RP Gupta IAS Retd.

SECI plans to continue its innovations and work towards transitioning the Indian Energy sector toward a more sustainable and low-carbon energy system through collaboration with all relevant stakeholders shares, Shri R P Gupta, IAS, (Retd.), Chairman & Managing Director, Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd (SECI) with Rajiv Ranjan of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited excerpts:

As the nodal agency for solar and wind power, how has Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd (SECI) helped catalyse investment and project development in the renewable energy sector?

SECI’s primary mandate was to create an ecosystem conducive to the transition of India’s energy sector towards renewable energy, attracting private sector investments. The impact of its initiatives could be seen across the Indian RE sector. As one of the implementing agencies of MNRE, SECI issues tenders for the development of Renewable Energy (RE) projects on a pan-India basis based on Standard bidding guidelines issued by the Government. These tenders provide a transparent platform for developers to bid for projects. These tenders also help discover competitive tariffs, thereby reducing the cost of renewable energy.

As a Renewable Energy Implementing Agencies (REIA), SECI efforts were instrumental in transitioning from sporadic-lever RE projects to mainstream power sources. SECI has awarded various developers over 60 GW of RE capacity through a competitive e-bidding process. This is estimated to bring in over 2.7 Lakh Crores investments in the Indian RE sector. Under this, over 20 GW has already been commissioned.

SECI is a Miniratna (Category-I) Schedule-A Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) and a licensee for trading RE on a pan-India basis. SECI is the intermediary power procurer for projects being set up under SECI’s tenders. It procures power from successful developers and sells to Buying Entities (i.e. DISCOMs) through long-term PPAs/PSAs thereby mitigating risk for RE developers. SECI’s payment security mechanism has helped in providing bankability to the agreements, resulting in very good participation in its tenders and in lowering the tariffs. With cumulative PSAs exceeding 51 GW, the CPSU has contributed to shaping and streamlining the RE sector in the country on a substantial scale.

A significant challenge with RE is its intermittency – it’s only sometimes available. SECI’s proactive approach and agility have catalysed a paradigm shift in the energy sector. The organisation has introduced several innovative power supply models and tenders integrating energy storage features, including round-the-clock supply, peak power availability, standalone Energy Storage Systems, and Firm and Dispatchable Renewable Energy. SECI has been working with several DISCOMs and States to understand their requirements and design tailor-made models. These initiatives represent SECl’s concerted effort to anticipate and overcome the challenges of integrating RE into India’s electricity mix. This way, the company is unlocking the full potential of RE while ensuring stability and reliability in the power supply.

Besides facilitating projects with private investors, SECI is actively developing Renewable Energy (RE) projects using its financial resources. Some of the innovative projects undertaken by SECI are –

  • 100 MW (AC) Solar PV Project (160MWp DC capacity) along with 40MW/120 MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS): The proposed Project has the primary objective of demonstrating the commercial viability of large-scale battery storage projects in Indian conditions for meeting peak demand of utilities.
  • 1.7 MW Solar project with 1.4 MWh battery storage: SECI works closely with government bodies to advocate for supportive policies and regulations for the renewable energy sector. It also assists in implementing government schemes and incentives to promote renewable energy deployment.

What are some of SECI’s flagship schemes and initiatives to promote solar/wind equipment manufacturing domestically under Atma Nirbhar Bharat?

SECI has actively promoted domestic manufacturing of solar equipment as part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) initiative. SECI efforts have provided the much-needed impetus required in India’s domestic manufacturing landscape and fostered the growth of ancillary industries, thereby transforming the entire business ecosystem. Some of the flagship schemes and initiatives in this regard include:

  • Manufacturing-linked Solar Tenders: SECI floated the tender for setting up solar PV power plants linked to solar PV manufacturing capacities to promote the manufacturing of solar cells and modules. As a result of the tender, 3 GW of solar PV manufacturing and 12 GW of solar PV power plants were awarded. Of this, 2 GW of manufacturing capacity has already been commissioned, and balance capacity is expected to be commissioned shortly.
  • Production-linked Incentive Scheme for Solar Modules: MNRE has launched the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme under the ‘National Programme on High- Efficiency Solar PV Modules’. SECI is the implementing agency for Tranche II of the scheme. Under this scheme, incentives are provided to domestic manufacturers based on their production capacity and efficiency.

The outcomes/benefits expected from the scheme are as follows:

  • CPSU scheme: This scheme encouraged Government Producers to set up solar PV projects using domestic cells & modules to facilitate national energy security and environmental sustainability for Government purposes. This scheme helped to create a market for domestic cells and modules in the country. SECI is implementing Phase 1 and Phase 2 (Tranche-I, II) of the scheme as a part of the tenders issued by SECI under the scheme; 2026 MW of capacity was awarded, and among this, 1645 MW has been commissioned already. It is also likely to generate 1,01,487 jobs, with 35,010 getting direct employment and 66,477 being indirectly employed.

With renewable capacity addition targets increasing rapidly, what are SECI’s plans to scale up manufacturing facilities in the country?

Aligned with the government’s broader objectives, SECI plans to scale up manufacturing facilities in India to boost domestic manufacturing capacity in the renewable energy sector. Some of the schemes rolled out by the government include:

Also Read | Empowering India’s Energy Future SECI’s Leading Role in Green Transition

  • PLI Scheme: The Production Linked Incentive Scheme (Tranche-II) under ‘National Programme on High- Efficiency Solar PV Modules’ for achieving manufacturing capacity of Mega Watt (MW) scale in High- Efficiency Solar PV Modules aims to foster domestic manufacturing facilities. The PLI scheme has proved to be a watershed event in India’s renewable landscape.
  • Green Hydrogen: Increasing renewable energy use across all economic spheres is central to India’s Energy Transition. Green Hydrogen is considered a promising alternative for enabling this transition. Hydrogen is expected to play a critical role in decarbonising industry — fertilisers/ refineries in the short run and steel, cement and heavy transport in the long run.

The Government has launched the National Green Hydrogen Mission with – o An initial outlay of Rs.19,744 crore for the Mission, including an outlay of Rs.17,490 crore for the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) programme.

Infrastructure development plays a key role in renewable deployment. What is SECI doing to strengthen transmission networks under Green Energy Corridors?

Strengthening transmission networks facilitates the integration of renewable energy into the grid. The dedicated power evacuation and transmission infrastructure in near vicinities of potential RE sites will facilitate renewable power evacuation and reshape the grid for future requirements; the Green Energy Corridor (GEC) projects were initiated with this objective.

SECI is the implementing agency of the Ultra Mega RE project in Ladakh with 9 GW of solar and 4 GW of wind-based generation in the Pang, Debring and Kharnak villages of Leh District. This project will also have 12 GWh of BESS. PGCIL is developing the power evacuation modalities for the project. The government has approved the project of Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II which will contribute to achieving the target of 500 GW of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. The project will also help develop the country’s long-term energy security and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reducing carbon footprint. It will generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled personnel in power and other related sectors, especially in the Ladakh region.

What policies/reforms does SECI recommend to make India self- reliant in the renewable energy sector?

India stands at the forefront of a transformative journey towards self- reliance in green energy. In line with the Hon’ble Prime Ministers’ call for Atmanirbhar Bharat, the government has undertaken various policies/reforms to support domestic PV manufacturing –

  • The government has created a market for domestic solar modules by bringing in schemes such as PM-KUSUM, Solar Rooftops, CPSU scheme, etc.
  • The government has developed a PLI scheme encouraging the production of high efficiency solar modules.
  • To protect domestic manufacturers from cheap imports, a Safeguard Duty has been imposed on imported solar cells and modules.
  • To give long-term visibility to investors, the Government has announced an advanced trajectory of Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on solar cells & modules.
  • Effective enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) and Energy Storage Obligations (ESO). These obligations make it mandatory for power distribution companies to procure a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources and invest in energy storage solutions. The strict enforcement of these obligations has bolstered the demand for renewable energy and accelerated the development and adoption of energy storage technologies, essential for the reliability and scalability of renewable energy sources.

India’s transition to renewable energy presents a unique opportunity to lead in innovation and manufacturing. Through the development of local manufacturing capabilities, the country’s role in global renewable energy can reduce reliance on imports and enhance supply chain resilience, thereby making renewable energy technologies more accessible.

As India is committed to meeting its climate goals, how will SECI continue contributing towards this responsibility?

India is spearheading one of the world’s largest renewable Energy (RE) programmes, targeting 500 GW of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030 and net zero by 2070.

Also Read | Gujarat Powering: India’s Energy Transformation

Based on the National Electricity Plan, the likely installed capacity for 2031-32 is estimated to be 900,422 MW, comprising 304,147 MW of Conventional capacity and 596,275MW of Renewable Capacity.

As SECI is one of the REIAs of MNRE, it would have a major role in the Government’s plan to bring out bids for 50 GW of RE capacity every year for the next five years.

Technological progress is necessary to advance the RE sector, enhancing its efficiency and affordability & integrating RE with long-term grid-scale storage solutions. SECI has developed several innovative power supply models/tenders incorporating energy storage provisions, such as round-the-clock, peak power, standalone Energy Storage Systems, Firm and Dispatchable RE etc.

SECI plans to continue its innovations and work towards transitioning the Indian Energy sector toward a more sustainable and low-carbon energy system through collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.

PIB press release on PLI Scheme (Tranche- II)
PIB press release on Ladakh RE project MNRE Annual Report



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