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SoftBank-Led Joint Venture Secures First Solar Power Project In India At Record-Low Tariff

SBG Cleantech, a three-way joint venture between Japan’s SoftBank, Taiwan’s Foxconn, and India’s Bharti Enterprises, has registered its first win in India’s highly competitive solar power market.

SBG Cleantech grabbed the entire 350 megawatts on offer in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh through atender which was floated by India’s largest power generation company, NTPC Limited, under the National Solar Mission.

SBG Cleantech quoted a bid of Rs 4.63/kWh (US¢7.12/kWh), tying it with the lowest-ever solar PV bid in India placed recently by SunEdison to secure 500 MW capacity in the same state. Incidentally, that auction was the first where SBG Cleantech had also participated. The company failed to secure at capacity as it had placed a bid of Rs 4.80/kWh (US¢7.38/kWh).

In the latest auction, only three other companies quoted bids of less than Rs 5.00/kWh (US¢7.69/kWh). Subsidiaries of Trina Solar and First Solar also took part in the auction. Media reports make no mention of participation by SunEdison.

While some may, in some cases rightly, question the financial viability of projects with such low tariffs, conditions associated with the recent two auctions do offer some positives for the winners. Both, SunEdison and SBG Cleantech will sell power to NTPC Limited which is government-owned and financially in a far better position that the distribution utilities of various states. SunEdison had recently justified its aggressive bidding by claiming that financial institutions might be lenient while offering debt as the power will be procured by NTPC. 

SBG Cleantech plans $20 billion investment in India’s solar power market to developer at least 20 GW capacity. The company had recently signed an agreement with the government of Andhra Pradesh to set up 2 GW solar power and 1 GW wind energy capacity.

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