The first national-level solar power auction organized by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) witnessed a healthy competition among Indian and foreign project developers and a tariff bid that would make the government happy.
Nearly seven months after SECI partially annulled India’s largest solar power tender, four project developers managed to grab 1.2 gigawatts of capacity. These projects can be set up at sites of developers’ choosing across the country. The maximum tariff bid allowed by SECI in this tender was Rs 2.65/kWh (3.73¢/kWh).
The lowest bid in this auction was placed by ReNew Power, which secured 300-megawatt capacity at Rs 2.55/kWh (3.59¢/kWh). ReNew Power, a frequent participant in solar power tender, usually is not an aggressive bidder but managed to score the lowest bid in this auction. ReNew Power had secured 500 megawatts of capacity in the July 2018 auction at a tariff bid of Rs 2.71/kWh (3.82¢/kWh). The allocation was subsequently quashed by SECI.
Azure Power, a NYSE-listed India-based independent power producer, also secured 300 megawatts of capacity at a tariff bid of Rs 2.58/kWh (3.63¢/kWh). The company returned to the solar power tender after a gap of a few months. The company was last in the news after it lost 300 megawatts of capacity after SECI cancelled allocation to multiple developers in the 3 gigawatt solar power tender in August 2018. Interestingly, Azure Power had bid for 300 megawatts at Rs 2.64/kWh (3.72¢/kWh).
EDEN Renewables also managed to secure 300 megawatts of capacity at a bid of Rs 2.60/kWh (3.66¢/kWh). The company has been rather new to the large-scale solar power auctions circuit in India and this project would be a major win for it.
Finally, SoftBank-backed SB Energy scored a major win for itself seven months after it placed the largest-ever solar power bid in India’s history and had its allocation cancelled following allegations of cartelization. The company had placed a bid for 600 megawatts of capacity in this latest tender at a tariff of Rs 2.61/kWh (3.68¢/kWh), but managed to secure just 300 megawatts due to its comparatively higher tariff bid.
SB Energy had placed a bid to develop 1.8 gigawatts of capacity in the July 2018 auction at a tariff bid of Rs 2.71/kWh (3.82¢/kWh). It was the result of such high tariff bids that SECI was forced to cancel allocation of projects to multiple companies, including Azure Power, ReNew Power, and SB Energy. This even forced SB Energy to participate in state-level auctions which it never does as SECI took a long pause in national-level auctions. Unfortunately for SB Energy, it lost the 250 megawatts of capacity it had bid for at Rs 2.84/kWh (4.00¢/kWh) as the state government again found the bids to be on the higher side.
The tariff bid of Rs 2.55/kWh (3.59¢/kWh) seems to have emerged as a comfortable level for project developers. The lowest-ever tariff bid in India remains at Rs 2.44/kWh (3.44¢/kWh). Following policy uncertainty, tensions between the government and project developers, and imposition of new taxes and import duties, the tariff bids have increased marginally.