Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pressing need to address solar project financing in India: D. Majumdar, IREDA

During a session on Financing solar PV in India, at Solarcon India 2010 in Hyderabad, Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA), said that India is facing a major problem -- that is, how do we get the financial community to seriously look at solar!

He touched upon the three schemes that Dr. Bharat Bhargava of the MNRE had spoken about earlier. These are -- NVVN scheme -- typically 5MW/100MW schemes, rooftop component, and off-grid component.

Majumdar said that each one of these schemes has to be looked at differently. Two things will be important -- generation and tariff. Tariff is derisked. All are going to look at the prediction and the forecast of generation. You will need good data to forecast for your project.

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are signed in terms of MW. A change in mindset is also required. There are areas we oftem neglect. For example, the quality of water at site can create a lot of distortion in forecast generation. Or, how do you decide one module is better than the other?

On the 100MW scheme on power projects, Majumdar added that the entire history of what the distribution center becomes at downtime will be important. On the off grid component, Majumdar said that today, it looks small. However, it has the largest significance. Its impact is tremendous.

"Solar financing is tough. However, we will try to make it easier and show the financial institutions that it is possible to de-risk projects. We will get the lending community to activate itself," he added.

Earlier, Bharat Bhargava of the MNRE, mentioned that the JN-NSM offers opportunities to invest in grid power projects, off grid projects and manufacturing. He added that the enabling polciy and framework is in place. Aggressive R&D and local manufacturing are necessary to achieve grid parity. He also outlined the R&D strategy. It includes:

* Research at academic/research institures on materials and devices.
* Applied research on the existing processes and developing new technologies.
* Development of CoEs on different aspects of solar energy.
* International collaborations.

Bhargava also mentioned the HRD strategy. It includes:

* Develop specialized curriculum for teaching solar energy at B.Tech, M.Tech and IIT levels.
* Announce fellowship for education and research.
* Provide training in grid and off-grid power projects.
* International training via bilatera programs.
* testing and training institute.

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