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India to Seek Bids to set up about 300MW of Solar Projects

According to reports, India plans to call bids in August to set up about 300 megawatts of solar power plants as part of efforts to accelerate the development of renewable-energy projects. Debashish Majumdar, chairman of the state-run Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, said Thursday the 300 MW of projects are those remaining from the first phase of the national solar program.

The agency operates under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and provides funds to renewable-energy projects.

The first phase, to be completed by March 2013, targets grid-scale power projects of 1,000 MW, 100 MW of rooftop systems and 200 MW from off-grid systems such as rural electrification.

“There’ll be no second or third phase of the solar mission if the first phase does not succeed,” Mr. Majumdar said in an interview.

He also allayed fears that funding problems may cause delays in the solar program. Earlier this month, an industry report said that many companies that got projects under the program couldn’t meet the July 9 deadline to arrange funds, and that “not more than 90-100 megawatts out of 150 MW of photovoltaic projects will move forward” under the first phase.

But Mr. Majumdar said most of the projects given out so far have been able to arrange finances before the July deadline.

“The first phase has to be a trailblazer. The first challenge of financial closure has almost been met. Now the worry will be about
installation, generation, loan repayment,” he said.

Mr. Majumdar said if the projects awarded so far aren’t commissioned by March 2012, their bank guarantees would be forfeited and tariffs would rise.

Separately, an executive of NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. said the estimated bank guarantee for the 620 MW of projects awarded so far is about 10 billion rupees ($224 million).

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