Why people are so heavily investing in Solar?
While Narendra Modi has inaugurated the largest solar farm at Charanka last month with a total installed capacity of 214 MW, it gives a lot of comfort to the banks and financial institutions who used to question solar as not a proven technology and hesitant in financing the solar power projects. A lot of small investors in Gujarat, who used to invest in wind power as their preferred investment strategy to save taxes through accelerated depreciation have started shifting their investment focus on grid connected solar power generation. Interest of this community in solar has many reasons. Many investors feels that investing in solar gives them diversity and fuel flexibility which is not available in typical conventional power generation. It is also a fact that Solar power’s generation profile correlates with the demand profile of distribution utilities. Also Solar power plants are modular in nature and can be constructed fairly quickly in few months period. The short gestation time and modular nature of solar technology allows projects to generate revenues in few months after the investments are made. Solar power projects does not require a major O&M excepting regular cleaning through water. Investors are also exploring the possibilities of utilising the land for some of the agriculture species, which can generate additional revenues to the investors. There is no additionality requirement for solar projects up to 15 MW capacity, which means getting carbon revenue is much more assured as compared to other power projects. Investments in solar also helps to diversify the renewable portfolio of the RE investors as a risk mitigation strategy. The solar industry is in consolidation mode, the price of solar power has heavily come down and investors are offering solar power at a price as low as 7 Rs/kWh in recent bids. The companies such as GE Energy is re-entering in to solar and have invested 100 Million Dollars in Solar power projects. The earlier market which was dominated by Crystaline Silicon technology (about 70%) is shifting its focus towards thin film technologies. The recent success in Indian market was also because financial institutions were quite supportive for well conceived projects with long term off take arrangements. Last one year has changed the market dynamics of solar industry, the prices have come down to 8-9 Cr./MW and the industry is not sure that from this point where the market will head in future. Three years ago India merely had 10 MW capacity of solar power and in last three years we have reached to almost about 700 MW installed capacity. Industry is cautious to adapt this change.