Bengaluru: Welspun Group, India's largest solar photovoltaic developer, and Sunborne Energy Holdings LLC, backed by billionaire Vinod Khosla, won contracts to build sun-powered plants in Karnataka state.

The lowest bid in the auction for 10 contracts by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. came from Helena Power Pvt., which committed to sell photovoltaic-based electricity to the state-run utility at Rs7,940 (Dh545) per megawatt-hour. That's about double the wholesale price of coal-based power.

"We may tender another 120 megawatts of capacity in the next financial year," N.S. Prasanna Kumar, managing director of state-run KREDL, said in an interview in Gandhinagar yesterday.

India is using auctions to push down average solar power rates, which have fallen 38 per cent since December 2010, as it seeks to avoid the surging renewable-energy subsidies seen in Europe. Global solar power prices are also plunging as equipment costs decline after the spot price of solar panels dropped 47 per cent in the past year as manufacturers ramped up production, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Welspun, backed by Apollo Global Management LLC co-founder Leon Black, won a 7-megawatt photovoltaic project and Sunborne won a 10-megawatt solar-thermal project, which harnesses sunlight to heat liquids that produce steam for generators.

KREDL awarded 60 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity and 20 megawatts of solar-thermal capacity. The next auction may cover 70 megawatts of photovoltaic and 50 megawatts of solar-thermal capacity, Kumar said.

Other winners included Jindal Aluminium Ltd, Essel Infrastructure Ltd, GKC Project Ltd., United Telecoms Ltd., Sai Sudhi Energy Ltd. and Atria Power Corp., according to a list from KREDL.