India’s Renewables Push Gets Some Oomph Thanks to Vibrant Gujarat

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Solar PV array

Indophiles might know, but for the uninitiated, the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit is a biennial investors’ summit in western India.

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As expected, this year’s meet turned into a de facto ‘Vibrant India’ meet, with former head of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, now India’s Prime Minister. The list of those speaking and hobnobbing with Indian business delegations at the summit here reads like a veritable who’s-who of the international political and business communities – from US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to World Bank head Jim Yong Kim.

The US business delegation attending the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, according to a report in The Indian Express, was looking at investing around $41 billion in India in the next 4 years.

The US India Business Council (USIBC), brought along one of the biggest US business delegations, comprising 127 individuals and 60 firms. In attendance were delegates of Westinghouse Electric, which builds and operates approximately one half of the world’s operating nuclear plants. Westinghouse, it was reported, was on the lookout for a suitable place in Gujarat to set up a nuclear plant.

Others in the US delegation included teams from Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Textron, technology companies like IBM and CISCO, blue chips like Dow Chemical, Ford, Abbott Laboratories, General Motors, Peabody Energy and Cairn Energy.

India has a $500 billion bilateral trade agreement with its neighbor China, while it is still lingering around $100 billion with the US. The summit, coming just a few days before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to India on January 26, aims to set up the commercial atmosphere necessary for a push in business between the two nations.

On the first day, more than 30 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed at the summit. These included a solar photovoltaic manufacturing cluster by Adani Enterprises Ltd. costing about $4 billion (Rs 25,000 crore). The cluster will be set up in a joint venture with US-based company Sun Edison, and will be the largest vertically-integrated solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility in India.

The Adani Group also signed an MoU with Australian energy major Woodside Energy for jointly exploring opportunities in sourcing of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), supply and a purchase arrangement for India.

The other major MoUs included the setting up of about $1.2 billion (Rs 7,900 crore) investment promise by India’s Welspun Group for an integrated steel manufacturing plant in Gujarat.

Welspun Renewables also signed two more MoUs —  for a 500-megawatt wind project and a 600-MW solar facility — with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL). The development will deliver more than 1 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity in Gujarat.

On Saturday, wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy also announced plans to invest about $4 billion (Rs 24,000 crore) over the next 5 years in wind energy projects in Gujarat.

Consumer durables major Videocon Group is planning to set up a 60,000-ton per year fiberglass plant in Gujarat at an investment of about $322 million (Rs 2,000 crores).

The fiberglass plant will look to tap the growing wind energy sector in the country. The capacity will be 60,000 tons annually.

According to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, a record 21,000 MoUs had been signed in the first two days of the three-day summit. Over 25,000 delegates from 110 countries, including over 2,500 foreign delegates from 56 international delegations participated in the summit.

The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.

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