With sec­tor in trou­ble, so­lar play­ers’ hopes singed in Bud­get

But sops for EV tech­nol­ogy have charged the in­dus­try up

The Hindu - - BUSINESS REVIEW - TCA Sharad Ragha­van

The en­ergy sec­tor’s re­ac­tions to the In­terim Bud­get have been a mixed bag, with so­lar sec­tor play­ers ex­press­ing dis­ap­point­ment that noth­ing con­crete was an­nounced for them at a time when the sec­tor is floun­der­ing, and en­ergy stor­age play­ers wel­com­ing the steps taken to make im­ports cheaper. Those in the hy­dro­car­bon space wel­comed the govern­ment’s in­tent to con­tinue with the push for the Ujjwala Yo­jana and in­creas­ing ex­plo­ration.

“The bud­get ar­tic­u­lates con­tin­ued fo­cus on re­new­able en­ergy, ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency,” Kameswara Rao, leader — en­ergy, util­i­ties and min­ing at PwC In­dia, said. “This con­ti­nu­ity and com­mit­ment is the key for a cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive sec­tor and, now with a rapidly grow­ing re­tail de­mand, the sec­tor could ex­pe­ri­ence re­newed growth.”

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the govern­ment’s fo­cus on cleaner fuel through the pro­vi­sion of eight crore LPG con­nec­tions to all ru­ral house­holds,” Nitin Prasad, chair­man, Shell Com­pa­nies in In­dia, said. He also high­lighted the pol­icy pre­scrip­tion set by the Bud­get to­wards in­creas­ing hy­dro­car­bon pro­duc­tion and pro­mote bio­fu­els.

The govern­ment has al­lot­ted ₹2,479.9 crore for grid­con­nected so­lar power in 2019-20, up from the ₹2,157.24 crore in the re­vised es­ti­mates of 2018-19.

Wind en­ergy, how­ever, saw al­lo­ca­tion fall to ₹720 crore from ₹950 crore over the same pe­riod. Notably, although there is a bud­getary sub-head­ing for en­ergy stor­age, no al­lo­ca­tions have been made in that cat­e­gory in the last three years.

“In­dia aims to achieve 227 GW of en­ergy from re­new­able sources and nearly 113 GW through so­lar power,” Sid­hartha Ver­mani, se­nior di­rec­tor, Smart Power In­dia, said. “How­ever, achiev­ing this goal is not pos­si­ble yet. While the govern­ment can in­crease funds to pro­mote re­new­able en­ergy, such al­lo­ca­tions will al­ways be very lim­ited and short of in­vest­ment tar­gets.”

Re­bates on so­lar loans

“For the sec­ond year in a row, so­lar was a no-show at the 2019 In­terim Union Bud­get, apart from a sole men­tion about the in­stalled so­lar gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion in the past five years,” Ga­gan Ver­mani, CEO & Founder, My­sun said. “While prices for so­lar have con­tin­ued to drop over the last year, it’s the lack of fi­nanc­ing for so­lar projects that have hit the in­dus­try hard. And this year’s Bud­get has missed ad­dress­ing that yet again. We have been de­mand­ing so­lar loans to be treated like home loans, as an in­stru­ment for in­di­vid­u­als to claim a tax re­bate,” he added. “But it seems like the in­dus­try will have to wait for that.”

While the elec­tric ve­hi­cles sec­tor found men­tion in the Bud­get speech in terms of in­tent, it stood dis­tinct in that cus­toms du­ties for im­ported parts were slashed two days be­fore the Bud­get.

“An­nounce­ments of tax re­bates on im­port of elec­tric ve­hi­cles tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing bat­ter­ies and mo­tors rang­ing from 10-25%, and in­cen­tives for lo­cal bat­tery man­u­fac­tur­ing will speed up the EV rev­o­lu­tion,” said Rahul Walawalkar, pres­i­dent, In­dia En­ergy Stor­age Al­liance.


No respite: The Cen­tre has not ad­dressed the fi­nanc­ing is­sues in the so­lar sec­tor, says Ga­gan Ver­mani of MY­SUN.

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