1GW of Andhra Pradesh projects up for auction in beefed up solar mission

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The Indian government has revealed details of an auction of 1GW of solar projects in the state of Andhra Pradesh that will form the first part of a national 15GW roll out of PV between now and 2019.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy today published guidelines on the new-look Jawarharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) national mission, which has been overhauled to reflect the solar ambitions of the new Modi government.

Initially, the second batch of the second phase of the JNNSM had been expected to allocate 1,500MW of new PV capacity, but this has been thrown out in favour of a much bigger 15GW target by 2019.

This target will be rolled out in three tranches – of 3,000MW, 5,000MW and 7,000MW.

Under the first tranche, due to run from 2014 to 2017, 3,000MW of solar capacity will be “bundled” with 1,500MW of new coal capacity

The Andhra Pradesh auction forms the first part of this initial tranche and will select companies to build projects totalling 1GW on land in the state’s Kurnool District.

A JV of public sector companies – JNNSM lead body the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) and Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO) – will carry out necessary infrastructure works including roads, water, construction power and pooling substations to speed up implementation of the PV projects.

The JV will also select companies to build, own and operate the projects through a tariff-based bidding process. Out of the 1GW on offer, 250MW will be reserved for domestic content requirement (DCR) projects, consistent with other phases of the JNNSM. Individual projects will be no more than 50MW each in size.

Power from the projects will be purchased by NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), a subsidiary of the state-owned power generation company, NTPC, under a 25-year power purchase agreement. NVVN will bundle power from the 1,000MW of PV with 500MW of unallocated power from NTPC coal power stations and sell it on to distribution companies in the state.

Local solar consultancy, Bridge to India, said in a briefing note about the guidelines that they were in places “confusing and self-contradictory”, leaving open the risk of confusion over responsibilities for site development.

“In the past, we have seen that for solar parks in Gujarat and Rajasthan, developers have had to face delays due to a delayed delivery of evacuation infrastructure [getting electricity onto the grid from the systems] and allotment of lands.

“It would be much better if the allocation process would begin only after all the developmental work is completed and the evacuation infrastructure has been created at the solar park. Alternatively, the guidelines must delink the risks of land and transmission infrastructure availability from the developers,” Bridge to India said.

Bridge to India said it expected the allocation process for the 1GW in Andhra Pradesh – confusingly referred to as part I of tranche I of batch II of phase II of the JNNSM – to begin in December.

Details of the remaining 2GW in the first tranche of the beefed up JNNSM or the subsequent two, much larger tranches, have yet to be made public.

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