Tata Power gets Rs 488 cr solar plant order from Kerala SEB

Tata Power said it has won a Rs 488 cr order from Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd to put up a 110 megawatt solar power project in the southern Indian state.

The power plant, which has the capacity to produce 110 million watts of electricity, is expected to generate about 274 million units of power per year. This works out to an operating efficiency (load factor) of around 28.4%.

The load projection is considerably higher than the 14-18% load factor normally baked in for photovoltaic power plants, possibly because the plant is located in Kerala, which itself is located close to the equator and therefore gets more sunshine than places farther away.

The plant will be operated by Tata Power, and the generated power will be supplied by the company to KSEBL under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

NTPC and Tata Power had won a 200 MW auction by KSEB three months ago.

NTPC had quoted to supply power at Rs 2.97 per unit, which was matched by Tata Power.

NTPC has been given a contract for supplying power from a 90 MW plant, while Tata Power was given the remaining.

The discovered price of Rs 2.97 is considerably higher than the Rs 2.40 range that is usually seen in such auctions in India.

However, the Indian government placed restrictions on the import of cheap Chinese solar panels, which pushed up the construction price of solar power plants.

Despite such uncertainties, bidders drove prices to a record low of Rs 1.99 per unit in an auction conducted last month by the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd.

In that auction for 500 MW, NTPC, Torrent Power, Al Jomaih Energy & Water Co and Aditya Birla Renewable agreed to supply power at just Rs 1.99 per unit.

The cost of generating solar power is considered the lowest in Rajasthan, followed by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other areas of central and northern India, because of low cloud cover.

With the latest win in Kerala, Tata Power said its renewable capacity will increase to 4,032 MW, out of which 2,667 MW is operational and 1365 MW is under implementation.

Given that 1 unit of conventional power generation dumps around 1 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the latest plant is expected to save about 274 million kg of carbon dioxide from being dumped into the atmosphere every year.