Madhavan Nampoothiri contributed the following article to Solar Business Focus magazine, UK (February 2012 issue)
Solar power in India inches closer to grid parity
On December 2nd 2011, when the discount bids were opened for the allotment of solar PV projects to eligible developers under India’s National Solar Mission, a sense of disbelief permeated the solar industry. While it was expected that there would be aggressive bidding and offers of steep discounts from the bidders, no one would have anticipated that the lowest winning bid would touch Rs. 7.49 (US$0.15)/kWh. This bid price, offered by the French developer Solairedirect SA for a 5MWp project, represented a more than 50% discount on the reference price of Rs. 15.39 (US$0.31)/kWh and was about 50% less than the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for a similar scale PV system in Germany (€¢21.56/kWh).
A total of 20 project developers including Solairedirect won 27 solar PV projects totaling 350MWp in this round of bidding. Each bidder was allowed to place three bids totalling 50MWp, with each bid not exceeding 20MWp. Some of the other winners include Sun Edison, Azure Power and Mahindra Solar. Fonroche Energy SA, another French solar firm, also won a project. Maintaining its reputation as the most preferred solar project destination, Rajasthan bagged a whopping 24 projects out of the total 27. The total size of these 24 projects comes to 300MWp out of the total 350MWp allotted. The states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra got one project each and the most surprising fact was that Gujarat, which is the leader in solar energy in India, did not get even one project.
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