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BRIDGE TO INDIA is the leading boutique consultancy and knowledge provider in the Indian cleantech market. We work with leading Indian and international companies, governments and institutions. Through our different activities, we have a unique vantage point on the market dynamics, combining the comprehensive, constantly updated 360 degree view of our market intelligence, the in-depth analysis of our consulting efforts and the on-ground understanding from transaction advisories. Our goal is to enable innovative cleantech solutions in India.

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The Indian solar market is growing at a breathtaking speed: This year alone, by more than 300%, next year perhaps by 150%. Competition is as intense as the market is enthusiastic. Is this a recipe for an investment bubble? Projects are being won at record low tariffs – tariffs that many observers doubt will leave investors with acceptable returns. Will these projects be “stranded solar assets”? Is there a bubble in the making? Richard Martin has recently asked this question in the MIT Technology Review (refer). My answer is a clear “no”. Here is why.

  • Some investors will be disappointed with returns as competition remains stiff
  • Power demand in India is high and growing – it is a solid business opportunity
  • In future, as financial engineering becomes more complex, there might be more room for speculation

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Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released a draft of the “National Renewable Energy Act” (refer). Along with the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2005 (refer), this act will create structural policy changes to help increase the share of renewables in India’s energy mix. In the first section, the document describes in detail how institutional structures would be created. However, it is the subsequent sections that have caught our attention. This is our take:

  • National, uniform and mandatory regulations will govern renewable purchase obligations
  • A “National Renewable Energy Fund” will be created and a fixed portion of the National Clean Energy Fund will be directly channeled into it
  • There will be guidelines for renewable energy procurement, including but not limited to competitive bidding processes

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In the early 20th century, when cars started to compete with horse-drawn carriages in Europe, they still had innumerable technical teething issues and no distribution channels. Germany’s last emperor William II famously said (possibly while sitting on a horse): “I believe in horses, automobiles are a passing phenomenon.” Well, you know which side of history he was on. Cars, of course, did not only complement horse-drawn carriages, they replaced them. I would argue that we will see something similar in our energy future, where renewables will not only complement, but replace fossil fuels.

  • Most energy projection see a gradual shift in the energy mix
  • However, as the cost of renewables continues to fall quickly, the shift may be much more radical and abrupt
  • Investor may preempt this development and move the shift forwards even more

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Last week, 300 MW of solar capacity was auctioned in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The record low tariffs surprised most observers. Canadian developer Sky Power offered to sell solar power at INR 5.05/kWh (50 MW capacity). The bids closed at INR 5.64/kWh with the median tariff at INR 5.34/kWh. The auction received a lot of interest and over 2,200 MW of projects were offered at tariffs below INR 6/kWh.

  • Solar tariffs in India are falling dramatically
  • At these tariffs, effectively, there should be no need for incentives anymore
  • Are return expectations sufficient for scaling up?

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The IndiaGoesSolar.com website is part of Bridge to India Energy Private Limited. The website is a one stop education and information portal for businesses and households interested in going solar. The main sections of the website include: A solar forum, a solar installers listing, a solar products listing, a solar calculator tool, and a blog. For more information, visit our website.

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BRIDGE TO INDIA was quick to understand our precise needs and mobilize their team to suit our timescales. The strength of their market relationships and in particular their deep international reach proved very useful to our business.

Mr. Deepak Thakur
MD & CEO
Kirloskar Solar

BRIDGE TO INDIA’s services helped us plan the first solar ready warehouses in India. We intend to scale this across multiple locations in India in the coming years.

Mr. Baranwal
Senior Vice President
TCI