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SoftBank steams into Indian wind as higher cap-price cheers

Japanese-owned group said to lead way as latest 1.2GW SECI tender is twice oversusbcribed

Japan’s SoftBank made its first foray into Indian wind power as analysts said a higher tariff cap of 2.85 rupees/kWh ($0.04) cheered developers ahead of the country’s latest large-scale wind tender.

SB Energy, the Japanese group’s Indian development arm, is said to account for 600MW among a slew of bidders that between them put forward 2.3GW for the latest interstate auction run by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which runs renewables tenders for the Indian government.

Other bidders are said to include local renewables giant ReNew Power and global players Enel, EDF and Engie. SECI has not officially commented on subscription to the tender, tranche VI of its programme of auctions designed to move power from wind-rich to less windy states.

A place in the line-up would bring SB Energy into contention for a pure-play wind tender after focusing on India’s giant solar auctions. It did, however, win 450MW in India’s first wind-solar hybrid tender late last year.

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SoftBank entered the Indian market in 2015 with a mission to invest billions of dollars in the Indian solar market, backed by the deep pockets of its parent group, one of Japan’s leading telecoms groups and the zeal for renewable energy of CEO Masayoshi Son.

The oversubscription of the tender marks a change from the lukewarm response to previous wind auctions, which were hampered by concerns over low cap prices, and land and transmission capacity availability.

The tariff ceiling of 2.85 rupees/kWh is “definitely one of the drivers” and “ a favorable upside compared with the lowest tariffs of 2.43-2.45 last year”, said Ashish Nainan, a research analyst at CARE Ratings.

The plentiful availability of manufacturing capacity in the Indian wind sector, and the smaller amount of wind due to be auctioned over the next few years compared to solar would also have helped, Nainan said.

India hopes to successfully auction off 10GW of capacity annually over the next two years to help it meet its target of 60GW of wind installed by 2022, up from about 35GW now. Solar auctions are planned to be three times that scale.

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