Views of Dr Ashvini Kumar

“SECI to tender more capacity in the coming months”

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is spearheading the government’s ambitious target of achieving 100 GW of installed solar capacity by 2022. It is laying focus on the efficient and timely implementation of solar schemes and using this to drive investments in the sector. At the same time, it is working to add its own installations to the country’s expanding solar energy capacity. Recently, SECI successfully forayed into the wind energy segment as well. Speaking at Renewable Watch’s 10th Annual Conference on Solar Power in India, Dr Ashvini Kumar, managing director, SECI, discussed the current status of various schemes implemented by the organisation and its plans going forward. Excerpts…

SECI is engaged in solar power project development for both the utility-scale and rooftop segments. In the utility-scale category, it is implementing several projects under the viability gap funding (VGF) scheme. These include large-scale projects of 750 MW, 2,000 MW and 5,000 MW, 10 MW under the Indo-Pak Border Solarisation Scheme, 100 MW under the canal-top and canal-bank scheme, 300 MW under the defence scheme, and 1,000 MW under the central public sector undertaking (CPSU) scheme. In the solar rooftop segment, SECI allocates projects through competitive bidding. It is also engaged in the development of solar parks as a joint venture (JV) partner with the state governments.

In addition, SECI is undertaking large-scale interstate trading of solar power and providing management consultancy services to several agencies for their solar projects including the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (50 MW), Coal India Limited (200 MW), Indian Ports Association (26 MW), THDC (50 MW), Bharat Electronics Limited (15 MW) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (5 MW). SECI has also recently started providing management consultancy services to grid-connected rooftop solar projects. Currently, these services are being provided to the grid-connected solar rooftop projects of GAIL Petrochemical Complex under the CPSU scheme (5.76 MW), Banaras Hindu University under the incentive scheme (8 MW), the South Delhi Municipal Corporation under the incentive scheme (2.5 MW) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the defence scheme (1.5 MW). SECI also develops projects independently on a capex basis.

Recently, it has also ventured into the wind energy space and is allocating projects through the competitive bidding route.

Key achievements

As part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission Phase II, 680 MW of solar power projects have been commissioned under the 750 MW VGF scheme. Meanwhile, under the 2,000 MW VGF scheme, requests for selection (RfSs) have been issued for projects worth 2,425 MW while power purchase agreements (PPAs) have been signed for 2,295 MW of capacity. The projects are under execution. Under the 5,000 MW VGF scheme, RfSs have been issued for 2,900 MW of capacity and PPAs have been signed for 970 MW. The newest low solar tariff of Rs 2.44 per kWh was achieved in the auction for 500 MW of capacity at the Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan under this scheme. This was, however, without any VGF support.

SECI started a pilot scheme for city-specific allocation of rooftop solar projects through competitive bidding in 2013, by issuing a tender for 26.6 MW of capacity. The capacities tendered were 50 MW in 2014 and 2015, another 50 MW for the Central Public Works Department in 2015-16, and 500 MW for residential and not-for-profit institutions in 2016. In 2017, 500 MW has been tendered till now for government buildings. Around 100 MW of rooftop solar capacity has been commissioned so far.

Under the solar park scheme, 34 solar parks with a cumulative capacity of 20,000 MW have been sanctioned in 21 states. The total land identified for setting up these solar projects is 105,413.94 acres, of which 64,317.84 acres has been acquired so far. The total project capacity commissioned under this scheme so far is 896 MW, while another 2,235 MW of solar capacity is under implementation, and around 5,575 MW of capacity is under tendering. SECI is engaged in the development of six solar parks as a JV partner with the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. The total solar park capacity sanctioned in these states is 10,550 MW.

SECI has also completed the electrification of 895 villages in Arunachal Pradesh through stand-alone solar home lighting systems and solar street lights under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. As far as its own capex projects are concerned, it has commissioned a 10 MW project at Jodhpur, Rajasthan, and a 1 MW rooftop solar project in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. A 2.5 MW solar-wind-battery hybrid research and development project is under tendering.

Furthermore, a 5 MW project at V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust is awaiting board approval while feasibility assessment for a 20 MW project at the DRDO has been completed. And a 50 MW project at the DRDO, Hyderabad, is under discussion.

SECI has also recently auctioned 1 GW of wind energy capacity through competitive bidding, in which a record low wind energy tariff of Rs 3.46 per kWh was discovered.

Future plans

In the next few months, SECI is expected to come out with several new tenders for capacity allocation at the Bhadla solar park (750 MW); the Pavagada solar park, Karnataka (200 MW); the Chhattisgarh solar park (250 MW); and the Kadapa solar park, Andhra Pradesh.

Outside the solar park scheme, SECI is planning to allocate 230 MW of projects in Odisha. It is also planning to issue tenders in Bihar, which has put forward a request for 200 MW of solar energy capacity, and in Delhi, where the discoms have expressed their requirement for over 400 MW of capacity. SECI is also implementing a 150 MW solar-wind hybrid project in Andhra Pradesh with support from the World Bank. The feasibility assessment of the project has been completed. Besides, the organisation is working to develop solar power projects with a battery storage option and megawatt-scale commercial floating solar plants. The development of floating solar plants will result in better utilisation of land, higher energy generation and optimum use of the evacuation network.

The company has also been entrusted with the execution of the Green Energy Initiative in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, which involves the supply of electricity from renewable energy sources to the entire city. It has initiated discussions with the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency and the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, Bengaluru, to work on the concept paper for the same. Meanwhile, SECI has installed 500 solar street lights in Varanasi under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development scheme.

In the wind energy space, SECI has issued a second tender for allocating 1 GW of wind capacity through competitive bidding.

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