Indian solar facing first curtailments in Tamil Nadu

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Solar energy is being curtailed in Tamil Nadu for the first time, sometimes in the range of 50-100% during peak generation periods. Flickr: Huneycuttaddison

Developers have experienced curtailment of solar power in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, according to India’s Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA).

While wind power has faced curtailment in the past, now solar energy is being curtailed for the first time, sometimes in the range of 50-100% during peak generation periods, Mitali Ghosh, SPDA assistant secretary general, confirmed to PV Tech.

The association has sent a letter to the state utility Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) highlighting the issue. Ghosh said that wind developers are also appealing on the same grounds.

Ghosh added: “This curtailment is going on mostly in the renewable energy segment, but we are hopeful that government will come up with some kind of relief in this matter.”

She said that wind developers, who faced curtailment previously were given some level of relief by Tangedco, so there is hope for solar developers looking for the same.

Jasmeet Khurana, associate director, consulting, at Bridge to India, told PV Tech that Tamil Nadu is paying a “relatively high tariff” for the recently commissioned solar projects. In this scenario, the risk gets compounded as the underlying reason for curtailment may not be just technical.

With another 500MW solar tender round the corner in the southern state, there have been concerns about developer interest being affected given the curtailment issues.

Khurana said: “It's a chicken and egg situation; if there is curtailment, developers would want a higher tariff and if they get a higher tariff, the risk for curtailment gets compounded.”

Meanwhile, Ghosh said that the tender should be successful and investment opportunities will not be hampered.

PV Tech contacted Tangedco on the issue, but a senior figure declined to comment.

In a blog for PV Tech, Khurana had previously predicted that curtailment would affect solar developers in certain Indian states in the coming years. He said the government needs to prioritize investments into the transmission infrastructure to proactively assuage concerns of the sector.

There was some welcome news yesterday when Ministry of New and Renewbale Energy (MNRE) Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor confirmed that some amount of the World Bank's US$1 billion loan for Indian solar would be handed out to state-owned transmission and utilities firm Power Grid Corporation to help support transmission from solar parks.

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