British firm Lightsource big winner in 450 MW Indian solar tender

A solar auction held by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in the Indian state of Maharashtra has awarded large portions of the available 450 MW capacity to two well-known foreign firms.

While Indian developer Vijay Printing Press Private Limited secured the lowest winning bid of INR 4.42/kWh ($0.067/kWh) without viability gap funding (VGF), the benchmark tariff awarded to the remaining bidders – and offered in conjunction with the VGF scheme – was INR 4.43 ($0.069/kWh), which is the lowest such price achieved under the scheme anywhere in India.

Perhaps more noteworthy, however, was the presence of two internationally renowned solar firms on the winning bid sheet. China’s Canadian Solar walked away with 80 MW of project capacity under its arm, while British renewables developer Lightsource also enjoyed success, securing 50 MW of capacity under the auction, which was Phase II, Batch 4 for Maharashtra’s part in the National Solar Mission (NSM).

Other winners included Mumbai-based SolarEdge Power and Energy Private Limited (not to be confused with Israeli power optimizer specialist SolarEdge), which was awarded 130 MW of capacity, Neel Metal (awarded 100 MW) and Essel (awarded 60 MW).

SECI first issued the tender documents in June, and will sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with all of the winning companies, in addition to power sale agreements with power distribution companies and utilities at a pre-set tariff of INR 5/kWh.

Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle said that he was "delighted" to have taken the first steps towards realizing the firm’s ambitions in the Indian solar market. "The Indian government has a huge appetite for solar energy and we believe that Lightsource will contribute significantly towards their targets."

Lightsource was a leading player in the British solar boom over the past 24 months, but has since expanded its development efforts into many of the world’s more dynamic markets after regressive government changes all-but stripped support and subsidy for solar projects in the U.K.