The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu has completed one of the largest solar power capacity allocation in the country. The state government recently confirmed that it project developers have agreed to develop a 1.5 gigawatts of solar PV power capacity following a competitive auction.

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) has announced that it awarded solar power projects with cumulative capacity of 1,500 megawatts to 16 developers. All these projects have been awarded at Rs 3.47/kWh (5.4¢/kWh), the lowest tariff bid committed by 25 participating developers.

Last month, TANGEDCO received massive response to the tender with project developers willing to set up 2.67 gigawatts capacity against the offered 1.5 gigawatts capacity. The bids submitted by the participating companies varied from Rs 3.47/kWh (5.4¢/kWh) to Rs 4.00/kWh (6.2¢/kWh), the maximum allowed bid.

A public sector company NLC Limited had offered placed a bid to develop the entire 1.5 gigawatts capacity at Rs 3.97/kWh (6.1¢/kWh) but eventually agreed to do it match the lowest tariff of Rs 3.47/kWh (5.4¢/kWh).

TANGDECO called upon all the developers to match the lowest bid and 16, including NLC, responded positively. Raasi Green Earth Energy, a lesser known developer in India, is believed to the have bagged 100 megawatts; the company has placed the lowest bid. NLC was awarded 700 megawatts capacity likely because some other developers refused to match the lowest bid.

The successful tendering is a major milestone for TANGEDCO which has been really struggling to attract solar project developers when compared to other states like Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

TANGEDCO had offered 500 megawatts solar power capacity in February 2016 but received bids for just 177 megawatts. The utility put 500 megawatts capacity on the block again in November 2016 but received bids for 300 megawatts only.

The power utility is known to be facing financial challenges accompanied by non-availability of ample grid infrastructure to support renewable energy projects. Tamil Nadu is already the largest wind energy producing state in India.

While project developers have been given upto 24 months to commission their projects, the longest-ever in Indian history, they have chosen to quote tariffs which are at significant premium to the current lowest solar power tariff in the country. ACME Cleantech Solutions currently holds the record for lowest solar power tariff in India at Rs 2.44/kWh (3.8¢/kWh).

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