An eventful year for the renewable energy industry, 2021 presented opportunities and challenges in equal measure. New targets were set, and milestones crossed during the year, paving the way for a more promising 2022.
Mercom revisits the most-read news stories and in-depth articles of 2021. While the rooftop solar segment has been behind in meeting the targets set, the readers’ interest has been pinned on the news and analysis related to the segment.
Here are some of the top headlines that resonated the most with our readers in 2021:
The rules issued by the Ministry of Power mandating net metering for loads up to 10 kW and gross metering for above 10 kW caused widespread anxiety among stakeholders who fear that it may decimate the Indian rooftop solar segment. The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) said that the rules had created regulatory uncertainty concerning the applicability of net metering regulations for existing and ongoing projects in various states. It feared that the confusion could give rise to legal conflicts. The segment would incur losses when they are facing liquidity deficits amid the COVID-induced crisis.
The Ministry of Power (MoP) issued the much-awaited amendment to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) 2020 Rules concerning net metering for rooftop solar installations. The amendment permits net metering for prosumers for loads up to 500 kW or up to the sanctioned load, whichever is lower. The DISCOM might install a solar energy meter to measure the gross solar energy generated from the grid-interactive rooftop solar system for renewable energy purchase obligation (RPO) credit in either net-metering or gross metering.
Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Corporation Limited (APEPDCL) discovered the lowest bid of ₹50,000 (~$673)/kW for residential rooftop solar systems of up to 1 kW under the capital expenditure (CAPEX) model. The bids were in response to the tenders floated by APEPDCL to empanel agencies to install rooftop solar systems. The projects were set to be developed under the CAPEX model. The lowest quoted project cost for a rooftop solar system up to 1 kW was ₹50,000 (~$673)/kW, ₹47,000 (~$623)/kW for a 1 kW to 2 kW system, ₹45,000 (~$605)/kW for a 2 kW to 3 kW system, ₹44,000 (~$592)/kW for a 3 kW to 10 kW system. For systems of 10 kW to 100 kW, the lowest project cost quoted was ₹38,000 (~$511)/kW and ₹36,000 (~$484)/kW for systems of 100 kW to 500 kW.
The Telangana State Renewable Energy Development Corporation (TSREDCO) finalized the pricing for 1-500 kW grid-connected rooftop solar systems with net metering. A residential rooftop solar system of 1 kW capacity would cost the consumer ₹37,330 (~$511) while earning a subsidy of ₹18,800 (~$257.44). A 10-kW capacity system would cost ₹374,150 (~$5,124) while earning a subsidy of ₹106,600 (~$1,460). A rooftop solar system of 1 kW capacity in a group housing or gated community would cost ₹46,730 (~$640) while earning a subsidy of ₹9,400 (~$129). A 3-kW system in these spaces would cost the consumer ₹124,390 (~$1703) while earning a subsidy of ₹25,200 (~$345). A rooftop solar system in the range of 4-10 kW capacity in a group housing or gated community would cost ₹39,580 (~₹542)/kW, excluding net metering charges while earning a subsidy of ₹8,200 (~$112)/kW. A system above 100 kW in these spaces will cost ₹33,180 (~$454)/kW and earn a subsidy of ₹7,200 (~$99)/kW.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) said that it would publish a staff paper suggesting amendments to the Net Metering Regulations, 2015. The draft amendments would be put up for public comments, and all the stakeholders would get another opportunity to submit their suggestions to the proposed amendments. The state regulator observed that 58% of the solar generation under net metering is from subsidized categories of consumers. As per PSPCL’s data, there are 7,629 pending applications with a combined capacity of 94.6 MW, out of which 49.8 MW (52.64%) relates to the large industrial and commercial category of consumers, which are the subsidizing category of consumers. Any reduction in billed energy to these categories of consumers will impact the licensee’s revenue, which may, in turn, put an additional burden on the subsidized category of small consumers. The Commission added that a balance was required to safeguard all the stakeholders’ interests, including the DISCOM.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) issued a tender for an off-grid solar photovoltaic water pumping system in selected States on a pan-India basis under Component-B of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program. In all, 317,975 pumps were slated for installation across 30 states and five union territories. The scope of work included design, manufacture, supply, transport, installation, testing, and commissioning of off-grid solar photovoltaic water pumping systems (SPWPS) of 1-10 HP, including complete system warranty, repair, and maintenance for five years.
The Ministry of Power issued a draft amendment to Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, which allows net metering for rooftop solar systems of loads up to 500 kW or up to the sanctioned load, whichever is lower and net billing (gross metering) or net feed-in for above 500 kW. According to the draft amendment, for prosumers availing net-billing or net feed-in, the Commissions may introduce time-of-the-day (ToD) tariffs, incentivizing prosumers to install energy storage for later use or be fed into the grid during peak hours. In case of net metering/net-billing or net feed-in, the DISCOM may also install a solar energy meter to measure gross solar energy generated from the grid-interactive rooftop photovoltaic system for renewable energy purchase obligation (RPO) credit, if any.
The California-based battery technology company, Romeo Power, announced the completion of its ‘business combination’ with RMG Acquisition, becoming a public entity in the process. According to the announcement, the merger is worth $900 million (~₹65.97 billion). Romeo Power raised approximately $394 million (~₹28.8 billion). The additional funds were expected to help Romeo Power carry on its growth and research and development investments.
The Minister of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Nitin Gadkari, brought the attention of the Minister of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), R K Singh, to a representation made by solar developers in Maharashtra against enforcing gross metering for rooftop solar systems over 10 kW. The Maha Solar Sangathan had written to Gadkari that the gross metering notification would crush the MSME segment and make renewable energy generation unviable for small players. The Sangathan provided a case study to show how gross metering was causing losses to a small food processing unit. According to the case study of a 56-kW rooftop solar system, it would save ₹553,872 ($7,610) in one year with a net metering system, while the power cost would go up by 60% (₹291,701 ($4,005)) in case of gross metering. The resulting payback period in the case of net metering would be 3.8 years versus 8.02 years under gross metering.
Pune-based renewable energy solutions provider Suzlon Energy Limited reported net revenue of ₹13.47 billion (~$180.80 million) for the second quarter (Q2) of the financial year (FY) 2022, an increase of 18% compared to ₹11.35 billion (~$152.87 million) in Q1. The company reported a net loss of ₹540 million (~$7.25 million) in Q2, compared to ₹790 million (~$10.61 million) in Q1. The earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) stood at ₹2.32 billion (~$31.16 million) in Q2 compared to ₹1.54 billion (~$20.68 million) in Q1. The EBITDA margin stood at 17.28%.