Adani, SunEdison to build largest solar panel factory

Indian conglomerate Adani Group and global energy firm SunEdison have entered into a deal to build the largest solar panel factory in the energy-starved nation.

The project will be set up over the next three to four years in Mundra in Gujarat. Mundra already hosted India's largest private port owned by the Adani Group.

According to Ahmed Chatila, president and chief executive of US-based SunEdison, by pairing SunEdison's solar technology expertise with Adani's experience in infrastructure development, the region could be transformed into a solar production powerhouse could.

Chatila, described the factory as ''the largest solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility in India'' and said it would be built by 2018.

The planned unit is likely create over  20,000 jobs in the region and would be in step with Prime Minster Narendra Modi's "Make in India" campaign to turn the country into a global manufacturing hub, the companies said.

"India has embarked on an ambitious program to become a world leader in power generation from renewable technologies, and sees solar as a key part in realising that goal," said Adani Power's executive director and CEO Vneet S Jaain.

Given the frequent blackouts in India, it was widely held that resolving the energy shortage was seen as the key to generating economic growth.

The joint venture was announced late yesterday at the "Vibrant Gujarat" summit, which aimed to encourage investment in the state.

The investment was a sign of growing international interest in India's solar sector where the Modi government planned to install new capacity capitalising on abundant year-round sunshine in India's western desert states.

It also bolstered Modi's drive to boost India's weak manufacturing sector with focus on new growth sectors.

Jayant Sinha, minister of state for finance, cited solar technology as an important example of the next generation of industries India needed to attract as it tried to match China as a world manufacturing power, in an interview with the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based China Light and Power yesterday also announced plans to invest as much as $2 billion in a new coal-based power plant in Gujarat.