Solar Auctions Were Up in 2020 Despite the Pandemic, Tenders Activity Declined

2020 was not great for India’s solar sector, which was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed down the development activity. The ongoing projects came to a grinding halt, and the solar supply chain took a beating, with the economy feeling the brunt of the pandemic.

Despite the challenges, the government agencies floated about 32 GW of tenders for the calendar year 2020, a decrease of 7% compared to 35 GW in 2020.

The year also saw 22 GW of solar auctions, a 40% increase compared to 2019, which saw 16 GW of solar auctions. The auction numbers were skewed due to the 8 GW of projects awarded to Adani and Azure Power under the greenshoe option, helping breach the 20 GW mark.

India Large Scale Solar Tenders By Year Wise

Solar energy Corporation of India (SECI) accounted for 41% of the total tenders floated, and NTPC came second with 8.5% of the total tenders floated in 2020.

Important Tenders Floated in 2020

In the final quarter of the year (Q4) 2020, about 8 GW of solar tenders were floated, which was an increase of 66% compared to Q3 2020, according to Mercom’s data.

Recently, the Andhra Pradesh Green Energy Corporation Limited (APGECL) invited bids for developing 6.4 GW of solar power projects at ten locations in the state. The total capacity of 6.4 GW included 600 MW at Chakrayapet, 400 MW at Thondur, 600 MW at Kambaldinne, 600 MW at Pendlimarri, 600 MW at Rudrasamudram, 600 MW at CS Puram, 600 MW at Uruchinatala, 1,200 MW at Akmbadur, 600 MW at Mudigubba, and 600 MW at Kolimigundala.

In another tender in Q4 2020, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) issued a request for selection (RfS) to purchase power from 500 MW of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. The minimum project capacity to be quoted was set as 25 MW.

In quarter three (Q3) 2020, the government agencies announced about 6.3 GW of tenders in the third quarter Q3 of the calendar year (CY) 2020, an increase of 14% compared to the Q2 2020.

In July, SECI issued a request for selection to set up 1,070 MW of grid-connected solar projects in Rajasthan (Tranche-III). The last date for the submission of bids was August 31, 2020.

In Q2 2020, the government agencies announced nearly 6 GW of solar tenders, a 58% decline compared to 13.4 GW in Q1 2020.

SECI issued a request for selection (RfS) for 2.5 GW of interstate (ISTS)-connected solar projects under Tranche X (ISTS-X) at the Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Park (UMREPP) in Koppal district of Karnataka in April 2020.

In Q1 2020, SECI announced two tenders for 2 GW of solar projects. The ISTS-connected solar projects were floated under tranche-IX of the ISTS program. The 2 GW solar tender scope included acquiring land, connectivity, and long-term open access approvals by the solar power developer.

Also, in Q1 2020, SECI issued an RfS for renewable energy developers to supply 5 GW of round-the-clock (RTC) power from grid-connected renewable power projects, bundled with power from coal-based thermal projects in the country.

In another significant announcement, NTPC Limited floated an invitation for bids to select solar power developers for setting up 1,200 MW Interstate Transmission System (ISTS) connected solar projects in India.

At the start of 2020, SECI issued a detailed RfS document to set up 1,200 MW of ISTS-connected solar power projects.

Auctions that Grabbed the Headlines

The year saw a slew of auctions that saw the tariff decrease drastically and breach the ₹2 (~$0.0270)/kWh barrier.

As the year drew to a close, there was good news for the DISCOMs. The GUVNL’s (Phase XI) auction for 500 MW of solar projects set a new record. The lowest tariff reached ₹1.99 (~$0.0270)/kWh in the auction. The auction set a new benchmark for other projects in the near future.

Earlier in SECI’s auction for 1,070 MW of solar projects in Rajasthan had set a record-low lowest (L1) tariff of ₹2 (~$0.0270)/kWh (Tranche-III). SECI had received bids from 14 companies for a total of 4,350 MW, leaving the tender oversubscribed by 3,280 MW. Eight of the quoted tariffs were below the previous record low of ₹2.36 (~$0.0319)/kWh.

In August, O2 Power, Azure Power, Tata Power, and Amp Energy together won 1,170 MW of projects in NTPC’s auction for 1.2 GW of the ISTS-connected solar projects.

In another auction, Vena Energy Renewables, Tata Power, ReNew Power, SJVN Limited, and TEQ Green Power (a subsidiary of O2 Power) were declared winners in the auction for 700 MW of solar projects floated by GUVNL for Dholera solar park (Phase IX).

In June, SECI’s auction witnessed a record low bid at the time of ₹2.36 (~$0.0313)/kWh. The auction was conducted for 2 GW of ISTS-connected solar projects (Tranche IX). The L1 (lowest) tariff was quoted by Solarpack Corporacion Technologica SA, Avikaran Surya India Private Limited (Enel Green Power), Amp Energy Green Private Limited, Eden Renewables, and ib vogt Singapore Private Limited quoted the second-lowest tariff of ₹2.37 (~$0.0314)/kWh.

The year also saw SECI announce the winner of its tender for 400 MW of renewable power on a round-the-clock (RTC) basis. ReNew Power won the auction for the total tendered capacity of 400 MW with a quoted tariff of ₹2.90 (~$0.038)/kWh.

The first half of the year saw SoftBank, Axis Energy Ventures India Private Limited, O2 Power, EDEN Renewables, and Avaada Energy being declared winners in the 2 GW ISTS-connected solar projects auctioned by NHPC. Softbank, Axis Energy, O2 Power, and EDEN quoted the lowest (L1) tariff of ₹2.55 (~$0.0335)/kWh in the auction. They were awarded 600 MW, 400 MW, 380 MW, and 300 MW, respectively.

In another SECI auction for 1.2 GW of ISTS- connected solar projects (Tranche VIII), SBE Renewables Fifteen Private Limited (SoftBank), AMP Energy Green, and Eden Renewable Alma won capacities of 600 MW, 100 MW, and 300 MW respectively at the tariff of ₹2.50 ($0.0348)/kWh. ReNew Solar won only 200 MW capacity out of the 600 MW it bid at ₹2.51 ($0.035)/kWh under the bucket-filling method.

At the start of 2020, Greenko Group and ReNew Power won the auction conducted by SECI for 1.2 GW of solar, wind, and energy storage projects with guaranteed peak power supply. While Greenko was awarded 900 MW, ReNew Power won 300 MW of projects.

Also, in January 2020, Adani Green Energy and Azure Power won the first of its kind manufacturing-linked solar tender floated by SECI for 7 GW of solar capacity. Adani and Azure both won the bid to develop 2,000 MW projects with 500 MW of manufacturing capacity. The winning tariff quoted by both the companies was ₹2.92 (~$0.04)/kWh.