Power-surplus Karnataka state says no to new solar

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While other states are struggling to meet their renewable purchase obligations (RPO), Karnataka, India’s top performing market for installed solar capacity, has such a hefty surplus of power it has stalled PV tenders and auctions until further notice.

The state’s electricity regulator has directed Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) to put on hold all new solar projects by state agencies, to balance its RPO and the financial health of its power distribution companies (discoms).

Federal agencies such as the Solar Energy Corporation of India and the NTPC will continue to tender and auction PV capacity with interstate transmission system connectivity.

RPO met for two years

According to KREDL, the agency that issues tenders for bulk renewable energy procurement for its discoms, the state’s commissioned solar power capacity was 6,127 MW on March 31 and the discoms have enough solar power to meet the RPO for two years.

Karnataka was the first southern state to notify its solar policy, in 2011, and was the first state to commission utility scale solar in India. According to the state’s Solar Policy 2014-2021 document, PV had to contribute a minimum of 3% of total projected consumption. That policy had set a meager 2 GW target for solar by 2021 – 400 MW of rooftop capacity and 1.6 GW of utility scale projects.

In 2017, the state raised its ambition to 6 GW by 2021 but Karnataka surpassed that milestone two years ahead of schedule and currently has installed capacity of 6,127 MW with a further 2.8 GW in the pipeline.