The country’s ultra mega solar parks have offered potential investors an opportunity to join $500-700 billion renewable energy and grid infrastructure investment boom in the coming decade, a study noted.
“The ultra-mega solar parks have attracted foreign capital as well as top global developers to India and in return have provided investors with an opportunity to join a $500-700 billion renewable energy and grid infrastructure investment boom in the coming decade”, said Kashish Shah, research analyst at IEEFA.
India now has a capacity of 1 Gw across multiple ultra-mega solar parks, two of which are the largest commissioned in the world.
The Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan is the world’s largest such installation to date, covering more than 14,000 acres with total capacity of 2245 Mw.
The ultra-mega power plant (UMPP) concept involves a state government or local distribution company providing a single central grid connection and acquiring land on which the project can be built, shielding developers from procurement and time-delay risks.
“This approach has driven economies of scale and attracted global capital into India’s renewable energy sector over the last five years, with an immediate boon in mid-2017 of halving solar tariffs to a record low of Rs 2.44 per kWh ($39/MWh) at the prevailing exchange rate,” said Shah.
India pioneered the concept of the ultra mega power plant (UMPP) in a single solar industrial park. In 2016, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) initially set a target for 40 industrial solar parks with a combined capacity of 20 GW, and in 2017 doubled this target to 40 GW by 2022.
According to the report, utility-sale solar parks in India have successfully overcome the three major risks associated with renewable energy development in India, namely project execution risk, off-taker risk and operation and maintenance risk.
The country’s land acquisition process is one of the most critical roadblocks to infrastructure projects. But, the state government renewable development energy agencies have helped in acquiring large-scale government and privately-owned land for the solar parks. The solar parks also have cushioned developers from the hassles of arranging the connection of generation units to the nearest sub-station.
Besides, the introduction of reverse bidding auctions has helped curtail prices. In reverse bidding auctions, developers bid for the lowest attainable tariff at which to supply power. The auction mechanism drives prices down by promoting competition, but also has introduced transparency and efficiency in the process of contracting new renewable energy capacity.