India postpones roll-out of approved manufacturer list for state-backed solar

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Image credit: Ciel & Terre

India has granted its solar industry the latest lifeline in a series since the COVID-19 outbreak first emerged, acting to delay the introduction of a list of approved PV manufacturers.

The country was planning to force government-backed solar projects to source components from a pre-authorised registry of providers starting on 1 April 2020, but has now opted to postpone bringing the obligation into force by six months.

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In a letter dated 7 April, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said the procurement obligation will kick in in October 2019, to account for the “temporary disruptions due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the current lockdown and the prevailing situation due to such epidemic”.

India shelters RES from COVID-19 storm as analysts predict hit

The solar reprieve is the latest India has applied in a bid to protect its green energy sector. The country has enshrined renewable generation as an “essential” activity – sparing it from lockdown restrictions – and confirmed COVID-19 will be treated as a “force majeure” event for the industry.

The fallout from the pandemic has intensified following India’s declaration of a total lockdown on 25 March 2020. The reliance on solar imports from China – the initial centre of the COVID-19 outbreak – saw operators warn that some 3GW of PV projects lay at risk of missing construction deadlines.

Consultancies have recently attempted to estimate COVID-19’s impacts on solar growth across the whole of 2020. This week, Wood Mackenzie predicted full-year installs will be 24.8% lower than previously anticipated, dropping to a figure – 8.9GW – that is 0.6GW lower than 2019’s numbers.

Alarmed PV reps ask for help with discom curtailment

PV Tech’s contacts with local PV operators have evidenced the impacts on the ground, from curtailment risks for utility-scale to the financial losses in markets such as Kerala. The effects are extending to the commercial and industrial segment, even if it is expected to indirectly benefit from the crisis.

The government has also intervened to shield green energy players from power curtailment. Last week, a separate note from the MNRE reminded distribution companies that renewables have ‘must-run’ status and must be allowed to operate and be compensated as before.

The fast-spiralling health emergency adds another obstacle to India’s renewable ambitions. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, analysts had warned that the country’s plans to take installed green energy capacity to 175GW by 2022 – up from 82.58GW last September – could be set for failure.

See here to read MNRE's statement in full.

PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at [email protected] or [email protected].

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