Tripura Joins The List for Rooftop Solar Additions in 2021-22 With 1 MW tender

Highlights :

  • Rooftop Solar push in the North East is welcome, as a small but significant way to build use cases and energy access in the region.
  • With low power demand, and Hydro power playing a key role in power supplies to the region, the region can push to be 100 percent renewable energy driven with the right policy environment.

North Eastern state of Tripura has also stepped up efforts to add solar capacity with a fresh tender for residential rooftop solar. The region has seen low solar progress until now, with the largest state Assam the only one with a solar project of over 50 MW, in the form of the upcoming 70 MW project from Jakson Group. Rooftop solar is finally getting its due however, and one hopes this tender in Tripura will mark a fresh start for faster rooftop solar additions.

The latest tender has been brought out by the Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL) to empanel developers to design, supply, install, and commission 1 MW of grid-connected rooftop solar projects on residential buildings at different locations in the state under Phase-II of the rooftop solar program. TSECL has just under a million connections in the state, with the state counted as a zero load shedding state since 2011. There is one significant solar installation of size 5 MW with NEEPCO in the state currently. With a largely hilly terrain, many villages do use distributed solar options to augment energy access. There had also been a push to establish battery banks for these distributed projects, particularly at health establishments, last year.

Like most rooftop tenders so far, successful bidder/s will have to commit to maintenance of the projects for five years after activation date.

The last date to submit the bids online is September 27, 2021 with bids to be opened on September 29.

Among conditions for successful bidders, key highlights are for bidders to have designed, supplied, installed, and commissioned grid-connected solar power projects having a cumulative aggregate capacity of at least 100 kW  before bid opening date. They will also have to submit 3% of the project cost as a security deposit within 15 days of issuing the Letter of Intent. The minimum capacity utilization factor (CUF) has been kept surprisingly low at 13.5% for five years to achieve annual CUF within +10% and -13.5% of the declared value for the release of subsidy. That clearly opens the gates for use of polycrystalline modules, which are still manufactured by most domestic manufacturers in the ALMM list of MNRE.

The bids will also be covered under the MNRE notification on benchmark solar rooftop costs that were released recently.

With a minimum bid size of 100 to 200 KW in general category, bidders will need to show average annual turnover of Rs 15,000/kW of the bid capacity in the previous three financial years. This requirement is reduced to Rs 5000/kW for micro, small, and medium enterprises.

The document specifies that TSECL will allocate a minimum of 10% of the total allocated quantity to the lowest bidder (L1). If the allocated quantity is not executed, the L1 bidder’s bank guarantee will be encashed and the bidder blacklisted for five years for all government tenders.

The solar modules to be used in the project should have a warranty of 25 years.

The central financial assistance (CFA) or subsidy of 40% on the benchmark cost will be provided for systems up to 3 kW. For systems above 3 kW and up to 10 kW, a CFA of 40% will be applicable for only the first 3 kW capacity, and for others, it will be 20%. The CFA will be restricted to 20% for common facilities up to 500 kW for group housing societies and residential welfare associations. There is no additional subsidy from the state government.

The whole region, due to its hilly nature, offers opportunities in off grid solar, an area where much more could be done.

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