Wind energy developers in Rajasthan face losses as discoms curtail intake

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Wind developers in Rajasthan have been facing losses for the last two months because the state discoms have been arbitrarily curtailing their intake of wind power, at times two or three times a day. These ‘backdowns’ by the state load dispatch centres (SLDCs) have cost the developers around Rs 100-150 crore in the months of April and May. “Renewable energy projects work on watertight budgets to deliver,” said Sunil Jain, President, Wind Independent Power Producers Association (WIPPA). “Curtailment of wind power, especially in the high wind season, impacts a project’s financial viability.” Rajasthan has nearly 4000 MW of installed wind capacity, the third highest in the country after Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Of this, around 700 MW was added in 2015-16. WIPPA Vice President Parag Sharma feared the discoms’ attitude could affect investor enthusiasm for future projects. “Investor sentiment in Rajasthan is turning negative due to the curtailment, and the situation is worsened by delays in payment by the Rajasthan discoms,” he said. Sanjay Malhotra, Managing Director and Chairman, Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (RVPN), maintained he was unaware of any problem. “As far as I know there have been no backdowns,” he said. “But we will be talking to the wind developers and will assess the situation.” At the root of the problem lies the ‘erratic’ or ‘infirm’ nature of wind energy, which can vary considerably even in a single day depending on the speed at which the wind is blowing. In the current pre-monsoon/monsoon season, winds are often at their highest speeds and sometimes generate power far in excess of the average, which the SLDCs, fearing the grid might trip from overload, are loath to take. The Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) has directed that wind power be given priority over power from conventional sources – wind has ‘must run’ status. But in practice it is much more convenient for SLDCs to use sources which provide reliable and uninterrupted power, citing security concerns for curtailing wind power. “Given that wind developers are receiving the request for curtailment 2-3 times a day at each substation, it is highly improbable that grid security is under threat every time,” said a WIPPA representative.  A representative of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA) maintained the issue could be resolved with better forecasting of how much wind power will be available in real time. “The discoms say they don’t have the facilities to see what is being generated in real time,” he said. “We are working with WIPPA to provide them Availability Based Tariff (ABT) meters along with remote terminal units (RTUs) at different substations which will reveal how much power is being generated every 15 minutes, so that this issue is resolved.” The Rajasthan faceoff is a repeat of the situation that developed in India’s highest wind power producing state, Tamil Nadu, a few years ago. Backdowns became such a bone of contention that wind developers took the state’s main discom, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Co (TANGEDCO) to the Madras High Court. The court ruled in favour of the developers, saying TANGEDCO could not impose backdowns at will. The associations hope the matter will be sorted out more amicably in Rajasthan. “We are not thinking of going to court at this point as happened in Tamil Nadu,” said the IWTMA representative.

Source:  ET Bureau

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