French solar power developer Solairedirect created history today bidding for a 5-MW solar project quoting a tariff of Rs 7.49 a unit, bringing electricity from sun's energy closer to the reach of the common man.

Solairedirect's tariff has stunned many in the industry despite the fact that it was generally expected that solar power developers would quote low tariffs in order to grab projects under the Batch II of Phase I of the National Solar Mission. In this round, bids were invited for 350 MW worth of projects.

The quotes were arranged in the ascending order, so that those who sell the power cheapest will be given the projects first. The allocation process stopped when the total capacity of projects allocated reaches 350 MW.

Kiran Energy Solar and Mahindra Solar bid for 20 MW and 30 MW respectively, quoting Rs 9.34 a unit, and won. Welspun won three projects totalling to 50 MW quoting tariffs of Rs 7.97, Rs 8.05 and Rs 8.14, the second lowest. Azure Power got 35 MW, quoting Rs 8.21. GAIL got a 5-MW project quoting Rs 9.32.

More than 180 project developers submitted bids, indicating a keen interest in the Indian solar sector.

The bids were handled by NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN), the power trading arm of NTPC, which has been nominated by the Government to handle the Phase-I of the Solar Mission.

(This article was published on December 2, 2011)
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