REEEP participates in special event on stakeholder engagement to fast track grid projects in India

28-02-2014, New Delhi, India

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in association with Department for International Development, UK (DFID) REEEP as knowledge partner, organized a special event on stakeholder engagement to fast track grid connected projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) on February 5th, during the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS). This event was part of a broader consultation to develop a roadmap for the larger and faster implementation program on solar energy sector, supported by DFID, TERI and REEEP.

The event featured brainstorming discussions on two key issues the country desperately needs to address: The effectiveness of the Renewable Purchase Option (RPO) and Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism; and the availability of land for infrastructure. Separate panel discussions were held on each of these two topics. 
 
Mr. Amit Kumar, Regional Programme Advisor for the REEEP South Asian regional secretariat, gave welcome remarks and set the context, and Mr. Phil Marker, Counsellor for the Energy, Climate and Growth Unit of the British High Commission, followed with a special address. Mr. Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary of the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy gave an inaugural address. The RPO/REC session was moderated by Mr. K. Ramanathan, a distinguished fellow at TERI, and session on land availability was moderated by Mr. S Vijay Kumar, also a distinguished fellow at TERI. Mr. S.K Chatterjee, Jt. Chief of Regulatory Affairs for the Central Energy Regulatory Commission (CERC) and Mr. Rajendra Nimje, MD of the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) delivered opening remarks for the panel discussions, respectively. Senior representatives from POSOCO, NVVN, the Indian Energy Exchange and REConnect Energy shared their views on effectiveness of RPO and the REC mechanism. The second panel discussion, which focused specifically on land, included senior representatives from SECI, AREVA Solar, the Department of Land Resources and the Forest Research Institute, who provided inputs on addressing concerns regarding land availability for solar projects. This consultation garnered active participation from over 50 representatives from government, State Nodal Agencies (SNAs), funding agencies, academic institutions, project developers, consultancies, technology providers, and research institutes.
 
Key points that emerged from the discussion included the enforcement of RPO, either through incentivizing DISCOMs or penalizing them; strategies for implementation of the RPO; potential modifications in the Indian REC model; and how to find the best holistic solutions, based on current scenarios, multiple REC options, the creation of land banks and encouragement of solar parks, to avoid deleterious land competition.
 
With support from JNNSM, the Indian solar market has seen significant progress over the past three years.  Major impact of the mission has been seen on grid-connected large-scale solar power plant markets, which together have grown from 32 MW (31 Jan 2011) to 2080 MW (31 October 2013), the first phase of which was greatly assisted by state solar policies. Some of the policy-based outcomes of the Solar Mission include formulation of state level solar-specific RPO targets, development of state-specific solar policies in majority of major states, decline in solar preferential tariffs, falling photovoltaic (PV) prices, and REC trading, among others. Currently, ten states have launched and implemented their solar specific policies. 
 
An initial analysis revealed that the maximum operative period for most of these policies is until 2017, which is the last year of second phase of the mission (from 2013-2017). Despite exceeding the first phase target of 1000MW capacity for utility scale projects – aided by state policies and programs through various national and state level initiatives – the current installed capacity figure is not a true indicator of success achieved in this mission, which envisaged India achieving energy security with solar, and establishing India as global leader in solar energy. The program is yet to be stabilised, and competitive business models yet to be established. Currently, the solar energy sector remains crippled by several issues plaguing the power sector aside from global market dynamics. 
 
Some of most evident include technical, as well non-technical, challenges, such post-operation challenges, credibility of the off-takers (loss making DISCOMs), and lack of support infrastructure. Further, certain technology ideas require development via market incubation; yet do not enjoy policy support. There is clear consensus that solar energy integration is vital for sustainable growth in the Indian power sector, which requires a strong policy base interlinking and bringing out solutions that would serve long term purposes.