India to launch $350-mn fund for solar projects

India has proposed setting up a $350-million fund for solar power projects as part of global efforts by member countries of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to mobilise funds for solar energy projects, minister of state for power and new and renewable energy Raj Kumar Singh has said.

Delivering the keynote address at an event organised by the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the minister said India will need at least $125 billion to fund a plan to substantially increase the share of renewable power supply in the country's grid by 2022.

India, a tropical nation that receives sunshine throughout the year, has set a target of adding 175 Giga Watts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022, Singh pointed out.

''The country would achieve its target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity well before 2020,'' Singh added.

It expects renewable energy to make up 40 per cent of installed power capacity by 2030, compared with 18.2 per cent at the end of 2017.

India has a current installed renewable power capacity of about 60 GW, and hopes to complete the bidding process for another 115 GW of capacity by the end of 2019-20 fiscal so as to reach the installed renewable energy capacity by 2022.

Singh congratulated ISA for organising the ISA Forum as its first overseas outreach activity. He said, over the years, renewable energy has become cheaper and is now set to replace conventional energy, which is a healthy development.

At the end of the ISA ministerial session, India's YES Bank committed financing solar projects of over $5 billion. China Light and Power Co (CLP) and NTPC Limited announced forging partnership deal with ISA and committed to make voluntary contribution of $1 million each to ISA fund corpus. IEA and GCF also announced entering into partnership with ISA.

ISA promotes actual on ground rolling out of solar projects. The first half of the day saw 10 companies exchanging LoIs/MoUs for solar related projects in the ISA pavilion. The companies included Vyonarc Development Ltd, Greenko Solar, Gensol Group and SOLARIG from Spain, Shakti Pump, Refex Energy, Amplus Solar, Tata Power, Jackson Solar, Hero Future Group and Zodiac Energy.

India wants foreign capital to account for a bulk of its investments to meet its renewable energy target. However, most of the financing for the country's renewables drive so far has come from domestic banks and such banks have to account for the lion's share of new renewable investments in the future.

While formally opening the ministerial session and welcoming the participants, Upendra Tripathy, interim director general of ISA, informed about exchange of LoIs / MoUs of nine solar related projects which various company and bankers signed early in the day. He also informed that over 100 projects shall be signed by April 2018 under ISA umbrella.

He also thanked member countries and various stakeholders making ISA a reality in a short time. He further informed about and extended invitation for the 2nd RE-INVEST meet to be held in partnership with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India during 19-21th April, 2018.

The ministerial plenary was followed by three technical panel discussions -  ISA a Trillion Dollar Opportunity; Networking of R&D Institutions in ISA Countries for Solar Innovation, Incubation & Start-Ups; and Best Practices for Solar Capacity Building in ISA Countries. T

These sessions were attended by energy ministers, policymakers, multilateral banks and finance institutions, R&D institutions and innovators, solar project developers and manufacturers, investors and other stakeholders.