Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg are Helping Indian Solar Power Expand

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Solar PV array

Renewable energy consulting firm “Bridge to India” recently listed investments likely to be completed by active private Indian solar developers. The major ones which indicated plans including domestic players such as Essel Infra Projects, Azure Power and global ones including SunEdison (10 gigawatts), and Canada-based Sky Power Global which has committed to 9.9 GW.

Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group, said in a written statement to the government-sponsored RE-Invest 2015 solar conference that most of the industry was confused as it was constantly bombarded with new policies, goals, drafts and revisions.

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The Modi government’s extreme focus on renewable energy, however, may start bearing fruit this year.

Among the steps initiated was the first global conference for renewable energy, RE-Invest, held in New Delhi. It was attended by many notables from within India and abroad including US politician, former New York City Mayor and UN envoy Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, in his keynote address, noted India was “incredibly well placed to capitalize on the benefits of renewable energy.”

Noting the Government’s plan to install about 100 gigawatts of solar power across the country by 2022, he pointed to the major development benefits that the country could achieve, given the large amount of solar radiation it gets and the reduced level of infrastructure needed to pump solar energy into people’s homes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the conference and declared that India has graduated from megawatts to gigawatts in terms of renewable energy production. The PM also made a strong pitch for making renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power affordable.

At the conference, Coal, Power and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal said the global conference would usher a cleaner, brighter and more energy-secure India. He also hinted at the enactment of a renewable energy policy soon.

According to a report in the Business Standard, in the build-up to the government-sponsored RE-Invest 2015, participating companies provided non-binding investment indications of 166 GW of solar power generation capacity and five GW per year of solar manufacturing capacity.

The article quoted the report by Bridge to India. A report in The Times of India said SunEdison and First Solar had committed to build more than 20,000 MW of clean energy capacity in India by 2022. SunEdison said it would build 15,200 MW of solar and wind power capacity by 2022, while First Solar made a commitment to develop 5,000 MW of solar by 2019.

Around the time of the conference, non-profit group, The Climate Group, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, released a new analysis called, ‘The Business Case For Off-Grid Energy in India.”

It spoke of the business opportunity from off-grid renewables in India, concluding that by 2018, the decentralized renewables business  would have become at least a$150 million business, but added a cautionary footnote against the existing regulatory regime, saying more had to be done about businesses seeking to serve electricity-deprived households.

Last week former US vice president and climate change crusader Al Gore came calling. The high-profile meeting between Gore’s team and Indian officials revolved around the role India was likely to play in the renewable energy sector in the lead up to the climate summit discussions in Paris, about nine months away.

The Climate Reality Project (TCRP), an organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change founded by Gore, said that the 27th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in India was complete.

The training focused on the renewable energy potential for India as well as the key role the country plays in the lead up to the COP-21 climate negotiations in Paris at the end of the year.

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