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Giving a further boost to the uptake of renewable energy, the government has raised the minimum quantity of green power that states must procure to 21% of their overall power purchases in FY22 from 14.3% in FY18 (see chart). If the new roadmap for renewable purchase obligation (RPO) is complied with, the country will be consuming 273 billion units of renewables-based electricity in FY22, up 235% from now.
India has made rapid strides in renewable power sector in recent years but the potential bidders for such projects are concerned about the project costs going up if duties are imposed on solar panels from abroad. While solar tariffs over many rounds of auction have fallen, analysts wonder if such low rates are sustainable.
Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — states were most of the solar and wind power plants are located — achieved their RPO targets in FY18. Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, however, have continuously missed their RPO targets.
Only six states have accepted the RPO targets specified by the Union power ministry for FY19 so far, CARE Ratings said in a note earlier this month.
The ministry of new and renewable energy has recently created an RPO cell to ensure compliance and invoke penal provisions against defaulting entities. The draft amendment to the National Tariff Policy, 2016, released by the power ministry on last month also proposed that state electricity regulators should consider the RPO compliance levels of the states while computing the tariffs for electricity distribution companies (discoms).
To meet RPO targets, discoms have to find suitable balancing power sources to support the infirm nature of renewable energy, which is one of the main reasons behind states failing to meet targets. To address this problem, the power ministry has allowed thermal power generation companies the flexibility of using renewable energy sources to meet their contractual generation obligations. Under the new mechanism, thermal gencos can set up renewable power plants at their existing power stations, or anywhere else, thus allowing discoms to meet their RPOs through existing power purchase agreements.
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Over the last few years, lithium-ion (Li-ion) has become the battery chemistry of choice for the energy sector. The government is also actively supporting the manufacture of lithium batteries in the country. One of the major centres of ISRO, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), is also offering to transfer the in-house developed Li-ion cell technology to competent Indian industries on non-exclusive basis to establish Li-ion cell production facilities in the country. Recently, Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu under Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Raasi Solar Power have signed a memorandum of agreement for transfer of technology for India’s first Li-ion battery project. A group at CSIR-CECRI headed by Gopu Kumar has developed an indigenous technology of lithium-ion cells in partnership with CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) New Delhi, CSIR-Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CSIR-CGCRI) Kolkata and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT) Hyderabad.
CSIR-CECRI has set up a demo facility in Chennai to manufacture prototype Lithium-ion cells. It has secured global IPRs with potential to enable cost reduction, coupled with appropriate supply chain and manufacturing technology for mass production. Currently, Indian manufacturers source lithium ion battery from China, Japan and South Korea among some other countries. India is one of the largest importers and in 2017, it imported nearly $150 million worth Li-ion batteries. Science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan said the pact between the CSIR lab and Rassi Solar Power is a validation of the capabilities of CSIR and its laboratories to meet technology in critical areas to support our industry, besides other sectors. Raasi Group will set up the manufacturing facility in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu. Raasi Group CMD C Narasimhan said, “We want to bring down the cost of cell manufacturing below Rs 15,000 per KW to replace lead acid battery. We also have plans to make lithium ion battery for solar roof top with life span of 25 years to make it affordable enough to drive the photo voltaic segment.”
Hyderabad-based Fourth Partner Energy has announced a $70-million investment from The Rise Fund, a global impact investment fund managed by TPG Growth. Fourth Partner Energy is a full-services RESCO (Renewable Energy Services Company).
Founded in 2010 by Vivek Subramanian, Saif Dhorajiwala and Vikas Saluguti, Fourth Partner Energy is a distributed energy management company with complete in-house capabilities across design, engineering, construction, service, monitoring and financing. One of the company’s main offerings is solar power under long-term power purchase agreements leading to significant cost savings for industrial, commercial as well as public sector clients. The Rise Fund will leverage the extensive investing and business building experience and track-record of TPG Growth’s global network and team to help Fourth Partner Energy grow and develop the businesses.
Fourth Partner Energy will use this investment to strengthen its leadership position in this emerging sector and accelerate its growth through the RESCO model across industrial, commercial, corporate, and public sector clients. It will also allow Fourth Partner Energy to expand its basket of distributed energy management solutions to its customers and expand operations to other geographies, including South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The company has executed over 1,500 projects across 22 states in India and lists Ultratech, Ferrero, Nestle, Sintex, Raymonds, Pepsi, Mars, ICICI Bank, Coca Cola, D-Mart, Schneider Electric, Myntra, Big Basket, BITS, Symbiosis University, IIM- Bengaluru and Indian Railways as some of its marquee clients.
“By replacing traditional thermal power plants with renewable energy sources, we are helping nurture the critical ecosystem in India. We are now confident of exceeding our initial target of managing over 1 GW of distributed solar assets by 2022 through this strategic partnership with The Rise Fund and TPG Growth,” says Vivek Subramanian, founder, Fourth Partner.
“We believe that The Rise Fund and TPG Growth’s global positioning, deep corporate connections and a long-term commitment to this space will ensure that we become the partner of choice for our customers across the region. We are grateful to our committed workforce of over 170 employees across India and to The Chennai Angels and Infuse Ventures for their strong faith in our vision and their support early in the life cycle of the company ,” he added.
It has distributed solar platform that has the potential to avert more than 16 million metric tonne of atmospheric carbon, as well as dramatically reduce coal energy-related water use and cut emissions from backup diesel generators that are used to supplement less reliable grid power. Investec acted as the advisor to this transaction for Fourth Partner Energy, with KPMG and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas providing diligence and legal advisory to The Rise Fund and TPG Growth.
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