Recent price rises in solar power modules and a sharp cut in maximum permissible tariff bids does not seem to be impacting the aggressive tender bidding in India.

Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) recently launched a tender to set up 860 megawatts of solar power capacity across 43 location in the states, with 20 megawatts of capacity at each location. A total of 31 project developers have submitted bids to set up a cumulative capacity of 3,320 megawatts, nearly four times the capacity offered.  

Of the 31 developers that submitted bids, one was disqualified while two others did not complete the required formalities in time. Some of the major renewable energy developers that have submitted bids are: ReNew Power (580 megawatts), Greenko Energy (480 megawatts), Aditya Birla Group (220 megawatts), Shapoorji Pallonji Group (200 megawatts), Avaada Energy (180 megawatts), Acme Solar (180 megawatts), Orange Renewables (180 megawatts), and Canadian Solar (140 megawatts).

ReNew Power, Greenko Energy, and Acme Solar are among the leading renewable energy developers in India. ReNew Power and Acme have initial public offerings lined up, while Greenko Energy acquired the assets of SunEdison India following the latter’s bankruptcy.

The huge interest in the tender is remarkable as these projects would be distributed across the state and not located within a solar park. This probably means that the project developers would be responsible to acquire land for the projects which would increase the cost of generation, and thus the tariff bids.

Other factors are also likely to increase the tariff bids. Indian authorities recently recommended a 70% safeguards duty on imported solar modules. The duty would be reviewed once the appropriate agency completes its investigation. The duty was challenged by one of the developers in court and won an interim stay on the duty. Indian government agencies are also investigating whether to impose anti-dumping duties on solar modules imported from countries like China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

As per initial tender specifications, the developers would have had 12 months to commission the projects. However, KREDL insisted that the developers be given at least 18 months to complete the projects. The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission agreed to this extension, but reduced the tariff cap from Rs 4.36/kWh (¢6.9/kWh) to Rs 3.57/kWh (¢5.6/kWh), an 18% cut.