A Round Up of Key Policy Updates for Solar and Other Renewables for December

December witnessed some key policy announcements, both at the central and the state level, aimed at removing the bottlenecks and facilitating the growth of the renewable sector, especially solar. Here are some of the key policy announcements from the month:

Center

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued guidelines to develop decentralized solar power projects in the country. The new guidelines will apply to distribution companies procuring solar power from decentralized solar power projects of capacity more than 2 MW connected to rural distribution sub-stations of 33/11 kV, 66/11 kV, and 110/11 kV.

The MNRE also amended an order related to the dispute resolution mechanism to resolve disputes between solar, wind developers, and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) or the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). The developers had requested the MNRE to set up a dispute resolution mechanism to solve the issues that are both within and outside the scope of contractual agreements. In June 2019, MNRE had issued an order to establish a system to resolve disputes between solar and wind energy developers.



States

The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission came out with a draft notification regarding the second set of amendments for its net metering regulations for grid-connected rooftop solar systems. As per the new amendment, the distribution licensee is to provide the net metering facilities to consumers, provided that the cumulative capacity to be allowed at a particular distribution transformer does not exceed the capacity of the distribution transformer.

Similarly, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission issued new regulations for net metering in the state. According to the new regulations, the net-metering arrangement will be permitted by the distribution licensee on a non-discriminatory, ‘first come, first serve’ basis to eligible consumers who have already installed or are likely to install a renewable energy generating system connected to the network of the DISCOM.

In a significant development, the Delhi government approved a policy for electric vehicles with an intent to make the city “the EV capital of India.” The policy mainly focuses on electric two-wheelers, shared transport vehicles such as three-wheelers and buses, and goods carriers or freight vehicles. According to the policy, the government is targeting 500,000 new EV registrations in Delhi. These EVs are estimated to cut down approximately ₹60 billion (~$842.08 million) in oil and liquid gas imports and 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The month of December also saw Rajasthan releasing its Solar Energy Policy, 2019, which aims to achieve a target of 30 GW of solar power by the financial year 2024-25. Of this, utility or grid-scale solar parks will account for 24 GW, distributed generation is expected to account for 4 GW, the solar rooftop will total 1 GW, and solar pumps will make up the remaining 1 GW. The state also unveiled its Wind and Hybrid Energy Policy, 2019, which aims to achieve 2 GW of wind power capacity to fulfill the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) by FY 2024-25 and 3.5 GW of hybrid power projects by FY 2024-25.

The Chhattisgarh State Electricity Regulatory Commission specified the terms and conditions of tariffs for renewable energy sources for the sale of power to distribution licensees. The new regulations state that the control or review period under these regulations will be three years, with the first year commencing from April 1, 2019. The commission added that it would also determine the generic preferential tariff in the case of small hydro, solar PV, and co-generation power projects at the beginning of each year of the control period.

The Karnataka Renewable Energy Systems Manufacturers Association (KRESMA) protested vehemently against the order passed by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) on rooftop solar. On December 9, 2019, the state had issued an order as an attempt to accelerate capacity additions in the rooftop solar segment. But the order hasn’t gone down well with the rooftop solar installers.

The month also saw the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) come up with an open access policy. As per the regulations, long-term open access customers will have the highest priority, followed by the medium-term open access customers and then short-term open access customers.

The UPERC also issued draft regulations for forecasting, scheduling, and deviation settlement of solar and wind projects in the state. In April 2018, the state commission had issued similar draft regulations; however, this year, the state has gone into the details of the mechanism. According to the new draft regulations, the qualified coordinating agency will be appointed with the approval of the generators that have at least 51% of the combined installed capacity at the pooling substation. Also, solar and wind generators connected by themselves to a pooling station, and having a capacity of 50 MW can act as a QCA.