Azure Power Maple Private Limited (Azure Power), the petitioner, has submitted a request for an extension of time to meet the Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) requirements regarding the installation of reactive power compensation devices for its 300 MW Solar Power Project in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The company seeks to avoid any adverse actions by the Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC) and ensure that its project remains connected to the grid until it can comply with the directives.
The solar project, commissioned in tranches from February 14, 2022, to March 31, 2023, holds a Power Purchase Agreement with the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) since November 27, 2019. In light of the project’s development, Azure Power committed to complying with the CEA Regulations, 2007, and the outcome of a meeting held on July 14, 2021, which included provisions related to reactive power from Renewable Energy (RE) Generation Sources.
However, complications arose during the installation of the necessary equipment, such as 24 MW inverters and 80 MVAr STATCOM for reactive power support. Delays occurred due to global supply chain disruptions and a shortage of critical components, specifically IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor), an essential part of the inverters.
Despite these challenges, Azure Power made substantial progress, installing 48 out of 130 inverters by September 20, 2023, with plans to install the remaining 82 inverters by the end of November 2023. They have also opted for STATCOM instead of Capacitor Banks for better dynamic reactive power support.
The installation of the 80 MVAr STATCOM, however, depends on design parameters and ambient temperature criteria, which are still under discussion among various stakeholders. Until these criteria are clarified, Azure Power cannot proceed with procurement and installation.
NRLDC has noted grid disturbances due to underperforming renewable energy generators but clarified that several RE developers are yet to meet the reactive power compensation device requirements. The Azure Power argued that their project’s continued connection to the grid during winter poses no threat to grid safety.
The issue’s jurisdiction was questioned, with Azure Power suggesting it falls under CEA Regulations, 2007. The commission, however, directed Azure Power to approach the CEA for a resolution, emphasizing cooperation among stakeholders.
This decision aligns with the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity’s (APTEL) directive, issued on October 3, 2023, in response to Azure Power’s concern over an imminent grid disconnection, despite the absence of a formal notice from NRLDC. The commission dismissed the petitioner’s request for an interim restraining order against coercive measures by NRLDC.
The case is scheduled for further hearings on October 25, 2023, to address both its maintainability and merits.
In summary, Azure Power Maple Private Limited faces challenges in complying with CEA directives for reactive power compensation devices in their 300 MW Solar Power Project. While they have made substantial progress, global supply chain disruptions and unresolved ambient temperature criteria for the STATCOM pose hurdles. Cooperation among stakeholders, including CEA, is crucial to resolving these issues and ensuring the project’s continued operation.
Please read the document below for more details.