Sterling & Wilson eyeing 50 Gw of projects in renewable energy space

Robotic cleaning system at Sterling & Wilson’s 1,177-MW solar power plant in Sweihan, Abu Dhabi
Shapoorji Pallonji group entity Sterling & Wilson Solar is looking at 50 Gw of projects in the renewable energy space for taking up EPC (equipment, procurement and construction) works.

In an interview to Business Standard, its global Chief Executive Officer Bikesh Ogra said the low tariffs in solar space did not pose any threat to the use of better technology by developers as costs have been reducing. 

Ogra said the restrictions on Chinese imports had not impacted projects much. “With all these restrictions in place, the recent bids have been able to create Rs 2 a unit tariff. There is no major push back or slowdown. There won’t be any impact on cost or timelines (because of safeguard duty),” he said. 

Nonetheless, India was heavily reliant on China so it needs to create localisation, over a period of time.

Sterling & Wilson Solar has 20 Gw of deal flow but is targeting to ramp it up to 50 Gw. “There is such a big addressable space of 30 Gw that we do not need to look at any other business,” said Ogra, ruling out any diversification.

Sterling & Wilson Solar recently bagged the largest floating solar project being built in India. According to Ogra, floating solar photovoltaic has immense potential in India, South Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam. 

“Land acquisition is a very cumbersome process in India that has created bottlenecks for growth planned in PV installations. We have addressable 18,000 square kilometer of water body and reservoirs with a potential of 280 Gw of solar installations but even here there are challenges,” he said, adding that these could be mitigated over a period of time with technological advancements.

Capital expenditure on floating solar is 25-30 per cent higher than utility scale projects, on account of the equipment required. It is also logistically challenging to transport the equipment. 

Ogra said cost curves would reduce as the government has announced 10 Gw of floating solar bids over the next 3-4 years. 

Globally too, 5 Gw is expected to come up by 2022 with a CAGR of 20 per cent. 

“There are visible advantages of floating solar over ground mounted like the high land utilisation, which is 1.3 Mw per hectare for ground mounted which 1.6 Mw for floating solar. There is increased high single digit yield besides lower module degradation and lower water evaporation and reduced algae growth,” he said.

Hydropower producers will also branch out into solar and would take renewable as a complementary power source in their reservoirs. 

The transmission system would need an upgrade even at the hydropower installations but the advantage would be that the effort of seeking right of way would be saved, he said. 

Among the states that are pushing for floating solar at hydropower projects are Gujarat and Maharashtra.




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