Powering India with Solar Energy

India is determined to be the world’s greatest solar energy success story. This report outlines the country’s recent large-scale efforts towards achieving 100 GW solar capacity by 2022 highlighting the performances of a few companies. By Subhajit Roy, Group Editor

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Powering India with Solar Energy

Going beyond incremental growth, India is all set for quantum leap in increasing renewable energy capacity. The country’s renewable power capacity soared by almost 150 per cent in the last five years to 77.6 GW. Now the government has set a target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 which includes 100 GW from solar. India is also formulating a policy to build a 30 GW local capacity for manufacturing solar cells and modules by 2024.

Further, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued guidelines for roll out of the Rs 34,422-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme that entails setting up of 25.75-GW solar capacity by 2022. This is expected to encourage farmers to generate solar power in their farms and use the clean energy to replace their diesel water pumps.

Early transmission schemes of renewable power

Of late, the Power Ministry has approved proposal for early regulatory nod by CERC for transmission schemes for 66.5 GW renewable energy generation in order to fast track green projects in the country.

“In a major decision to fast track the deployment of renewable energy in India, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy RK Singh has approved a proposal for early regulatory approval by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for transmission schemes identified for 66.5 GW National Renewable Energy Mission projects,” a Power Ministry statement said. As of May 2019, about 80 GW of renewable energy generation has already been commissioned and the balance 95 GW has to come up in the next three years.

Commenting on this development, Manu Karan, Vice President, CleanMax Solar, says, “The government’s decision to give an early regulatory nod for transmission scheme of renewable power is a welcome move for developers. Some of recent constraints for constructing large-scale solar energy projects is the unavailability of sufficient transmission facility at the allocated solar park locations. The decision to develop the transmission infrastructure will help in better grid connectivity, improve evacuation facility and give impetus to developers for setting up projects without having to address the transmission or grid curtailment issues.”

Solar Achievers

Vikram Solar achieves 1.1 GW annual PV Module production capacity

Vikram Solar Limited, formerly known as Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd., is a leading solar energy solutions provider, specialising in PV module manufacturing and comprehensive EPC solutions.

Kuldeep Kuman Jain, BU Head – EPC, Vikram Solar, said, “Our efforts and contributions have been noticed by the World and within 13 years after inception, Vikram Solar has now become one of the leading solar energy growth contributors in the nation and in the overseas market. We have enhanced our manufacturing capacity to 1.1 GW per year and standing with 1040 MW of solar portfolio.”

Recently one of Vikram Solar’s iconic utility scale solar plants, NTPC’s 50 MW solar plant in Madhya Pradesh has showcased cumulative over 650 MWH in excess generation than guaranteed value in one of the toughest terrains in solar.

In 2019, the company has already commissioned more than 200 MW of solar projects including:

  • 200 MW project for APGENCO at Andhra Pradesh
  • East India’s largest single shed rooftop project in Eastern India (2.152 MW capacity project for Keventer Agro Ltd)
  • 2×10 MW projects for WBSEDCL
  • 5 MW solar plant for BDL (SECI) which was recently inaugurated by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh at Ibrahimpatnam, Hyderabad
  • 5 MW solar plant for ONGC in Ankleshwar
  • 5 MW solar plant for BDL in Hyderabad.

Recently, Vikram Solar has received high scores in solar panel assessment by renowned PVEL LLC and Black & Veatch (B&V).

Some of Vikram Solar’s key projects under execution:

  • 140 MW project from NTPC
  • 1 MW floating solar from Hindustan Zinc Ltd
  • 1 MW ground mounted project from Kolkata Port Trust
  • 5 MW project from Maruti Suzuki.

Adani Green records 40% revenue increase

Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), the renewable energy arm of Adani Group, has announced its financial report for the first quarter (Q1) of the financial year (FY) 2020, ending June 30, 2019.

In the quarter, the company’s total revenue stood at Rs 661 crore which is up by 40 per cent year on year. The company announced a revenue of Rs 554 crore from power generation for Q1 of FY 2020, an increase of 17 per cent year-over-year. Commenting on the company’s performance, Jayant Parimal, CEO, Adani Green Energy Ltd said, “The last quarter has seen significant growth for the business with solar and wind. AGEL is among the largest renewable energy generation companies in India, and with our focus on new technology evaluation, we plan to commission a total of around 800 MW of new capacity of wind and solar projects in FY2020.”

The total portfolio of AGEL is 5,290 MW at present, out of which 2,220 MW of renewable energy capacity is operational. The company won bids for 130 MW of wind and 600 MW of hybrid projects in Q1 FY 2020.

Freyr Energy targets 100% y-o-y growth

Freyr Energy, a Hyderabad based full-service solar company, is in the business of designing, installing and maintaining rooftop solar systems across India for homes and businesses. “The uniqueness of our approach is the differentiation provided by our revolutionary software, SunPro+ that enables us to access customers through a channel network,” said Saurabh Marda, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Freyr Energy.

Marda further claims, the platform is an enhanced mobile and web tool that has a simple and easily adaptable interface, which empowers the company’s Channel Partner network to understand customer requirements and offer custom solutions instantly, reducing customer acquisition costs by 90 per cent.

In November last year, Freyr Energy announced that it has raised an investment of Rs 27 crore. This Series-A round was led by C4D Partners, a Netherlands-based Impact Investment Fund.

Freyr Energy has so far installed more than 1,300 solar projects across 19 states, that include rooftop (residential, commercial, industrial and government), solar water pumps, solar petrol pumps and microgrids. “We are targeting to grow at 100 per cent y-o-y for the next 3 years. We currently stand at FY 17-19, 4 times revenue growth, 8 times EBITDA growth and 1.3 times growth in terms of team size,” informs Marda.

Some of Freyr’s recent clients include reputed names like Shree Cements (repeat order), Hyderabad Public School, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Century Mattresses, National Sports Academy (Manipur), Central Agricultural University (Manipur), Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited, police stations in Punjab, and street lighting in Sikkim.

Hartek Solar installs over 25-MW rooftop PV plants

Hartek Power Pvt Ltd, the flagship company of diversified conglomerate Hartek Group, is one of India’s leading EPC companies and has connected more than 1.5 GW of solar projects to the grid across the country. Also, Hartek Group’s rooftop solar vertical, Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd, has installed over 25-MW rooftop PV plants so far. Introducing his company, Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd, said, “Our small-scale solar division, Hartek Solar, operates through two strategic business units — Rooftop Solar, Energy Storage. Our vision is to work very closely with customers and provide them the right technology solution with an aim to systematically build infrastructure and products.”

Within just a year of launching its customised small-scale solar solutions, Hartek Solar has executed rooftop projects in more than 150 households in Chandigarh alone.

Last year, Hartek Solar introduced customised rooftop solar kits, which come with an option of a unique remote sensing technology tailor-made for small-scale solar plants. The remote sensing technology has broadly remained confined to large rooftop solar installations owing to its non-viability for small-scale solar from the commercial viewpoint. Hartek Solar has now made this technology commercially feasible for small-scale plants as well by linking remote sensing with consumers’ Wi-Fi or GPRS SIM card to get alerts on cleaning and maintenance as well as real-time data on energy generation and savings. The remote sensing technology aids lower downtimes and has quicker fault detection tools aimed at optimising generation.

Some of Hartek Solar’s most important projects under execution include:

  • 220 KV substation with a capacity of 130 MW for a leading solar developer in Rajasthan
  • 132 KV substation with a capacity of 50 MW for a leading solar developer in Uttar Pradesh
  • 400 KV project for Power Grid Corporation of India.

Challenges & road ahead

As of March 2019, India has achieved 30 per cent of its aggressive 175 GW target with a 4 per cent increase in solar installation in Q1 of 2019 over Q4 of 2018. However, taking yearly installations into account, India’s solar installation have shown a 49 per cent year-on-year decrease in solar installations. This sluggishness has been caused due to the general elections conducted this year, which in turn has led to hurdles in government approvals, opines Sunil Rathi, Director, Waaree Energies. He said, “Utility-scale projects still contribute the maximum to India’s solar capacity but the industry expects the rooftop segment to bloom in this coming year. Currently, rooftop segment makes up 12 per cent of India’s solar installations but is expected to contribute 40 per cent to the 2022 target.”

Mr Rathi adds, “The latest policy change in the US in terms of taxation of Indian solar products, the domestic manufacturing segment is expected to witness a slowdown due to the loss of a significant market. The lack of clarity in the timeline of the exemption on bifacial modules in the US market will only provide a brief respite to the situation and the dependency of Indian solar manufacturers on the domestic market will increase significantly.”

Mr Jain of  Vikram Solar also admits: “Recent developments like safeguard duty, lack of focus on solar in budget, lack of investment in solar, lack of focus on domestic manufacturing, US trade policies, and shrinking number of solar tenders have brought forward new challenges for us.”

In addition, bid cancellations remains a major hindrance in the growth of the Indian solar industry, especially considering the large size of the cancelled projects. Reports state that in FY 2018-19, approximately 8,000 MW solar capacities worth Rs 40,000 crore were cancelled. According to Mr Rathi, “The reason for such bid cancellations are mainly due to lack of consensus on tariff rates. Additionally, the lack of clarity in GST rates is another big cause for the high bid cancellations the industry is witnessing today. This scenario is leading to disappointment in the potential of the growth of solar industry, especially from the global perspective.” He believes, clarity in GST rates in the case of solar projects will lead to a significant change in the market.

“We are holding on to our dream of aiding India and the world in solarisation and hope to see the Government of India reciprocate in creating favourable environment for solar manufacturers in India,” concludes Mr Jain.

By Subhajit Roy, Group Editor