Interviews

Will invest across renewables, solar manufacturing, transmission in 2021: Sumant Sinha, ReNew Power

The other big focus area for the firm will be commissioning of projects which are in the pipeline and nearing completion.

Introduction of long-term measures including privatisation of distribution companies to improve the sector’s health are absolutely necessary now, Sumant Sinha, chairman and managing director, ReNew Power told ETEnergyworld.

What are your top policy demands from the government for next year?

Indian renewable energy sector has come a long way since 2014 and a stable policy regime has been a critical component of its success and growth.

Going forward as India looks to mainstream renewables and address the problem of intermittency some of the key tasks would be to expedite the signing of pending power purchase agreements for bids already completed… upgrading the transmission infrastructure as with new capacity addition from renewables, existing infrastructure is nearing full capacity. New transmission infrastructure will ensure upcoming projects do not face any bottlenecks due to constrained transmission capacity. Many more renewable resource rich areas can also be tapped if the transmission infrastructure is augmented in these areas.

Other than this, distribution sector reforms will also play a key role in keeping the sector healthy. The government has already taken some steps towards reforming distribution companies and hopefully next year we will see the process gathering pace.

Further, a clear policy on inter-state transmission system (ISTS) needs to be charted out. Given that ISTS waiver for a renewable energy (RE) project is limited to June 2023, it is important that a roadmap for these innovative future bids is finalised. If the roadmap is not finalised, the government should then consider an extension of ISTS waiver beyond June 2023.

What will be the major highlights in your company?

As the economic recovery continues in 2021, I expect auctions of new projects to gather pace. We are likely to see more hybrid projects and storage-based projects, to be put out for bidding. The other big focus area for our firm will be commissioning of projects which are in the pipeline and nearing completion. I expect our leadership, in innovation and technology, in areas of storage, round-the-clock projects and manufacturing, will continue in 2021.

What are your investment plans for 2021?

We plan to make substantial investments across renewables, solar manufacturing, transmission and other emerging areas in the power sector value chain, next year.

What are your Budget 2021 expectations?

The union government has taken several measures recently which have positively impacted the sector. Introduction of PLI scheme, liquidity infusion in discoms and notifying power as a service has made the sector more robust. This Budget, therefore, presents an opportunity for the government to take a step further on the road of Aatma nirbharta and offer clarity on the duty structure for solar manufacturing in India. Clarity on duty structure for manufacturing will boost local manufacturing and kick start the virtuous cycle of development, upstream and downstream.

The government should also look at supporting storage as a short-term measure through concessional duty structure till local manufacturing gathers pace. An increased allocation to MNRE for exploring areas such as offshore, hydrogen and storage will be crucial for India to achieve its ambition of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

What is your assessment of the health of the RE sector at present?

The RE sector has remained relatively insulated by the COVID-19 shock; government policies such as the classifying power as an essential service and ‘must-run’ status to renewables has helped the sector stay afloat. The recent liquidity infusion by the Central government into the sector, through a special scheme for distribution companies has also brought about much needed relief. However, longer term measures including privatisation of distribution companies to improve the sector’s health, are absolutely necessary now. The finances of distribution companies have been badly hit by COVID-19 triggered lockdowns across the country and further assistance by the central government may be needed to ensure that the sector is able to tide over these challenging times.

Source: ET Energyworld