India solar power tariff finds new floor at Rs 3.15/unit

National » Solar

NEW DELHI: Solar power tariffs appear to be on a free fall in India, finding a new floor at a levelised tariff of Rs 3.15 per unit quoted by Solairdirect in the auction for state-run generation utility NTPC’s 250-MW project at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.
This beats the previous low of Rs 3.30 per unit levelised tariff, on a basic bid of Rs 2.97 a unit for the first year, quoted in February for the first unit of the 750 MW Rewa solar park in Madhya Pradesh.
Solar power tariffs have been falling in the last three years due to the Narendra Modi government’s thrust on raising India’s green energy footprint and reduce oil imports by 10% by 2030. After coming to power in 2014, the Modi government metamorphosed the UPA’s National Solar Mission by setting a target of building 175 giga watt of green energy capacity by 2030.
“Clean affordable power for all… ,” power minister Piyush Goyal tweeted as the new floor is nearly equal to the average tariff for coal-fired power supplied by NTPC and cheaper than electricity supplied by some private power producers.

But a section of industry players cautioned that the “hidden costs” of integrating such large-scale plants into grid should be considered at the time of calculating the landed cost.
According to them, grid-connected solar PV plants use transmission lines for only 20% of the time compared to 70% by traditional plants, which makes it 3.5 times costlier to wheel solar power compared to wheeling an equal quantity of power from traditional sources.
Also, operation of conventional plants will have to be ramped down or up to maintain supply-demand balance in the grid. This would result in lower plant load factors of conventional power station, which are expected to drop to 50% levels from current 60% levels. This in turn would push up the fixed cost component in the average cost of power.
As reported by TOI, solar tariffs had sunk to Rs 3 per unit Gurgaon-based Amplus Energy Solutions in the auctions conducted by Solar Energy Corporation of India for a clutch of rooftop solar power projects.
Till then the solar project at Badhla in Rajasthan held the record for the lowest tariff at Rs 4 per unit quoted by Finland-based Fortum Finnsurya Energy in the solar park category. In November 2015, tariff had touched Rs 4.63 per unit following aggressive bidding by US-based SunEdison, the world’s biggest developer of renewable energy power plants. The lowest tariff before that was Rs 4.34 per unit, quoted by Fortum India in January 2016 for one of the six packets of 70 MW (420 MW total) each bid out by NTPC for an earlier phase of the Bhadla project.
Source: Times Of India

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