Decrease in Cost of Solar by 50% can Increase Solar Penetration by 8 Times: NITI Aayog

The last month of 2018, December, witnessed some key announcements in the Indian renewable sector. India’s solar installations reached 6.6 GW with large-scale projects making up 5,382 MW and rooftop installations accounting for 1,240 MW. Solar installations in India in Q3 2018 witnessed a slight decline with 1,589 MW, a 4 percent decrease compared to 1,659 MW installed in Q2 2018.

Here are more news highlights from December:

After waiting for months for clarity on Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates, the GST Council recommended that where a solar power generating system attracting 5 percent GST is supplied with services of construction, then in all such cases- 70 percent of the gross value will be deemed as the value of supply of goods attracting 5 percent rate and the remaining portion (30 percent) of the aggregate value of such EPC contract will be deemed as the value of supply of taxable service attracting the standard GST rate.

The Indian renewable energy sector received approximately $3.2 billion in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) from April 2015 to June 2018, says data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The highest FDI to the tune of $1.2 billion was received in year 2017-18.

Starting from April, 2019, the government has planned to replace all existing electricity meters in the country with smart prepaid meters. The process of switching over is expected to take nearly three years. This initiative by the Ministry of Power (MoP) is expected to reduce the aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, improve the financial health of distribution companies, incentivize energy conservation, and make bill payments hassle free and environmentally friendly by doing away with the paper copies.

Since the inception of reverse bidding in India’s wind sector back in February 2017, approximately 10 GW of wind power projects have been auctioned in the country. The lowest ever wind bid in India is ₹2.43 (~$0.038)/kWh that was quoted in the 500 MW Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd. (GUVNL) auction.

Inverter manufacturers, sharing the same fate as the module suppliers, are still struggling to gain some clarity on the government policies for BIS certification. Lack of test labs and their testing capabilities are areas of concern. Some of the inverter suppliers have also raised the issue of high costs.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has received approval to launch phase II of Atal Jyoti Yojna (AJAY) for the financial year 2018-19 and 2019-20. Under the phase II of AJAY, 304,500 solar street lights are expected to be installed

Renewable energy certificates trading (RECs) on the energy exchanges in India witnessed a reversal of trends in the last month of 2018. While trading activity in solar RECs spiked in December 2018, arresting a two-month slump, the non-solar RECs plummeted after a two-month rise. In December 2018, a total of 177,247 solar RECs were traded, 118,370 more solar RECs than the 58,877 that were traded in November 2018.

India’s solar installations were the second highest worldwide during the first nine months of 2018 (in terms of solar capacity addition). China added a whopping 34.5 GW of solar PV capacity in first nine months of 2018 according to data released by National Energy Administration. India installed the second most with 6.6 MW during the same period. The United States has added about 6.5 MW of solar PV capacity in the first nine months.

The World Bank and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), France’s public development bank, have announced that they are jointly working on a Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI) to improve solar energy deployment in some of the world’s poorest countries.  The initiative will cover policy, technical, and financial issues related to the deployment of solar energy in these countries.

With the goal to accelerate the expansion of solar and wind power to replace fossil fuel-based power and meet its 2022 target, India has now declared a trajectory that aims at issuing tenders for 60 GW of solar and 20 GW of wind capacity by March 2020. This would leave a two-year window to complete the execution of these projects before hitting the 2022 deadline for achieving 175 GW of renewable capacity.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has signed an agreement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to infuse $100 million into a project designed to unlock private sector initiatives for the creation of rooftop solar power capacity across India.