Nearly 3 GW of solar capacity was tendered for in India last month, doubling the amount seen in September and the highest capacity allocated in three months.
On top of that figure, around 750 MW of PV was auctioned in October, marking a near-40% jump from September’s 550 MW auction total, as developers shrugged off mounting fears related to the rupee’s depreciation against the dollar and the threat of safeguarding duty on imported modules and the imposition of GST on projects.
Major October tenders included a 1.5 GW exercise by Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited, a 700 MW tender by Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited, and 550 MW of procurement by the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency.
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of 30 GW worth of tenders in 2018-19, of which 25 GW has already been carried out. In August, the MNRE set a timetable for auctions and tenders, with months allocated to central and state governments, public sector undertakings and other implementing agencies.
Price cap deters developers from SECI exercises
However the impressive figures reported by the ministry and state agencies are in stark contrast with the apathy shown towards procurement exercises staged by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) – the Indian body responsible for the national Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
Developers have criticized the decision by SECI to set low caps on price tariffs and have voted with their feet.
On Wednesday, Tata Power Renewable Energy was the sole bidder for SECI’s 50 MW auction at Dhodhainicha Solar Park in Maharashtra, which featured a tariff ceiling of Rs2.93/kWh. The auction has been put off indefinitely.
Last week SECI was forced to postpone a 1.2 GW solar-wind hybrid auction – originally announced as a 2.5 GW exercise – for the fifth time, due to a tepid response. The project, in which developers are required to set up a solar and wind generating plant at the same site, has been pushed back to next Wednesday, but SECI Managing Director JN Swain was quick to defend its mooted Rs2.60/kWh tariff cap.
“We do not feel the ceiling price we set is low,” he said, after the auction was postponed. “If developers set up solar and wind projects at the best sites in a 50:50 ratio, a tariff of Rs2.60 per unit is definitely feasible.”
In mid-October, SECI’s much-hyped 10 GW solar manufacturing-linked auction was postponed for the fourth time.
This article was amended on 07/11/18, to reflect the fact the 750 MW of capacity secured by auction was on top of the 3 GW secured by tender in October.