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Renewable energy companies still lack confidence to restart

Project developers said labour shortage is a worry and village panchayats may not allow external labour to enter as there would be a virus risk.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 08.10 AM IST
solar bccl
BENGALURU: Construction of renewable energy projects is among the activities that the ministry of home affairs has permitted resumption of from April 20, but developers maintained it will be a while before they can do so.

Whether or not sufficient labour will return to the site is the biggest concern, developers told ET. “Mobilising the team will be a challenge. If people have gone across the country, they are not going to come back,” a solar developer said, requesting anonymity. “And if the project is in a village, a local government authority might be worried about migrant labour returning and the virus spreading,” the person said. There is a possibility of various layers of authorities entering the picture and attempting to interpret the guidelines, according to the developer.

Activity may begin on those projects that are already close to commissioning, the person said. “If a project is 80% done, it makes sense to get it across the line. If it hasn’t started, then it is more debatable.”
Renewable Energy Cos Still Lack Confidence to Restart

Developers and contractors may want to manage risks for their employees. Some may not resume activity although they are allowed to, the person said. “They may take extra precautions like limiting the number of people at the site, making sure there are no overlapping shifts etc. The industry may move at a slower pace,” the source said.

Solar rooftop projects are not expected to be commissioned at this time. “If your plant is at a factory which is shut, the factory owner is not going to want you to open the site just to do the construction. They would be reluctant to have activity carry on at the site,” the person said.

Restarting construction of wind projects will be a complicated process although movement of goods has been permitted by the ministry, said a prominent developer. "Firstly, transporting blades and large turbines is not going to be easy," the person said. "The second thing is, because the factories are closed, every spare part is not going to be available off the shelf."

Whether things take a few weeks or a month or two to resume will vary from site to site depending on the situation there, said the solar developer quoted above. “But I’m glad it at least opens the option of doing projects. It’s tricky finding a balance between economic interest and public health interest.”
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