Buzz of solar activity in Karnataka this year as SECI tenders another 1GW

Karnataka has seen multiple solar announcements in 2016 already. Flickr: Vinoth Chandar

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the state-owned company aiming to drive India’s National Solar Mission (NSM), has issued a request for selection (RfS) document for the development of 1GW of solar in the state of Karnataka.

The capacity tendered as part of Phase-II, batch-III of the NSM, will also be eligible for the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) mechanism, which is a financial support mechanism provided by the government of India.

However, consultancy firm Bridge to India has previously reported “subdued interest” in the VGF category partly due to the recent downward revision of the tariff for such projects to a fixed rate of INR4.43/kWh (US$0.065) down from INR5.43/kWh.

This year has already seen a huge amount of tendering and planning activity for solar in Karnataka.

For example, Indian state-owned utility National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has invited bids for 250MW and 750MW of capacity in solar parks. Indian Conglomerate Adani Group announced plans to build 1GW of solar alongside coal and seaport investments. Steel giant ArcelorMittal is also planning 500-600MW of PV after backing out from plans to build a six million tonnes per annum steel mill.

Meanwhile Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) has invited a request for proposal (RfP) for the allocation of a further 240MW of solar after a shortfall in bids for capacity in its 1.2GW auction last November.

At the beginning of the year, consultancy firm Bridge to India, reported that southern states are expected to dominate solar activity this year, with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka forecast to contribute nearly 80% of all new capacity additions in 2016.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released figures yesterday showing that it expects India to install more than 12GW of solar in the financial year 2016/17, which would bring its cumulative total to nearly 20GW.

Meanwhile, in just February and March this year, a total of 4,281MW is due to be tendered under government of India policies.

However, a report from US-based environmental action group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), has suggested that while India’s solar ambitions could create around one million jobs, there may be a significant lack of skilled manpower to progress as hoped.

Tags: karnataka, bridge to india, india, tender

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