India to soon hold new solar tenders for 2 to 4 GW

The Indian government may soon hold major solar tenders for 2 to 4 GW as it seeks to achieve a 2016 target of 2 GW and a 12 GW goal for 2017, The Economic Times reported this week.

The newspaper quoted Piyush Goyal, India’s minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, who spoke to reporters at the India-Australia Energy Dialogue in Brisbane.

"We are looking at coming out with 2-4 GW of solar power tenders,” Goyal said, quoted by The Economic Times. “This will lead to economies of scale as large players will come as well as large capital.”

The newspaper added that tenders for around 18 GW of solar projects are expected to be issued by March 31.

India has set a target of generating 100 GW of solar power by 2021-22. Of that, it plans to have 60 GW of ground-mounted grid-connected solar power and 40 GW of roof-top grid interactive solar power. The government has also set annual targets and is looking to install 2 GW of solar in 2016 and up to 12 GW in 2017. The country’s grid-connected solar power generation capacity has already surpassed the 5 GW mark, the newspaper added. ?

While Indian market watchers have warned that solar developers are losing interest in government tenders due to falling feed-in tariffs, Goyal defended the cuts and said they could come down by a further 10% from their current record low of INR 4.34/kWh ($0.06/kWh).

"When I first said that solar power tariffs need to come down, nobody believed me,” Goyal said, quoted by The Economic Times. “Now when they have come down to record low they believe me. But looking at the way auctions have gone, it can come down by 10%.”

At the same time, Goyal said he was exploring ways to help India’s farmers start their own solar projects: "I want to do something for farmers and I am thinking of ways to encourage them towards solar power. This can also add to their income. This is my dream.”