As Panchabuta has reported a couple of months back, the U.S. was aggressively trying to push India to lift solar import restrictions on Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
The mandatory use of domestic content for utility scale grid connected solar power is a topic that has witnessed a lot of debate and there have been strong views on both for and against the same sometimes from two group companies each on one side of the same corporate house like Tata BP Solar for the domestic content requirement and Tata Power against the requirement saying it impedes them from choosing the best available equipment and vendor that suites their requirements.
In January this year, Ron Summers of lobby group Indo-US business council was pushing for the removal of technology limitations in Solar and last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said he conveyed a “message of great concern” to Indian officials about the country’s restrictions on imports of solar-power technology, rules that are making it difficult for American firms to enter one of the world’s fastest-growing solar-energy markets.
It is finally glad to see that the initiatives that the countries had talked about during president Obama’s visit are now turning into success stories. According to this report, U.S. Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs Lael Brainard on Friday delivered a keynote address here at the Institute of International Finance’s (IIF) spring membership meeting said, “It is a pleasure to be here on what I expect will be the first of many visits to help translate President Obama’s vision of economic partnership between the United States and India into tangible results. Let me share one immediate example. Yesterday, I visited a hybrid solar-powered cell phone tower. This innovative design was made possible by a fusion of technologies from both the United States and India that was underwritten by equity investments from Indian and American partners along with U.S. export financing.”
“By helping to bring households in remote rural villages into the circle of economic opportunity, and doing so in a way that promises to be both cost-effective and green, this partnership is creating opportunities that have potential well beyond India’s vast market.”
“We are committed to work with the Indian finance ministry, the central bank, and the regulatory agencies to advance our partnership bilaterally and on global economic challenges,” he added.
A couple of months ago, Baltimore, US-based SunEdison announced its intention to invest $100 million in solar projects in India and the company’s President, Mr Carlos Domenech, had said that many private equity investors are interested in partnering SunEdison and a deal could be struck in about three months.
The success of a lot of projects under the solar mission of the national government and the Gujarat state policy will depend a lot on the financial closure of such projects and in this regard there is absolutely no doubt that the US module manufacturers and EPC companies followed by some of the European companies are taking the lead. The Indian manufacturers do not have any such financing initiatives going on and that is one of the key reasons that they have had limited success in the solar mission so far in utility scale projects.
It is heartening to note, that panel manufactures from the US in discussion with Panchabuta have indicated that they are also contemplating picking up an equity position in solar projects in India apart from working on funding from Exim banks.