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Auction for rooftop solar projects deferred again

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-03-2017 Shailaja Sharma

Mumbai: State-run Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI) has deferred auction for the 1-gigawatt (GW) rooftop solar projects tender for the fourth time in the past three-four months, a move which has highlighted the complexities of the business.

The bidding process for the largest ever rooftop solar tender in the country has now been extended to 17 April from 20 March, SECI said on its website. The public sector undertaking (PSU) had prepared to invite bids in December, Mint reported on 6 December. According to Sunsure Energy Pvt. Ltd, a company that develops solar projects for power producers, the tender has been postponed thrice between 24 January to 20 March.

“There is a lot of speculation regarding the delay of this mega bidding,” Sunsure Energy said in a statement. “The reason for the delays can be attributed to any number of reasons, however it must be understood very clearly by the tendering agency that more diligence is required in preparation of the documents which can be easily achieved by increasing the involvement and feedback from the industry players.”

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“We are waiting for some approvals from the ministry (ministry of new and renewable energy) and we are also doing survey of buildings and are waiting for that report to be out before calling for bids,” a SECI official said over the phone, asking not to be named as he is not authorized to be quoted.

While the delay will not have an impact on specific companies in the sector, it will impact the sector in general, said Vinay Rustagi, managing director at boutique consultancy Bridge To India. “The government is expected to become a huge demand driver for the rooftop (solar project), but timescales keep shifting and it just shows the complexities of the rooftop market,” he said.

According to Rustagi, while the tender is highly anticipated, being the largest so far, and is very attractive to developers due to stability from the government off-take of power, the process of site screening from over a thousand sites and estimation of project sizes is proving to be a challenge.

Of the total 100 GW of solar power capacity that India needs to reach by 2022, about 40 GW has to come from rooftop projects. In 2016, the country’s rooftop solar market has added capacity at the fastest pace and crossed 1 GW in total installed capacity, but is still far from achieving the 40 GW target.

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The solar projects from the tender are to be set up on the roofs of central and state government buildings. Surplus power can be sold via connection to the grid and companies can avail of capital subsidies for the projects. SECI is a major implementing agency for solar projects in India and has already commissioned over 54MW of rooftop projects.

Companies have been waiting for large tenders of this nature to increase their capacities and scale their companies higher, said a chief executive of a rooftop solar firm, on condition of anonymity.

SECI plans to give 15 months to successful bidders from the date of issuance of letter of allocation for execution of the projects.

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