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JAN 23 2015

US may help Narendra Modi government achieve target of 100 gigawatt of solar power

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Fri 23rd JAN 2015

The United States may extend funds and supply of equipment to help India achieve the Narendra Modi government's target of 100 gigawatt of solar power in the country by 2022 that requires an investment of Rs 6 lakh crore.

Shortly after US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit, an entourage of highprofile US visitors including Michael Bloomberg and top executives of funding agencies and American ministries are expected to follow in February to discuss clean energy finance with the Indian government, officials said.

The recent $4-billion deal between Indian infrastructure company Adani and America's SunEdison to set up a large photovoltaic manufacturing facility in the country, according to government officials, is a prelude to many US firms' interest to do the same. "US companies want new areas of investment in India and we are exploring how they can lend to the clean energy sector. They are keen to extend funds for our big solar energy target, which will hedge American pressure for the time being to cut our emissions," a senior government official said.

As an extension to such announcements around the Republic Day, Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LLP and the former mayor of New York, directors from the US EXIM bank and officials from US department of treasury are expected to preside over 'Clean Energy Finance Forum' at a three-day global renewable energy investor summit called RE-Invest to be held from February 15 to 17 in New Delhi.

RE-Invest has thus far received interest from large solar companies from the US, UK, Germany, Japan and China that are ready with plans to set up over 100 gigawatt of solar power already.

"The US officials are educating us on how to raise money from green bonds and we are proposing that their large pension funds and venture capitalists look at the clean energy sector in India," the official said.

They have also requested for a government to government meeting, involving Reserve Bank and finance ministry officials from India meeting their US counterparts, he added. Cooperation on energy between the two countries is expected to pan out under a 2009 clean energy initiative called Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE), signed between Obama and then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The ministries of clean energy and science and technology will coordinate the dual wings of the programme PACE-R and PACE D more proactively.

Meanwhile, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has prepared a cabinet note, breaking up installation of 100 gigawatt into yearly targets till 2022. This includes projects ranging from ultra mega solar parks to rooftop installations and, therefore, involves involvement of finance, revenue, power, urban development and agriculture departments.

"The cabinet note requests for transmission and distribution infrastructure from power ministry to enable solar installations, for tax breaks from the revenue department on manufacturing and making rooftop installation compulsory at certain locations from the urban development ministry," an official said. At present, India has 22 gigawatt of wind energy and about 3 gigawatt of solar power.


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