India raises JNNSM target by 75%

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The Indian government finally confirmed rumors of a hefty expansion of the national Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) this week by firing the starting gun on a 75% premium on the previously targeted capacity under the current phase of the program.

Solar developers were invited to a consultation meeting in New Delhi today (Friday) to give their feedback on plans to expand the capacity developed under Phase II of the national program, from 9 GW to 15.75 GW.

But with the World Trade Organization complaint by the U.S., among others, against the domestic content aspects of the JNNSM rumbling on, it remains to be seen whether a reduction in the allocation for Indian-made projects, from 50% to 25%, will be enough to satisfy the complainants.

The government’s ministry for new and renewable energy (MNRE) on Tuesday publicized its draft guidelines for the impending second batch of Phase II of the scheme, with feedback invited until the end of the month.

With the previous government having targeted 9 GW of new solar under the four-year second phase of the scheme, prime minister Narendra Modi has attempted to live up to his reputation as the darling of the solar sector by expanding the phase by two years and pitching for an extra 6.75 GW.

Modi aims to eclipse previous target

The previous administration developed 750 MW, half of it subject to DCR requirements, under the first batch of phase II projects up to March and now Modi wants to deliver 15 GW – in three overlapping tranches – up to 2019.

The first tranche would deliver 3 GW up to 2017, bundled with 1.5 GW of unallocated coal-fired power generated by the government-owned Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) power generation company to keep prices down.

That 3 GW would be delivered through large scale solar parks, starting with a 1 GW park being developed in Andhra Pradesh’s (AP) Kurnool district by public entities the national Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and the AP state government-owned New and Renewable Energy Corporation of AP (NEDCAP) and Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corp. (APGENCO).

Maximum 250 MW per developer

Under the solar parks proposals, developers would bid for a maximum of 250 MW of projects, with each project accounting for 50 MW and a maximum of two India-only, and three open, schemes.

Developers will compete using the established reverse-bidding process to ensure the lowest price tariffs are successful and power will be sold through 25-year PPAs.

The domestic content requirement permits Indian manufacturers to import wafers – or starting substrates for thin film projects – and other ‘raw materials’ but stipulates cells and modules must be manufactured in India.

That constitutes the government’s attempt to achieve the draft policy’s stated aim of securing "India as a manufacturing hub in solar PV," and, if the 25% DCR figure is extrapolated across a similar 75% rise in succeeding targets, it would add up to 8.125 GW of Indian-made cells and modules by the completion of the JNNSM.

While 3 GW is being delivered under the first tranche of the 15 GW second batch of Phase II, a second three-year tranche, aiming to generate 5 GW of new solar, will start next year with a third three-year tranche, intended to deliver the remaining 7 GW of the batch, starting in the 2016/17 financial year.

Phase III of the JNNSM, from 2017-22 has a previously stated target of 10 GW of new solar capacity as part of the original 20 GW by 2022 aim.