Barely days after announcing that renewable energy project developers would be allowed to exercise force the majeure clause to seek extension of commissioning deadlines, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has expanded the scope of this relief.
The MNRE has announced that commissioning deadlines of all renewable energy projects has been extended by 30 days beyond the period of lockdown related to COVID-19 outbreak. India announced a nation-wide lockdown between 24 March to 3 May 2020. Some states may extend the lockdown further.
While the government has allowed construction of power projects during lockdown, with this order commissioning deadlines will be extended by 30 days in addition to the number of lockdown days. The ministry further clarified that developers will not be required to submit any documentation to seek this extension, as was the case as per the previous order.
While the blanket extension of commissioning deadline will bring much-needed relief to developers, there are still demands for more flexible extensions. Some companies proposed an extension of up to 180 days citing delays in logistics and labor mobilization.
The MNRE has made an effort to minimize the strain on the renewable energy sector as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In an earlier order, the ministry had also clarified that must-run status enjoyed by renewable energy projects shall continue during the lockdown period and payments to renewable energy companies must not be delayed.
In February, we had covered a story about concerns over delays in commissioning of solar power projects in India due to its high dependency on Chinese modules. Now, Wood Mackenzie reports that around 3 gigawatts of solar and wind energy projects could be delayed in India this year. It has also reduced projected solar power capacity addition from 11.8 gigawatts to 8.9 gigawatts this year.