India weighing 750 MW solar auction

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India is poised to announce later this month the re-introduction of its auction process to invite bids for 750 MW-worth of solar power plant licenses.

The proposal has been put forward by the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and is currently awaiting Cabinet approval. A decision on whether to host the auction – the first in two years – is expected within ten days.

"The bidding documents are all ready," said Ministry joint-secretary Tarun Kapoor. "Cabinet approval is expected very soon."

Companies expected to be vying for the $48 million-worth of direct grants include Welspun Group (which is backed by Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management LLC) and Sunborne Energy Holdings LLC – a company of billionaire Vinod Khosla that has alread constructed 1,839 MW of PV capacity since the 2010 launch of the National Solar Mission.

Kapoor revealed that the Ministry hopes to gain approval to disburse the grant money, which is expected to cover as much as 30% of project costs for the winning bids. According to the auction guidelines, developers must propose projects within a 10 MW – 50 MW range, and those that request the least funding will win.

However, if the Cabinet does not approve the auction terms within the next ten days, there may be further delays caused by the forthcoming state assembly elections in New Delhi. Should this happen, bidding could be pushed back to Decemeber at the latest, according to Kapoor.

The auction is typically held approximately 45 days after the bids are invited.