MNRE Asks Stakeholder Comments on Draft Tender for Installing Solar Pumps

The Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is set to implement Component-B of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program.

Under the program’s component B, standalone solar pumps would be installed with the government’s financial support. Standalone pump installers would be selected through a competitive bidding process conducted by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).

The tender is for the design, manufacture, installation, testing and commissioning of off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) water pumps of 1-10 HP in selected states across India. The bidders have to provide complete system warranty and its repair and maintenance for 5 years under MNRE off-grid and decentralized solar PV application program.

As per the draft tender, the scope of work covers design qualifications and performance specifications for a ‘centrifugal solar photovoltaic (SPV) water pumping system’ to be installed on a suitable bore-well, open well, water reservoir, water stream, etc. The solar water pumping system should be operated with a PV array of minimum capacity in the range of 900 Watts peak to 9,000 Watts peak, measured under standard test conditions (STC).

The power output of individual PV modules used in the PV array should be a minimum of 300 Watts peak under STC, with adequate provision for measurement tolerances. According to the draft tender, the use of PV modules with higher power output would be preferred.

Prospective bidders must use indigenously manufactured solar modules with local mono/multi-crystalline silicon solar cells. The motor pump, controller, and balance of system (BoS) should also be manufactured indigenously. The vendor has to declare the list of imported components used in the solar water pumping system.

Under the ‘average daily solar radiation’ condition of 7.15 KWh/sq.m. on the surface of PV array, the minimum water output from a solar PV water pumping system at different ‘total dynamic heads,’ should be as follows-

  • 110 liters of water per watt peak of PV array, from a total dynamic head of 10 meters and the shutoff head being at least 12 meters.
  • 55 liters of water per watt peak of PV array, from a total dynamic head of 20 meters and the shutoff head being at least 25 meters.
  • 38 liters of water per watt peak of PV array, from a total dynamic head of 30 meters and the shutoff head being at least 45 meters.
  • Twenty-three liters of water per watt peak of PV array, from a total dynamic head of 50 meters and the shutoff head being at least 70 meters.
  • 15 liters of water per watt peak of PV array, from a total dynamic head of 70 meters and the shutoff head being at least 100 meters.

Preference would be given to Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in the tender – 25% of the total quantity of the tender is earmarked for registered MSEs.

Devendra Gupta, CEO of Ecozen Solutions, commented on the move saying, “The solar pumping industry is scaling multi-fold, and this is going to be a watershed moment for the sector. However, it is important that all stakeholders – industry, nodal and implementation agencies, and government plan things wisely to work towards achieving this magnanimous number of 300,000+ units in a year. Historically, all the players in the country have installed around 60,000 systems in a year on average for the last three years.”

“To make this number realistic, it is necessary to have the right tender terms and conditions that will enable us to have as many players as possible to execute this tender. The focus above all should be to learn from the last EESL tender issues and plan forward pragmatically. For instance, easing payment terms will help the industry to manage cashflow and do more rotations to execute this faster. Otherwise, capital also becomes a constraint above the operational capacity,” he added.

Stakeholders are expected to submit their feedback for the draft tender by December 14, 2020. A discussion on the feedback will be held on December 15, 2020. The cost of the bidding document is ₹25,000 (~$339), along with a registration fee of ₹5,000 (~$67.88).

Recently, the central government ramped up the targets of the program. The MNRE said that these scaled-up targets would be executed in 2020-21. In the amendment, a target for the solarization of 7.5 lakh existing agricultural pumps has been kept through a feeder-level solarization plan under Component-C.

Accordingly, the MNRE also issued guidelines to provide a broad implementation framework for the feeder-level solarization plan.

In September, the MNRE issued clarifications for the program. According to the clarifications, for Component B and Component C of the program, the state share of subsidy will be a minimum of 30% of the applicable benchmark cost or the cost discovered in auctions, whichever is lower.

Read Mercom’s report on the amendments that the government must consider for KUSUM’s effective implementation.