Third international renewable energy meet postponed

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on September 12, 2019

Wind and solar companies are facing a host of problems such as tariff caps set at unviable levels, land issues and issues in linking projects to the grid to evacuate power   -  imacoconut

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has postponed the 3rd Global Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet & Expo (3rd RE-INVEST), citing “some unavoidable reasons”. The meet was to be held in New Delhi between October 30 and November 2.

MNRE Secretary Anand Kumar said in a letter that “fresh dates are being worked out in consultation with all stakeholders and (they) shall be informed shortly.”

‘RE-INVEST’ is a global renewable energy investors meet organised by the government of India. It may be remembered that the second edition of the meet, originally scheduled to be held in February 2016, finally happened in October 2018, after getting postponed not less than five times.

To watchers of the Indian renewable energy sector, this postponement comes as no surprise — in fact, it was more or less expected, given the poor performance of the sector in the recent times. Due to a host of reasons, not the least of which is the tariff cap above which energy companies cannot quote in their bids, wind and solar tenders floated by the government-owned SECI have been consistently under-subscribed, showing poor investor interest in the sector.

Wind and solar companies are facing a host of problems such as tariff caps set at unviable levels, land issues (especially in the wind-rich Gujarat), re-negotiation of signed-and-sealed agreements in Andhra Pradesh that raises a fear that other States could follow and issues in linking up their projects to the grid to evacuate power.

The most recent was a SECI tender of last month for 1,800 MW of wind power projects, which attracted bids for 551 MW. Earlier that month, a SECI solar tender for 1,200 MW got bids for 600 MW.

That is hardly a good setting against which a global investor meet could be held.

The decline in the fortunes of the sector began soon after the first edition of RE-INVEST which happened in February 2015. A government press release, issued on February 17 of that year said that green energy commitments worth 266,000 MW had been received and that 27 banks had committed to finance 72,000 MW of projects.

At the end of 2014-15, India had 23,354 MW and 3,744 MW of wind and solar power, respectively. Total renewable energy capacity, including other sources, amounted to 38,959 MW. The aim was to get to 175,000 MW by 2021-22.

Then the government began signalling a 70 per cent safeguard duty on imported solar panels (which was later set at 25 per cent). Wind died after state governments refused to go with the traditional way of signing contracts at fixed tariffs, after seeing low tariffs quoted in central government tenders.

Since the end of 2014-15, India’s wind and solar capacities have grown to 36,687 MW and 30,071 MW respectively, and the total renewable energy capacity to 80,633 MW.

Published on September 11, 2019

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