India Plans Solar Parks to Host Up to 20 Gigawatts

India will provide low-cost loans and grants to set up solar power parks across the country to host as much as 20 gigawatts of capacity, about 10 times what it has built to date.

“We’re preparing a scheme for solar parks and it will be out after cabinet approval in about one month,” said Tarun Kapoor, joint-secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

India is planning some of the world’s largest photovoltaic plants as it seeks to scale down costs and boost generation. It targets producing power from at least four so-called ultra-mega projects at a maximum of 5,500 rupees a megawatt-hour, about 32 percent below the global average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The parks will host large plants ranging between 500 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts that will be connected to the grid. Government subsidies will keep the price of land within the parks low to contain project costs, Kapoor said.

State utilities will be expected to purchase at least 20 percent of the power generated at the parks. Project owners will be free to export the remainder to consumers elsewhere in the country.

Separately, India plans to auction 1,500 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity in its biggest tender yet. Final guidelines will be issued this month and the first 750 megawatts will be awarded in bidding by the end of September, said A.K. Maggu, general manager of state-run power trader NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. The company is overseeing the process.

Both Kapoor and Maggu spoke on Aug. 1 in New Delhi at the EQ Solar Summit.

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