Solar developers pitch for additional 3 months extension in commissioning date

New Delhi: With the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the country, solar industry lobby group Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA) has requested for an additional three-month extension in the project commissioning date to the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).

This is in addition to the five months extension granted by MNRE. Power purchase agreements signed by developers specify strict commissioning deadlines and a failure to meet them can result in fines and encashment of their bank guarantees.

“Govt. had taken the problems into cognizance and provided relief in blanket extension for five months through an O.M. dated August 13, 2020. The extension was granted basis assumption there will be normalization in equipment supply, logistics, labour supply, the functioning of Government offices, etc,” SPDA said in a statement on Saturday.

“The second wave of the COVID‐19 pandemic has been advancing swiftly, with a big spike registered across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, etc. To arrest the virus’s spread, various State Government and local administration have announced vaccination drive and local restrictions affecting the movement of personnel, labour, and delay on multiple approvals from State authorities, etc. Due to the second outbreak, solar power developers are witnessing scarcity of workforce at sites again, putting the project construction to hold again,” the statement added.

According to the ministry of health and family welfare, a total of 1,341 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, with ten states accounting for 85.83% of the new deaths.

“Besides, interventions made by Govt. to resurrect the economy are indeed worth commending. SPDA wishes to highlight the continued challenges that the Solar Power Industry faces for the last year, which have become even more acute with time. Many solar projects are coming up in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Due to the peak summer season, project construction activities are generally carried out in the late afternoon and end in the evening. Some firms are also night shifts to catch up with the project schedule. However, due to the Second Wave of COVID‐19, the District administration has imposed night curfew at many places,” the statement said.

With India having strict project commissioning deadlines, a failure to meet them will result in penalties for developers.

“Since projects are located at locations far‐off from the workers’ dwelling places, project activities must close by 5 pm. It is again hampering the speed of construction. There is a general apprehension that if the situation continues like this, there can be a significant delay in commissioning the projects,” the statement added.

India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity, including 100GW of solar power by 2022. According to the Central Electricity Authority, by 2030, the country’s power requirement would be 817GW, more than half of which would be clean energy, and 280GW would be from solar energy alone. To achieve the target of 280GW, around 25GW of solar energy capacity is needed to be installed every year till 2030.

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