India: SECI calls on World Bank for $200m financing for own solar projects


The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which was originally created to help support the development of solar interest in the country by holding auctions and promoting projects set up under the National Solar Mission, is pressing ahead with plans to develop a second suite of PV projects in India, according to local reports.

SECI MD Ashvini Kumar told the India Times that the corporation is eyeing a 300 MW solar-wind hybrid project in Andhra Pradesh, and three floating solar plant projects in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Lakshadweep Islands, sized 10 MW, 10 MW and 5 MW respectively.

To fund these projects, SECI has called upon the World Bank to supply 50% financing, at a cost of around $200 million, said Kumar. "We will put in the rest of the money ourselves. We have got approval from the Department of Economic Affairs (CEA), which has taken up the matter with the World Bank."

SECI has previously ventured into solar project development in Rajasthan, and these latest plans are intended to bolster the use of solar energy in regions where land is scarce. The floating solar projects will obviously be installed over water, while the hybrid development will see solar panels mounted in the space between wind turbines to maximize the land’s power output.

According to Vinay Rustagi of Bridge to India, floating solar plants in India remain a "fanciful idea", he said. "They are very costly, with capex up to 2-3 times the normal solar projects, and with debatable benefits," Rustagi told the India Times. "Operational challenges are also a big issue and so far, we simply do not have enough supporting evidence to make a strong business case for floating solar plants."

SECI’s Kumar retorted that the corporation was "aware" of the challenges inherent to floating solar plants, but stressed that in the areas identified, land scarcity means such innovation is the only way to bring solar power to these regions, many of which suffer from regular power outages.

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