India solar power prices break new ground

PV projects worth 350MW have been allotted by a process of reverse bidding on December 2nd, 2011 in New Delhi under batch 2 of phase 2 of the Indian National Solar Mission (NSM), the strategic consulting company BRIDGE TO INDIA (New Delhi) reports in a press released.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) invited bids for these solar energy photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in the month of August 2011. The maximum solar power project size is 20MW. An individual or a consortium can bid for a maximum of three projects adding up to 50MW.

The average tariff bid was INR 8.7 (approx USD 0.17) per unit (kWh). The lowest tariff bid was INR 7.49 (approx USD 0.15) per unit offered by Solairedirect SA of France for a 5MW project in Rajasthan while the highest successful tariff bid was INR 9.39 (approx USD 0.18) per unit by GreenInfra Solar Farms Ltd. from India for a 20MW project, also in Rajasthan. As expected, the average tariff has shown a downward trend as compared to batch 1, falling by 27.5%.

Welspun Solar AP Pvt. Ltd. (New Delhi, India) was the only individual developer that bid successfully for the entire 50MW allowed for a single bidder with tariffs of INR 7.97 (approx USD 0.16) for a 20MW project and INR 8.05 (approx USD 0.16) and INR 8.14 (approx USD 0.16) for two 15MW projects.

Mahindra Solar One Pvt. Ltd. too won 50MW worth of projects, though in partnership with Kiran Energy. A 20MW and a 15MW project were won under Mahindra’s name while another 20MW was won by Kiran Energy Pvt. Ltd. All three projects offered a bid of INR 9.34 (approx USD 0.18) per unit and are located in Rajasthan. Another major player was Azure Power India Pvt. Ltd. winning a 20MW project and a 15MW project, both at the tariff of INR 8.21 (approx USD 0.16) per unit.

The drastic fall in the tariffs mirrors the international trend of falling module prices, BRIDGE TO INDIA explains. This has allowed for players to consider capital costs as low as INR 90 million (approx USD 1.76 million) per MW (BRIDGE TO INDIA estimate). In addition, players appear to be leveraging on deferred payment schemes offered by module manufacturers and low interest rates possible on the strength of their balance sheets. The state of Rajasthan has remained the best location for project developers due to the high solar irradiation. These solar energy projects are scheduled to be completed before March 2013, close to the end of the first phase of the NSM.