NLC biggest winner in 1,500-MW Tamil Nadu solar auction

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India’s latest solar auction, one of the biggest in the country, drew a surprisingly enthusiastic response with a big chunk of the 1,500 MW of projects on offer won by a state-owned mining company.

The lowest bid in the auction in Tamil Nadu, where solar radiation is weaker than in Rajasthan, came from Bengaluru-based Raasi Green Earth Energy, which won 100 MW at Rs. 3.47 per unit, according to a list of official winners provided by one of the successful bidders. Officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp., which invited the bids, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bids were invited in May and the results were declared on Friday. The corporation got a good response this time after two of its previous tenders were undersubscribed.

Apart from weaker radiation in Tamil Nadu, developers have to find land for their projects, unlike Rajasthan’s Bhadla, where companies had assured land. There were 18 winning bids among the 25 put in for the latest Tamil Nadu auction, at tariffs varying from Rs. 3.47 to 3.97 per unit. The tender states that all winners will have to agree to sell the power at the lowest tariff reached or opt out.

The biggest winner was public sector mining giant NLC India (formerly Neyveli Lignite), which had bid for the entire 1500 MW, but was awarded 449 MW. The company mines lignite, which is also called brown coal, and generates power.

Coal miners in India are concerned about the challenge from green energy and looking for ways to diversify. Coal IndiaBSE 1.06 %, also state-owned, is seeking services of a consultant to prepare for the future as it faces uncertainties due to its carbon footprint and the government’s commitment to the Paris accord on climate change. The response to the tender is encouraging because solar projects in Tamil Nadu have been plagued with problems.

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