TODAY’S STUDY: The Best Countries To Build New Energy In
Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index 2017
October 2017 (Ernst Young)
Concerns raised about India’s solar target
Doubts are growing concerning India’s ability to meet its 2022 target of 100GW of solar PV, while the cancellation by stateowned distribution companies (discoms) of wind energy power power purchase agreements (PPAs) is ratcheting up uncertainty in that part of the market.
In July, the Indian Parliament’s Energy Committee published a report arguing that India’s 40GW rooftop solar target is unrealistic because such systems are not sufficiently remunerative to consumers. It also warned that steep falls in tariffs bid in recent auctions — to INR/kWh (US$0.038/ kWh) in the latest, in May — could be unviable. It also raised concerns about the quality of the predominantly Chinese equipment used, advising that New Delhi should pursue anti-dumping tariffs. The Indian Government had, a few days earlier, opened an anti-dumping investigation, which will also include cells from Taiwan and Malaysia.
The committee was more positive on the wind target, which it expects to be achieved, but wind developers face issues nonetheless. A number of discoms — including those in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — have cancelled PPAs struck at higher rates than those bid in more recent auctions, and are seeking to renegotiate at lower rates. However, the Government has responded by barring state authorities from unilaterally modifying or cancelling PPAs.
In the latest Government auction, which closed 15 July, developers bid for three times the 1GW of capacity on offer. Media reports suggested tariffs could drop below the INR3.46/kWh (US$0.054/kWh) of the first auction, which took place earlier this year.
Brazil developers bid to terminate unviable contracts
The Brazilian Government has carried out an auction to allow project developers to bid to terminate contracts won under previous auctions. The companies involved paid a total of BRL105.9m (US$33.9m) to cancel 16 wind projects, totaling 308MW, and 9 solar projects, of 250MW. The reverse auction comes ahead of the restart of the Government’s program of renewable energy auctions in December, after a two-year hiatus in the wake of economic slowdown and falling power demand. The news comes as Brazil’s energy agency releases its 10-year energy expansion plan, which foresees wind growing to 28.5GW in 2026 from around 11GW currently, and large-scale solar reaching 9.7GW from just 100MW at the end of 2016. The volume of wind and solar capacity to be offered in the new auctions is not yet known, as the Government is embarking on a process of “decontracting” existing projects and is awaiting forecasts for future power demand from distribution companies.
The new auctions will be for licenses to begin operating in January 2021 and January 2023.
Germany bans negative offshore bids as prices keep falling
Germany’s Bundestag has outlawed below-zero bids for offshore wind tenders, following three successful zero-subsidy bids in the country’s first offshore wind tender in April. These bids will see developers build 1.38GW of offshore capacity to be operational in 2025, and will solely rely on wholesale power prices.
However, to deter what some industry observers warn could be a risky downward price spiral, with potential quality and safety concerns, the Bundestag passed amendments to its 2016 WindSeeG legislation ahead of the next auction, due in April 2018, for 1.6GW of offshore capacity.
On land, recent auctions have seen costs of both solar PV and wind energy continue to tumble. In June, the Government awarded 200MW of contracts to supply power from solar PV at an average cost of €56.6/MWh (US$67.6/MWh), compared with €65.8/MWh (US$78.6/MWh) at the previous auction, in February. Average prices have fallen almost 40% since the first auctions in April 2015.
In August, bidders were awarded tenders for slightly more than 1GW of onshore wind projects, at an average price of €42.8/ MWh (US$51.1/MWh), down from €57.1/ MWh (US$68.2/MWh) at the first onshore auction, in May. Around 5.6GW of onshore wind is to be auctioned this year and next.
Spain awards 8GW across two auctions
The Spanish Government has carried out two renewable energy auctions in quick succession, awarding 3GW in the first, in May, and a further 5GW in July.
The first tender drew the ire of the solar sector, after wind won almost all of the capacity available, with bids as low as €43/MWh (US$51/MWh). Just one solar PV project, with 1.5MW of capacity, was successful.
However, the tables were turned in the second auction, with 1.1GW of contracts awarded to wind projects, while solar projects totaling 3.9GW were successful. Including an earlier auction carried out in 2016, more than 8.7GW of capacity has been contracted over the last 18 months, all of which is due to be operational before 2020.
Almost no renewable energy capacity has been built in Spain since 2011, following severe cuts to subsidies and the imposition of retroactive tariff reductions on existing projects.
Interest builds in latest Russian auction
Developers successfully bid to build 2.2GW of wind and solar projects in Russia’s latest auction, but a further 600MW of capacity was left on the table, illustrating challenges with meeting the country’s local-content requirements.
Fortum-RUSNANO, a consortium of the Finnish power company and a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear power producer Rosatom, won 1GW of wind contracts, at a cost corresponding to around €115 to €135/MWh (US$137 to US$161/MWh). A further 650MW of wind contracts, out of a total of 1,900MW on offer, were awarded. In solar, 520MW of capacity was contracted, out of 625.2MW on offer. Small-scale hydro saw just one successful bid, for two 25MW plants by dam operator RusHydro, out of 284MW on offer.
Planned capital expenditure on the wind projects averages RUB106,000 (US$1,834) per kW of capacity, while the solar projects have estimated average costs of RUB112,000 (US$1,938) per kW. Projects are due to come onstream between 2018 and 2022. Despite the capacity left unclaimed, the auction was more successful than last year’s, in which only one bid — for 610MW of wind capacity — was successful.
Private PPAs boost Argentine renewables
Large energy consumers in Argentina will be allowed to enter into PPAs directly with renewable energy generators to meet their green energy obligations under new Government rules. Previously, renewable energy developers were able to sell power only to the market administrator, Compañía Administradora del Mercado Mayorista Eléctrico (CAMMESA).
The news — which observers say will provide a boost to the local market — also comes as Argentina launches its second RenovAr tender. The Government is inviting bids for 1.2GW of new renewables, including 550MW of wind, 450MW of solar and 100MW of biomass, as well as small hydro and biogas projects. The projects, which are required to begin supplying to the grid by mid-2019, will be awarded 20-year PPAs with CAMMESA.
The volume on offer is less than half the 3GW awarded last year under the first RenovAr tender. This is due to infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks and the expectation of continuing falls in cost.
Netherlands allocates almost US$7b to 3.2GW capacity
The Dutch Government is to provide €5.83b (US$6.98b) to 4,530 solar and wind projects, with a total capacity of 3.2GW, under the latest round of its Stimulation of Renewable Energy Production (SDE+) program.
The majority (4,386) of winning projects are solar PV, accounting for 2.35GW, ranging from the minimum size of 15kW up to 69.9MW. Onshore wind farms with a total capacity of 644MW accounted for much of the remainder. The projects will receive the payments for up to 15 years, depending on technology type. The next SDE+ round, with an available budget of €6b (US$7b), will be open until 26 October. The Government has also announced that its residential solar net metering program, due to expire in 2020, will be extended to 2023.
Middle East and North Africa see a surge of renewables activity
A raft of policy developments, financing deals and tender processes have been announced across the Middle East and North Africa in recent months.
Finance is flowing to projects under development with the support of Egypt’s feed-in tariff program, with the International Finance Corporation approving US$635m for 500MW of solar projects at Benban (on the Nile in southern Egypt), out of a total of US$2b that the bank expects to provide. In May, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development committed US$500m to an additional 750MW of PV projects.
In Morocco, its sustainable energy agency, MASEN, has prequalified five consortia for the development of the first 150W to 190MW phase of the Noor Midelt Plant, a hybrid solar PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with storage. The project is part of MASEN’s Noor Solar Plan, which envisions 2,000MW of new renewables capacity by 2020.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has invited bids for its first utility-scale wind farm, a 400MW project in the northwestern province of Al-Jouf. Looking ahead, Tunisia has announced plans to tender for 140MW of wind and 70MW of solar capacity in November this year, in the first of around 1GW of auctions by 2020. Kuwait plans to issue a 1GW tender in 2018.
In addition, long-held hopes of large-scale exports of solar energy from North Africa to Europe have been revived, with the application to the Tunisian Government for a huge, 4.5GW CSP project, exporting energy via undersea cables to Europe. The TuNur consortium, backed by UK investor Low Carbon and others, is planning an initial 250MW phase.
But it’s not all good news. Algeria’s 4GW large-scale solar tender, announced in March and already delayed once, has been delayed again. The draft tender rules had raised concerns among potential bidders over domestic content rules, but the full RFP is yet to be published.