Essel Infra in talks to sell 3 solar projects

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Essel Infraprojects, part of Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group, is in talks with various renewable energy players to sell three of its six solar projects with an aggregate capacity of about 215 mw, even as the company plans to build its solar portfolio by focusing on investments in solar parks.

According to people close to the development, the company has had several rounds of deliberations with three prospective buyers – Greenko Group, ReNew Power and IL&FS Energy – but has not entered into a final agreement on the sale yet. When contacted, the company spokesperson said, “We do not comment on market speculation.” Emails and SMSes sent to Greenko, ReNew and IL&FS Energy on the subject did not elicit any response till the time of going to the press. However, a source in IL&FS Energy denied any immediate interest in the asset.

On an average, a solar power plant costs between Rs 4 crore to Rs 5 crore per mega watt (MW) and transactions in the recent past have been concluded in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 12 per mw, depending on the quality of asset and the tariff levels (a facility having an agreement to supply power at a higher tariff will command a premium).

Essel Infraprojects, currently, has close to 310 mw of operational solar power facilities, which it had bid for under National Solar Mission and state government auctions, while another 375 mw capacity is under construction. Together, the solar power projects constitute 48% of the overall renewable energy portfolio of 1,400 mw.

It may be noted that a lot of companies are looking to exit their old solar power projects that were bid out at high tariffs, even as the industry goes

through a phase of consolidation after increased competition led to a sharp drop in solar tariffs – by around 86% to `2.44/kWh from a high of Rs 17/kWh in 2010. Lower tariffs coupled with a rise in solar panel prices by 15-20% in the past one year have impacted margins of solar project developers.

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