Exemplifying the struggles project developers face in a competitive and developing market like India, Suzlon Energy, one of the largest integrated wind energy solutions providers, has sold its solar assets.
Suzlon Energy reported to Indian bourses recently that it sold balance stakes in some solar power projects it had secured in state-level auctions. The company has sold the stakes to CLP Wind Farms Limited, a subsidiary of Chinese company CLP.
Suzlon Energy had secured rights to develop 210 megawatts of solar power projects in the southern state of Telangana in early 2016. The company was among the top winners in India’s largest solar power tender at that time. The state of Telangana had offered 2-gigawatt capacity to developers and had received bids for over 4.6-gigawatt capacity.
The lowest tariff bid received in the tender was ₹5.17/kWh which is more than twice the lowest-ever tariff bid in India. We had reported at that time Suzlon Energy was among the first wind energy companies to have successfully bid for solar power projects. Like several other wind energy companies at that time Suzlon was doubtful about its future due to the policy bias towards the solar power sector. Feed-in tariffs for wind energy projects had been phased out with no clear timeline for implementation of an alternative.
Suzlon Energy had other troubles as well. The company had millions of dollars of debt on its books largely due to the ill-timed acquisition of RePower (now Senvion). While Suzlon eventually sold off Senvion to US-based investors the Indian company’s troubled aggravated due to adverse policy environment and increased competition from domestic and foreign players like Inox Wind, Gamesa and GE Renewable Energy.
Suzlon is believed to have sold a minority stake in the 210-megawatt portfolio to CLP India in 2016. We had reported that time that CLP is expected to eventually fully buy out Suzlon from the projects.
Suzlon Energy was developed as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) which ventured into project development and EPC services. Inox Wind, its competitor, also undertook a similar approach and is also paying the price for it. Gamesa has managed to keep its wind OEM, EPC, and solar EPC business well as but has completely stayed away from project development.
In India, the only major project developer that has managed to operate well in the solar and wind energy sectors is ReNew Power Limited. The company is a pure power generation company with no interests in manufacturing or EPC. Softbank-backed SB Energy has recently entered the wind energy business after aggressively expanding into the solar power business, again as a pure power generation company.
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