Japan's SoftBank wins bid for 350 MW Indian solar farm

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A subsidiary of the Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Group has been successful in a bid under India’s National Solar Mission to build a 350 MW solar park in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

SB Energy is a three-way joint venture (JV) of SoftBank, Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan manufacturing services provider Foxconn, and was successful in its bid under Phase-II, Batch-II, Tranche-I of a tender held by Andhra Pradesh state utility, NTPC.

Its winning bid will deliver solar power over a 25-year tariff of INR 4.63/kWh ($0.07/kWh). The solar park will be developed in the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, marking SoftBank’s first official foray into the growing Indian solar markets, and the inaugural step on its commitment to develop $20 billion of clean energy projects in the country.

SB Energy has earmarked the development of 20 GW of solar power in India over the course of the ambitious National Solar Mission, and a 350 MW PV plant is a bold first step on that journey for the New Delhi-headquartered JV.

"This project will immensely contribute to the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s [Narendra Modi] vision of meeting the country’s energy demands through clean sources and India’s commitment to providing a safe environment, following the recent Paris convention," said SoftBank COO and president Nikesh Arora.

The Andhra Pradesh tender in which SB Energy was successful was massively oversubscribed when first released in September, with submitted bids totaling 5.5 GW – way above the allocated 500 MW of PV capacity.

SB Energy won out against a handful of large, global competitors with its bid of INR 4.63/kWh – a sign that the more “aggressive” bids are being accepted despite concerns among some industry experts that such low tariffs could prove unworkable.

India’s solar goal is to install 100 GW of capacity by 2022, and will have to drastically accelerate its current installation rates if it is to achieve that goal.

This calendar year the country will grow its solar sector by around 3 GW, and is expected to add 4.3 GW of new capacity in the 2015/16 fiscal year. For the next fiscal year, 2016/17, the government has confidently predicted that India can add around 1 GW of new solar PV capacity.

However, concerns abound regarding the country’s ability to set clear and unified policy and guard against project delays.