The second edition of RE Invest, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) four-day flagship event which concluded on Friday, was very different from the earlier one held in February 2015, in that this time investment commitments were neither sought nor made.
The first RE Invest had seen global and local institutions promise 266 GW of renewable energy investments. The second instead was clubbed along with the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), the joint initiative of India and France to mobilize investment in solar projects on a global scale. Both events dwelt largely on the exchange of ideas and technical know-how.
“During the first RE Invest commitments were sought since the aim then was to bring renewable energy tariffs down,” said K. S. Popli, Chairman, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), the MNRE’s lending arm for renewable energy projects. “Since then tariffs have come down steeply, so that is not required anymore. This time we wanted to showcase India’s achievements in renewable energy. The event has put India on the world renewable energy map as a significant player.”
India currently has around 71 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, including 34 GW of wind and 23 GW of solar, which is double of what it had four years ago, and around 20% of the country’s total installed power capacity.
Popli felt that the unanimous choice of an Indian, Upendra Tripathy, former MNRE Secretary, as the first director general of the ISA, during the recent session, was also a matter of pride. “It is indeed not a small thing,” agreed Sunil Jain, CEO, Hero Future Energies. The framework agreement of the ISA has been signed by 70 countries so far, of which around 60 had their representatives at the meeting. The ISA aims to have 121 countries eventually and mobilize $1 trillion for solar projects by 2030.
The twin events were attended by several global heads of companies investing heavily in renewable energy, including Masayoshi Son, CEO, SoftBank; Bruce Hogg, Head, Power and Renewables, CPPIB, Michael Eckhart, Managing Director and Global Head of Environment Finance, Citibank, and Sean Kidney, CEO of UK based Climate Bonds Initiative.
Exchange of know-how included a detailed discussion of offshore wind projects in India. Though India has 34 GW of wind farms, it has not set up any offshore ones yet. The first one of 200 MW is being built in the Gulf of Khambat, 25 km off the Gujarat coast. “We got to know the Indian government’s thinking on offshore wind projects,” said Charles Yates, Managing Director of London-based CmY Consultants. “We are interested in entering India in this segment. We brought up some issues and the government said it would address them.”
Curiously, the response among Indian renewable energy developers to the twin events was less enthusiastic. “The quality of the events, be it the planning, the sessions and the arrangements were average, far from matching that of say, Petrotech, organized by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas,” said a developer who attended both. “I don’t think much thought had gone into what the event was trying to achieve.” Many felt Re-Invest got fewer visitors than Renewable Energy India (REI) Expo, held a fortnight earlier by a private agency. “That is because its dates were fixed long ago, while RE Invest seems to have been organized in a hurry,” said another developer.