Lack of ISTS Connectivity Results in Postponement of 4 GW of Solar Tenders

The lack of inter-state transmission system (ISTS) connectivity is hampering the growth of renewables, especially solar in India. In the past few days, the implementing agencies have postponed bid-submission deadlines for three mega GW-scale solar tenders. As of now, bid-submission deadlines for 7 GW of solar tenders have been postponed to June 2018, delaying auction activity.

This development comes on the heels of the Solar Power Developers Association’s (SPDA) letter to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) recently, seeking postponement of scheduled auctions for projects, considering the ongoing transmission issues. SPDA had asked the ministry to direct NTPC and SECI to defer the bid submission deadlines of all the tenders for lSTS-connected solar projects.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) had tendered 2,000 MW of inter-state transmission system (ISTS)-connected grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to be developed across the country. The capacity tendered comprised eight projects of 250 MW each. The initial bid-submission deadline was March 21, 2018 which has been extended thrice.

When contacted, a SECI official confirmed to Mercom that the bid-submission deadline for this tender has now been extended from May 25, 2018 to June 15, 2018. The SECI official said that the developers have raised concerns regarding delay in access of connectivity for evacuation and that’s the reason why the date has been extended.

SECI had also tendered 3,000 MW of grid connected solar PV projects to be developed across India in February 2018. The bid-submission deadline has now been extended from April 27, 2018 to June 5, 2018, According to Mercom’s India Solar Tender Tracker.

“The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) recently released the procedure for granting Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) connectivity to renewable energy projects. Once the developers are satisfied after deliberations, all will continue as normal,” added the SECI official.

When asked if this will have an effect on the tender trajectory, the SECI official said, “No, tenders will go on as usual. We will keep tendering”.

In March 2018, NTPC had tendered 2,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV to be developed across the country. The initial bid-submission deadline for this tender was April 12, 2018 which had been extended to May 21, 2018. The bid-submission deadline has now been extended to first week of June 2018, according to an NTPC official.

The NTPC official was quick to clarify that the ISTS-connectivity delay is only affecting projects that the NTPC had tendered to be developed under independent power producer (IPP) model.

“NTPC’s self-owned projects will not be affected by this,” added the NTPC official.

Elaborating further, the NTPC official said, “This issue is cropping up in areas with high concentration of projects or proposed projects. If you will look, the developers are facing ISTS-connectivity issues in zones with high irradiation and high capacity utilization factor (CUF), as everyone wants to put a project there.”

Mercom previously observed in a report that with more than 66 GW of renewable energy capacity connected to India’s national grid, the country’s renewable industry continues to grow at a fast pace, but the transmission infrastructure needed to facilitate the growth of renewable energy generating projects in India remains a question.

In July 2017, Mercom reported that Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) filed a petition with the CERC seeking regulatory intervention on an urgent basis to ensure efficient utilization of bays for connectivity by wind and solar generation projects.

Saumy Prateek Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.