estimates India’s thermal power capacity will be 226GW, or 63 per cent of India’s total of 360GW, by March 2019. By the close of calendar 2019, India’s non-fossil fuel capacity is set to exceed a 40 per cent share for the first time,” a statement from IEEFA said.

It said that by the year 2027 renewables like solar, wind and biomass would be generating about 275 GW of electricity, comprising 44 per cent of India’s total power generation of 619 GW. Hydro and nuclear, also considered clean sources of energy, would be contributing another 80 GW, or about 13 per cent.

The IEEFA estimate comes hours before Environment Minister Harshvardhan is slated to provide an update on the progress on India’s climate actions, as well as detailed information on India’s greenhouse gas emissions in the last few years, at the climate change conference in the Polish city of Katowice. The information on emissions is part of the biennial update report (BUR) that every country has to submit to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN climate body.

India’s first BUR had been submitted in December 2015, and it had information about emissions till 2010. This second BUR is likely to have data on India’s emissions till the year 2015. BURs give detailed information on the country’s emissions, its sources, growth projections and how the measures to tackle climate change was impacting this growth.

In the previous BUR, India had said that its total greenhouse gas emissions had grown from 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year 2000 to 1.8 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent in 2010. During this time-frame, the population of the country had increased by about 18 per cent, while the GDP had almost doubled. The emission intensity of GDP, a measure of how efficiently energy was being used, declined by about 12 per cent during this period, pointing to a more efficient utilisation of energy resources.
India likely to attain one of its climate targets a decade in advance: new research
 

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India floats first tender to build 7.5-Gw solar power projects in Kashmir
India issued a tender on Tuesday to build 7.5-gigawatt of solar power projects in the insurgency-hit state of Jammu and Kashmir, state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India said on its website.

The request is part of a larger plan to build 23 gigawatts of solar capacity in Ladakh, a region in the country’s extreme north bordering China. The capacity is offered in three tranches of 2.5 gigawatts each to be located in Kargil town and rest in Leh district.

Solar power developers will set up the projects, including the transmission network up to the interconnection point at their own cost, according to the tender document.

SECI will sign a 35-year power purchase agreement with the project developers, who will get a maximum 54 months to get the project running. The tender is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of building 100 gigawatts of solar capacity in the country by 2022.
India floats first tender to build 7.5-Gw solar power projects in Kashmir
 

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India’s renewable rush puts coal on the back burner
Indian power companies spent much of the past decade rushing to build coal-fired power plants in anticipation of surging electricity demand as economic growth took off. Now, many of those projects are mired in deep financial distress and private investment in coal power has ground to a near halt.

The sector has been hit by a host of problems: many plants have struggled to secure fuel supplies, and to clinch deals to sell their power to cash-strapped state distribution companies. But the biggest driver of long-term uncertainty for the industry is one that few anticipated 10 years ago: an explosive take-off in the renewable power sector, as India joins the global push to tackle climate change by shifting towards green energy.

Soon after taking power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government set a target of increasing India’s renewable energy capacity by 2022 to 175 gigawatts, equivalent to 40 per cent of the country’s total power capacity at the time of the announcement. Mr Modi’s ambitions were stoked by a dramatic fall in the price of solar panels after a huge expansion of production in China, which is seeking to capitalise on the international drive to cut emissions.

This was steadily making the cost of electricity from solar plants — once far more expensive than coal power — more competitive with plants running on the dirtiest fossil fuel. In the 2017 financial year, newly added renewable energy capacity overtook new coal-fired capacity for the first time. The renewable push attracted major investors such as Japan’s SoftBank, whose consortium last year sealed a deal that stunned the industry. It agreed to sell power from a northern Indian solar park for Rs2.44 per unit — well below the cost of coal power, which typically costs well over Rs3.

This shift in the industry’s economics means that coal power — once one of the hottest prospects for Indian industrialists — is now a space where most fear to tread. “You’d have to be quite courageous to invest in coal at this point,” said Navroz Dubash of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research. “The speed with which the story has reversed is quite astonishing.”

India’s move away from coal power has big implications for the global climate. Per capita electricity consumption by the country’s 1.3bn people is just 38 per cent of the global average, according to the New Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute, with tens of millions of households still lacking grid connections, and many more suffering highly inconsistent power supply.

The government has made the push for reliable, universally available electricity a key policy priority. The scale of the anticipated growth in power demand meant that coal would remain a vital part of the power mix, said Sajal Ghosh, an energy economist at Gurgaon’s Management Development Institute. In contrast with its heavy reliance on imported oil and gas, India has plentiful supplies of coal in its eastern region. Until major advances are made in storage, large-scale coal power will be required to make up for the intermittent nature of renewable electricity, with solar plants shutting down at night and wind turbines falling quiet on still days.

Indian coal power producers are considering renewable projects when they build new capacity © Getty But the sector is already moving quickly to respond to the rapid shift in the relative economics of coal and renewables. This year, state-run NTPC — by far the biggest thermal power producer in India — has cancelled several plans for large coal projects, including one for a giant 4GW plant in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

Increasingly, large private-sector coal power producers are looking at renewable projects when they build new capacity. Adani Power, for example, has invested more than $600m in a solar plant in Tamil Nadu — a southern state with abundant sunshine. There is no longer an economic case for the highest-cost coal plants in inland areas of the country’s south and west, which are forced to rely on coal expensively transported over long distances from the northeastern coalfields, said Tim Buckley at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. But with a huge stock of newly built or under-construction coal plants, the companies are now forced to question which projects will remain viable in an age of increasingly plentiful renewable power, and which may need to be abandoned.

Credit Suisse estimates that more than half the debt owed by power companies is now stressed — with interest payments exceeding profits — amounting to a total of more than Rs2.5tn ($35bn). Several coal-focused power groups are being dealt with under India’s new bankruptcy code, which will force them into liquidation if a swift sale is not agreed.

Indian authorities have an incentive to minimise the distress in the coal power sector. State-controlled banks, reeling from a surge in non-performing corporate loans, are heavily exposed to this industry. A dramatic slowdown in the coal sector “would have its own implications for the banking sector in India”, warned Len George, an energy specialist at the Asian Development Bank. Authorities’ desire to prevent large coal-fired plants from sliding into distress was reflected this month, when the Gujarat government agreed to raise the rates paid for power to two major coal plants run by Adani, Tata Power and Essar Power. The plants had fallen into heavy losses after a change in Indonesian rules increased the cost of their imported coal. “There are a lot of things that would make the government want to prop up coal,” said Mr Dubash at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research. “But the prize you get if you unwind this political economy is lower cost power across the country and more competitive Indian industry.”
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India set to benefit as wind power gains speed
India’s economy is the world’s sixth-largest by nominal GDP and the third-largest by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). It is the world’s fastest growing major economy, as well. India is the third largest energy consumer in the world and is the backbone of the economy. Access to cheap energy is essential to India’s sustained accelerated growth. As per International Energy Agency (IEA), India’s aggregate energy consumption will more than double by 2040. This growing demand for energy has been traditionally dependent on imports of conventional energy like coal, oil and natural gas which poses a threat to India’s energy security. Strategically, it is important that a country is energy independent or it meets the requirements of energy security which means ‘the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price’.

India has a high potential for generation of renewable energy from various sources—wind, solar, biomass, small hydro and the cogeneration of bagasse. The total potential for renewable power generation in the country as on March 31, 2017, is estimated to be at 1001 GW which includes a solar potential of 650 GW, 302 GW of wind power potential at 100 m hub height, small hydro potential of 21 GW, biomass power of 18 GW, 7 GW from bagasse based cogeneration in sugar mills and 2.5 GW from waste to energy.

Renewable energy offers significant potential to contribute towards the growth and development of India’s power sector without impacting the fuel reserves or greenhouse gas emissions. It is essential that India deploys all available energy resources including renewables to ensure energy security. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), wind power has emerged as one of the fastest-growing clean energy sources in the world.

Considered much cheaper than solar, wind energy is globally emerging as a favourite option, especially when energy is a major expense. It is now being deployed and is operational in many countries. This change is purely driven by improved economics of wind energy and a shift from dependence on fiscal benefits. National concerns and leadership thrust on energy security, emissions reduction and cost-effective generation also makes wind energy the preferred choice.

Wind power development, which started in India in the 1990s, has significantly increased in the last few years. India plans to add 60 GW of wind power installed capacity by the year 2022. Although a relative newcomer to the wind industry as compared to Denmark or the US, domestic policy support for wind power has enabled India to become the fourth largest in the world with an installed capacity of over 34 GW as of June 2018. The total installed capacity of renewable power, which was 43 GW as on March 2016, had gone up to 57 GW as on March 2017. Of this, wind power alone accounted for 56% of renewable power capacity.

According to Global Data’s Wind Power Market Update 2018, the size of the global wind power market increased from $21.4 billion in 2006 to $94.5 billion in 2017, at a CAGR of 14.4%. The global cumulative installed capacity for wind power grew from 74.6 GW in 2006 to 547.3 GW in 2017, at a CAGR of 19.9%. There was a total addition of 52.3 GW in 2017. During 2018–2025, the wind power market size is expected to increase from $94.9 billion to $98.9 billion.

The boost is primarily driven by robust government policies, and an increase in capacity, led by India, China, the US, Germany and other emerging countries. The need for cleaner, reliable, and affordable power is further stimulating this growth. Interestingly, wind power is more popular than solar in the US. Out of all the renewable energy produced in the US in 2017, 21% came from wind, while just 7% came from solar power. Utilities and large-scale operations prefer heavily utilised wind energy while homeowners prefer solar energy. India is no exception. The nation produced 102 billion units of power from renewable sources, or close to 8% of the total, in the year ended March 2018. With wind energy leading the growth, it contributed 52.7 billion units, solar contributed about 25.9 billion, 11.8 billion from bagasse (sugarcane) and 7.7 billion units from small hydro power.

With the right steps, India’s wind industry is poised to meet the government’s revised target of 67 GW ahead of 2022. Moreover, wind is riding strong on the competitive bidding regime and an increased demand for green energy that is reliable, affordable and a mainstream source of energy. The wind Industry is regaining momentum, considering there is a clear visibility of 10-12 GW with a plan of further bids by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE). Some Indian states have also come up with novel schemes by identifying areas where agriculture is not very intensive and remunerative. Such initiatives do not involve the process of land acquisition, while making use of the land for a fixed annual payment carried through a partnership between the government and farmers. Piloting technologies such as the wind-solar hybrid, where both windmills and solar panels are put up on the same piece of land, are also paying off well.

India’s renewable energy sector has attracted investments of over $42 billion over the past four years and green energy projects have created over 10 million man-days of employment per annum over this period. As per the power ministry’s study to meet energy requirements for the year 2026-27, India will need to build 275 GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2026-27.

The nation’s strategy to decarbonise its electricity supply industry has been augmented by advanced technologies, cost reduction, and a growing interest from global renewable players, utilities and investors. It offers a sustainable solution to the country’s growing energy requirement and climate change issues, whilst also reducing its excessive reliance on imported and expensive fossil fuels, provides an opportunity to create jobs and boosts the government’s ‘Make in India’ program with manufacturing potential in the entire energy efficiency value chain.

Certainly, at the current rate, India’s wind industry is on course to add 30 GW of new capacity in the next three years, taking the cumulative total capacity to over 64 GW. This brings an edge of scale at the project level and cost optimisation. With an improvement in technology, the next-generation turbines can deliver around 35-40% plant load factor (PLF) in high wind states, about twice the PLF compared to solar.

Technological advancement in the wind sector is also making it possible to harness wind at sites which were earlier unviable. Going by these trends, India seems to be on track to double its wind capacity. While Karnataka and Tamil Nadu currently lead the way in renewables, other states of India are also poised to harness wind energy.

Further, conducive policies such as exemption of interstate transmission charges and losses on solar and wind power projects up to March 31, 2022, are giving impetus to expand the reach of renewables. As available supply and market demand continues to grow in an increasingly healthy market, wind energy is set to become more important across the globe. This would place India amongst the leading wind energy producers in the world. The future looks green and bright for wind. This trend will greatly enhance India’s energy security.
India set to benefit as wind power gains speed
 

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Gujarat, first to use geothermal energy to generate power
Gujarat is set to become the first state in the country to use Geothermal energy to produce electricity. The power plant being set up at Dholera will become operational in April.

"India's first geothermal power plant will start operating on a pilot scale in April in Dholera, and it will produce 20 KW of electricity. Dholera was chosen for the plant as immense heat has been found under the earth in the form of hot springs," the Centre of Excellence for Geothermal Energy (CEGE), set up by the state government at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) said.

CEGE head Prof Anirbid Sircar said that not much work has been undertaken in the country on geothermal energy and exploiting hot water. "We are the first to initiate an attempt to generate electricity with the help of geothermal energy," he said.

The release said that two geothermal bore wells were drilled at Dholera where water temperature was found to be between 47-50 degree Celsius. Hot water produced from the wells would be used for generating power using Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technique.

"In 2016, CEGE had set up the first-of-its-kind geothermal space heating and cooling plant at Dholera. This will now be integrated with ORC to generate heat to run the turbine that drives a generator, which in turn will produce electricity," it said further.

Geothermal energy is a clean source of power, which would be available round the clock and throughout the year, unlike other renewable energy sources.

The geothermal energy potential in the country is estimated at more than 10,000 MW, but it has remained untapped so far.

Manan Shah, scientist at CEGE, said that the cost of the pilot project was around Rs 1 crore. "The initial investment in geothermal energy is 20-25 per cent higher compared to conventional power plant, but the additional cost is recovered in three years. Moreover, geothermal energy system has a longer life," he said.

CEGE said that work will start for similar projects at Unai and Gandhinagar this year, where geothermal energy potential has also been found.
Gujarat, first to use geothermal energy to generate power
 

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Ladakh Set to Be Home to World's Largest Solar Plant
Ladakh, known for its pristine natural beauty and colourful mountains towering over vast swathes of desolate land, is set to add another feature to its fame - the world's largest single-location solar photo-voltaic plant.

Some 200km to the south in Kargil, another mega project will join forces to light up the plains, keep glaciers cool by saving 12,750 tonnes of carbon emission a year, remove dependence on diesel generators and create a livelihood for the local population that remains cut off for 6-8 months.

SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India)- under the renewable energy ministry - is promoting the projects in J&K on a scale matching the grandeur of their locations - 5,000 MW (megawatt) for the Ladakh unit and 2,500 MW for Kargil - to be completed by 2023 at an estimated investment of Rs 45,000 crore.

The Ladakh project will be located at Hanle-Khaldo in Nyoma, a strategically important area 254km from Leh. The Kargil project will be built at Suru in Zanskar, 254km from the district HQ. Power from the Ladakh project will flow to Kaithal in Haryana, for which a900-km line will be laid mostly along Leh-Manali road. The Kargil project will hook up with the grid at New Wanpoh near Srinagar. The bids offer flexibility and many firsts, like combining the plant and associated transmission lines, putting promoters in control who otherwise have to depend on another entity for transmission and suffer if evacuation routes are delayed.

We have addressed issues faced in previous tenders and taken into account the challenging geography," SECI director (power systems) SK Mishra told TOI.

Another positive is the Leh and Kargil administrations have designated 25,000 and 12,500 acres of non-grazing land, respectively, at prices "remunerative" for the hill councils, which will also earn rental of around Rs 1,200 per hectare per annum with 3% annual escalation. "Identification of land is a big relief for prospective promoters, who were gung-ho during a site visit in spite of the isolated locations and hostile weather," Mishra said.

The projects are expected to spur development in the remote border regions and empower the local population through skilling for jobs such as cleaning of solar panels and maintenance of transformers etc. Power minister RK Singh had in August last year said Ladakh has potential of hosting 25,000 MW of solar power projects.
Ladakh Set to Be Home to World's Largest Solar Plant | The Weather Channel
 

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India's solar capacity at 28 GW at December-end, says Bridge To India report
The country's total solar power generation capacity, including 3.85 gigawatt (GW) rooftops, stood at 28.05 GW while 17.65 GW was under implementation as on December 31, 2018, according to a report by Bridge To India (BTI). The quarterly market report, titled 'India Solar Compass Q4 2018', gives a detailed analysis of capacity addition, tender issuance, market players, price trends for the past quarter and the whole year 2018.

India's total solar installed capacity and pipeline stood at 28,057 MW and 17,658 MW as on December 31, 2018, according to the report. This capacity is split between utility scale and rooftop solar as 24,202 MW and 3,855 MW, respectively.

It said only 1,446 MW capacity was added in the October-December 2018 period, 990 MW in utility scale solar and 456 MW in rooftop solar.

The utility scale solar capacity addition has been sluggish since the second quarter ended June 30, 2018, and is down 46 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2017. In contrast, the rooftop solar market is growing strongly and is up 47 per cent over previous year, it said.

In the December 2018 quarter, the highest capacity (200 MW) was added in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
Karnataka (5,328 MW), Telangana (3,501 MW) and Rajasthan (3,081 MW) continued to be the top-three states by commissioned capacity for utility scale solar. In 2018, Adani (740 MW), Acme (720 MW) and Essel Infra (460 MW) were the top-three developers by commissioned capacity. GCL, Risen Energy and JA Solar (all Chinese suppliers) were the leading module suppliers, while Sungrow, ABB and Huawei were the leading inverter suppliers.

The EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) market was led by Sterling & Wilson and Mahindra Susten. Module prices have fallen to USD 0.20 per watt, down 44 per cent over the previous year. But, most of this fall has been offset by 25 per cent safeguard duty and 5 per cent GST as well as more than 10 per cent rupee depreciation. Moreover, prices are expected to harden in 2019 by 5 to 10 per cent, it added.

An unprecedented 51,118 MW of new tenders were issued in 2018, with 15 GW tenders in December 2018 quarter alone. However, tender design has not met market expectations -- 16,725 MW of tenders were cancelled in 2018 and another 9,238 MW of tenders were undersubscribed, the report stated.

Commenting on the report, Vinay Rustagi, managing director, BTI, said in a statement: "2018 was an extremely testing year for the solar market. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Issues such as safeguard duty and GST created uncertainty for the entire industry, costs went up, execution challenges mounted and to make matter worse, discoms cancelled many tenders because of unrealistic tariff expectations."
"2019 is expected to be better but the new government will have to work hard to re-build investor appetite.
India's solar capacity at 28 GW at December-end, says Bridge To India report
 

RISING SUN

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India’s Renewable Energy Capacity Jumped 45 Gigawatts With This Decision
After three years of first floating the idea to classify large hydro power projects as renewable energy power plants, the Indian government has finally approved the measure. The announcement will result in India’s installed renewable energy capacity crossing the milestone of 100 gigawatts.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Indian government recently announced its decision to classify large hydro power projects as renewable energy power plants. We have been reporting since 2016 that the Indian government is considering such a measure. However, it remains unknown as to why this decision remained pending for so long.

India considers hydro power projects with an installed capacity of 25 megawatts and above as conventional power plants and does not consider them as renewable energy power plants. Such a classification is not common in the world as China and Brazil — leaders in hydro power generation — consider all hydro power projects as renewable energy power plants.

As of December 31st 2018, India’s large hydro power capacity stood at just over 45 gigawatts while the combined installed capacity of solar, wind, small hydro (less than 25-megawatt capacity), biomass, and other renewable energy technologies stood at almost 76 gigawatts. With the CCEA’s decision, India’s total installed renewable energy capacity has jumped to an impressive 121 gigawatts.

This decision, and its timing, is a masterstroke by the government which faces elections in less than a month. One of the first major decisions announced by the government back in 2014 was to achieve an installed renewable energy base of 175 gigawatts. This target included 100 gigawatts of solar power, 60 gigawatts of wind energy and 15 gigawatts of other technologies like biomass and small hydro.

Now, there have been reports issued by several rating agencies that the government would likely miss the ambitious solar power target of 100 gigawatts. Additionally, the government is lagging behind on its initial aggressive timeline to auction onshore wind energy projects and open the offshore wind energy sector. As a result, this new decision had become a necessity.

We had also reported that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), in October 2018, projected a solar power pipeline of almost 61 gigawatts which includes installed, under construction, and tendered capacities. The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued several more large-scale tenders since then. It is very likely that SECI and MNRE would push for allocation of more tenders among project developers as the deadline to March 2020 approaches (the Indian government plans to give project developers two years to commission allocated projects to reach the 175 gigawatt target by March 2022).

With this decision the share of renewable energy capacity in India’s overall power generation capacity has jumped from around 22% to over 34%, as of 31 December 2018.
India’s Renewable Energy Capacity Jumped 45 Gigawatts With This Decision | CleanTechnica
 

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India seeks bids for $5 billion in transmission lines to fuel renewables growth
India will launch $5 billion of transmission-line tenders in phases, beginning in June, to route a targeted 175 gigawatts (GW) of power from renewable sources into the country's grid by 2022, the secretary at the ministry of renewable energy said.

India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to cut emissions and have clean energy account for at least 40 percent of its installed capacity by 2030, up from 21.4 percent now, while looking to manage its energy appetite as its population becomes more prosperous.

The renewable energy targets would require investment in feeder lines and infrastructure upgrades.
India has awarded tenders for 12 GW of transmission lines since December, while bids for a further 16 GW will be launched by the end of June. Another 38 GW will be bid out before March 2020, he said.

Building transmission lines for 66 GW worth projects would need an estimated investment of 430 billion rupees, the secretary for renewables, Anand Kumar, said.

India, which receives twice as much sunshine as European countries, wants to make solar central to its renewable expansion as part of the fight against climate change.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has set a goal to raise solar power generation to 100 GW and wind to 60 GW by 2022. The other 15 GW would come from biomass and hydropower.

Research analysts have been sceptical about India meeting its ambitious targets.

Consultancy firm WoodMac and research firm CRISIL have said India would not meet its renewable energy target due to policy issues, including cancellations of auctions of tenders, rights to land use and tariffs.

India has cancelled tenders for renewable energy projects with a capacity of at least 5 GW, saying the bid prices were too high. Solar and wind energy developers have also complained about the difficulty of leasing land and duties on solar equipment imports.

But Kumar says the government must be careful not to buy power at any cost.

"The mandate of the government is that we should buy power at a competitive price which is affordable," he said.
The government is determined to overcome roadblocks, and is in talks with states to ensure easy land availability. It has asked distribution companies to borrow from the government-run Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency to ensure timely payments to power producers.

Modi's government changed rules for the awarding of renewable energy projects in 2017, leading to higher competition, lower prices and greater acceptance of renewable energy.

"Earlier tariffs were about 6.17 rupees per unit and now we are getting bids as low as 2.44 rupees a unit," Kumar said, adding that India was ahead of its internal target to award 135 GW of renewable energy projects by March 2019.

"Projects of 103 GW have been installed or are under implementation, and over 37 GW are under various stages of bidding," he said, adding that bidding for the targeted renewable energy addition would be completed by March 2020.

A renewable energy project typically takes two years to build. Kumar expressed confidence that bidding for the remaining projects would be finished by March 2020 and help India meet its 2022 target.

A shift to renewables could mean lower use of coal and diesel-fuelled power.

None of India's private power producers plans to invest in new coal-fired power plants in at least the next five years, two industry sources told Reuters. Almost all of India's new capacity addition is expected to come from renewable energy.

Thermal power plants currently account for about three-quarters of overall generation and about two-thirds of its installed capacity.
India seeks bids for $5 billion in transmission lines to fuel renewables growth
 

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India is now a world leader in renewable energy. Here's how
 
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