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India should be proud of its renewable energy tariffs: IEEFA

In a new report, IEEFA has commended India’s domestic renewable energy tariffs but has said that it must rectify policies that are stifling growth in the sector
New Delhi: In a new report, IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) has commended India’s domestic renewable energy tariffs and has said that India must leverage this opportunity to enhance its energy security and rectify policies that are stifling growth in the sector.

‘Renewable energy tariffs cheaper than coal-sourced power tariffs’

While noting that India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets for renewable energy and power transmission, the IEEFA report said, “Domestic renewable energy tariffs are now two thirds the cost of domestic coal-sourced power tariffs and half that of new imported thermal power costs,” the IEEFA said in a report. “India must be very proud of this result, and they must leverage this opportunity to enhance energy security whilst securing deflationary domestic energy investments,” the report said.

‘Policy tweaks can put India back on track to achieving 450 GW by 2030’

While noting that policy certainty will increase domestic and international investing into India, the IEEFA report warned, “The opportunity cost of delaying India’s electricity sector transition is too high. The new report India’s Renewable Energy Policy Headwinds – Recommendations for Urgently Accelerating Activity in the Renewable Energy Sector finds a number of recent policy positions have undermined growth in India’s renewable energy sector. “With a few policy tweaks, India could be back on track to meet its’ ambitious target of 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030,” the report noted.

Policies stifling growth in renewable energy sector

The IEEFA report identified a number of policies currently stifling growth in renewable energy in India. They include the imposition of the solar cell and module trade duty in 2017, which the government is now looking to extend beyond 2020. “The duty has neither reduced imports nor significantly improved the competitiveness of Indian manufactured solar cells. Instead, it has severely slowed down solar installs in India, both because of the extra cost imposed but equally due to the confusion on delayed implementation,” the report said. “The uncertainty of this trade duty has been one of the most serious impediments to India’s renewable energy momentum,” says co-author Kashish Shah, IEEFA’s energy finance analyst. “Instead of trying to make Indian manufactured solar cells competitive by increasing the price of imported modules, the industry needs an assured offtake in domestic markets, as was achieved in the recent, very successful solar manufacturing tender. It also needs to be incentivised for exporting,” the report said.

Report stresses on better Centre-state coordination

Better Centre-state coordination on renewable energy development and increasing the expansion of necessary transmission networks and balancing capacity (batteries, pumped hydro storage, demand response management and more flexible thermal capacity) are further policy areas requiring immediate attention. “Renewable energy developers are currently experiencing delays and cost overruns while waiting for the central and state governments to talk to each other and streamline their activities. This is jeopardising their project economics and stalling further investment,” said Shah.

‘India could attract $500-700 bn investment by 2030’

“India could attract US$500 to 700bn in new investment by 2030 – the opportunity is huge,” said the report’s author and IEEFA’s Director of Energy Finance Studies Tim Buckley. “To do this, India’s grid must be urgently expanded. The slow-down in transmission capacity is slowing India’s renewable energy ambition,” the report said. “And the continuing ballooning underfunding of subsidies and rising state-discom debt is severely hampering the financial industry’s ability to finance new renewable energy development, as is some state’s desire to renegotiate on projects. This is not on – and creates instability for investors.”