It is perhaps the worry of missing the ambitious renewable energy target that the Indian government has floated the idea of launching the world’s largest solar power tender.
According to media reports, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is planning to auction off 20 gigawatts of solar power capacity in one go. The final details of the proposed auction are still being deliberated upon, however, the aim is to spur domestic solar modules production as well as further reduce the cost of solar power.
Despite the ambitious targets and supportive policies, India has lagged in solar power capacity addition. The country plans to have an installed solar power capacity of 100 gigawatts by March 2022. The installed capacity as of 30 September 2017 was just over 14.7 gigawatts. So, it needs to add an additional 85 gigawatts in the remaining four years and six months.
While a substantial amount of capacity is already in the pipeline, a larger quantity has yet to be allocated. To achieve the 100 gigawatts target, India will have to add around 1.6 gigawatts every month between October 2017 and March 2022. India has never seen such growth in its solar, or any other renewable energy technology. Between April and September of 2017, India managed to add just 2.5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, or just 413 megawatts per month.
Initially, the government had planned to set up 40 gigawatts of the 100 gigawatts from rooftop solar power systems. Realizing that the rooftop market does not enjoy the penetration and financial benefits that the utility-scale projects have, the government circled back to utility-scale solar power projects. It increased the target for capacity addition through solar power parks from 20 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts.
The 20 gigawatt tender being talked about will likely be under this solar power parks scheme itself. Several state governments have already identified land to set up a cumulative 20 gigawatts of capacity and the Solar Energy Corporation of India will auction these projects in the near future. Work on the additional 20 gigawatts of solar power parks may soon come to fruition.
While details of the tender will emerge in the due course of time, the projects auctioned will likely be commissioned in phases. The largest solar power tender launched in India to date had a capacity of 2 gigawatts.