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Suzlon Energy emerged the big winner in the latest NTPC reverse e-auction for solar projects in Rajasthan, winning 60MW of the 100MW on offer by agreeing to sell power at Rs 5.07 per kwH.
The other winners were Janardhan Wind Energy, which got 20MW at Rs 5.06 per kwH and Maharashtra Seamless, which also won 20MW at Rs 5.07 per kwH.
This marks the second successful bid into solar for Suzlon, originally a wind power equipment heavyweight. Late last year, it won a 210MW solar power project in Telangana.
The latest auction was held under the domestic content requirement (DCR) quota. Under this, developers have to source solar modules compulsorily from domestic manufacturers. Locally made modules are more expensive than Chinese or Malaysian imports, which the bulk of solar developers in India use. Also, developers will have to locate and acquire land on their own for the projects. These conditions appear to have pushed up the tariff.
The lowest winning bid for a solar project so far has been that of Rs 4.34 per kwH by Finland-headquartered Fortum Finnsurya in January, to develop 70MW of capacity. In that case, NTPC had offered assured land at the Bhadla Solar Park in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan. Also, there was no domestic sourcing requirement.
Within the DCR quota ambit, the Rajasthan auction price is an achievement. Earlier winning bids have been well above Rs 5 per unit. In a tender for 111MW under the DCR quota in Karnataka, for instance, in early March, the lowest winning price was Rs 5.94, offered by Microsun Solartech. Developers have also been lukewarm towards DCR projects. In February, a DCR tender by SECI for 50MW of installed capacity in Maharashtra got just one bid — from a unit of Adani Power — and so was cancelled.
The DCR quota has also run afoul of the World Trade Organization, with a WTO dispute resolution panel ruling on it against India following a complaint from the US that it amounted to unduly favouring local manufacturing.
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