The cancellation of 13.7GW of Indian coal power projects in May 2017, coupled with a record low solar tariff of Rs 2.44/Unit ($0.038/kWh), are the strongest indications yet that an energy transformation in India is gaining rapid momentum and global capital markets endorsement.
“For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies Australasia at Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
Admissions by Adani Power Management that close to $9 billion worth of existing import coal power plants at Mundra, Gujarat are no longer viable, because of the prohibitively high cost of imported coal relative to the long term electricity supply contracts signed, is adding to the rise of stranded assets across the Indian power generation sector.
Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.
India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months. The record low solar auction rate of Rs 2.44/kWh is significantly lower than the average rate of Rs 3.20/kWh which NTPC Ltd, India’s biggest coal power utility, wholesales its electricity for.
“It worth considering that Rs 2.44/kWh is down 44 per cent on the Indian record low of Rs 4.34/kWh solar tariff which was awarded to Fortum of Finland in January 2016. At that time market analysts said the Rs 4.34/kWh price was unsustainably low and could not be repeated,” he adds.
Hydro electricity and wind farm capacity in India also remain firmly on target. The relatively low cost of hydro at Rs 1-4/kWh makes plans for accelerating long-stalled investment in this sector a clear government priority. The phenomenal success of India’s SECI holding its first 1GW reverse auction for wind in February 2017 saw a Rs 3.46/kWh result, down 20 to 30 per cent on previous wind auction results across India.
“The calibre of the global financial institutions who are bidding into India’s solar power infrastructure tenders is a strong endorsement of India’s leadership in this energy transformation and will have significant ripple effects into other transforming markets, as is already seen in the UAE, South Africa, Australia, Chile and Mexico,” concluded Mr Buckley.
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