India: First 1 GW tender for 5 GW solar park expected soon – Interview


In April, the Gujarat state government approved a 5 GW solar PV park, to be located in the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR). The state government also plans to develop the DSIR as a global manufacturing hub, from where manufactured goods can be exported to neighboring countries.

In an interview, Jai Prakash Shivahare, managing director at Dholera Industrial City Development Limited (DICDL) talks to pv magazine about the next steps, including a tender for the first 1 GW phase, which is expected “very soon”, and how the DSIR will develop.

pv magazine: What makes Dholera the ideal location for the 5 GW solar PV park?

Jai Prakash Shivahare: Two key factors that make solar power plants successful anywhere in the world are: availability of land; and the quantum of sunshine as measured by its capacity utilisation factor (CUF). Dholera is blessed with both. It has 11,000 hectares (110 of government-owned land, which can be offered at very reasonable rates and its CUF is one of the highest in the country at 19.08%. These two factors make Dholera one of the most ideal locations for setting up an ultra-mega solar power plant.

The power produced in Dholera will be readily taken up by the State and Central transmission units under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This ensures minimal risk for the developers of the solar park and further makes Dholera an attractive location.

Finally, the land is within the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and adjacent to the activation area currently under construction. All the enabling infrastructure such as power, water and evacuation substations will be provided at the boundary of the solar park to further ensure its rapid implementation and cost-effectiveness.

When is construction of the 5 GW solar park likely to begin and be completed?

Work is already progressing, and a tender for phase-1 – 1,000 MW – will be out very soon.

How many tenders do you expect to see, when are they likely to be announced, and how much capacity will be available under each?

A total of 11 plots measuring approximately 1,000 ha (10 each in CRZ1B have been set aside for the solar park development. Thus each plot will have capacity to install around 500 MW.

What are the tariff caps under the tenders expected to be?

Price discovery is through bidding process, so it cannot be capped. But, since it is going to be one of the biggest solar parks in the world, it offers many advantages to prospective bidders. Therefore prices are likely to be highly competitive.

Which solar PV module technology will likely be used?

This is open to bidders.

What financial incentives will be made available to the park?

These will be as per the guidelines of Govt of India and Govt of Gujarat.

How much manufacturing capacity is likely to be established at the DSIR, and for what components/products?

The construction of this massive solar park will attract an investment of Rs 250 billion (US$3.7 billion) and generate employment for more than 20,000 people.

We are getting a lot of queries from solar companies regarding installation and manufacturing opportunities available in Dholera. We are giving them information. Solar developers will be selected through bidding only as per the guidelines of the government. However, for manufacturing units, we can allot land and provide all the infrastructure they need to start their operations. Companies have shown interest in module and cell manufacturing, smart grid solutions, battery storage and grid stabilisation solutions.

With the massive size and scale of the Dholera solar park, it is expected that the entire ecosystem for solar power creation and operations, including the manufacture of solar panels, spare parts and skill centres could be set up in Dholera. The initial activation area of 22.54 (2254 ha) is already under construction, with approximately 48% of the land zoned for industrial use.

Dholera offers one of the world’s best ICT-enabled infrastructures with 100% recycling of wastewater, industrial wastewater and solid waste. The smart power grid, coupled with an extensive SCADA system for utilities, ensures one of the lowest life-cycle costs for utilities. A special single-window process has been developed for the approval of permits and other approvals. Land will be allotted in less than 17 days, and possession in 90 days. Plot sizes range from 5 ha (0.05 to over 150 ha (1.5 are available for manufacturers at very competitive prices.

Will an entire ecosystem develop on the back of the project? 

Dholera is not just another industrial estate or township, but rather has been designed to offer a family lifestyle not available in any other city in India. Over 10% of the city will have open green spaces for neighbourhood, community and regional parks; social infrastructure like schools, anganwadi (a type of rural mother and child care center), hospitals, pharmacies, entertainment areas and markets. These are all preplanned and already delineated as part of the town planning scheme; all major roads have dedicated cycle tracks and shaded pedestrian walkways; last-mile connectivity will be provided through sidewalks and buses and light rail system.

Recognizing the efforts that went into planning, the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has awarded Dholera the highest ‘Platinum’ rating. Dholera is the first city in India, and probably in the world, to receive Platinum rating.

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