Below are the excerpts of our recent interview with Mr. Manish Karna, General Manager - Business Development, ACME
What have been the key milestones and accomplishments at Acme in the last one year?
We have been able to add almost 625 Mega Watt of new solar projects through successfully bidding in various tenders in last 12 months at an average tariff of Rs. 5.48 per unit.
On the other hand our commissioned project stands at about 460 MW.
Our portfolio is now is about 1650 MW. We are one of the largest Solar Power Developer in the country.
Given that you have been able to stay at Rs 5.5 and others are now bidding close to Rs 5, do you think this is a sign of market over-heating?
You will actually have to see the trend over the last few months. The trend is that the successful bids started with the range of Rs 5.30-Rs 5.50 in the beginning of financial year 2015-2016. Off late, in the year 2016 people started bidding at sub five levels. There is no precise answer. But, this is not over heating for sure and it is not new.
I believe, every bidder is aware about the exigencies of the bids they participating into. Therefore, they would have done their calculations before coming out with the numbers which we are witnessing now. So, whether it’s a overheating or not is not an important issue. Afterall, it would benefit the Discoms and ultimately the end user. Having said so, we need to understand that we should not get carried away with such numbers. We need to wait and watch before writing anything off.
How is the finance scenario for developers currently in India?
Fortunately, we have got great support from the Government of India be it at the Central level or the State level. There is no problem as far as the funds are concerned. All developers have to do is to approach with sustainable models.
However I would like to emphasize on one point. Most of the lenders in this sector are conventional lenders who are attuned to lending large thermal power projects. Financial closure of conventional power project, wherein gestation period is around 3-4 years, can be achieved over the horizon of 10-12 months and disbursement thereafter. However, financial closing of Solar Power Projects needs to be achieved within 3-5 months to enable the project commissioned within 12-15 months as per the PPA.
What do you feel would be the cost of funding?
I do not really see a significant reduction in the cost of funding. It will still be around 10-11%. What one has to find out or see is the financial reasoning. E.g. whether it includes a long tenure or re-financing. Whether it is going to be fully financed by the conventional lenders or certain other institutions is going to come into place who have better appetite.
Every organization has their unique USP and they try to leverage on that. So all these will come into the picture while deciding the most optimized way of funding and may affect the cost. But, conventional lending will still be at about 10-11%.
What do you see yourself achieve in the future?
We would like to be a 7000+ Mega Watt company by 2019-20. We are going ahead in that direction and hope to achieve it.
Finally, as a developer, what is the message you would like to send to the industry and your counterparts?
The entire sector is going through a learning phase. Different organizations have learnt their lessons in different ways. It is a time for all of us to assimilate the knowledge and see whether we can leverage from the learning of each other. Sooner we do, the better it is for the entire sector. It will not only help in better implementation but, would also give a better value propositions to society at large and more importantly to the end consumer.