The year 2017 will go down in India's renewable energy history as a vital catalyst for giant strides ahead. Right from beating down solar tariffs to abysmal levels, to government's ambitious plans for a mass scale shift to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 so that all vehicles on Indian roads by then-personal and commercial-will be powered by electricity, the energy mix will see a dramatic change in times to come.
<p>The missing piece in the puzzle, storage of energy, too got a boost as the world's biggest battery was officially launched in Australia earlier this month, a day after the Elon Musk-driven Tesla project, built in 100 days, powered up the Powerpack system, which can provide electricity for more than 30,000 homes, to ease South Australia's energy woes. The world's largest lithium ion 100 MW/129 MWh battery is connected to a wind farm operated by French energy firm Neoen, and delivered 70MW of stored wind energy into the state's market to meet peak demand.</p>
<p>Innovation in energy is likely to be the biggest productivity accelerator in the world, which has been struggling to propel efficiency in productivity. India has been struggling to rev up the mojo in the solar sector in its quest to achieve its target of commissioning 100 GW of solar generating capacity. The sector is practically marred by low tariff, lack of finance and lack of manufacturing capacity to support the target among other woes.</p>
<p>To encourage the 'Make in India' in RE sector, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) is working out the scheme and going to issue an Expression of Interest (EoI) to the Industry, for establishing domestic manufacturing facilities to the tune of 20 GW, in the near future. However, it needs to be noted that mere increase in manufacturing capacity by numbers is illusory.</p>
<p>Installed capacity of domestic solar cells and modules in the country is estimated to be 2.8 GW and 8 GW respectively, while operational capacity of solar cells and modules is 1.4 GW and 5.2 GW respectively, according to Mercom. However, the working module manufacturing capacity was approximately 3 GW as of the end of 2016. This huge disparity in figures is due to old and obsolete manufacturing lines that are still being counted by the manufacturers as 'operating capacity'. </p>
<p>There is expected action on tender front to achieve 100 GW solar power all through 2018. Nearly 6 GW between December 2017 and January 2018 and further 11GW in February-March 2018. </p>
<p>Although, there have been expectations of new tenders in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, none of these have materialised until now. The developers are getting restless because many of them have raised funding and are waiting for an opportunity to bid for new projects. Also there is a concern about the 'looming' anti-dumping duty imposition on solar modules and how it may affect bidding behaviour. But, equally importantly, the new competitive bidding guidelines announced in August 2017, which require use of standard bidding documents, have also impacted the timelines. The saving grace is that the solar power generators have been provided with a compensation in case of delay in commissioning of transmission infrastructure, grid unavailability and grid back-down. </p>
<p>Unseasonal rains in a way are robbing the sunshine off its brilliance.</p>