As Panchabuta has earlier mentioned, the Solar PV space in India is getting very interesting. 37 developers have been shortlisted in the first phase of National Solar Mission for a total capacity of 620 MW. Also as Panchabuta had reported earlier this year that all but one of the shortlisted developers have signed their PPA’s and this leaves us at an interesting stage where the projects need to achieve financial closure and complete execution within stipulated timelines.
The bidding for the first stage of first phase has been conducted through a fair and transparent reverse bidding process with stringent bid bond conditions and strict timelines and penalties for potential developers. Also, with such high discounts it seems highly unlikely that these project licenses could be significantly traded leaving developers with an option of either executing the project with assistance of a technical partner or giving up their bid bond guarantees that they have made.
Given such stringent conditions and time lines the developer community is watching MNRE and NVVN very closely on how they decide to act once the timelines for elapses and projects are unable to adhere to some of these milestones.
Panchabuta was given to understand from unofficial sources that the timelines for the second stage of the first phase of the National Solar Mission was being planned for in July/ August.
According to reports today, the next round of bidding for 296 MW of solar photovoltaic projects is likely to start in April, said Anil Agarwal, CEO of NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam, the nodal agency for the first phase of the mission.
Panchabuta understands from unofficial sources that one possible reason for the advancement of the bidding process could be avoid potential issues that might arise out of the lapsing of deadlines in June for the projects under the first stage of the first phase of the mission.
There have been varying views on this and companies like Tata BP Solar Ltd. has said, bidders in India’s first solar auction have committed to building plants at unviable rates because they don’t understand the costs of the technology. The government, expected to award the next round of licenses later this year, should select bids closest to the average to weed out unrealistically low ones, said Anil Patni, deputy general manager of the photovoltaic equipment maker. K Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar, has been a critique of the National Solar Mission and has said that competitive tariff bidding in the first phase of the National Solar Mission will lead to failed projects.
There are some on the other side including the developers with successful bids who are confident that they would be able to execute. Stakeholders in the ecosystem like SunEdison are using this opportunity to participate and provide a number of services including design and engineering services etc and have been very excited about the mission and growth of solar in India.
In fact, a couple of months ago, Baltimore, US-based SunEdison announced its intention to invest $100 million in solar projects in India and the company’s President, Mr Carlos Domenech, had said that many private equity investors are interested in partnering SunEdison and a deal could be struck in about three months.
Also what will be interesting to see is how serious the different nodal agencies and the governments are with delay in the time lines that have been stipulated. A common complaint among various players in the ecosystem including EPC players, vendors, inverter manufacturers etc. is that developers are waiting and watching and in discussions all the time without making the commitments as deadlines have been rather flexible so far.
Panchabuta is cautiously optimistic and will keep a close watch on which of these projects do achieve financial closure in the middle of this year which will be a very important milestone.