The government’s target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity would be difficult to achieve because of the current state of confusion in the solar and wind power businesses, said Sumant Sinha, chairman and chief executive officer, ReNew Power Ventures on Tuesday.
In an interview with Business Standard, Sinha said, “Renewable was one sector where industry and investors were comfortable. There is a risk of turning a healthy sector into a problematic one.” State governments are reneging on their power purchase agreements with the power companies because they do not want to buy electricity contracted at higher rates earlier. The rates of both solar and wind have since fallen.
Wind projects of 1100 MW were problematic because Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were not buying power from them. The power purchase agreements (PPAs) for these had been concluded but have not been approved by the regulatory commission.
Sinha said these PPAs were legally binding even without the approval of the commission. “There is no rationale on what the state governments are doing. These PPAs cannot be struck down on legal grounds. Besides, technically they cannot be compared with the wind auction conducted by the Centre.”
ReNew Power is one of India’s fastest growing renewable energy independent power producers with over 2.5 GW of operational capacity out of the country’s around 57 GW of installed capacity. The company is targeting a 10 per cent share in the country’s green portfolio.
The PPAs for projects in the two states have been signed for rates ranging from Rs 4.50 to Rs 4.75 a unit (kilowatt hour), while the wind auction has thrown up a tariff of Rs 3.46. Sinha said the projects under the auction are coming up in Gujarat and Rajasthan which have better wind quality than Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “Turbine technology is constantly improving. While the projects under the auction will have 18 months to come up (and embrace new technology), projects in (Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) have already come up,” he said.
Collaboration with IIT-D:
A 1987 batch Indian Institute of Technology graduate, Sumant Sinha has got his company ReNew Power Ventures to open a centre of excellence at his alma mater. To begin with, the centre will work on integration of electricity distribution network and battery storage technology for green power, strengthening of transmission grid to accommodate the flow of renewable energy from utility scale plants and development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Technology developed under multi-year funding from ReNew would be used exclusively by the company while generic solutions for an industry like protocols for e-charging stations will be available universally. “The IIT-D has expertise while we understand the problems so together tools can be developed for finding solutions,” said Sinha.