India: ReNew Power secures 49 MW in SECI solar rooftop tender

India’s stirring rooftop solar PV sector is being buoyed by a 500 MW tender from the Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI), and last week local renewable energy developer ReNew Power confirmed that it had been allocated 49 MW of the total capacity.

ReNew Power is the largest single off-taker in the auction, which has so far attracted 130 bidders to the scheme and is intended to provide subsidy for rooftop solar PV projects across a number of Indian states.

SECI is targeting residential solar customers, but also various schools, colleges and university rooftops. Currently, India has approximately 1 GW of rooftop solar PV capacity installed, but under the National Solar Mission has a target of reaching 40 GW by 2022.

Residential solar PV systems have not been widely adopted by Indians, but as the middle class expands, prices fall and financing mechanisms serve to lower the barriers to PV adoption, uptake is expected to grow over the coming years.

"It is really encouraging to see the government taking active measures to promote usage of renewables in India, especially solar," said ReNew Power CEO and chairman Sumant Sinha. "We always aim to walk hand in hand with the government in their efforts and make a prominent mark in the development of this industry."

The firm’s head of distributed solar and offtake, Prabhat Mishra, remarked that the scheme will give a significant thrust to ReNew Power’s rooftop business, adding that it is fast becoming a key area of focus for the company.

ReNew Power’s distributed solar PV pipeline in India stands at around 100 MW of projects at various stages of development.

Other notable winners in the SECI tender included Hero Solar Energy, which secured 13.2 MW of rooftop projects, and Germany’s Bosch, which snapped up 10.4 MW. The bulk of the 500 MW tender – 400 MW – was set aside for larger rooftop projects in the range of 25-500 kW, with the remaining 100 MW earmarked for rooftops smaller than 25 kW.

SECI also split the 400 MW portion into two, 200 MW models – one a capex-driven allocation whereby the rooftop owner will also own the solar plant; while the other 200 MW is to be allocated under the Resco model, which sees the developer own the rooftop system the property owner receive a portion of the tariff generated.

This model has proven least popular with developers, attracting only 97.65 MW in bids, compared to 193.6 MW for the Capex model, and 141.2 MW (oversubscribed) for small rooftop systems (which are also tendered under the Capex model).