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Maharashtra state power utility shocks consumers with steep levy- Go Solar

Category : Solar News

Mumbai: Around 22.5 million consumers of government-owned Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL) have reported a substantial 10-12.75% increase in their bills.

Go Solar Mumbai

MSEDCL caters to consumers living in the Mumbai suburbs of Mulund and Bhandup, Navi Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra. Go Solar

While MSEDCL has justified the hike on account of fuel adjustment charge (FAC), the Maharashtra Electricity Consumers Federation has filed an intervention petition before Maharashtra Electricity Reglatory Commission (MERC) challenging the increase.

MSEDCL caters to consumers living in the Mumbai suburbs of Mulund and Bhandup, Navi Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra.

Public sector undertaking Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking and private power distributors Reliance Energy and Tata Power supply electricity to Greater Mumbai.

The state utility levies FAC to adjust for the difference between the cost of power purchase projected at the start of the financial year and the actual cost.

Regulator MERC has allowed for FAC to provide MSEDCL with a means to reduce the loss incurred on account of power purchase at rates higher than those projected by the discom in its annual tariff plan.

The FAC ranges between a marginal 0% to 1% of the total energy bill per month at the start of the fiscal year and a maximum 7% by the end of the year. But the bills issued by MSEDCL for October levy 10% to 12.75 % FAC on the bills.

The average per-unit hike on account of FAC is 73.24 paise. The bills issued by MSEDCL for October, November, and December levy an additional FAC of 10% to 12.75% to account for the power purchased by it in July, August and September.

A circular issued by MSEDCL, a copy of which is with Mint, says the power distributor plans to recover Rs.591 crore per month as FAC from October to December.

The consumers’ federation has challenged this and accused MSEDCL of passing on to the consumers the cost of its mismanagement of power purchase agreements.

Pratap Hogade, president of the federation, said the FAC has never been in the range of 10 to 12.75%. “MERC has allowed FAC to adjust for the difference in projected and actual power purchase cost. But MSEDCL has hiked it beyond the permissible limit to make consumers pay for the purchase of expensive power even when power was available at cheaper rates in the market. This is a clear violation of merit order dispatch guidelines,” Hogade said.

In its tariff for the year 2015-16, MERC adopted what it called merit order despatch principles for power purchase agreements by MSEDCL. According to these principles, MSEDCL must buy power from all sources at the rates fixed by MERC and power purchase agreements must be guided by the criterion of the cheapest rate available.

While the state utility has filed a review petition before MERC, seeking clarifications in its tariff order, the consumer federation has alleged that the review petition challenges the merit order dispatch system itself. “The system protects consumers from taking the hit on account of unreasonable power purchase agreements that utilities sign and then make consumers pay for the extra cost,” the federation has claimed in the petition.


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Metro premises to go fully solar in a year


Metro premises to go fully solar in a year


Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. (CMRL) plans to go fully solar in phase one by next year.

While 1 MW of solar power would be available in a few months as work has already started, the CMRL will have another 8 MW of solar power at its disposal later next year. The plan is not just to make it self-sufficient but also feed the surplus power to the Tangedco grid, officials said.

Solar PV systems would be installed in elevated stations, depot and ancillary buildings of underground stations.

CMRL has estimated the available roof-top area for solar projects to be approximately 40,000 square metres and about 20,000 sq.m. at the depots. They have identified areas in stations along the Koyambedu-Alandur stretch that can be put to use.

The first service of Chennai Metro Rail was started a year ago between Koyambedu and Alandur and the next stretch between Little Mount and Chennai airport is likely to be opened in August end. Chennai Metro Rail has identified spaces for solar generation in the next stretch between Little Mount and Chennai airport too. For exploring the potential to tap solar energy in the roof spaces of stations, Chennai Metro Rail has floated expression of interest where vendors can look at ways to implementing this project.

“The work on the first project of generating 1 MW power has already started and will be completed in a few months. The 8 MW project may take up to a year. But we are hoping complete it as soon as possible,” an official said.





The Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL) will file a petition with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for installing solar panels having total capacity of 25MW on its infrastructure. The regulator’s nod is necessary for any consumer who wants to install panels having capacity of more than 1MW.

Addressing a press conference on Monday,Brijesh Dixit, managing director of NMRCL, said panels having total capacity of 14MW would be installed in the first phase. “We want to meet 65% of our energy requirement through solar energy. Around 40% of the operational cost of any Metro Rail is electricity. As the present cost of the solar power is half of the power that is supplied by MSEDCL, it will lead to a saving of 20% in operational cost. NMRCL had roped in a technical consultant for estimating potential of solar energy generation and preparation of a business plan. The detailed project report (DPR) for solarization is now ready. Our aim is to create 25MW capacity,” he added.

As a part of the pilot project, NMRCL has already installed solar panels in its Civil Lines office. “We want to know beforehand what problems will be faced while going for solar power. We have also purchased an electric car, which we charge with solar power, as we want to run our feeder bus service on solar power,” Dixit said. This car was unveiled by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis  on Monday evening.

MERC’s nod apart, NMRCL faces a number of challenges for using solar power. Elaborating on them, Dixit said, “Solar energy is generated at 415V but it has to be utilized for running trains at 25,000KV. Traction and non-traction loads share common network but operate at different voltages — 25KV and 33KV. Another problem is that connectivity for feeding solar power into Mahatransco grid is at 132KV level. Also, there are some difficulties in installing solar panels on the viaduct.”






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Energy storage for renewables can be a good investment today, study finds

Utility companies or others planning to install renewable energy systems

Utility companies or others planning to install renewable energy systems such as solar and wind farms have to decide whether to include large-scale energy storage systems that can capture power when it’s available and release it on demand. This decision may be critical to the future growth of renewable energy.

The choices can be complicated: Would such a system actually pay for itself through increased revenues? If so, which kind of system makes the most sense, and which features of the system are most important? If not, how much cheaper do storage technologies need to be?

A new study by researchers at MIT shows how to evaluate the technology choices available, including batteries, pumped hydroelectric storage, and compressed air energy storage, and demonstrates that even with today’s prices for these technologies, such storage systems make good economic sense in some locations, but not yet in others.

“Researchers and practitioners have struggled to compare the costs of different storage technologies,” Trancik explains, “because of the multiple dimensions of cost and the fact that no technology dominates along all dimensions. Storage technologies can only be compared by looking at the contexts in which they are going to be used.” But the study  found that regardless of the particular circumstances at a given location, certain features of how electricity prices fluctuate are common across locations and do favor some specific types of storage solutions over others.


Selling at the peak price

For example, the team found that in Texas today, pumped hydro systems can provide added value today for solar or wind installations. In these systems, excess power is used to pump water uphill to a reservoir for storage, and then the water is released through a turbine to generate power when it is needed. The increased revenue the plant can produce, by waiting to sell the power into the grid until spot-prices for electricity — the constantly-changing market rate that electricity distributors pay to producers — are at their peak, would exceed the costs of the added storage system.

Further, they found that such pumped hydro storage provides more value than a storage system using lead-acid batteries even though its power capacity components would cost several times more. This is because a pumped hydro system has lower energy-capacity costs than lead-acid battery system. (Energy capacity refers to the overall amount of energy that can be stored in the system, and power capacity refers to how much energy can be delivered at a given moment from that system). A compressed air storage system could also add value comparable to that of the pumped hydro system. However, batteries are attractive, the researchers note, because they can be installed essentially anywhere and do not rely on natural features that exist only in some locations.

The researchers point out that much research on storage systems for renewable energy sources has focused on using the systems to smooth out the intermittent outputs to better match fluctuating demand. But in practice, most of these wind or solar farms are feeding into the grid, so what matters to potential investors is the price curve rather than the demand curve.

Surprisingly, it turned out that despite wide regional variations in the average prices and the amount of variability in demand and pricing, “the best storage technology in one location is also the best in the other,” Trancik says. “This is because of the similarity across locations in the distribution of the duration of electricity price spikes. This pattern likely emerges because of constraints imposed by the daily cycle, and similarities in when people go to work and go home, and generally how they spend their time.”

Whether an energy storage system is worth the cost today varies widely by location, because of large variations in the frequency and magnitude of spikes in the price and how the solar and wind resources fluctuate over time, she says. But the cost characteristics of the optimal storage systems are similar in all locations, the researchers found, because of certain common, emergent properties of electricity price fluctuations.

“This means that these results can be used to inform investments in storage technology development by the private sector and government, and can inform engineering efforts in the lab,” Trancik says. “The results would have been less general and less useful to technology development efforts if we’d found that the direction of optimal cost improvement, trading off energy capacity and power capacity costs, was different across locations.”

Costs still need to drop

At this time, the study found, the costs of such systems don’t yet make them profitable enough without policy support to enable the kind of widespread adoption that is needed to make a large dent in global greenhouse gas emissions. But, Trancik says, this study does suggest that market adoption already makes sense in some locations, and could be boosted with modest public policy support, which in turn would stimulate technological improvement in storage to encourage further growth. The study also provides guidance on how much the costs of a given technology need to be brought down in order to enable such deployment, and which aspects of the system need the greatest improvement — and thus, where research needs to be focused. For example it provides cost targets for various flow batteries that are in development.








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World Bank pledges $1b for India’s solar mission

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The World Bank Group and India signed an agreement Thursday for over $1 billion that the world’s second-most populous country will receive to develop its solar power generation. India, which currently has just over 7GW of installed solar capacity, has announced ambitious plans to increase it to 100GW by 2022.

With its climate, the South Asian country has the potential to generate a large amount of solar power, and has increased its installed capacity significantly in the recent years, up from just 20MW in 2011. On its website, the World Bank said the money — its largest financing for solar projects in any country till date — will “support India’s ambitious initiatives to expand solar through investments in solar generation. The World Bank-supported projects under preparation include solar rooftop technology, infrastructure for solar parks, bringing innovative solar and hybrid technologies to market, and transmission lines for solar-rich states.”

More specifically, $625 million will go toward the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Program. “The project will finance the installation of at least 400 MW of solar Photovoltaic installations that will provide clean, renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing thermal generation,” according to the World Bank. Another $200 million will be used to develop a Shared Infrastructure for Solar Parks Project under a public-private partnership model.

India is the world’s biggest borrower from the World Bank, borrowing $4.8 billion between 2015 and 2016 alone. The total lending from the World Bank’s various arms to Asia’s third-largest economy is close to $32 billion.

India also leads the International Solar Alliance, a group of 121 countries, which also signed an agreement with the World Bank Thursday “with the goal of mobilizing $1 trillion in investments by 2030.”

The agreements were signed in New Delhi in the presence of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, who is on a two-day visit to India. “India’s plans to virtually triple the share of renewable energy by 2030 will both transform the country’s energy supply and have far-reaching global implications in the fight against climate change,” he said.

In December 2014, German Development Bank KFW had announced a 1 billion euro ($1.11 billion) loan to develop power transmission lines in India that would help feed electricity generated from renewable sources into the national public grid


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Centre’s boost for Maharashtra solar projects

Category : Uncategorized


PUNE: The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) is all set to work with the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) to implement off-grid and concentrated solar projects in the state.

R P Goswami, director CST – MNRE, said the agency with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will help build the pipeline according to the projects in the state. “It is the right time for entrepreneurs to join the renewable energy brigade and aim to strengthen the CST industry,” he said during a workshop titled ‘Concentrating Solar Thermal Technologies (CST) in Industries’ held in the city.
He said the time is ripe for industries who have implemented these technologies in their facilities to spread its benefits.

According to MNRE officials, the ministry will tie up with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (GEF-UNIDO) to promote technologies in the domain of concentrating solar thermal. The bodies have designed a project titled ‘Promoting business models for increasing penetrations and scaling up of solar energy’. The ministry has tied up with the state agency – MEDA and CII for the same.

Shishir Joshipura, chairman of the CII Pune zone and MD of the SKF Industries, said such kind of solar systems are no longer to be looked at as a factor of economics but as long-term investments.

“The MEDA as the state nodal agency will focus on projects in the areas of solar energy, waste-to-energy and energy conservation. Funds under MEDA are being allocated under the off-grid solar energy policy where 100% assistance can be provided,” said Nitin Gadre, director general, MEDA.

Anil Misra, national project manager of UNIDO, said the organization has partnered with Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited to develop a financial package bundling the subsidy from the ministry. Some firms in the city which have adopted the CST systems in their facilities are Clique Solar, Thermax, Oorja Energy Engineering Services, Quadsun Solar, ATE enterprises among others.