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India Plans to Relax Solar Rules

According to reports, India plans to make changes to its solar energy program, including relaxing timelines and increasing project sizes, in order to attract larger companies and boost investment in the sector, the renewable energy secretary said Wednesday.

“Now we are working to relax a few norms and attract bigger players in the upcoming bids, which are likely to come up this month,” Deepak Gupta said.

The government plans to have 20,000 megawatts of solar energy-based electricity generation by 2022. As part of the first phase, it handed out 620 MW of projects in December and plans to call bids later this month for projects totaling about 300 megawatts.

The first phase is to be completed by March 2013. The government’s move to tweak the program comes after it allocated 4.86 billion rupees ($108 million) in June to guarantee payments to solar power producers and help solar projects overcome funding issues.

Mr. Gupta said that of the 37 solar projects awarded in the program so far, one project had been scrapped on technical grounds and one failed to arrange funds.

He said the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning to increase the size of the projects that will be awarded and also extend the timeline for arranging finances by one month to seven months.

“If the size goes up, more time is needed to tie-up funds,” he said.

Mr. Gupta didn’t specify the likely increase in project size, but an executive of NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. said the plan is to raise the size of solar photovoltaic projects to as much as 20 MW, from 5 MW currently.

The executive, who declined to be named, also said that a company or business group would be allowed to bid for a maximum of three projects totaling 50 MW.

Currently, one company can bid for only one project.

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