After the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s recent ruling in US’ favour following its complaint against India’s solar equipment localisation rules, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Tarun Kapoor, came out in favour of Indian manufacturers and said the ruling , does “not affect the future course of action” of the country.

WTO’s Panel recently ruled that the Indian domestic content requirements were discriminatory against US solar modules since they mandated solar developers to use modules and cells manufactured in India rather than imported ones, as part of the National Solar Mission in the country. In response, Tarun Kapoor emphasized US and India are working on the DCR related issues between the two nations to find an amicable solution. The US went ahead and circulated the report on the WTO ruling.

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Source: The Hindu

The US trade representative has also said they will continue working with India, in continuation of the last several months, and will “negotiate a resolution of this dispute” as per WTO rules. Kapoor added, “It does not affect the future course of action which India is considering as India is committed to protecting its industry while following WTO regulations. This will not, therefore, cause any dent in [the] ‘Make in India’ programme because we still have several options to support the domestic industry while remaining within the WTO regulations.”

Kapoor also went on to say how India still has the option of appealing against the ruling by WTO. According to Jasmeet Khurana, associate director at Bridge to India, the ruling could possibly make India’s capital subsidy scheme for solar rooftop power vulnerable to similar rulings in the future.

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Recently in April, Gujarat introduced a new subsidy for residential, grid-connected rooftop solar PV systems. The subsidy is on top of other benefits provided by the Indian Central Government to rooftop solar projects. Just last November, the government announced a return to 30% subsidy for residential solar rooftop systems. This positive move signals the state’s growing efforts towards the adoption of renewable energy.

The subsidy will amount to INR 10,000 (USD 151) for each kW of installed power with a maximum cap of INR 20,000 per consumer. The financial aid will be given by the Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) after the installation and commissioning of each rooftop system is completed. Initially, the government plans to target around 100,000 customers, post which the scheme’s fate will be decided based on a review. This scheme is further expected to boost solar rooftop installations across the state.

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Source: The Hindu Businessline

As part of the country’s 100 GW target installations by 2022, Gujarat was assigned a goal of 8,024 MW of solar capacity by 2022. Of this, over 3,200 MW of capacity will come directly from rooftop solar. Earlier in March, a significant report by the Solar Rooftop Policy Coalition claimed that the current business-as-usual approach towards the target could prove to be a problem as this would lead India to reach only one-third of its 40 GW by 2022 target.

In more good news, Chandigarh is planning to become the second Indian municipality to make rooftop solar mandatory for all buildings.

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In December last year, Tata Power Solar probably made history when it commissioned one of the world’s largest rooftop PV power plants, standing at 12 MW, in Punjab. Tata has developed the solar installation for RSSB Educational and Environmental Society, a charitable organization, across eight venues at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Dera Baba Jaimal Singh in Amritsar. The rooftop project was completed in a single phase across several roofs that covered an area of 1.62 million ft and had varying truss frames.

The project also falls under the Punjab Government’s grid-connected rooftop solar projects scheme, which means the power generated will be directed to the grid. The RSSB-EES had a similar solar plant setup on a single rooftop done back in April 2014.

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Source: PV Tech

Bridge to India’s ‘India Solar Rooftop Map 2016’ hailed Tata as the top EPC in the rooftop sector of the country, having a market share of 11.6%. The consultancy also claimed that the total installed capacity of rooftop in the country as of 31 October 2015 was 525 MW, and estimated 455 MW more to be added in the next 12 months. The firm also projected 6.5GW of rooftop to be installed in India by 2020.

Currently, the Tata Group has more than 65 MW of rooftop and distributed solar capacity operating in India. According to Ashish Khanna, chief executive and executive director of Tata Power Solar, “The project was commissioned on schedule with highest quality standards by systematic and  planned engineering and executed in a safe manner with zero-incidents. This is credible especially when our teams were working on heights with delicate roof material and have achieved this without disrupting the sanctity and utilisation of the concerned buildings. The vision shown by RSSB-EES leaders to develop this type of a plant is admirable.”

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The Indian Power Ministry has been working on alleviating the poor financial condition of the distribution companies (discoms) in the country. The move could prove to be a critical one for the solar power sector, according to experts.

Piyush Goyal, the Energy Minister recently announced a proposal to provide permanent solutions for the debt-ridden discoms operating in the country and said it would be presented to the Union Cabinet soon. The plan is to help the discoms clear bad loans worth USD 61 billion and bring their liabilities down.

Their poor financial health has long been a concern within the industry and is often cited as a major hindrance to the solar sector in the country since it translates into unwillingness to take on solar power projects. According to Jasmeet Khurana, senior consulting manager at solar analyst firm Bridge to India, said: “Improvement in the financial health of state level power distribution companies is critical if India’s solar mission has to succeed.”

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Source: The Hindu

Previous bailout packages have not been able to produce desired results, which calls for more accountability from states on expected power reforms. For instance, the UPA government’s Financial Restructuring Plan for discoms failed to create any waves. As for the government’s latest bailout plan, this is what Khurana had to say, “Except from some concerns from the lenders, we have mostly heard the right kind of noises about the current bailout package. We are waiting to see the final contours of this proposal. The first priority should be to reduce leakages and inefficiencies in power distribution at the state level. Beyond that, states will also need to raise power tariffs for consumers.”

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A few months back in January, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a ramp up of the solar grid-connected rooftop budget from USD 90 million to over USD 700 million up to 2019-20. The amount was sanctioned as part of the National Solar Mission that aims to facilitate the installation of over 4.2 GW of rooftop solar energy in the country in the next 5 years.

Last November at Intersolar India, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) joint secretary Tarun Kapoor had announced plans to further the rooftop subsidy from 15% to 30%. The subsidy would be enjoyed by most states with a special 70% subsidy for special category states such as Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Source: The Hindu

These subsidies will not be applicable to industrial and commercial establishments in the private sector since these institutions already qualify for other benefits such as custom duty concessions, tax holidays and accelerated depreciation. Banks, state agencies and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) are expected to start with the disbursement of the subsidy soon.

In November last year, Bridge to India released the ‘India Solar Rooftop Map 2016’ at Intersolar India, stating that the total rooftop installed capacity as of 31 October 2015 was 525 MW with an additional 455 MW estimated to be added in the following 12 months. The consultancy also forecast 6.5 GW to be installed in rooftop solar capacity in the country by 2020. In a bid to support the initiative, 26 states have decided to boost solar rooftop through gross and net metering programmes.

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According to recently released figures by energy analysis firm GTM Research, solar deployment the world over hit 59 GW in 2015, significantly higher than the numbers released by PV Market Alliance whose estimates hovered at 51 GW. GTM also forecasts 64GW for 2016.

The figures refer to the complete basket of solar installations worldwide and are not based on just a single country. However, China has been a major contributor in pushing the figure upward with its 19 GW of installations last year, adding another 2-3 GW to the 2016 estimate.

There’s good news for India too, which is the fifth highest performer at 2 GW. Despite the huge boost received by the US solar sector through Investment Tax Credit, the country showed no substantial in its performance at 7 GW. Between 2015 and 2020, the US share of global solar PV demand will increase by an average of 10-15% owing to the extension.

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Source: The Hindu Businessline

The best performers in 2015 were Japan at 11 GW and the UK at 4 GW. However, both countries were hit by the repercussions of the feed-in-tariff (FiT) cuts, which are expected to bring the UK market down by an aggregate of 4-5 GW over the next few years. Japan’s transition to large auction-based projects is also expected to decrease its market by over 3 GW in the future. On the other hand, China’s FiT cuts have been negligible at 13% with strong demand expectations in the future.

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Providing a major push to International Solar Alliance, France pledged a €300 million sum to promote the solar initiative backed by 120 countries. The alliance is headed by prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Francois Hollande and was launched in Paris last year at the COP21 talks. It is aimed at mobilising USD 1,000 billion worth of international investment in solar power by 2030.

In January this year, France and India issued a joint statement regarding multilateral climate talks and the growing friendship between the two countries at the G20 summit in 2014. An interim secretariat has been appointed to administer the alliance after a symbolic foundation stone was laid to inaugurate it.

AFD, France’s development agency, will also support projects by ISA member countries through its €300 million funding, in line with France’s larger pledge to support renewables through a €2 billion funding, announced during COP21.

The two leaders also highlighted the importance of energy storage in promoting renewable energy. They announced the signing of MoUs that would “serve as templates for further practical collaboration in the field of renewable energy, including transfer of technology and know-how”.

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Source: The Hindu

The joint statement also welcomed the growing private investment in the solar energy sector on the back of a USD 1 billion investment by a partnership between SITAC, an Indian management, construction and infrastructure services company and EDF EN, a Europe-based utility. The leaders said this went on to show the importance of climate-oriented investments in the two countries. In the meantime, AFD is also working on green housing and LED lighting for low income groups in India.

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Tamil Nadu’s solar industry is seeing positive developments after years of wait with the state-owned utility TANGEDCO announcing its partnership with solar developers in the state through ‘power purchase agreements’. The process started in February last year with 25 agreements expected to be signed in a month. However, TANGEDCO officials have been less than forthcoming about divulging details of the agreement.

Six of the three companies involved were learned to belong to the company GRT, which was close to completing 15 MW by March having anticipated a PPA signing. It is aiming to avail tax-saving depreciation benefits through the move.

With 30 MW of capacity being signed in the initial phase of the project, TANGEDCO expected a lot more in the pipeline for the future. The draft PPA was approved by TNERC, the state electricity regulatory commission a month before the signing and TANGEDCO had already received initial payment for 2,000 MW by over 70 solar developers.

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Source: The Hindu Businessline

It was reported that companies such as Sterling and Wilson (150 MW), Welspun (300 MW) and SunEdison (150 MW) had signed up for large solar capacities and were expected to sign PPAs. However, they were waiting around for the deadline of completion of projects to get extended. TNERC had approved a tariff of INR 7.01 per kWHr to be paid to power producers for projects set to see completion by September 2015, prompting the long wait for extension by the companies.

The developers then approached TNERC for the extension, who then gave them time till March owing to the time taken to approve draft PPAs.

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India has unveiled a new solar energy policy targeting a foreign-currency denominated plan that will make solar power available at INR 4.75 per unit across the country. State-owned firms such as NTPC would invite bids from solar developers on behalf of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to sell 15,000 MW of power to states. NTPC is expected to run a reverse bidding process for buying solar power, eventually helping solar projects become bankable by effectuating grid parity.

Developers are expected to quote in the range of INR 3.5o per unit, giving NTPC ample leeway to charge INR 4.75 per unit, with the balance being routed to a hedge fund which will use the payment to cover forex risk. The foreign currency denominated plan may also see NTPC bundling unallocated thermal power in case the rupee depreciates beyond a point. This move will certainly help attract foreign investments into India’s solar power sector by significantly reducing forex risks involved.

For the project, India may include yen besides euro and dollar in the basket of currencies under consideration. The scheme is set to be implemented by state-owned entities NTPC and Power Trading Corp. (PTC) on a pilot basis for 1,000 MW each.

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Source: The Hindu Businessline

This positive move aimed at reducing solar power tariffs comes on the back of state electricity boards not doing enough to buy power owing to poor financial health. With losses of INR 2.5 trillion and debt of INR 3.0 trillion, they are well on the brink of financial collapse.

However, the NDA has ambitious plans for the solar power sector and is aiming at providing renewable power at less than INR 4.5 per unit.

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The Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI) which was formed in 2011 as a non-profit will now be converted into a commercial organization that will sell solar power besides developing other renewable sources of energy. With a view to boosting India’s renewable energy sector, SECI will now be renamed to Renewable Energy Corp. of India (RECI).

The company will have its own solar plants for generating and selling power. Additionally, it will manufacture other solar materials, thus becoming a full-fledged corporate entity. On being renamed, SECI will also foray into other renewable energy sources such as tidal, wind and geothermal.

The development comes at the back of the government’s efforts to provide a holistic solution for renewable energy generation with the integration of various sources of renewable energy. The cabinet also believes that solar, small hydro and wind have a complementary generation profile, thus generating uniform power. Ultimately, the move is expected to reduce the stress on distribution networks and result in better grid management.

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Source: The Hindu

In the past, SECI has been involved in activities directed at the commercialization and promotion of solar energy in the country. It also registered a profit of INR 12 crore in FY2014 and is expected to generate an even higher profit this year.

The move signals SECI assuming a more central role in the country’s solar ecosystem at large. Around the same time, the cabinet also approved the major decision of increasing the country’s solar power generation target from 20,000 MW to 100,000 MW by 2022. India’s current installed renewable energy capacity stands at 35,776 MW with solar power forming only 3,743 MW of the share.

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