Domestic bliss for Indian companies in latest 500 MW solar auction

The latest solar auction in India brought a series of home comforts for domestic developers as Tata Power Co, Adani Enterprises, Acme Group, RattanIndia Power Ltd, and ReNew Power Ventures snapped up 400 MW of the 500 MW of capacity available in Tuesday’s Karnataka auction.

The sole foreign winner was Finland’s Fortum OYJ, which managed to secure 100 MW of solar PV capacity.

The winning tariffs were closely aligned, with a lowest tariff of INR 4.78/kWh and the highest tariff of INR 4.8/kWh meaning there was barely 1 U.S. cent between them. On average, solar projects were secured at a tariff of $0.072/kWh.

Despite India’s National Solar Mission making clear its desire to continue to attract more foreign investment, the absence of any large foreign winners in the auction was notable, particularly in light of the recent troubles of SunEdison and its efforts to offload as much as 1 GW of PV projects in the country.

Last November, a 500 MW auction in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh saw the U.S. firm snap up all 500 MW on offer, albeit at a winning tariff of INR 4.63/kWh that many experts observed at the time was worryingly low.

These higher tariffs, while welcome, may still prove too unwieldy for developers, particularly domestic ones, with ReNew Power founder Sumant Sinha telling Bloomberg that an idea strike price for Karnataka would have been INR 4.95/kWh.

However, this latest tranche of winning bids is still far higher than the record low seen in January’s Rajasthan auction, which saw 420 MW of capacity awarded at just INR 4.34/kWh.