In what turns out to be a surge in solar tenders, the central government has invited bids for 3,000 MW of solar power projects connected to the inter-state transmission system. With this, the capacity of solar tenders invited by the central government in the first two months of 2018 stands at more than 5,000 MW (275 MW in Uttar Pradesh, 200 MW in Karnataka and 2,000 MW inter-state in January). The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) would sign 25-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the winning bidders and sell the power to electricity distribution utilities (discoms).
The ceiling tariff for the latest tender has been set at Rs 2.93 per unit. The reverse auctions would be conducted for 12 projects of 250 MW each. The capacity additions would help the country achieve the target of 100 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022.
Power and renewable energy minister RK Singh had in November announced the break-up of his action plan for completing 80 GW of solar auctions by FY20, leaving a margin of two years to complete the projects by 2022. According to that agenda, another 8 GW of solar tenders can be expected by March 2018. Electricity production capacities added annually in the solar segment surpassed coal for the first time in 2017. In fact, solar capacity added in the year (8,040 MW) was more than twice the net addition of coal power units (4,004 MW). Currently, the lowest solar tariff is Rs 2.44 per unit, discovered in May at the reverse auctions for solar plants in Rajasthan’s Bhadla.