Project development slowed down to a crawl in the wind sector for most of the year as supply chain issues, transportation restrictions, and workforce shortages weighed down the sector due to COVID-19.
While wind installations were on the rise as of the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020), they were still significantly lower than the same quarter in the previous year. India installed about 295 MW of wind projects in Q3 2020 – a near 117% increase from the preceding quarter’s 136 MW, but a steep 48% decline from Q3 2019’s 562 MW of installations, as per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) data. The country’s wind power portfolio stood at about 38.1 GW as of September 30, 2020, up just 0.8% from June 30, 2020.
As the sector reeled from the global crisis, states and regulatory bodies in the country continued to fine-tune policies and regulations to ensure a much more conducive environment for when the industry is back on its feet.
The MNRE and the state electricity regulatory commissions of windy states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat were the most proactive during this time and made many policy pushes over the year. The five most significant of these developments of the year are discussed below:
MNRE Issues Blueprint for Developing Wind and Wind-Solar Hybrid Parks
The MNRE issued a detailed proposal for developing wind parks and wind-solar hybrid parks. It said it had identified potential sites for wind and wind-solar hybrid projects with the help of the National Institute of Wind Energy in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana.
If an identified site is deemed suitable for solar projects, the park developer may consider developing a wind-solar hybrid park. The identified areas would be made available to the state governments for their consent on the park’s development.
As per the ministry document, wind potential areas with more than 30% capacity utilization factor (CUF) will be considered. Each park’s capacity should be 500 MW or more; however, parks of lower capacity may also be developed depending on land and resource availability.
MNRE’s 2.5 GW of Wind Blended with Solar Program Mandates 80% of the Total Contracted Capacity to Come from Wind Projects
The MNRE also issued guidelines for a tariff-based competitive bidding process for procuring power from 2.5 GW of the interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected wind projects blended with solar power.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will be the nodal agency for implementing the program. The wind and solar projects may be located at the same location or nearby, but the individual wind and solar components of the project will inject power into the grid at a single point. SECI will set the tariff for the project through an e-bidding process.
According to the guidelines, the wind project’s rated power capacity must not be less than 80% of the total contracted capacity blended with 20% of solar power.
Gujarat’s New Land Policy to Make Wind Developers More Accountable
Gujarat amended its wasteland allotment policy for wind, solar, and hybrid (wind and solar) power projects.
According to the amendments, the renewable power project developers selected by SECI will have to commit to installing 50% of the total generation capacity in three years and 100% in five years. Apart from this, all the other land allotment policy conditions issued on January 25, 2019, will be applicable.
The amendments said that 50% of the electric capacity is to be installed within three years of the agreement of land allotment, and 100% should be generated within five years of the contract.
Solar-Wind Hybrid Projects will be Canceled if SECI Fails to Sign PSA in Six Months
The MNRE issued tariff-based competitive bidding guidelines for power procurement from grid-connected solar-wind hybrid projects. The guidelines stated that the SECI would be the nodal agency for implementing these guidelines. Projects will be canceled if SECI cannot enter into a power sale agreement (PSA) to sell the power from these projects awarded within six months from the date the letter of award is issued.
The objective is to provide a framework for procuring electricity from ISTS-connected wind-solar hybrid power projects through the competitive bidding route. They are also meant to protect consumer interest, enable transparency and fairness in procurement, and to provide a risk-sharing framework among all stakeholders.
Gujarat Removes Generic Tariff for Wind Projects
In May, the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission announced that tariffs for all wind projects in the state would be established through competitive bidding, doing away with the practice of generic tariffs.
To determine the tariff of wind projects below the threshold limit of eligibility for participating in the competitive bidding, the weighted average of the latest tariff discovered through a competitive bidding process will be taken. The threshold limit for such projects is 25 MW.
The Commission said it decided to consider the competitive bidding approach to reduce the cost of regulation and give investors sufficient clarity. The new control period of the tariff framework will be effective from April 30, 2020, to March 31, 2022.
As the year draws to an end, stakeholders are now waiting for 2021 with hopes that the wind sector gathers its lost speed.
Nithin is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. More articles from Nithin.