Obama govts 1st trade team in India pushes solar energy

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 24 2009, 05:37am hrs
The Obama Administrations first official trade mission to India arrived in the capital on Monday aiming to promote US-India trade in solar energy technologies.

The delegation, led by US deputy assistant secretary of commerce for international operations William M Zarit, included 14 American companies that are on a three-city tour in India.

The companies included in the solar energy trade mission are AES Solar Energy, Amonix Inc, Applied Materials, Astonfield Renewable Resources, Deeya Energy, Holtec International, MAM Incorporated, Plextronics, Satcon Technology Corporation, SHEC Energy Inc, Suniva, SunPower Corporation Systems, Tatith Energies and TUV Rheinland PTL.

These are developers in the fields of utility-scale solar, solar photovoltaic and solar projects. The companies, now in New Delhi, will also visit Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

Pointing out that Rajasthan and Gujarat governments were inviting proposals in the solar energy sector, Zarit said US companies are keen to invest in these projects. However, he said it would take a while for these projects to take off, as the companies will have to get several clearances, including those related to land and environment.

Energy has become a focal point of commercial strength in the US-India relationship. In addition to broad nuclear energy business discussions, following on the signing of the historic civil nuclear agreement last year, a new emphasis on solar and renewable technologies is taking that relationship to new heights, a statement said.

Carmine DAloisio, minister-counselor for commercial affairs at the US embassy in New Delhi, said the impressive response to this opportunity by US solar energy companies, particularly during an economic slowdown, proves the potential of the Indian market.

Export-Import Bank of the US, the official export credit agency of the country, has supported over 65 projects totalling over 1.3 billion dollar in US renewable energy exports.

Diane G Farrell, member, board of directors, Ex-Im Bank, said the US government offers special concessions for the renewable sector. She said Ex-Im Bank, had last week approved to guarantee a $2.25 million deal where GT Solar is the US exporter and Maharishi Solar Technology is the buyer. Ex-Im Banks environmental exports programme provides repayment terms up to 15 years, capitalisation of interest during construction and financing for local costs up to 30% of the US scope of supply.