Policy Highlights for Solar and Other Renewable Sources from October 2019

The month of October witnessed several important renewable energy policy announcements, especially in the solar sector.

One of the most important announcements of the month was a clarification issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) regarding domestically manufactured solar cells.

Key announcements made by the state and central government for October 2019:

Center



The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) passed an order that will give compensation relief from the safeguard duty to four developers after they petitioned the commission citing the Change in Law clause. The clause recognizes contracts that are already in force when a law change occurs, like in the case of the safeguard duty.

Four petitioners – ReNew Solar Power, Phelan Energy India RJ Pvt. Limited, Clean Sustainable Energy Pvt Ltd, and Mahoba Solar (UP) Pvt Limited. The companies had filed the petition against SECI, BSES Yamuna Power Limited, Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, and Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, and Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd for relief, seeking compensation of the safeguard duty on the imports of solar cells and modules.

In its recent notification, the CERC also ordered compensatory relief to two solar developers from the safeguard duty imposed last year. ACME Jaipur Solar Power Private Limited and Arinsun Clean Energy Private Limited (ACEPL), a special purpose vehicle set up by Actis-backed Sprng Energy, had filed separate petitions before the commission citing the ‘Change in Law’ clause.

The MNRE issued a clarification stating that if diffused silicon wafer (blue wafer) is imported and is used as a raw material for the manufacture of solar photovoltaic cells, it will not qualify as domestically manufactured solar photovoltaic cells.

Giving a boost to the electric vehicle market in the country, the Union Power Minister R.K. Singh has approved the amendments in electric vehicle charging guidelines and specifications. A phase-wise installation of an appropriate network of charging infrastructure throughout the country has been envisioned in the guidelines to ensure that at least one charging station will be available in a grid of 3 km x 3 km in the cities and one such station to be set up at every 25 km on both sides of the highways.

The MNRE also issued a notice clarifying the eligibility of power generated from the co-firing of biomass in thermal power projects as renewable energy.

The government has stated that the power generated from the co-firing of biomass in thermal power plants is renewable energy and is eligible for meeting the non-solar renewable purchase obligations (RPO).

States

The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) approved the procedure for forecasting, scheduling, and deviation settlement of solar and wind generation, which will come into effect from January 1, 2020. The PSERC also directed the solar and wind generators to establish the required forecasting and communication infrastructure for furnishing day ahead or week ahead forecast to state load despatch center (SLDC) and register with SLDC before January 2020.

Similarly, the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC) published the first amendment of its 2018 regulations for forecasting, scheduling, and deviation settlement mechanism for wind and solar projects. The regulations mandate that if wind and solar generators fail to appoint a common qualified coordinating agency (QCAs) within two months from the date of issue of notice by the SLDC, then the concerned licensee will be asked to disconnect the defaulting generators.

The Karnataka State Solar Policy 2014-21 has been amended for the third time and addresses three important points – the size limitation of private solar parks, the performance guarantee for group captive projects, and the project completion time for captive, group captive and independent power producers for third-party sale.

In a respite for renewable developers in the state, the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Authority (APERC) approved the tariff for three solar park projects – 750 MW (Phase – II) Solar Park at NP Kunta, 750 MW Kadapa Ultra Mega Solar Park, and 250 MW Solar Power from Kadapa Solar Park under NSM Phase-II, Batch-II, Tranche-I. These projects were auctioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). However, considering the recent attempts to renegotiate tariff by the state government, renewable energy developers were feeling jittery about the fate of these projects.

Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh High Court issued a stay order on the central government’s proceedings against electricity distribution companies in Andhra Pradesh for not providing letters of credit to power generators in line with the order from the center. Andhra DISCOMs filed a petition in the high court after they received a letter from the Power System Operation Corporation of India (POSOCO). The letter stated that if the state utilities do not issue LCs to wind and solar developers, they are liable to be banned from procuring power from exchanges and unable to receive short-term open access approvals. POSOCO also sent similar letters to the load despatch centers in the state.

In one of the toughest moves to enforce the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) order, the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) said that nine companies would be issued notices for non-compliance with RPO order.

Image credit: Invenergy