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Solar sector attracts $3.86 billion funding in April-June

The solar sector has attracted total funding of $ 3,857 million through 70 deals, including three Indian transactions, in the April-June period this year, says a report.

The report that analysed funding on the basis of four categories -- project funding, VC funding, debt funding and others, said there were three Indian deals in the project funding category and one in project M&A segment, wherein, sustainable energy solutions provider Fortum acquired a solar power plant in Rajasthan. The three Indian deals that were listed in the project funding category, include Acme Solar's $ 50 million loan for its 25-MW photovoltaic power plant in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Welspun Energy's financial closure of its upcoming 20-MW solar power project in Maharashtra. Further, Welspun Energy, received around $ 8 million in funding from financial institutions for its Karnataka solar project.

According to the Mercom Capital Group's second quarter funding and M&A activity report for solar sector, the VC funding in the solar sector continued to be subpar in the second quarter of 2013, with $ 189 million in VC funding in April-June period compared to $ 126 million last quarter. Among the VC deals solar downstream companies received $ 128 million in funding, Mercom Capital said. "With solar technology companies struggling, investments have been going to downstream companies," Mercom Capital Group CEO Raj Prabhu said. Prabhu further added that "investments into solar technology companies haven't completely dried up. Small venture rounds are still going to several niche technology companies instead of the larger deals that were typical for thin film, CSP and CPV companies". Meanwhile, solar M&A activity in Q2 2013 amounted to $ 1.27 billion in 18 transactions. "Themes emerging out of this quarter's M&A activity included: consolidation in the inverter market, strategic acquisitions, and acquisitions of distressed assets/ companies," Mercom Capital added.

Tata Power Solar executes 2 MW captive solar power plant for Chennai Silks group

Coimbatore-based Chennai Silks Group today made its foray into solar energy sector, commissioning its first 2 MW captive solar power plant here in Tirupur district, about 80 KMs from Coimbatore. The Rs 16 crore plant, executed by Tata Power Solar (TPS) in a 'record time' of three months, was expected to generate 3.1 Million Units of electricity in the first year of operation, Group Managing Director, N K Nandagopal told reporters here. The plant, inaugurated by Forest Minister M S M Anandan, would work under the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism and the group would share the energy generated with Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) and in return will get an equivalent quantity of uninterrupted electricity supply to its textile unit situated at a distance from this plant, he said. An additional income of about Rs 3 to Rs.3.72 crore through trading of REC was expected besides Rs.1.5 to Rs.2 crore in year as energy cost savings, he claimed. The group has plans to add another 12 MW at the same location with an investment of Rs.125 crore. A three MW plant would be commissioned by September and another nine or 10 MW by March next year, Nandagopal later told PTI. Dr Arulkumar P Shanmugasundram, Executive Vice President- Project and Chief Technical Officer, TPS, Bangalore, said the investment made in the plant can be ploughed back in a span of five to six years.

Vikram Solar bags 5-MW solar project in Madurai

Vikram Solar, a Kolkata based leading solar module manufacturing company, announced that it would be installing a 5-MW solar power facility for JVS Export, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, under REC mechanism. JVS Export is a leading manufacturer and exporter of home textiles and the customers of JVS include the likes of Wal-Mart, Lifestyle, Kohl's and Reliance Industries. Gyanesh Chaudhary, managing director, Vikram Solar said, ''We are honoured to get an opportunity to install our solar power plant, there. We are thankful to JVS Export for giving us an opportunity to showcase our expertise in the state of Tamil Nadu. I am confident that we will be able to successfully implement this project in the given time schedule.''

IFC provides $3 million loan Azure's rooftop solar project in Gujarat

IFC, a member of World Bank, is providing $ 3 million loan to independent energy producer Azure Power's rooftop solar India project in Gujarat. IFC's investment in the subsidiary is expected to help avoid around 3,600 tons of carbon emissions a year, Azure Power said in a statement . The company is constructing a 2.5 megawatt rooftop solar project in Gandhinagar that will be connected to the state electricity grid. "With this, Azure Power has forayed into distributed solar power generation. We are committed to driving down cost of energy for end consumers," Azure Power's Chief Executive Officer Inderpreet S Wadhwa said. Azure Power is an existing client of IFC and has a current portfolio of about 55 megawatt of solar power projects in India. "The project will assist the state in introducing public-private participation to generate green energy at the household level. The project supports reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," IFC Infrastructure Director for Asia Anita George said.

WAAREE secures another EPC contract for 5MW thin-film solar plant

WAAREE Energies, an Indian PV manufacturer and project developer, has been on a roll in the past few months and has been awarded yet another turnkey EPC contract for a 5MW thin-film PV plant from Taxus Infrastructure & Power Projects Pvt. The location of the project has not been disclosed. According to the chairman of WAAREE Group, Hitesh Doshi, “WAAREE will be using 52k plus solar thin-film PV modules for this project. We at WAAREE are committed to the most efficient technology and manpower to execute the projects on time and deliver the best to our customers. Timely execution of most complex projects is the specialty of WAAREE. We are very keen to execute this 5MW thin-film project.” This latest project follows hot on the heels of several other PV projects which WAAREE has been awarded an EPC contract for. In August, the company secured an EPC contract for a 5MW PV plant in Gujarat, India, from Avatar Solar.

Gujarat to host Asia's largest solar energy park

Gujarat would house the largest solar energy park in Asia in two years, with a power production capacity of 500 MW. This would be set up with an investment of around Rs 8,000 crore flowing from companies such as GMR and Lanco, which have been assigned generation capacities under the Gujarat Solar Mission.

Gujarat had announced a solar power policy in January 2009, with a target of installing 1,000 MW capacity by 2012 and 3,000 MW by 2014. The state has already signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 934 MW. The park, on the lines of an industrial estate, is being developed by Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd. (GCPL), as the sectoral nodal agency, on around 2,000 hectares of wasteland bordering the Rann of Kutch, in Patan district.

When commissioned, the project would provide 800 million units of power. In the first phase, 15 solar power generation companies would produce 176 MW and Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation would set up a power pooling station. The overall project cost in phase I would be Rs 1287 crore. This would include Rs 351 towards the cost of land and power infrastructure and Rs 624 crore for evacuation facilities. The Planning Commission has already approved a one-time additional central assistance of Rs 210 crore for the development of the solar park. The Asian Development Bank has approved a soft loan of USD 100 million for the project. This includes development of a ‘smart grid’ for evacuation of power.

Heritage sites tap sun’s power, electricity bills dip

The solar panels at Jantar Mantar and Safdarjung’s Tomb in New Delhi have helped slash the electricity bills of these centrally protected monuments almost by half. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now thinking of expanding the initiative and installing solar panels at 11 other heritage sites in the capital. The panels at these two heritage sites were installed around six months ago, following an initiative of the ASI and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The power bill for Jantar Mantar has seen a dip of Rs 5,000 per month i.e. from monthly Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000. At Safdarjung’s Tomb, where ASI also has an office, the bill was reduced from Rs 34,000 to Rs 25,000 per month. The daytime load at all heritage sites includes indoor lighting and fans, ventilation, solar photovoltaic pumps for irrigation, information kiosks and supply at the ticketing counters. The night load includes LED-based floodlights, garden and outdoor lights.

Second batch of solar bidding in India sees applications for 2500MW of project

According to reports, India’s solar power sector is gathering steam, with 150 companies rushing in to offer 2,500 megawatts of projects for the second round of bidding, seven times the allocated capacity of 350 mw for which bids were invited, raising hopes that electricity tariffs from the renewable source would fall below Rs 10 a unit.

About 150 companies are in the fray for 218 projects worth Rs 3,500 crore in the second round of projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru solar mission that aims to add 20,000 mw of solar capacity in the decade. In the previous round, the government had received bid applications for about 1,700 mw against an available allocation of 150 mw solar power. The government will shortlist companies by the second week of November.

These firms will submit financial bids by the end of next month. They will compete by offering discounts to the prescribed tariff of Rs 17.91 per unit fixed by the regulator. The previous round of the bidding saw established names including Mahindra Solar-One, Azure Power, Lanco Infratech and IOCL as bidders. But this time, the stakes are high due to increase in the number of big names. “The response for the solar bidding has been better this year with several serious and large players, both from the private and government sector, being a part of the first list.

Big names like Reliance Solar, Lanco, Moser Baer, Tata etc. are some of the bidders,” said an official of National Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited, a subsidiary of NTPC and the nodal agency for solar power trade. “With financially sound companies , the projects are likely to be of better quality and will set up faster,” adds a senior official from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. For the second round, the government had tweaked the existing guidelines to help serious bidders. It increased the maximum size of the projects from 5mw to 20 mw and allowed firms to bid for a total of 3 projects having a total capacity of 50mw. “Given the increase in size per project , higher allocation allowed per company and the significant drop in module prices, this round is set to see participation from larger companies with aggressive pricing”, said Sanjay Chakrabarti, Partner, Ernst & Young. He added the foreign players may not participate due the current strain in the global economy.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Authority’s had fixed a tariff of Rs 17.91 per unit of solar power. Against this, the government had received the lowest bid of Rs 10.95 during the 2010 bidding.

Lanco Infra to invest Rs 1,700 crore in solar units

Lanco Solar Energy plans to infuse Rs 1700 crore for the second phase of India’s first integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing special economic zone (SEZ) project in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. The investment will be used to manufacture polysilicon, ingots, wafers, PV cells and modules with capacities equivalent to 250 MW per year, said V Saibaba, CEO, Lanco Solar Energy. The SEZ project, which commenced four months ago, is being developed in phases to put Chhattisgarh in the global map of polysilicon production bases. The first phase of the project, which involved an investment of Rs 1340 crore, will be fully operational in a couple of months. The company is also strengthening its global market and plans to build solar farms in Germany, France, Italy, the US and the UK where it is already offering engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) solutions.

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