For the three eventual winners, the November auction for over 1 gigawatt ( GW GW GW 1 GW = 1,000 MW ) of solar power capacity was crucial.

For Saudi Arabia’s Aljomaih Energy and Water Company, this would mark its entry entry Mercom New Solar Tariff Record of ₹2/kWh: Why Did it Go So Low? Read more into India. Green Infra Wind Energy, a local unit of Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries, would grow its portfolio by more than 40%. With so much to gain, both quoted the lowest ever solar tariff in India’s history–Rs 2 ($0.027) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Green Infra was awarded 400 MW and Aljomaih bagged 200 MW.

But it’s the third winner that made the clean energy industry sit up and take notice. It wasn’t a foreign upstart looking to get a foot in the door. Instead, it’s a state-owned energy behemoth synonymous with coal-fired power. One that’s now aligning itself with India’s vision for a clean energy future clean energy future The Ken India’s post-Paris climate change targets < its solar ambitions Read more .

NTPC Ltd, the country’s largest power producer, won 470 MW at Rs 2.01 ($0.027) per kWh at the auction held by the Solar Energy Corporation of India ( SECI SECI SECI SECI is the nodal agency for India's solar energy programme. ). “NTPC had to win at any cost. They would have gone even lower,” says the chief executive of a private equity-backed clean energy company that participated in the bidding. They requested anonymity since they did not want to comment publicly on a competitor.

In October, NTPC set up a subsidiary—NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd—to actualise its plan to move away from fossil fuel-based energy. The NTPC, formerly National Thermal Power Corporation, intends for renewables to account for 25% of its portfolio by 2032. At present, that figure is under 2%. In absolute terms, the goal seems even more intimidating. To reach it, NTPC will have to up its clean energy capacity 30X to 32 GW. To get there, it is also looking to acquire operational solar projects, spending up to Rs 5,000 crore in the process.

In line with this emphasis on clean energy, the company—which boasts a market cap of $13 billion—will not set up any new coal plants, Chairman and Managing Director Gurdeep Singh said said Mint NTPC pivots from thermal to green Read more in September.


Seetharaman G

Starting out as a business journalist in 2008, Seetharaman has written about energy, climate change, retail, banking, and technology. He has worked with Business Today, a fortnightly, and the Sunday edition of The Economic Times.

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