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India Invites First Solar Bids In 2 Years

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India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has invited bids to build 750 MW of solar plants as part of Phase-2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). This is the country’s first national auction since 2011. On top of that already good news, the government is offering 18.75 billion rupees ($303 million) in grants to the project from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF).

The 750 MW grid connected solar power projects are expected to be primarily private sector operations based to supplement grid power generation. However, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also noted that “these projects will also lead to an associated development of their surrounding areas with positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of the local population.”

Bids are due by November 29, according to state-run Solar Energy Corp (PDF), and Bloomberg have reported that “the government will stagger disbursal of the grants to ensure projects meet milestones.”

Earlier this year, “India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) revealed that they have assigned 1172 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected solar power plants” in just three years, with 369 MW of that already commissioned.

“The total number of plants include one 2.5 MW solar thermal plant and 131 photovoltaic plants, of which 65 comprise locally made solar cells and modules.”

Not long after this announcement, Welspun Energy “commissioned the largest solar power plant in India to date.”

The project is located in the north-western state of Rajasthan and has a capacity of 50 MW. According to a statement issued by the company, the project was commissioned in a record time of five months. The project is expected to feed 83.22 million kWh of electricity into the grid every year, enough to cater the demand of 25 million homes. The project will also offset about 75,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

India has recently become one of the hotbeds of solar development and construction, thanks in part to the country’s burgeoning population and economy, and the subsequent need for more and more energy. Given the environmental and economic benefits of solar generated electricity, as well as the relatively impressive technological advancements making the technology more and more available, India’s decision to focus on solar technology is equal parts sensible and exciting.

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