Global energy technology company Enphase Energy Inc today announced opening of its first R&D...
International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation or a legal entity on December 6, 2017. The ISA was jointly launched, on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then-French President Francois Hollande on the side lines of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 21 (CoP21) in Paris. The ISA is a treaty-based alliance of 121 prospective solar-rich member nations situated fully or partially between the tropics, and it aims at accelerating development and deployment of solar energy globally. “The ISA will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation on December 6, 2017,” Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh told PTI. Singh said, “It will be a major international body headquartered in India. As many as 45 countries had already signed the ISA treaty and 15 have ratified it till November 30, 2017, and many more are set to join”. The minister was of the view that the ISA is important for the country’s strategic autonomy and energy security in view of India’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels.
The ISA has been conceived as an action-oriented organisation. It brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate demand for solar energy globally, thereby reducing prices, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity and achieving universal energy access and energy security of the present and future generations. The Paris declaration on the ISA states that countries share collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and technology for immediate deployment of competitive solar generation.
It also seeks to mobilise more than USD 1,000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for the massive deployment of affordable solar energy and to pave the way for future solar generation, storage and good technologies for countries’ individual needs. India hopes that, in the spirit of affirmative action, developed countries will earmark a percentage of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) towards solar energy projects in developing countries.
Rock bottom solar power tariffs might spell good news for consumers and the environment alike, but for developers, it is now a matter of survival. Ironically, the problem is of their own making to a large extent. With aggressive bidding, solar power tariffs have been pulled down to Rs 2.42-2.65 per unit in the latest rounds, and this has made it difficult for companies to stay afloat. As a result, they have been sourcing inferior quality equipment like rooftop solar panels, inverters and mounting structures. As Niranjan Patil, head of Bangalore-based renewable energy consulting and audit firm Lavancha, points out, this has resulted in complaints of cracked solar panels and corrosion of components in less than two three years of installation across the country. And while suppliers offer guarantees and warranties for replacement, enforcing these becomes a challenge when products are sourced from tier-2 and tier-3 producers in China. Sources indicate that smaller suppliers vanishing in a few years is also not uncommon.
Gyanesh Chaudhary, MD and CEO of Vikram Solar, India’s largest supplier of Solar PV panels, says the problem has always existed,but is likely to become a serious issue when many more projects come on-stream over the next couple of years. Industry leaders like Sumant Sinha, founder & CEO of ReNew Power, had earlier warned that those bidding aggressively would eventually run into trouble. He had portended that given the business economics, many of the projects would become unprofitable. Industry experts also feel that the auction system might have helped bring town tariffs, but the aggressive bidding is not good for the health of the developers and the sector. Incidentally, industry majors like Re-New Power and Tata Power have not been very successful in recent tenders floated by state power bodies due to their higher bids. “Developers always want to make profits and may even flip projects in a few years of operations. Here the role of a financier is critical.They need to set norms for minimum requirement and white-listing of suppliers. Banks should follow strict due diligence and visit plants for firsthand white-listing of suppliers and funding of projects,” says Chaudhary.
Some of the new-age financiers with huge exposure are doing it, but others also need to follow the example, he adds. He suggests that India needs to learn from Germany, where 30-35% of electricity comes from renewables and the sector operates on an auto-correct mode. Even as steps to correct the situation can help curtail the problem in future, some solar developers are already looking to sell their non-performing assets. “Developers are now looking to sell-off projects in less than two-and-half years of operation, ”an industry official told FE on condition of anonymity. FE is in possession of a letter where one developer is looking to sell 1,610 modules, as generation at the inverter level dropped by 20-25% in two years.
The company is trying to sell the modules through a tender.That many of such projects will turn into non-performing assets for lender sand bad eggs for investors is quite plausible today.“There is every possibility the panels will fail to meet the committed targets of generation and could be nonviable to service debt and create returns on investments, turning into a non-performing asset for developers, as well as investors,” says Patil of Lavancha.Several instances of panels cracking and inverter scatching fire have been reported by developers. Even more have seen modules showing degradation of 20-25% in just about two years. Many of these instances have been reported from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and even from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.“It is an indicator of how compromise in module quality is going to result in a problem.
Indian energy giant Adani’s controversy-hit Carmichael coal mine project in Australia has hit another road-block after China’s two major state-run banks said they have no plans to finance the venture, media reports said today. The 16.5 billion dollar Carmichael coal mine project, one of the world’s largest, will start construction after being given the green light by the federal and Queensland state governments. Adani is seeking a finance of 2 billion Australian dollars by March 2018 for the first stage of its proposed mine project in Queensland. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), in a statement, clarified that it had no intention of funding Adani’s proposed mine in Queensland, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. “ICBC has not been, and does not intend to be, engaged in arranging financing for this project,” ICBC said in a statement on its website. “ICBC attaches great importance to its social responsibilities and keenly promotes green financing.” While not mentioning coal, ICBC said it had provided finance in Australia “for a series of renewable energy projects,” the report said.
Earlier, China Construction Bank had also refused financing the project, saying it “is not involved with, nor considering involvement with, the Adani Carmichael Mine project”, the report said. There was no immediate response from the Adani group regarding the latest media report.
Last month, the Labour party-led Queensland government had said it will exercise its veto to not support the financial assistance to the project, which has been opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups. The Adani group had applied for Northern Australia Infrastructure facility loan (NAIF) worth 900 million dollars for building a train line to connect its mine to the coast.
The anti-Adani lobby has hailed the rejection by two of China’s major banks as a significant development in blocking the construction of the mine, the report said. The Carmichael project, expected to create hundreds of jobs in Australia, has been facing opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups. The Indian energy giant has for more than five years battled the opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port, saying it will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Adani group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.
Meanwhile, an expert said that arranging finance from China was one of Adani group’s last remaining hopes after major Australian banks and also Queensland government refused to finance the project on concerns about its financial viability and the push towards renewable energy sources. “Having failed to secure finance from banks in the US, Europe and Australia, Adani has now seen the world’s largest and second largest banks by assets rule out support for its massive proposed coal mine,” Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent was quoted as saying in the report. “This leaves their attempts to open up Australia’s largest coal mine in tatters, and increasingly reliant on public funding,” he said. He said that the Indian conglomerate has been working to contract the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CEMC) into the Carmichael mine and rail project.
However, the CEMC would potentially need to source credit and support from Chinese banks to participate in the Adani project. Adani has, on numerous occasions, pushed back the start date for the mine, the report said.
Tesla Inc switched on the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery on Friday. With this Elon Musk made it to the bet that he promised to build the world’s biggest battery in 100 days or he’d pay for it. Tesla has completed installing its colossal lithium-ion battery in South Australia, a Powerpack system with 100 megawatts of capacity to feed Australia’s shaky power grid for the first day of summer. As per the report by Reuters, Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129-megawatt-hour battery for South Australia, which expanded in wind power far quicker than the rest of the country. But it has suffered a string of blackouts over the past 18 months. State Premier Jay Weatherill at the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, was quoted as saying, “South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the site some 225 kms (141 miles) north of the state capital Adelaide in July. He then highlighted industry hopes for the take-up of battery storage and hailed the battery as ‘just the beginning’. The state, however, is yet to reveal how much it is paying Tesla. Musk’s involvement came from a now famous bet derived from light Tesla bragging and Twitter banter in March. Musk said that if he didn’t get it done in 100 days, he’d foot the bill, which could have been up to US$50 million. He launched the 100 days on September 29.
Lyndon & @elonmusk – how serious are you about this bet? If I can make the $ happen (& politics), can you guarantee the 100MW in 100 days? http://t.co/av38xcizNo
— Mike Cannon-Brookes (@mcannonbrookes) March 9, 2017
Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2017
Weatherill came under fire last year after the entire state went black following a major storm, and raced to shore up the state’s grid with a A$510m (£286m) plan. This included ordering the big battery and installing diesel-fuelled turbines, reported Reuters. AES’s Kathpal, who is also chairman of the US Energy Storage Association, said South Australia’s commitment to turn to energy storage was an important step for the rest of the industry. “We think that’s what’s really going to accelerate the uptake of energy storage in Australia,” he was quoted as saying.
Consumers will be able to change their power suppliers just like telecom services, after proposed amendment to the existing Electricity Act is approved, Union Minister RK Singh said. The power ministry will push Electricity Amendment Bill in forthcoming Budget session, which provides for segregating the distribution network business and the electricity supply business. “We are bringing a lot of amendment in the Electricity Act. It also provides for separation of carriage and content business. The draft would come to me in another week or so. We will try to push it for passage in Budget session of Parliament,” the power and new & renewable energy minister told PTI in an interview. The separation will pave the way for introducing a new system where consumers will have option to choose from multiple electricity service providers in their areas, similar to that of telecom services. Elaborating further Singh said, “Once the Act is amended, we would prepare a roadmap in consultation with states to prepare a roadmap to segregate distribution and supply wings of the discoms. After that monopoly will be eliminated in supply wing by giving franchise to more than one players in an electricity supply area”.
He also told that the amendments would also provide for stricter enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO). Besides, the bill will also provide for making tariff policy mandatory to keep cross subsidy below 20 per cent. It means that difference between highest and lowest tariff rates should not be more than 20 per cent. The minister said that it will help to make industrial tariff reasonable which is unsustainable at present.
The bill would also provide direct benefit transfer of subsidy to farmers to improve efficiency in power consumption. It also seeks service obligation on part discoms to ensure reliable power supply service by March, 2019. “Power demand growth rate will be good because of two reason. Firstly, we are adding 40 million more consumer under Saubhagya Scheme by December 2018. Besides, industrial growth would create more demand for power consumption,” Singh said.
The minister was of the view that per capital consumption in the country will also increase in future. It is 1,075 units in India as against 5,000-6,000 units in Europe and around 1,1000 units in the US. “Future increase in energy consumption is going to happen here in India and electricity will be leading it because of change in energy mix. I see that electricity is edging out the fossil fuel. It is easier to transport. Mobility and cooking would become electrical,” he said.
On village electrification he said that it is snowing in some areas in Jammu & Kashmir, so the work in those areas will start in March or April. And in Arunachal Pradesh, it will be completed by January or February next year, excluding areas affected due to snow fall. “We will go to the Cabinet with a proposal to make 24X7 power obligatory from March 2019. Load shedding would not allowed except in cases of act of god or technical faults. There would be penalty for violators. This will not have any impact on tariff,” the minister said.
The power ministry has identified some states where leakages or losses are more than 21 per cent and written a letter to them for reduction of these losses. Aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) loses should not be more than 5 to 7 per cent otherwise it can be construed that there is theft of power, Singh said.
In order to deal with this issue, the government is promoting pre-paid and smart meters. The minister further said that the power ministry has asked the states to reduce their AT&C losses below 15 per cent by 2019.