Few industry insiders will have been surprised to see the deadline set for India’s troubled manufacturing-linked solar tender pass yesterday with no new capacity – solar project or production line – allotted.
Less than two weeks in, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has been forced to extend the deadline for its third large scale solar procurement this month.
The solar manufacturing procurement round – intended to incentivize solar project developers to commit to establishing 2 GW of PV production capacity in India by offering 6 GW of project capacity on a pro rata basis – has had its latest deadline, which expired yesterday, moved to October 11.
The attempt to set up a domestic solar manufacturing industry to compete with ever cheaper Chinese and Malaysian PV imports has been dogged with problems. The original exercise was launched in June last year with developers given a hopelessly optimistic minimum bid size of committing to 1 GW of annual manufacturing capacity linked to 2 GW of project capacity as part of a tender intended to secure 5 GW of production lines and 10 GW of solar power generation capacity.
A much downsized version was eventually relaunched in June, with yesterday as the deadline for bid submission and developers set a maximum tariff price of Rs2.75/kWh for any generation capacity they bid for. Successful generation projects will qualify for a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) from SECI.
According to the request for services document related to the repackaged tender, solar manufacturing facilities can be set up anywhere in India and can relate to either cell and module production or ingot and wafer manufacturing, or both. In every case, the minimum annual production capacity to be established was set at 500 MW. Bidders opting to establish thin film cell and module fabs would not be eligible to also establish ingot and wafer operations.
The latest delay to the exercise comes after SECI was forced to extend timelines this month for separate 1.5 GW and 1.2 GW solar generation capacity tenders.
The former relates to the second tranche of projects to be allotted under the Central Public Sector Undertaking scheme, for PV generation by public bodies. The 1.2 GW procurement round related to projects with a delivery point chosen from designated inter-state transmission system substations in Madhya Pradesh. With a tariff ceiling of Rs2.65/kWh for a 25-year PPA, the deadline for that exercise was pushed back to next Monday.
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