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Renewable energy – China and India’s next best bet

May 4, 2011

Concluding the first large scale Sino-Indian collaboration in renewable energy, India based utility-scale solar company SunBorne Energy signed a deal to buy 100 megawatts of solar panels from China’s Suntech Power for projects across India. SunBorne Energy is working on projects in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, with installations in other states in the pipeline. The two-year partnership would see the Chinese entity supplying solar panels worth about US$150 million and technical assistance. The deal kicks off  in the third quarter of 2011 with an order for 10 megawatts of solar panels for an upcoming 15-MW solar power project in Gujarat.

The deal, which is the first of many to come, is part of New Delhi’s target to reach a cumulative installation of 2GW of off-grid and 20GW of on-grid PV installations by 2022. SunBorne has ambitions to provide 20 percent of that total. Chinese alternative energy companies that have received substantial funding and support from the state have been researching and developing innovative and high-tech advances in creating sources of alternative energy. As such, the solar, water and wind power energy market in India and China share strong synergies even as both countries continue to scour for coal and oil to feed their gas hungry economies.

On a broad note, both developing economies know that the unsustainable nature of coal and oil necessitates that they consider alternative energy measures seriously from now. Accordingly, India’s 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2016) expects more power to be generated through renewable sources such as wind and solar power, as does China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015), which also focuses on a greener approach to economic growth.

Fueling optimism that there are vast collaborative opportunities in alternative energy between India and China, Dr Zhengrong Shi, Suntech’s chairman and chief executive says: “Currently, one in three people in India lack reliable access to electricity and the rapid deployment of solar energy has the potential to help close this gap.  This project will provide thousands of people in India with clean and affordable power.” It certainly doesn’t hurt that India is considered once of the best places in the world for the technology, with an average annual solar insolation reaching 2000 sun hours per year in some areas.

In another renewable energy bilateral tie-up for greater global good, India based Indosolar a Photo Voltaic cell manufacturer earlier in the year entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with China based GCL Solar Systems, a subsidiary of China’s GCL Poly Energy Holdings.

The total investment involved in expansion is close to Rs 1,280 crore and is funded through IPO proceeds, promoters’ equity and borrowings. Out of the Rs 357 crore raised through IPO Rs 200 crore is being used for expansion, promoters’ equity is to the tune of Rs 220 crore, and borrowings of Rs 860 crore. Currently, 75 per cent of the company’s production is being exported to Taiwan, Europe, the US, Canada, and China.

“But, in next two-three years we expect to sell majority of our products in the domestic market. The requirement of use of local content under the National Mission will work as a stimulant,” Mr S. Venkataramani, Chief Executive Officer, Indosolar, told Business Line.

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