India is already on track to reach its goal of 175 GW of installed renewable capacity by 2022. Now, with the kind of initiatives the government and different companies are taking, it is likely that the renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030 will also be achievable. The government is totally committed to enable its Paris Agreement commitments and companies are taking many efforts to ramp up capacity. India ranks second in BNEF climatescope report which evaluates investment conditions for clean energy in emerging economies across 108 countries.
During the pandemic, the government of India’s policy initiatives like – supporting force majeure, reducing repo rate, making solar plant O&M an essential service, removing tariff caps for solar tends, PLU scheme amongst others clears indicates the growing support towards solar energy.
Policy Support and Change
Industry players believe that In the post-Covid era, few reform measures should be implemented immediately. Investment in grid and utility modernisation needs to be strongly pursued to upgrade the infrastructure. This can be a key driver for economic recovery and job creation.
“For the energy sector, it is important to plan under extreme uncertainty, across jurisdictions, domains and ministries, as well as across the public and private sectors. This is made more complex by the long lifespans of many investments, not only in generation capacity but also more broadly in transportation, natural resources and consumption. There is a need for the industry players, government bodies and domain experts to brainstorm out of the box solutions,” says Ratul Puri, Chairman, Hindustan Power Projects
“The solar industry in India has received considerable support from the Government of India during the pandemic. Policy initiatives like- supporting force majeure, reducing repo rate, extending ALMM deadline, making solar plant O&M an essential service, removing tariff caps for solar tenders, PLI scheme amongst others clearly indicate Government of India’s intent toward supporting solar growth.
Globally, countries are reviewing their supply chains and the world is looking at India to diversify its trade markets. This is a huge opportunity for India. India has the resources, technology, leadership and skills to become the global manufacturing hub for renewable energy. We need a comprehensive policy framework encompassing both tariff and non-tariff barriers to boost domestic solar manufacturing. The need of the hour is a crystal clear manufacturing policy,” says Gyanesh Chaudhary, Managing Director, Vikram Solar
Efforts by Companies
India’s renewable energy efforts are being lead by solar energy. Vikram Solar is ready to play a critical role in creating a self-sustaining ecosystem for solar manufacturing in India aligned with Government’s Atmanirbhar vision. With the company’s current 1.2 GW module manufacturing capacity in West Bengal, plans to scale-up additional 3 GW integrated module, cell and wafer manufacturing in Tamil Nadu, technologically advanced product portfolio, it is in a position to to capitalize on the opportunities both in the domestic and international markets.
“We are embracing new-age technologies like artificial intelligence, cognitive modelling, machine learning, deep learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotic process automation amongst other to enhance our agility and efficiency in operations. Bringing down the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) is at the heart of designing and manufacturing our extensive range of reliable products,” says Gyanesh Chaudhary, Managing Director, Vikram Solar
Digitalization During the Pandemic
Vedanta Ltd, which has an organic growth strategy based on vertical integration to become a world-class low cost, high quality aluminium producer, is achieving this by ramping up expansion of aluminium smelters and alumina refinery. Even in 2020 Vedanta’s Aluminium & Power business took significant strides across verticals. During the year, the company witnessed the journey of implementing different technologies and digital innovations across our aluminium plants at Jharsuguda and BALCO and alumina refinery at Lanjigarh (Odisha). These included the implementation of intelligent automation and digitalization with innovations at our largest smelter plant in Jharsuguda (Odisha).
“As a company, we will continue to invest in the utilization of our country’s abundant natural resources, creation of thousands of jobs, catering to the domestic demand and increasing levels of domestic production with the intent to lower the level of imports into our country. Following this strategic roadmap in the medium to long term will help the country substantially lower the forex outflow that is currently existing due to 60% of the country’s domestic consumption being met by imports,” says Ajay Kapur, CEO – Aluminium & Power and MD – Commercial, Vedanta
Solar, EV charging, Bio solutions
Fortum India’s business verticals comprise Solar, EV charging, Bio solutions and e- Next (Nox reduction technologies). Presently the company has 435 MW of operational solar capacity and another 250 MW under construction. They’re going to expand this vertical aggressively in coming years. The entire solar capacity is tied up for sale to Central/ State agencies. Fortum in joint venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and Chempoli is building a Bio ethanol refinery in Assam, India with a total investment of approx. 200 M€. This refinery will convert bamboo into bio-ethanol, furfural alcohol and acetic acid. This is the largest FDI in north east state.
While the company has an EV charging business and is rolling out charging points aggressively, it will calibrate further investments in line with EV adoption. The company has recently completed its first primary Nox reduction solution on a captive coal plant and will continue business activities in that stream.
“The pandemic has an indirectly influencing energy transition across the globe. New capital investments are being made in green sectors of economy. Globally, our strategy is drive clean energy transition. In india our plants are operational due to must run status. During pandemic the share of renewables went to 30% in the grid. This will help grid operators to plan flexible requirements. Investments in Renewables continue to be bullish even in the pandemic situation. We are committed to our India business plans.We faced issues at plants under construction due to lockdowns but construction has resumed and MNRE has provided necessary extension in commissioning schedule to compensate for time lost,” says Sanjay Aggarwal, MD, Fortum India
There are nine Indian states in the western region of India that attracted most of the solar development due to availability of natural sunshine. Now because of this, the overall RE generation represents 30 – 40 per cent of all electricity delivered to the grid in these regions. However, this large supply of RE concentrated in one part of the country has created a key challenge for grid operators in these states: when RE capacity at the grid level reaches 40%, it makes the grid unstable because of the intermittency associated with RE.
What’s required is independent generating capacity that can quickly deliver electricity to the grid in order to keep it in balance and maintain a stable frequency within the limits.
“Natural Gas fired power generation has inherent flexibility and dispatchability, as gas power plants can come online quickly due to higher ramp rates. Gas-power plants have higher availability, providing dependable capacity 365 days in a year. Gas-based power can provide an efficient and cost-effective avenue to provide the necessary base-load generation capacity,” says Deepesh Nanda, CEO, GE Gas Power, South Asia
The industry believes that in the power sector structural changes need to take place at an accelerated pace. Investment in grid and utility modernisation needs to be strongly pursued to upgrade the infrastructure. This can be a key driver for economic recovery and job creation. Public-private partnerships need to be expanded as a key mode for expanding infrastructure development.
“COVID-19 has brought to fore the need for online systems and tools even as basic as online file management required for business continuity and effective functioning. The restrictions related to the pandemic also accentuated the need for widespread digital payment, infrastructure for payments and customer management” says Ratul Puri, Chairman, Hindustan Power Projects.
There is a massive need for resilience planning in the power sector to manage and mitigate the impact of such an event in the future.