Opening up Indian solar mission to foreign companies good idea

Sep 8, 2016 0
Helena Li, President (Asia, Pacific and Middle East) Trina Solar

Helena Li, President (Asia, Pacific and Middle East) Trina Solar

By Biswajit Choudhury

New Delhi– Rolling out the red carpet to foreign companies in joining India’s 100-GW solar mission is a smart move, as it can cut costs and bring cutting-edge technology, says Helena Li, President of China’s Trina Solar, which has 20 per cent share in India’s solar panels’ market.

“Indian local manufacturing capacity is not developed enough to be as cost-competitive as China’s, for instance. So the Indian government’s push for solar power and its strategy to invite foreign companies to build the industry locally is a smart move,” Li, who oversees Trina’s Asia, Pacific and Middle East business, told IANS in an interview here.

Trina Solar, established in China in 1997, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2006, is a global leader that has installed 19 gigawatt (GW) of photovoltaic modules worldwide.

In India, Trina, which, Li said, in Chinese signifies bringing together nature and humans in a harmonious way, has already sold 1.5 GW of solar PVs and will have done business of 2 GW by the end of the year. Total solar panels capacity installed in India is around 8 GW.

Trina’s clients in India include energy majors like Wellspun, Hero Future Energies, ACME and Renew Power. It has, in 2014, supplied 600,000 solar panels for India’s largest solar project of 151 megawatt at Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh.

With the Narendra Modi government’s major thrust on renewables — that resulted in the formation of the International Solar Alliance this year with its secretariat in Gurgaon — private players are entering the solar space in a big way.

“If Trina wants to grow in the Indian market, it has to produce in India. But the cost-effectiveness of producing in India is a major consideration,” she says.

Towards this end, Trina has recently signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government for acquiring 90 acres of land to set up a production facility and has also identified the site. However, still lacking manufacturing of scale in the sector costs in India remain high, Li said.

“Although India wants local content, 90 per cent of India’s panels are imported. Indian manufacturers have to depend on accessories from China. Currently, most panels in India are Chinese manufactured,” she said.

“By manufacturing here, we can help to grow India’s market by bringing in the supply chain from China,” Li added.

This situation, however, has provoked measures to protect and encourage local industry through the domestic content requirement clause under India’s national solar programme, launched in 2010.

It mandates that a solar power producer compulsorily source a certain percentage of solar cells and modules from local manufacturers in order to be able to benefit from the government guarantee to purchase the energy produced.

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel ruled earlier this year that India’s domestic content requirement for the solar sector is inconsistent with its treaty obligations. The US had, in 2013, brought a complaint against India before the WTO, alleging violation of global trading rules.

Ironically, America and the European Union themselves have taken anti-dumping measures against cheaper Chinese solar panels in order to protect their own industries, Li pointed out.

India expects to add around 5.5 GW of solar capacity in 2016, making it the fourth-largest solar market globally.

While several major solar manufacturers have announced plans to expand production capacities this year, Chinese demand has slowed, resulting in a softening of module prices.

On the other hand, a recent report by global accounting firm KPMG says that in the absence of strong local manufacturing, India will need to import $42 billion of solar equipment by 2030, corresponding to 100 GW of installed capacity.

However, cheaper Chinese imports have provoked industry bodies like the Indian Solar Manufacturers’ Association to demand safeguard levies and anti-dumping duties.

It is in this context that Li lauds the current Indian government’s attempts to encourage global majors like Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Hanwha Solar and First Solar to consider joint ventures to build module manufacturing in India, with appropriate concessions and incentives.

Trina has been a pioneer in India’s solar panels market since coming into the country five years ago, said Li, whose association with India dates back to 2000 when she was representing Microsoft.

“At that time, there were only a few companies here in solar,” she recalls, adding that India has from the beginning been a good market.

“Now it is a booming market, other Chinese companies are coming in. But Trina has been rooted in India from the beginning. We have all local employees in our office here. One needs to nurture the market, spend a lot of time with clients, which explains our leading market presence here,” she signed off. (IANS)

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Haryana to ban diesel engines over 10 years old

Jul 21, 2016 0

Chandigarh– The Haryana government announced on Thursday that the it has decided to ban diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old and petrol vehicles over 15 years old in the areas of National Capital Region (NCR) falling in the state.

Haryana Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar told media here that it has been decided to strictly implement the recent orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had banned old vehicles from plying in national capital New Delhi.

Panwar said that instructions to this effect have been issued to officers concerned.

Haryana surrounds Delhi from three sides with Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonipat districts adjoining the national capital.

Other districts of Haryana which are included in the NCR are Panipat, Karnal and Jind.

Dubbing diesel as a “major cause of pollution”, the NGT on Monday ordered that all diesel vehicles that are 10 years old or more be banned from plying in the national capital with immediate effect.

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With 274 million households without electricity, replacing kerosene lanterns with solar-LEDs can spur jobs

Jul 20, 2016 0

New York–In addition to environmental benefits, shifting away from inefficient and polluting fuel-based lighting — such as candles, firewood, and kerosene lanterns — to solar-LED systems can spur economic development as well — to the tune of two million potential new jobs, a study says.

The researchers analysed how the transition from polluting fuel-based lighting to solar-LED lighting would impact employment and job creation.

“People like to talk about making jobs with solar energy, but it’s rare that the flip side of the question is asked — how many people will lose jobs who are selling the fuels that solar will replace,” said researcher Evan Mills from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

“We set out to quantify the net job creation. The good news is, we found that we will see many more jobs created than we lose,” Mills noted.

The findings were published in the journal Energy for Sustainable Development.

There are about 274 million households worldwide that lack access to electricity.

But Mills’ study focused on the “poorest of the poor”, or about 112 million households, largely in Africa and Asia, that cannot afford even a mini solar home system, which might power a fan, a few lights, a phone charger, and a small TV.

Mills found that fuel-based lighting today provides 150,000 jobs worldwide.

Because there is very little data in this area, his analysis is based on estimating the employment intensity of specific markets and applying it to the broader non-electrified population. He also drew on field observations in several countries to validate his estimates.

He did a similar analysis for the emerging solar-LED industry and found that every one million of these lanterns provides an estimated 17,000 jobs.

These values include employees of these companies based in developing countries but exclude upstream jobs in primary manufacturing by third parties such as those in factories in China.

Assuming a three-year product life and a target of three lanterns per household, this corresponded to about two million jobs globally, more than compensating for the 150,000 jobs that would be lost in the fuel-based lighting marke, the study said.

Furthermore, Mills’ research found that the quality of the jobs would be much improved.

“With fuel-based lighting a lot of these people are involved in the black market and smuggling kerosene over international borders, and child labour is often involved in selling the fuel,” he said.

“These new solar jobs will be much better jobs — they’re legal, healthy, and more stable and regular,” he added.

The new jobs span the gamut, from designing and manufacturing products to marketing and distributing them.

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India on right track to meet solar energy target

Jul 15, 2016 0

Kolkata– The Union government is on the right track to meet the target of generating one lakh MW of solar power by 2022 under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), a top official said on Friday.

“We are on the right track. As on March 2016, solar installation stood at 6,700 MW. At present it is around 7,700 MW. Cumulative capacity of 17,000 MW is expected by March 2017. From the 2017-18 onwards, we need to add 15,000 MW each year,” Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor told IANS.

Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor

Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor

Around 20,000 MW of solar capacity is in the pipeline, out of that around 14,000 MW of capacity is being installed, he said on the sidelines of an event organised by CII.

Kapoor sounded optimistic about the sustainability and viability of projects when solar tariff emerging out of reverse bidding process has been falling.

Solar tariffs fell to 4.34 a kWhr, which is the lowest as of now. Fortum Finnsurya Energy quoted that tariff to bag mandate to set up a 70 MW solar plant under NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park tender.

“Tariff has been varying across locations. Developers have their own calculations to make projects viable and sustainable. Low tariffs are coming from various tenders. It is not that tariff falls for only one occasion,” Kapoor said.

Citing a recent bidding for 130 MW of solar projects in Rajasthan, he said: “There are 13 projects, each has the capacity of 10 MW. In that case, tariff falls to 4.35 a kWhr.”

He said if developers failed to execute projects, the bank guarantee of Rs 20 lakh per MW given by the developers will be forfeited and the Centre will re-tender the particular project.

With most of the solar projects concentrated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, the government, to incentivise pan-India presence of solar projects, is offering viability gap funding for projects in the states where solar penetration is relatively low.

“We are offering viability gap funding to bring down the tariff to Rs 4.50 a kWhr,” he said.

“For West Bengal, I will meet the state officials so that projects could come here and we will offer viability gap funding,” he said. (IANS)

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Focused on expanding green transmission corridor, says Goyal

Jul 15, 2016 0

Chennai–Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said expanding the Green Corridor (a power transmission corridor for renewable power) is the central government mission and the per unit cost of solar power is now comparable with that of traditional power sources.

Queried about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa’s request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dedicated transmission capacity for wind power, Goyal said: “Expanding the Green Corridor is the mission of our government.”

Recently Jayalalithaa had written to Modi to direct Power Grid Corporation to allocate dedicated transmission capacity to evacuate surplus wind power from the state. She had stressed the importance setting up a dedicated inter-State Green Energy Corridor so that the surplus wind energy from Tamil Nadu can be successfully evacuated and sold to other States.

Goyal, who also handles the coal, new and renewable energy portfolios independently, said he had fruitful discussions with the Karnataka government on expanding the transmission capacity in South India.

He said that the Narendra Modi government has brought the cost of solar power to around Rs 4 per unit which is at par with that of other traditional sources of power, and the days when renewable power was unviable are gone.

On the Amnesty International’s charge of human rights violations by Coal India Ltd, he said the charges are baseless and motivated by vested interests that do not want India to progress.

Earlier at a function in Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM), Goyal said over the next three years no Indian home will be without power throughout the day.

Referring to his father who studied under street lights, he said no Indian child should be forced to read under poor lighting.

He also inauguratged the innovative solar-DC products and appliances developed by IITM and its incubated renewable energy companies. (IANS)

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Corporate funding to solar sector dips to $1.7 bn in April-June

Jul 11, 2016 0

Kolkata–Global consulting firm Mercom Capital Group on Monday said total corporate funding, including venture capital funding, public market and debt financing into the solar sector fell to $1.7 billion in April-June quarter, a 41 percent drop compared to the $2.8 billion raised in January-March period.

Year-over-year total corporate funding was down significantly compared to $5.9 billion in the second quarter of last year, the firm said.

Triton Solar panel

Triton Solar panel

“The solar industry continues to experience weakness in terms of financing activity and corporate funding in April-June, 2016 was at its lowest level in three years,” said Group’s CEO and co-founder Raj Prabhu.

Global solar venture capital funding (including private equity) saw a large decline in the quarter under review with $174 million in 16 deals compared to $406 million in 23 deals in January-March period.

According to the firm, solar downstream companies raised the most (64 percent) VC funding in April-June 2016 with $112 million in seven deals.

Solar public market financing in April-June came to $179 million in four deals compared to $94 million in four deals in the first quarter of calendar year 2016 and $2.3 billion in 12 deals in April-June period last year, the report said.

The firm said the announced debt financing came to $1.3 billion in 12 deals in April-June period compared to $3.4 billion in 14 deals in the corresponding period last year. (IANS)

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Rs 7,000 crore project to ensure uninterrupted power supply to Gurgaon

Jul 11, 2016 0

Chandigarh– To ensure uninterrupted power supply to Gurgaon city, adjoining the national capital, a Rs 7,000-crore Smart Grid Project is being implemented by the Haryana government, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Monday.

Manohar Lal Khattar

Manohar Lal Khattar

Khattar, met Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday, said that the project has been introduced in view of the present and future needs of power supply in Gurgaon city.

“This project would put an end to the trend of consumption of diesel through generator sets. This would not only prove beneficial for the conservation of environment, but would also put an end to the role of builders and colonizers for power supply,” Khattar said.

Goyal said that the projectAwould prove to be a milestone in the field of power supply in the country.

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Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam n-plant II starts fission

Jul 10, 2016 0

Chennai–The second unit of Kudankulam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu went critical or started nuclear fission on Sunday at 8.56 p.m., said officials of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

“Criticality achieved at 8.56 p.m.,” H.N. Sahu, Station Director of first and second units, told IANS on Sunday.

KudankulamSahu on Saturday told IANS that the unit was expected to attain criticality between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday.

This is the second 1,000 MW pressurised water reactor to go critical in the country. The first unit at Kudankulam went critical in July 2013.

The unit will start commercial generation in four to six months time. Prior to that tests have to be conducted and then the unit will be connected to the Southern power grid.

The approach towards criticality started on Friday with the gradual removal of the control rods.

Asked about the conduct of off-site emergency safety drill prior to the commissioning of the reactor, NPCIL Chairman and Managing Director S.K.Sharma had told IANS: “The second unit is part of an operating station (site where a nuclear power plant is already functioning). In such cases off-site emergency drills are conducted once in two years.”

The first 1,000 MW unit of Kudankulam atomic power project, which is located in Tirunelvelli district, is already functional.

Sharma said there are three types of emergency drills that are done at Indian nuclear power plants: plant, site and off-site.

“The emergency drills at the plant are done every quarter and the site emergency drill every year,” he had said.

According to Sahu, the last off-site drill was conducted in January 2015.

For NPCIL, the two units of Kudankulam project are expected to contribute handsomely to its topline and bottom line.

The first unit experienced several hiccups since starting commercial production in December 2014 but seems to have stabilised now, generating about 940 MW daily on an average.

The first unit supplies power to Tamil Nadu (562.5 MW), Puducherry (33.5 MW), Kerala (133 MW), Karnataka (221 MW) and Andhra Pradesh (50 MW).

The total outlay on the two units of Kudankulam project has been over Rs 17,000 crore.

Once the second unit at Kudankulam starts power generation to its full capacity, the total atomic power capacity in Tamil Nadu would go up to 2,440 MW.

Already, the NPCIL has two 220 MW units at Kalkpakkam near here under its Madras Atomic Power Station.

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Power firm bags Rs 100-crore domestic, oversees orders

Jul 6, 2016 0

Kolkata– Power equipment manufacturer Skipper Limited on Wednesday said it has bagged new orders totalling approximately Rs 100 crore from countries like Kenya, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana and Malaysia and in the domestic market.

“These orders are for the supply of transmission and sub-station towers, distribution poles and steel angles,” a company statement said.

“We are excited to share our entry into major African markets like Kenya, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana and the Asian markets in countries like Malaysia as a result of our international business push,” company’s Director Sharan Bansal said.

The company has also received Power Grid approval for its distribution poles which will help the company to tap into large potential for poles in the north-eastern region of the country due to the upcoming Power Grid distribution management system projects, he said. (IANS)

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ICMR to harness solar power for medical institutions

Jun 29, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has inked an MoU with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) to launch Solar for Healthcare, an initiative focusing on supply of solar power in government medical institutions, said an official statement.

The collaboration will help in providing effective healthcare delivery at the last mile by reducing uncertainty in critical infrastructure, particularly electricity supply.

“The collaboration with CEEW will bring together synergies between the objective of ‘time to care’ as mandated in the National Health Mission (NHM) and clean energy as outlined under the National Solar Mission (NSM),” said Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of ICMR.

CEEW is a policy research institution.

Swaminathan said that under the collaboration, on a pilot basis, both the organisations will install solar systems at select primary health centres in partnership with three state governments and evaluate its impact on healthcare delivery and health outcomes.

“The aim of the collaboration is to create resilient health systems in rural India, benefitting primarily women and children,” said Swaminathan.

As of 2015, nearly 35 million citizens in rural India relied on un-electrified primary health centres for primary health services. In the absence of electricity, services catered by health institutions such as institutional deliveries, paediatric emergencies, and administering of vaccines get severely affected.

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