MNRE Amends VGF Program Guidelines for Solar Projects

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has amended the guidelines for the implementation of the viability gap funding (VGF) program for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects under National Solar Mission (NSM) Phase-II.

These amendments will apply to 750 MW of grid-connected solar PV under Batch-I NSM Phase-II, 2,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV under Batch-III NSM Phase-II, and 5,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV under Batch-IV NSM Phase-II.

This is the third time that the MNRE has made amendments to the VGF program guidelines. In June 2017, MNRE, for the first time, amended the guidelines for the implementation of 5,000 MW VGF program for solar under NSM Phase-II Batch-IV. The MNRE then amended the guidelines for the second time in September 2017.

Per MNRE, now mandatory registration with state nodal agency is not required for projects being implemented by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). Earlier, there was a requirement for registration with the state nodal agency and obtaining their approval for project implementation.

According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, out of the capacities mentioned above under the three separate batches (Batch-I, Batch-III and Batch-IV), over 2.6 GW are currently under development. These projects have been facing delays as the state nodal agencies have been asking the developers for mandatory registration.

When contacted, an MNRE official told Mercom, “We (MNRE) have issued four orders dealing with the problems faced while implementing projects under VGF program envisaged by the MNRE. If you will go through the order, we have explained why this change has been made. This amendment will save a lot of time of developers and will expedite our process to reach set targets.”

In a letter dated June 12, 2018, the MNRE stated, “The MNRE implements various projects through SECI, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and other government agencies. It was noticed that the state nodal agencies are stressing on the requirement of compulsory registration with them before issuing commissioning certificate.”

“This was causing a delay in project commissioning and affecting projects that are ready to feed power to the grid affecting timely achievement of targets,” added the letter.

The MNRE has now clarified that renewable energy projects being implemented by SECI, NTPC, other government agencies on behalf of MNRE are not required to register with state nodal agencies.

When asked how many MWs can be expected to be commissioned in the coming days, as all stakeholders receive this new information, the MNRE official said, “If all numbers are taken into consideration, we may be looking at around 600-700 MW being added to the grid soon. I’m not sure of the numbers yet, we will have to check with the implementing agencies, NTPC and SECI.”

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.