Solar tariffs will come down once domestic mfg of panels picks up

Amisha Yadav @CCMS Bureau

The Supreme Court order has stalled many solar projects and the issue needs to be sorted out soon, says Manoj Gupta, vice- president at Fortum India in an interview to EarthConnect. He says that free power is not an option as it will drive away many companies from the state. He also believes that solar tariffs will come down once the domes- tic production panels picks up momentum. Excerpts…

How SC verdict on GIBs affected solar projects?

This has become a serious issue for the industry as it has delayed many projects in the western Rajasthan. It is not practical to have 33KV line undergrounded. The stale- mate needs to be ended soon so that new tenders will come. Otherwise, many more projects will get affected.

Is it practical to force open access players to give free power?

There is no such thing called free power. There was a suggestion from Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory commission to the state government. But it will be hugely detrimental if the government heeds to the suggestion of the Regulator. If it happens, it will affect investment and scare away investors from the state.

Do you think India needs cheaper debt to make solar projects more viable?

Yes, cheaper rate is always neces sary but because of the entry of new business models in the market solar is no more pure play anymore. It has become hybrid, hybrid with storage and there are other models. Now a days, you need solar for hydrogen too so to make them viable you need debt plus better rate of interest which is a challenging task.

What is the outlook for solar tariffs, will they go upwards?

Tariffs are going upwards as government has introduced basic custom duty but as soon as full-fledged manufacturing will start in India the rate will come down gradually. Price pressure will continue for five or six months but it will decrease in the upcoming time.

What reasons will you attribute to Rajasthan emerging as solar leader?

The first factor is radiation. It is very high here and is resulting in 5-7% higher generation of energy in Rajasthan compared to other states in the country. The second reason is that Rajasthan government’s policy for solar industry is very attractive and investor friendly. Additionally, land conversion is not an issue in Rajasthan as it is automatic, which is not the case in other states. And also, there is no ceiling limit. It is indeed a very positive step taken by Rajasthan government. All these advantages have catapulted Rajasthan to the leadership position in solar sector.

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