Govt selects 37 companies to build solar power plants

Govt selects 37 companies to build solar power plants

New Delhi: Government has selected 37 companies to build solar power projects, as the country moves forward with an ambitious plan that seeks to significantly scale up production from near zero to 20 gigawatts by 2022.

Lanco Infratech, KVK Energy Ventures Pvt Ltd and Rajasthan Sun Technique Energy Pvt Ltd won bids for a maximum project capacity of 100 megawatts each, according to documents posted on the website of NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd.

Under its Solar Mission plan unveiled last year, India is to produce 1,300 megawatt (MW) of power by 2013, an additional supply of up to 10 gigawatt (GW) by 2017 and the rest by 2022 at an overall investment of about $70 billion.

India’s top power producer NTPC Ltd, through its unit NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), will lead the solar plan’s initial phase via long-term contracts to buy the first 1 GW of energy from developers at 15.31 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) for solar thermal and 17.91/kwh for solar module — about eight times the cost of coal power.

One gigawatt is enough to power close to 1 million homes.

Once implemented, the plan would see output equivalent to one-eighth of India’s current installed power base, helping the world’s third-worst polluter limit its reliance on coal and easing a power deficit that has crimped economic growth.

Godawari Power & Ispat, Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd and Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd were also selected to build power plants with a capacity of 50 megawatts each.

Other selected bidders included Maharashtra Seamless Indian Oil Corp, Welspun Solar AP, a unit of Welspun Corp that has interests in steel and textiles, and Punj Lloyd Infra, a unit of engineering and construction firm Punj Lloyd.

India’s Solar Mission plan is to make the use of solar-powered equipment and applications mandatory for hospitals, hotels and government buildings, and encourage use of solar lighting systems in villages and small towns with micro financing.

This drive to ramp up solar capacity may trigger a stampede of firms from Asia, Europe and North America, chasing a share of the business up for grabs and trampling over smaller domestic players.

First Solar, China’s Suntech Power Holdings and along with Taiwan’s Motech Industries are among companies expected to grab a piece of the pie as the country is highly dependent on imports of critical raw materials including silicon wafer used for solar cells and panels.

India’s top solar players including Tata BP Solar, a joint venture of Tata Power and BP, and Moser Baer have also announced expansion plans.