SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India) is taking bold steps to expand the country’s solar power capacity through a Request for Empanelment of Vendors (RfE) for the design, supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of solar power projects. These projects will cover ground-mounted installations up to 5 MW and rooftop systems, all under Category B, which includes various government organizations and institutions. This initiative is part of India’s commitment to promoting solar energy and driving sustainable development.
Under the RfE, projects will be implemented under Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) as well as the Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) model. Selected vendors are responsible for the entire project lifecycle, from design and supply to installation, testing, commissioning, warranty, and comprehensive operation and maintenance.
Solar Power Developers (SPDs) play a pivotal role in this process, including obtaining No Objection Certificates (NOC) for grid connectivity, project design, engineering, civil work, erection, testing, commissioning, and ongoing operation and maintenance. The scope of their work encompasses various aspects, such as addressing wear and tear, overhauls, machine breakdowns, insurance, and the replacement of defective modules, inverters, Power Conditioning Units (PCU), spares, consumables, and other essential parts.
Projects in this category can be implemented either under CAPEX or RESCO mode, depending on the specific tender within the Stage-II bidding process. For grid-connected solar projects, securing net-metering and grid connectivity will be the responsibility of the SPD, following the guidelines of state regulators, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), or the respective Distribution Company (DISCOM). While client organizations may facilitate connectivity and necessary approvals, the ultimate responsibility lies with the SPD.
The projects emphasize the deployment of Solar Photovoltaic Technology, but the selection of projects remains technology-agnostic. Empaneled bidders will participate in the Stage-II bidding process to determine capacity allocations. Notably, only vendors empaneled under this RfE and those already empaneled under Category B will be eligible to participate in Stage-II bidding.
Bidders, including parent, affiliate, ultimate parent, or any Group Company, must submit a single bid indicating the states or union territories where they wish to be empaneled. The evaluation of bids adheres to specified criteria outlined in the RfE. Any exceptions will render multiple bids from the same company, including its parent, ultimate parent, affiliates, or group companies, invalid.
Project locations will be specified in the respective tenders within Stage-II of the bidding process under Category B. The projects chosen by the bidder will be installed at the risk, cost, and responsibility of the SPD. The bidder is also required to submit the list of states or union territories they intend to be empaneled in.
Empaneled vendors selected will conduct physical surveys to assess the capacity for rooftop solar projects and guide client organizations on the feasible capacity for installation. Projects should be designed for grid interconnection in line with prevailing regulations. For grid interconnection and metering, SPDs must comply with applicable Grid Code, Grid Connectivity Standards, Regulations on Communication System for transmission of electricity, and other regulations or procedures issued by Appropriate Commissions and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The commissioning of projects will be carried out by the SPDs according to procedures outlined in the Stage-II bidding process. Client organizations may authorize individuals, committees, or organizations to validate the commissioning process on-site. Commissioning certificates will be issued by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) or the client organization after successful project commissioning. The commissioning procedure and schedule will be shared during the Stage-II of the bidding process.
Furthermore, client organizations will enter into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with selected bidders based on the Request for Selection (RfS) in the Stage-II bidding process. PPAs will be executed separately for each project and will be valid for 25 years from the date of project commissioning.
To minimize technology risks and ensure timely project commissioning, the RfE promotes the use of commercially established and operational technologies. Bidders must provide evidence of meeting the specified criteria within the RfE. Detailed technical parameters for solar PV projects will be shared in Stage-II. Additionally, the provisions of the Office Memorandum (O.M.) dated March 10, 2021, issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) regarding compulsory registration of solar photovoltaic modules will apply to this RfE. Modules used in the project should be included in List-I under the above Order, valid as of the module invoicing date.
Experience requirements are stringent, with bidders required to have experience in designing, supplying, installing, and commissioning grid-connected solar PV power plants. The cumulative capacity of these plants should be no less than 500 kWp over the last seven financial years, with at least one year of satisfactory operation. Bidders must also have experience with at least two grid-connected solar PV power plants, each with individual capacities of no less than 100 kW, over the last seven financial years.
This RfE represents a significant opportunity for India to expand its solar energy capacity and reduce its carbon footprint. By streamlining the empanelment process and promoting established technologies, India aims to accelerate its transition to sustainable energy sources and promote a greener future.
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