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India auction leads to 17MW solar projects

Two firms win auctioned PV and STE contracts for South West Indian state

The auctioned contracts included a project to build a solar thermal energy plant
The auctioned contracts included a project to build a solar thermal energy plant

Two solar power plants are set to be built in South West India after contracts have been won in an auction. Welspun Group, India’s largest solar photovoltaic developer, and Sunborne Energy won contracts to build sun-powered plants in the nation’s Karnataka state.

Bloomberg reported Welspun won a 7 MW solar photovoltaic project, while Sunborne won a 10 MW solar-thermal energy (STE) project, which harnesses sunlight to heat liquids that produce steam for generators.

India is using auctions to push down average solar power rates, which have fallen 38 per cent since December 2010, as it seeks to avoid the surging renewable-energy subsidies seen in Europe.

Global solar power prices are plunging because of declining equipment costs after the spot price of solar panels dropped in the past year as manufacturers ramped up production, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The lowest bid in the auction for 10 contracts by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development (KREDL) came from Helena Power Pvt, which committed to sell photovoltaic-based electricity to the state-run utility at 7,940 rupees ($152) per megawatt-hour.

KREDL awarded 60 MW of photovoltaic capacity and 20 MW of solar-thermal capacity. The next auction may cover 70 MW of photovoltaic and 50 megawatts of solar-thermal capacity, Kumar said.

“We may tender another 120 megawatts of capacity in the next financial year,” N.S. Prasanna Kumar, managing director of state-run KREDL, said in an interview in Gandhinagar, India, Bloomberg reported.

Other winners included Jindal Aluminium Ltd., Essel Infrastructure Ltd., GKC Project Ltd., United Telecoms Ltd., Sai Sudhi Energy Ltd. and Atria Power Corp, according to a list from KREDL.