When India’s pro-renewables Prime Minister Narendra Modi won power in 2014, the wind industry expected him to lead a clean energy revolution. And, over the last two-and-a-half years, he has made good progress to do just that.
For instance, in January 2015, his government revised its clean energy targets to try to take India’s renewables capacity to 175GW by 2022, up from 45GW now. The goal is made up of 100GW solar, 60GW wind, 10GW biomass and 5GW from small hydro schemes.
The wind sector has done pretty well so far, installing a record 3.5GW last year alone, and bringing total capacity to 27GW. If the government is to achieve its target, the wind market would need to double in size over the six years. This would be a significant opportunity for investors, developers and manufacturers.
Developing wind farms in India is challenging as there are only a few ‘windy states’, whereas solar works almost everywhere. This is why the government has set a higher target for solar – and may even exceed 100GW installed solar capacity by the end of 2017.
Nevertheless, the government does not want wind to be completely overshadowed. This week, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has finally released guidelines for the first wind auction of the country, in which the government is intending to tender 10GW of wind power by competitive auction by 2019. It plans to launch the tender for the first 1GW next month.
One of the most interesting aspects of this auction is that the government wants to make it easier for the inter-state transmission system to transfer power across states. This should allow developers of projects in states without good wind resources to sell their power to customers in other states, which opens up India’s windiest states for more development.
Modi’s efforts to promote wind seems to be working as they have encouraged a few international companies to invest in the Indian wind sector in the last few months.
Brooksfield Asset Management is in talks to buy Continuum Wind, a Singapore-based but India-focused wind developer that was subject to buyout interest from SunEdison last year.
Likewise, the US firm Millennium Energy Corporation has announced that it is set to acquire a 10% stake in Indian manufacturer Steelite Wind Private Limited for $62.5m.
And, just few months ago, German manufacturer Senvion bought Indian turbine maker Kenersys India Private to expand its market into the country; while entering India is also one of the reasons that Siemens is looking to buy Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa. India is Gamesa’s biggest market and it held 35% of Indian market share in 2015.
So major players are interested in the Asian nation, but there are still some challenges for the Indian Government to address if it wants to keep the market looking attractive for investors.
The main challenge is that utilities are reluctant to buy renewable power, as it is still more expensive than coal power. This issue could be partly resolved with the introduction of the auctions, which should cut the cost of renewables, as well as the pace of cost reduction across the wind and solar industries.
The government also has to be aware that its planned auctions risk disrupting developers’ existing projects. This is because the auction format seeks to allow wind-poor states to source clean energy from windier ones, and will therefore put more pressure on the grid. India’s leaders also need to make sure they are investing in upgrading the transmission network.
But the auctions should be beneficial for businesses overall. Once the auction rules are established and the cost of power comes down, state-owned buyers should become more enthusiastic about the program. In fact, most of India’s states have lately slowed power purchase agreements, which is a sign they are expecting auctions to reduce tariffs paid for power.
And enthusiasm from businesses should cheer Modi. After all, it is they who will determine the success of this first wind tender.
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