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Indian state of Tamil Nadu to stage 1GW PV auction in January

The state of Tamil Nadu has published plans to launch a 1GW auction for PV projects in January, as individual state policies continue to play the defining role in India’s solar ambitions.

In October the southern state of Tamil Nadu, seen as having some of India’s best conditions for solar energy, announced plans to build 3GW of PV capacity by the end of 2015 – with 1GW to be put to tender each year from 2013.

Developers have until 4 January to submit bids for the first batch of projects, which must be at least 1MW in size. In theory, there is no ceiling on the size or number of projects any one developer can win.

The reverse auction process will be similar to that used by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for the central government’s National Solar Mission (NSM).

Yesterday the Indian government issued a draft policy indicating the direction it will take for phase two of the NSM. The government has been clear that, while the NSM will act as the central motor of the country’s solar programme, it expects most of the heavy lifting to be done via state-wide initiatives.

Of India’s roughly 1.1GW of installed PV capacity – up from 18MW in 2010 – less than a quarter has come through the NSM, with the bulk coming at the state level.

Gujarat’s state-wide programme has seen nearly 700MW of capacity added, although Tamil Nadu’s 3GW ambition is the largest announced by any state to date.

Most of Tamil Nadu’s capacity will come via the reverse tender, although it also wants to add 350MW of rooftop capacity, having announced India’s first net metering scheme.

Keen to lure upstream jobs, Tamil Nadu is known to be using tax incentives to lure PV manufacturers. However, like other state policies – and unlike the NSM – Tamil Nadu has no local-content rules in place.