India Seeks SoftBank Push for Modi’s Solar Goal

India has closed bids for a third of its target of tendering 15,000 megawatts (MW) of solar projects this fiscal year, a government official said, and is expecting interest from investors such as SoftBank to lift the industry.

The tenders are part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plans to raise solar capacity five fold to 100,000 MW by 2022 to meet India’s growing power needs, create jobs and fight climate change without committing to an emission target.

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“We are creating the base for big companies like SoftBank and Foxconn to participate,” Upendra Tripathy, new and renewable energy secretary, told Reuters on Monday. “We want big players to come in, costs to come down and targets to be met.”

Japan’s SoftBank this month announced plans to set up a company to invest $20 billion (roughly Rs. 1,32,512 crores) in India’s renewable energy industry, with Taiwanese iPhone maker Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprise as minority partners. SoftBank’s executives have met both Modi and Tripathy.

Indian resources conglomerate Adani Group has all but ended a deal with U.S. company SunEdison for a solar equipment plant, only to start talks with Softbank and Foxconn for investments, sources said.

So far this fiscal year India has closed tenders for about 5,000 MW of solar power and is seeking bids for 5,000 MW more, Tripathy said.

Government-controlled companies Solar Energy Corp of India and NTPC Ltd have issued most of the tenders, along with states such as Madhya Pradesh in central India. SkyPower, Acme Solar, Suzlon Energy and SunEdison have been among the winners.

Tripathy said though companies were keen to invest and solar power was already competing with fossil-fuel derived electricity, central and state governments would have to make it easier for businesses to buy land.