India’s solar sector #1. Dissonance, chaos and tumult

At first glance, all seems well in India’s solar sector. Its tariffs continue to crash. At the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)’s auction last November, Saudi Arabia’s Aljoemaih Energy and Water Co and Green India Wind Energy, one of Sembcorp’s India investments, won after bidding ₹2 per unit. State-run NTPC wasn’t too far behind. It bid ₹2.01 per unit for the two bids, adding up to 600 MW of solar generation.
The auction underscored, once more, the sheer competitiveness of solar power. “Coal-based power costs between ₹4 to ₹5 a unit. Wind is at ₹3. Hydro and nuclear are much costlier,” said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge To India, a Gurgaon-based advisory firm focusing on India’s renewables sector. 
It has been a quicksilver rise. “In 2012-13, if anyone had said solar tariffs would fall so low, people would have dismissed that as foolish talk,” a mid-level manager at NTPC told CarbonCopy on the condition of anonymity. “Now, no one wants to set up thermal power plants. Only renewables are in. There is no viability for anything else.” And yet, look beneath these bids and you will find chaos and tumult.

This series, which took two months of work, is a part of a larger set where @carboncopyinfo and I have been trying to create an updated snapshot of India’s energy sector. So far, we have looked at changing geopolitics of oil/gas, and the factors enabling/disabling Gas, and Coal. In the daily hubbub — not to mention distractions like once in a century pandemics — we miss a clutch of deeper developments (and patterns of government decision-making). Energy is foundational to any society/nation. And so, here we go.
For a complete list of all the articles, go here.

ps: this report has been cross-posted at The Wire.

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