The successful evening culminated with a signing ceremony, marking a new Memorandum of Understanding between ACORE and CII. The agreement links the two organizations to promote better cooperation between the U.S. and Indian renewable energy industries, as well as sharing of expertise and best practices.
At the meeting, all parties agreed that while 175 GWs of new renewable energy by 2022 is a very lofty goal, it is also one that will serve as a signal to the rest of the world that India is serious about upgrading its power sector with clean, renewable energy.
Participating in the roundtable discussions were important industry leaders from the Indian energy sector, including CEOs from ReNew Power Ventures, Suzlon-IPP Vertical, and Sun Group. Other executives from Welspun Energy, Jetline Group and Hero Future Energies Ltd. added their input as well. From the American side, ACORE members SunEdison and First Solar joined Sunpower to represent the industry, while ACORE members Bank of America and Credit Suisse joined Deutsche Bank to bring the finance sector’s perspective to the table.
The meeting came at a timely moment for the progression of the Indian renewable energy industry. Prompted by the Indian government’s approval of new, aggressive targets – including approximately 14 GW of solar per year between now and 2022, equal to a fivefold increase from previous goals – the private sector is moving quickly to get into this exploding market. CNBC reports that SoftBank, Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan's Foxconn Technology recently announced the creation of a joint venture called SBG Cleantech to develop renewable energy plants across India.
At ACORE’s meeting, Minister Goyal noted that important players like China are providing financing and making investments into the renewables sector at an increasing pace. The Minister urged western firms to deploy capital and work with the Indian government to meet the 2022 targets. A number of Western companies are already engaged of course – a notable example being ACORE member First Solar.
But several the players around the table did raise concerns over perceived hurdles to meaningful investment in the Indian markets. One such issue, commonly cited by otherwise willling investors, was foreign exchange risk. Some investors, looking for stable returns increasingly being assocaited with renewable energy projects, are finding too much downside risk and increased costs related to managing forex risk on Indian projects. At the roundtable, one suggested solution was to create a government-backed currency facility or loan guaraentee program that could actively protect against forex price swings related to these renewable energy projects. Minister Goyal acknowledged the issue and pledged to review forex risk more closely. He did, however, urge investors to self-hedge and take into account the “higher returns” possible for Indian projects, versus the limited-upside projects traditionally favored by the groups in the room.
The event was successful on multiple fronts and marked a very important moment for the renewable energy industry, both in the U.S. and in India. Perfectly timed with Prime Minister Modi’s U.S. tour, the ACORE-CII roundtable brought together the most important players for networking, serious engagement with the Power Minister and to inspire leadership in a high-potential market. As the entire world shifts to low carbon energy resources, India and the U.S. can be a shining example of collaboration and technological advancement. ACORE is proud to lead its members and the business of renewable energy into this promising frontier.