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The Ministry of Coal (MoC) has agreed to the proposals submitted by the cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha-led panel

The Ministry of Coal (MoC) has agreed to the proposals submitted by the cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha-led panel

Central Sector

The Ministry of Coal (MoC) has agreed to the proposals submitted by the cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha-led panel. Accordingly, the MoC is soon likely to float a cabinet note to amend the Scheme for Harnessing & Allocating Koyla Transparently in India (SHAKTI) to allow power generated from domestic coal to be traded in the short-term market including exchanges. Currently, domestic coal allocation is provided to plants with long terms PPAs only. Further, the coal ministry will earmark 50 per cent of e-auction coal for the power sector. In addition, the proposal of sharing fuel supply contracts of state-owned generation companies with private generation companies has also been approved by the ministry. An amendment to the coal allocation policy to enable allocation of coal supplies to an agency for aggregation and auction along with power purchase agreements (PPA) without requisition by states has also been approved.

The MoC has sought reports from Coal India Limited (CIL) and NLC India Limited to identify reasons behind delays faced by coal projects worth Rs 110 billion. At a recent ministry meeting, 62 coal projects, each costing over Rs 5 billion and 3 mt of capacity, were reviewed. Of the reviewed projects, 21 were found to be facing inordinate delays including 17 projects by CIL and 4 by NLC. CIL’s delayed projects include Magadh Expansion, Karo, North Urimari and Rajrappa RCE and NLC’s delayed projects include Pachwara South coal block and the Talabira II and III coal blocks. Owing to the domestic coal shortage in the recent past, the coal imports have increased by 6.7 per cent to 171.81 million tonnes in April-December 2018 vis-à-vis AprilDecember 2017.

The Ministry of Power (MoP) is soon planning to launch the second phase of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna (UDAY). The scheme is likely to be introduced after the general elections. UDAY’s second phase will look at interventions in terms of technology and enablement to further achieve the objectives under the first phase of the scheme. The next leg of the scheme would also address the problems of meter reading, billing, collection and leakages or theft.

Old thermal power plants (25 years or older) aggregating 8,000 MW have been phased out and will be replaced by cleaner options as per the MoP. The plants are expected to be replaced in about five years with an investment of around Rs 500 billion. Further, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has assessed that 4,116.5 MW of capacity will be phased out during 2018-19.

The Indian government has agreed to provide additional 50 to 100 MW of electricity to Nepal to meet its growing energy need from Tanakpur and Dhalkebar cross-border transmission lines. At present, stateowned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is importing 521 MW of energy from India and meeting half of its peak electricity demand through India’s support. Nepal has also floated the concept of forming an energy bank with India to swap electricity.

The central government is likely to impose an anti-dumping duty of $114.58 per tonne for five years on a certain variety of Malaysian glass, used in the solar industry, in a bid to guard domestic manufacturers from cheap imports. The glass is used as a component in solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal applications. The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level playing field for domestic producers with regard to foreign producers and exporters.

The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has approached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) regarding the new external commercial borrowings (ECB) framework notified by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on January 16, 2019. As per RBI’s notification, in order to rationalise the framework for ECB and rupee-denominated bonds to improve the ease of doing business – Tracks I and II have been merged as ‘Foreign Currency denominated ECB’ and Track III and rupee-denominated bonds framework are combined as ‘Rupee Denominated ECB’. In the revised foreign currency ECB framework, the existing end-use of repayment or refinancing of the rupee loan taken under Track-II of ECB has not been considered. This makes the repayment of rupee loan to domestic lenders by solar or wind project developers through ECB proceeds very difficult. As per the federation, the new ECB policy is expected to result in stranded renewable energy projects.

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited’s Chairman IS Jha has joined as a member of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and relinquished charge as the head of the state-run transmission utility. The power ministry has now given Ravi P. Singh, Director (Personnel), Powergrid the additional charge of Chairman-cum- Managing Director for three months or till appointment of regular incumbent.

State Sector

The Gujarat government has cancelled the solar auction for 700 MW held in December 2018 citing high tariffs. Foreign players had won the entire 700 MW with Softbank-backed SB Energy getting 250 MW at Rs 2.84 per unit, and Finland’s Fortum as well as France’s Engie getting 250 MW and 200 MW respectively at the same price of Rs 2.89 per unit.

The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has notified the Forecasting, Scheduling, Deviation Settlement and Related Matters of Solar and Wind Generation Sources Regulations, 2019. These regulations will be effective from the date of the notification while deviation charges specified in these regulations will be effective from August 1, 2019. The regulations assert that a grid operator should make full use of the flexibility from conventional power projects as well as the capacity of inter-grid tie lines to accommodate the maximum wind and solar power while maintaining grid stability.

Private Sector

GE Power Limited has implemented the first Predix Asset Performance Management (APM) solution in India for Tata Power’s thermal business. The solution will help the company to reduce operating costs, improve maintenance planning and increase the reliability of its power plants. This technology will also help to improve asset reliability and availability while reducing operations and maintenance costs. This is one of two deals GE had won to optimise about 8 GW of Tata Power’s thermal and renewable energy power plants using digital solutions.

The central government has rejected the bid submitted by Azure Power for the first manufacturinglinked solar tender as it was dissatisfied with the price quoted. The tender was floated by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) for setting up a 10-GW power project linked with 3 GW of equipment manufacturing capacity. The tender was undersubscribed by 8 GW and Azure Power was the only developer which submitted the bid in the techno-commercial stage in November 2018.

Projects and Ventures

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has secured an additional order from Maharashtra State Power Generation Company’s for its ongoing 660 MW supercritical Unit-6 of the Bhusawal thermal power project at Jalgaon district in Maharashtra. The order pertains to the installation of emission control equipment, changes in various equipment/subsystems due to change in coal, modification in coal handling plant/ ash handling plant, etc. With this order, the revised value for the engineering, procurement and construction contract is around Rs 37.50 billion.

Debt and Equity

Lenders to Avantha Group’s 600 MW Jhabua coal-based power plant in Madhya Pradesh are planning to re-invite bids for its takeover by February 7, 2019. The project’s promoter Avantha Group is also planning to participate in the auction. Since the project is not yet admitted to National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), the promoter can submit a restructuring plan for the project and can participate in the auction as well. The participation of Avantha Group will however, depend on the bankers’ valuation of the plant, and at an estimated cost of Rs 30-35 million/MW, it could be valued at Rs 21 billion.

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