Pandemic-impacted renewable energy projects can apply for extension again

This is the second time since last year that RE projects have got time extension for their commissioning.
Renewable energy projects that are under construction or were awarded and could not commence construction owing to the Covid pandemic and lockdown restrictions, can now apply for extension in their commissioning.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in a notice to project developers said RE projects that have their scheduled commissioning date on and after April 2021 would be eligible to apply for time extension.

"RE projects being implemented through Implementing Agencies designated by the MNRE or under various schemes of the MNRE, having their Scheduled Commissioning Date (SCD) on or after April 1, 2021 will be eligible to claim time-extension for completion of their project activities, said the notice by MNRE.

It further said the actual quantum of time-extension shall be decided in due course depending on the Covid-19 related developments that take place in the coming weeks.

This is the second time since last year that RE projects have got time extension for their commissioning. In August 2020, MNRE granted a blanket five months extension to all RE projects which were under implementation on March 25th 2020, the day after national lockdown was announced.

Close to 7 Gw of RE power projects extended their scheduled commissioning through this extension.

The Centre in March 2020 had also granted blanket approval that any project which faces delay due to Covid can apply for extension under the Force Majeure clause.

Now MNRE has said while there is no national lockdown, several states/UTs have taken various measures like night curfew, imposition of section 144, weekend lockdown, etc "which may have affected RE projects."

Though MNRE has put a clause that the current time-extensions can not be used by project developers as a ground for claiming termination of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or for claiming any increase in the project cost.

Last year, several companies had moved the Electricity Regulator to cancel their existing PPAs citing Covid as the reason.

ACME Solar, ReNew Power, Mytrah Energy have petitioned in the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission for cancellation of the projects, citing delay due to Covid and lack of transmission network.

However, frequent time extensions had hurt India's self declared target of having 175 GW of RE capacity by next year. The country's current capacity stands at 90 GW right now.

Close to 5 Gw of renewable capacity was added during 2020, half of what was added in 2019, according to a latest report by International Energy Agency (IEA). Due to the second wave and prevalent financial crisis at power distribution end, IEA expects slowdown to continue in the Indian RE market.

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