The solar blitzkrieg in India has now attracted the world’s largest coal miner as well.
Earlier this month, Solar Energy Corporation of India issued a tender on behalf of Coal India Limited for setting up two solar power projects of 100 megawatts capacity each at the planned Neemuch-Mandsaur solar power park in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
SECI will call for bids and auction the projects on behalf of two subsidiaries of Coal India Limited — Northern Coalfields Limited and Southeastern Coalfields Limited. The solar power park will have an eventual installed capacity of 500 megawatts — 250 megawatts each at Neemuch and Mandsaur.
Project developers will be required to use only Indian-made solar modules to set up the projects. As Coal India Limited is a government-owned company it may be allowed to stipulate this condition even though India lost a case to implement Domestic Content Requirement at the World Trade Organisation.
The tender issuance is a follow-up to the agreement signed between Coal India and SECI in June last year for the development of 200 megawatts in Madhya Pradesh. Coal India has announced a target to set up a total of 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity over the next few years.
The projects in Madhya Pradesh will form the first phase of this capacity addition. Additional projects will be set up in Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. SECI has been assigned to auction all these projects for Coal India.
Another coal mining company — NLC India Limited — has also announced ambitious plans to set up solar power plants. NLC India itself participated in an auction organized by the government of Tamil Nadu and secured rights to develop 709 megawatts. Additionally, it also auctioned a 20 megawatt solar power project in Andaman & Nicobar Islands which will also be equipped with 28 MWh of storage capacity.