India’s 150 MW Solar Allocation to PV Technology has seen overbidding upto 10 times and the winners will be decided based upon the discounting on the Rs 17.91/Kwh (40c/KwH).The discounting promises to be clearly be irrational and loss making as Large Conglomerates and Integrated Solar Companies fight with each other to win projects at any cost.Feed in Tariffs across the world has only worked out well where there is no discounting or bidding mechanism.In case of bidding,especially in immature nascent markets,the winners of the projects end up as the losers.Renewable Energy also ends up on the losing side as many of these projects are not completed or have to be restructured defeating the entire purpose of the Subsidy Scheme.India’s Solar Energy Sector promises to be one of the biggest energy opportunities in the 21st Century.However this will require a very smart subsidy strategy by the government

First Solar,the US based Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don’t include any penalty for low efficiency.Even if you penalize the Cd-Te Technology for its lower efficiency vis-a-vis the higher efficiency crystalline technology,First Solar is clearly the leader with a core cost of 74c/watt.The company has a roadmap of reducing the cost to 52c/watt by 2014 and given its track record it seems quite achievable.In Cd-Te,some new competitors have claimed even lower costs than First Solar but they have yet to prove it in large scale production.General Electric,Abound Solar are some of the other Cd-Te players which are planning commercial production in a year or two.But with around 2 GW of capacity,they will have a lot of catching up to do.

However Solar Capacity in the Industry has increased rapidly particularly in Taiwan and China.Besides Semiconductor and LCD Heavyweights like AUO and TSMC have made huge investments into Solar Production.Korean Companies are too making a strong entry into the already crowded segment.Despite some capacity build in the wafer and module parts of the supply chain,Taiwan remains largely a cell producer.Compared to the integrated Chinese producers like Trina,Yingli,LDK and others,Taiwanese Solar Makers are vulnerable to sharp price cuts.They depend on European customers who are largely uncompetitive and would face huge pressures with the decline in the German market.Chinese producers have much lower costs due to their vertical integration which currenly most Taiwanese lack except Motech.Taiwanese Cell Capacity is set to increase manifold next year from the current 5 GW.Most of the Tier 2 Cell Producers would be running empty while even Tier 1 players will see a sharp decrease from this year.

Solar Energy Future Growth has been vastly underestimated by policy makers and analysts but private companies are recognized the huge potential.India’s JNNSM Policy which is meant to jumpstart India’s Solar Energy has drawn huge interest from both domestic and foreign companies.The number of Solar Companies in India are growing at a rapid pace attracted by the huge opportunity.While starting troubles like project financing of debt etc are present,the long term growth potential of Solar Energy in India is tremendous.Global Industrial Giants like GE,Siemens have already established or in the process of investing huge sums of money to capitalize on this Green Trend.Now French Giant Areva has joined them.Note Areva is the global leader in nuclear equipment technology and is not known for its prowess in Solar and Wind Energy.However the company is making a play in Solar Thermal Technology where it hopes to use its existing skills and knowledge.Areva had acquired US startup Ausra which had fallen on hard times earlier.However Areva has not won too many Solar Thermal Projects in the recent past.However things may change starting with India

Australia has shortlisted 8 projects with 4 Solar PV and 4 Solar Thermal Projects for its Solar Flagship Program which will be decided in 2011.BP Solar with 150 MW and Suntech/Infigen with 195 MW are on the shortlist.The other 2 companies are energy utilities which are proposing to use Cd-Te Panels ( I think from First Solar).Note both of these energy utilities are small and might face problems in fund raising and execution.The firms shortlisted for the Solar Thermal Projects don’t inspire much confidence either.The selection procedure and how the subsidy will be disbursed has ran into controversy with accusations of bias and partiality.WA has not gotten any projects while Queensland province has gotten most of the projects.The firms shortlisted have also come under fire as they don’t have much experience.Not much information on how the firms were shortlisted but these companies are definitely not the best or cheapest by a big margin.Australia has generally made a mess of promoting renewable energy with New South Wales cutting feed in tariffs sharply after giving an overly generous subsidy.The Solar Flagship Program looks like an expensive mistake in the making if it comes to fruition.

Solar PV Technology have made a huge advance in the last 2-3 years leading to a demand explosion with more than 100% growth forecast this year.Crystalline PV Technology as well as Thin Film Technology like CIGs and CdTe have reduced their costs drastically.While Solar PV still requires generous government subsidies for their growth,grid parity has come very close.Solar PV Technology has become economically competitive in parts of Italy where a unique combination of high electricity rates and sunshine have made Solar PV Technology very attractive.Costs are being reduced at more than 10% per year which would make Solar PV competitive in 2-3 years in most parts of the world.However mainstream and reputed forecasters and companies like Boston Consulting Group remain blind and ignorant to this.BCG in a recent report has said that biofuels and Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSP) Technology will become competitive.I have issues with both of these technologies.