Indian solar power auctions

India has an ambitious target of 100 GW installed PV capacity by 2022. Mercom India Research expects with the current trends in falling installation rates the total to reach only 71 GW by that year.

The problems are many. Tariff caps have led to government agencies cancelling more than 800 MW of solar auctions after winners have been announced. In other states, such as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, there have been delays in the payment of subsidies, which has also discouraged investors. Duties on imported panels have seen a rise in demand for Indian modules, but when this fell to 20% in July 2019, demand began to fall.

India expects 9GW of added installations for 2019, with a total pipeline of 19.4GW of large-scale solar projects. There are 31.7GW of tendered and pending auctions.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is currently inviting bids for 1.2GW grid-connected solar as part of its national interstate transmission system programme. The projects are on the basis of build-own-operate, will be awarded by e-bidding and reverse auction, and have a tariff ceiling of Rs.2.65/kWh (US3.8c). Successful bidders will sign 25-year PPAs, and the power will be sold to utlities. A previous auction secured 1.2GW for 4 companies at Rs.2.54/kWh.

The guidelines issued by SECI for Phase V implementation specify that bids be technology agnostic, so crystalline silicon, thin film and concentrator PV, with or without trackers, can be considered. The land where projects are situated must be fully owned by the operators within a year of the PPAs. Solar projects must inter-connect with the Central Transmission Utility network at volatages of at least 132 kV, while single blocks must be at least 33 kV. The annual capacity utilization factor (CUF) must be at least 17%. Excess generated power will be bought by SECI at a reduced rate if buyers are available.