The SunEdison Collapse Means Solar Generation Bargains in India

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Solar PV array

After filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and subsequently being declared “hopelessly insolvent” by a judge, U.S. energy giant SunEdison Inc. is winding down its operations in India.

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SunEdison is exiting its India business by selling 1.7 gigawatts of wind and solar farms to Greenko Energies Pvt.

Foreign Investment

Greenko is backed by the sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi and Singapore. The two sites include one with 440 megawatts of capacity already operating and another 1,200 mw of projects still under development including a 500 mw solar project. Reports pegged the projects total assets value at about $500 million.

Reports are also coming in that Southern Solar Power, a subsidiary of SunEdison, has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with neighboring Bangladesh’s state-run Power Development Board (BPDB) for a 200-mw grid-connected solar park. Midland Power, an association of local energy firm Shajibazar Power (SPCL), will act as local partner/energy broker.

The sale of SunEdison’s India operations brings the curtains down on its foray in the world’s largest and most-populous democracy where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to boost clean-energy capacity to 175 gw by 2022.

SunEdison had filed for bankruptcy protection in April listing $16.1 billion of debt in court filings, making it the biggest U.S. bankruptcy of 2016. There is little hope that SunEdison’s shareholders to recover any payments from their investments.

Overextended Investments

Back in late 2015, when it was a high-flying energy sector darling, SunEdison was awarded a contract for the 500-mw solar project in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh. It offered a then-record low tariff of about $0.068 per kWh. That project, now to be completed by Greenko by March, comes at a development cost of about $366.5 million, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Just as 2016 was closing, the Indian government announced that it was positive of going past its renewable energy targets set in Paris by nearly half and three years ahead of schedule.

A draft 10-year energy blueprint forecast that 57% of India’s total electricity capacity would come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027. The Paris climate accord target was 40% by 2030.

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India’s renewable energy program started attracting the attention of even the French. French energy major EDF Group‘s Chairman and CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, said on a recent trip to India that it was among the top five focus areas for the renewable energy company. He told the media that his company was positive about India’s renewable energy plan and committed to spending about $2 billion on the sector.

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