India a key part of renewable plan, hope to double portfolio by 2030: EDF

Patrick Charignon, Asia-Pacific vice-president, EDF Renewables
French energy utility EDF, which has 1,350 Mwp (mega-watt peak) of new solar photovoltaic power plants, is now among the top 15 renewable energy project developers in India. Under its Cap 2030 strategy, the company aims to double its renewable power portfolio from 25 Gw in 2015 to 50 Gw net capacities in 2030.

“India is an important market for the group, particularly in renewables, with solar and wind energy projects. With our strong commitment to India, EDF aims to contribute to the government’s goal of reaching 220 Gw of non-fossil generation by 2022,” said Patrick Charignon, Asia-Pacific vice-president, EDF Renewables.

EDF Renewables plans to push its ambitious plan for India through EDEN Renewables, its joint venture with Total Eren, which was established in 2016. In 2019, it signed a 25-year long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for four solar power projects totaling 716 Mwp of installed capacities in northern India.

EDEN Renewables currently has a portfolio of capacities under development, under construction and operational totaling more than 2,200 Mwp spread over Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. Between April and July 2020, EDEN Renewables India won two 450 MWp1 solar PV projects through tenders organised by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI VIII and SECI IX) and one 450 MWp1 solar PV project in a tender organised by the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), for which a 25-year PPA was signed with NHPC in August.

According to Charignon, the PPA tariffs achieved for both wind and solar auctions in India are amongst the most competitive in the world. “This is in particular even truer when taking into account that, contrary to other geographies, in India, the PPAs, are paid fully in Indian rupees and are generally not indexed at all on inflation with the price in rupees, therefore, remaining flat for 25 years,” he said.

EDF has bid Rs 2.77 per unit (kWh) for its latest wind project in India. Its 1,350 Mwp capacity in Rajasthan will also supply power at Rs 2.37 per unit by 2022.

Charignon said India was well on track to deliver the government’s targets, with 175 Gw of renewable energy capacity installed by 2022 of which 100 Gw is solar. The longer-term plans are targeting around 500 Gw of renewable installed capacity by 2030. This translates to an expected average growth rate of almost 15 per cent annually in terms of installed capacity, significantly higher than global average annual growth of around 10 per cent.

“This growth also appears quite sustainable given the competitiveness reached by the industry and the relevance of carbon-free power production to address climate change critical issues India and the rest of the world are facing. As part of our strategy, we are, therefore, definitely committed to supporting India in the expansion of its renewable Industry,” he said.

To achieve the most competitive tariffs in India, the cost of investment must be continuously optimised, he added. “This context will allow the implementation in the Indian market of improved technologies such as bifacial and higher efficiency solar panels, more performant wind turbines with higher capacity and larger diameter, or also other innovative solutions, such as molten salt storage solutions for solar electricity or wind and solar hybrid installations combined with energy management systems.” These solutions are now being experimented in some countries. EDF Renewables is developing these projects and is anticipating deploying them in India as well.

In India, solar energy tariff is around 15 per cent cheaper than wind, which explains the more rapid development. “In terms of development activity, solar is mainly in Western Rajasthan, whereas wind projects are more challenging regarding the acquisition of land rights,” said Charignon.

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