The SoftBank Group is tying up with infrastructure conglomerate IL&FS to develop more than 20 gigawatts of solar capacity in India by 2025 to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious renewable energy road map for the country.
This comes less than two months after the Japanese group teamed up with China’s GCL System Integration Technology for a $930 million (Rs 6,350 crore) India solar power venture.
SB Energy, the power and energy investment arm of SoftBank, and IL&FS’ wholly owned IL&FS Energy unit have agreed to jointly develop grid-connected solar projects across the country. A formal announcement on the joint venture is expected this week, possibly as early as Monday.
SoftBank in 2015 had made a commitment that it would invest up to $20 billion along with Foxconn Technology and Bharti Enterprises in solar projects in India, which has a goal of generating 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
SB Energy is the platform for the investment and the IL&FS deal is likely to be a part of that plan SB Energy has already won bids for setting up 1400 megawatts (1.4 GW) of projects in India, including 300 MW at the Bhadla III Solar Park developed by Saurya Urja Company of Rajasthan Ltd, a JV of IL&FS Energy and the Rajasthan government.
For these projects, it has made an initial investment of Rs 4,000 crore. “We truly believe that India’s developmental agenda would be fully realised through technologyled businesses. Government of India’s thrust on renewable energy is an important component of this agenda and SoftBank is eager to be a stakeholder in this endeavour.
Our partnership with IL&FS leverages on the respective strengths of both institutions and will efficiently ground our target rollout plan,” SB Energy executive chairman Manoj Kohli said, confirming the plan.
The proposed agreement involves IL&FS Energy taking up the development of infrastructure like substations, grid connectivity and arrangements for longterm access for power evacuation, in addition to providing other value-added services. SB Energy will take up installation, EPC and financing.
IL&FS Energy is one of the largest operators of conventional and renewable power projects in India and also provides professional services towards development of such projects. With a 50-50 balance between renewable and thermal energy, it currently has over 3000 MW of power generation capacities in operation, while another 15,000 MW of projects are in various stages of development.
“This transition is in keeping with the requirements of the sector and will help the group leverage on its rich experience and track record,” IL&FS Group vice-chairman Hari Sankaran said.
SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son is betting big on India renewables opportunity even though the group’s demand to fix tariffs in dollars or a central guarantee to buy electricity from its power parks in lieu of its proposal to invest $1trillion by 2030 in India solar projects is reported to have faced resistance from the Indian government. According to an ET report on May 4, Son discussed these issues with the PM and power minister RK Singh during his trip to New Delhi earlier this month.
In early April, SoftBank and China’s GCL agreed to launch a $930m-illion 60:40 India joint solar venture that would work on loping photovoltaic technology used in solar panels. While GCL will provide technology, SoftBank was to assist it obtaining land and regulatory approvals, the Chinese company had said. The funding for that project was to come from SoftBank's Vision Fund, the world’s largest pool of private capital at $93 billion that counts Apple Inc, Foxconn and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund among its backers.
India has set a target of developing 100 GW of grid-connected solar energy capacities by 2022. The government has decided to auction solar projects totalling 30 GW of capacities each in 2018-19 and 2019-20, minister Singh told Parliament on March 8. The government would auction also 10 GW of wind energy projects in the two fiscal years as part of its efforts to generate 60 GW of power from that source by 2022, he had added.
Driven primarily by solar capacity addition of 7.3 GW, India’s renewable capacity increased to 65 GW at the end February 2018 from 57 GW in March 2017. Renewables now contribute almost 20% of India’s installed capacity, Citigroup said on April 20. Generation from renewable sources increased 23% from April 2017 to February 2018 — generation from solar sources rose 91%, while that from wind increased 14%.
“Although overall generation is still dominated by conventional sources, generation from renewable energy sources is incrementally crowding conventional sources,” Citi analysts Venkatesh Balasubramaniam, Atul Tiwari and Mohit Pandey said.
Meanwhile, SoftBank is expanding its solar investment globally. Recently, the company announced it would invest in building the world’s largest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, expected to cost up to $200 billion and have a capacity to produce up to 200 GW by 2030.