Uncertainty over payment and short time frame keeps developers away

With no rain or dust, November was one of the better months for solar power plants in the country

The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) recently released data of power generation from solar plants constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) for November. And the results span from very good to dismal. November means short days for the solar plants, but according to Vineet Mittal, managing director of Welspun Energy, a solar power developer: “November is one of the better months with no rain or dust and with lower temperatures, closer to the conditions they are made for, increasing output from the cells.”

State aims to have same amount of solar as is now installed in all of India by 2014

Going solar is no longer a bright idea for the four-decade-old photovoltaic manufacturing industry. This high-potential renewable energy sector has suffered a serious setback in India as much as across the globe. And the alarm bells are ringing loud.

In the 1970s, public sector companies Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited and the Central Electronics Limited were the first to make solar equipment in India. But these were primarily for research and development. In the 1990s, some more companies started small-scale manufacture of solar equipment. These were restricted to manufacturing for household applications.

About 40 kilometres from Delhi, in the bustling real estate market of Noida-Greater Noida, lies the biggest irony that the renewable energy industry faces. Indosolar, the country’s largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic cells, has set up a 400 megawatt unit. Its entrance is slick and ultra-modern, typifying the product it manufactures. Stepping into the 28,000 square metre production unit, one is struck by the shimmering clean, futuristic and sleek production line, symbolic of the clean future that solar power promises.

This Presentation on "Facing the Sun: Policy for sustainable grid-connected solar energy" was delivered by Jonas Hamberg, Centre for Science and Environment, during the round table on solar energy policy, on 29 June 2012, organised by CSE in New Delhi, describing briefly the findings of the report on the same title.

Should solar thermal be preferred over photovoltaic solar power ? Concentrated solar power (CSP) or solar thermal technology is to be given substantial allocation in the second phase of the national solar mission (2013-2017). This was revealed by the joint secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy, Tarun Kapoor, at the third concentrated solar thermal power summit on March 14, organised in Gurgaon. He stated that detailed plans would be revealed in the next few months. At the same time he admonished the industry.

A number of solar mission projects operational only on paper. The Government has decided to act tough with 14 companies which did not commission their solar power projects in time. NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited (NVVN), the power trading arm of the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation, penalised them by encashing a part of their bank guarantees. These erring firms are among the 28 that were awarded solar photovoltaic projects under batch one of first phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The date of commissioning of these plants was January 9.

NVVN recovers Rs 28 crore from erring firms. Acting tough on companies that did not commission solar power projects on time, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) Limited has encashed a part of bank guarantee of 14 of them. The companies were awarded projects under batch one of the first phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The last date of commissioning was January 9. About Rs 28 crores have been encashed from these firms located in Rajasthan, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.