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India Solar Projects Get Bids From Local, Foreign Firms

According to reports, India has received bids from 154 companies including Spain’s Gestamp Solar, Fonroche Energy of France and local utilities Reliance Power Ltd. and Tata Power Co. for contracts to build solar power facilities, an executive of the agency in charge of buying electricity from solar projects said.

The South Asian nation had called bids to build and operate 350 megawatt of solar power facilities. These will be the second round of contracts to be given under a federal program to have 20 gigawatt of solar capacity by 2022.

More than half of India’s power generation capacity of 182 GW is coal-based, while government officials term the current solar capacity as negligible.

Building of plants to generate 350 MW solar power is estimated to require 35 billion rupees ($714 million) in investments.

The executive said the solar power units of Lanco Infratech Ltd., GAIL (India) Ltd., Hindustan Petroleum Corp., Moser Baer Projects Pvt. Ltd., Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. and Mahindra Solar One Pvt. Ltd. were also among the companies, which submitted as many as 218 proposals.

The executive from NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd., a unit of state-run utility NTPC Ltd., didn’t want to be named.

Anil Kumar Agrawal, chief executive of NTPC Vidyut Vyapar, confirmed the number of bids, but refused to name the bidders.

Mr. Agrawal said the government received proposals for building 2,500 MW of projects against the 350 MW on offer.

“The response has been enthusiastic,” he added.

Executives at GAIL, Lanco and Mahindra Solar One confirmed their bids. Gestamp Solar, Fonroche, Reliance Power, Tata Power, Hindustan Petroleum and Moser Baer, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services didn’t reply to emails seeking comments.

Several companies had avoided the previous auction for 620 MW, citing unfavorable terms and small size of projects, prompting the government to relax rules such as the timeframe for establishing projects and expand capacities.

Bidding for the second round concluded this month.

Mr. Agrawal said NTPC Vidyut Vyapar is conducting technical evaluation of the applications and plans to make a shortlist of companies by November to seek price bids. The letters of intent will be issued to the selected companies in December, he said.

“The aim is to sign the agreements with finalized companies by January-February next year so that we can see the plants being operationalized by early 2013,” Mr. Agrawal said.

Projects under the first auction of the solar program were given in December and have to be completed by March 2013.

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