Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Wind Power Costs Plunge in Asia's First Auction for Contracts

  • Mytrah, Inox, Green Infra, Ostro, Adani win India projects
  • Auctions force developers to compete for renewable capacity

The cost of power generated from wind turbines plunged in Asia’s first auction for contracts to deploy the technology, a victory for India’s effort to reduce pollution and ensure supplies.

Solar Energy Corp. of India Ltd., which conducted the auction for the government, said late Friday that it received bids to supply wind power for 3.46 rupees (5 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour. Previously, feed-in tariffs for wind energy ranged from 4 rupees to 5 rupees a kilowatt-hour across India’s windy states.

The contest was the first of its kind for wind anywhere in Asia, repeating similar auctions for solar capacity that brought the cost of that technology to record lows. It underscores the success of auction mechanisms in forcing companies to reduce the price of renewable energy, increasing the competitiveness of wind and solar against fossil fuels.

“Successful completion of this auction will encourage states also to gradually move from feed-in tariffs to bids,” said Srishti Ahuja, a director at Ernst & Young. “However, the realized tariffs in state bids may be much higher than the current federal auction, as each such auction will depend on state-specific factors like wind resource, ratings of their power retailers and evacuation infrastructure.”

The auction was for contracts to develop 1 gigawatt of wind capacity in India. It drew 14 developers who cumulatively submitted bids for about 2.7 gigawatts, the agency said in a statement. Five successful bidders quoting the same tariff were:

⦁ London-listed Mytrah Energy Ltd’s India arm M/s Mytrah Energy (India) Pvt
⦁ M/s Green Infra Wind Energy Ltd
⦁ Turbine maker Inox Wind Ltd’s arm Inox Wind Infrastructure Services Ltd
⦁ Private Equity Actis LLP’s backed Ostro Kutch Wind Pvt Ltd
⦁ International trading company Adani Enterprises Ltd’s Adani Green Energy (MP) Ltd

They will now be required to commission their projects within 18 months, SECI said.

“The auctions have been hard fought and have led to tighter pricing than one would have foreseen even a few months earlier,” Vikram Kailas, managing director at Mytrah Energy, said by e-mail, adding that this will pave the way for the growth of the Indian renewable energy industry.

The state-owned transmission utility Power Grid Corp of India Ltd. helped ensure the success of the auction by “guiding selected developers in connecting their projects to central transmission," SECI said in the statement.

The government’s power ministry recently waived charges on transmission of electricity between states for wind projects, which also helped the bidders.

Turbine manufacturers and power producers bid against each other to grab a share of the contracts on offer in the bidding. The success of the process may end the era in which power generators stimulated renewables by offering a fixed feed-in tariff, or above-market power price, for all projects that qualified, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

A solar auction earlier this month showed a record low bid of 3.30 rupees a kilowatt-hour on for 750 megawatts of projects in Madhya Pradesh state.

“Wind and solar photovoltaic power prices were headed in opposite directions till now, but this auction proves that wind projects can produce electricity as cheap as the best solar projects in the country," said Shantanu Jaiswal, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New Delhi.

India is among a growing list of countries stretching from Asia to Europe that have used auctions to make clean energy more affordable. The result should help Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government meet pledges to install 175 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2022 and spur discussion about whether green energy can replace coal as India’s dominant source of energy.

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