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Azure Power proposes 10 MW solar plant in Meghalaya at a cost of Rs 1.5bn

As Panchabuta had reported a couple of months back, Azure Power India Pvt. plans to raise its solar energy generation capacity to 100 megawatts by 2013 with an investment of 15 billion rupees ($ 332 million), Chief Executive Inderpreet Wadhwa said in a recent interview, as the South Asian nation ramps up electricity supply from renewable sources.

The company designs, finances, owns, and operates solar power plants and is one of the 37 companies the Indian government selected earlier in December to supply 5 MW of solar power each to the national grid.

The company has in the past secured financing from the Overseas Private Investment Corp., a U.S. government body, and the International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group. It has business agreements with China’s solar energy major Suntech Power Holdings Co. and SunEdison LLC, a unit of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc.

Solar power producer Azure Power has proposed to set up the first solar plant in the Northeast in Meghalaya — a 10 MW power plant with an estimated investment of Rs 150 crore.

Awaiting approval from the state government, the company made a presentation to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma last Friday. The company’s Chairman H S Wadhwa said the proposed plant would be the first and the only private, utility-scale facility in the region to drive development by providing solar power service to communities, governments, and commercial customers in the state.

The plant has been proposed in Built, Operate and Transfer(BOT) basis.Some locations have been identified in the state’s Ri Bhoi and West Garo Hills districts.

“Sustainability of a solar project depends up on at least 250 days of sunshine, for which Ri Bhoi and West Garo Hills are ideal locations in the state,” Rajan Bhattacharya, the local coordinator of the project, said.

Meghalaya, on an average day, requires 610 MW of power, while the state’s own production is just 185.2 MW.

It will be interesting to know the model of the BOT that has been proposed by Azure to the Meghalaya Government and if the project being subsidized by MNRE or Meghalaya Government or any other agency under the various schemes and funds for renewable energy projects and special funds for development projects in the North East .

Also what would be of interest is the exact location of project and whether it is at tail end of grid or off grid and the mechanism for distribution.

With an aggressive plan of about 100MW in 2013 and a public listing, Azure has been looking at all possible avenues to secure projects as dependence on the National Solar Mission and Gujarat state policy will make it achieving the targeted capacity highly unlikely. Also, given their access to capital-both equity and debt- because of international multilateral agencies, the company is making big and bold bets that other Indian developers of similar scale will be unable to do.

 The only other Indian developer that could achieve that scale and strategy could possibly be Kiran Energy that has once again raised a lot of equity from multiple private equity funds.

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