Brushing aside worries over any spillover effect of SunEdison's debt woes on India's solar power plans, Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal today set the record straight, saying some firms not doing well will not impact the programme's success.
Brushing aside worries over any spillover effect of SunEdison’s debt woes on India’s solar power plans, Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal today set the record straight, saying some firms not doing well will not impact the programme’s success.
“There are always certain cases of firms failing all over the world in every industry. There was a point of time where very large airline companies failed in different parts of the world. You have a failed steel sector in the UK. It doesn’t mean that the whole sector collapses,” he said when asked about the debt problems being faced by SunEdison.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by industry body CII here late yesterday, Goyal said there are one or two instances of companies which don’t do well or may have some problems.
“But it’s not as if only these one or two firms brought the tariffs down. We have 50 companies who brought tariffs down even below what Sun Edison or Sky Power quoted. So, I don’t think it deters us or deflects the success of the solar programme at all,” the minister said.
India has very large corporations, both domestic and international, which have won contacts in the solar energy field at even more competitive prices than (Sun Edison and Sky Power), added Goyal, who also holds the portfolio of power and coal.
“And should there be a problem with one or two companies, others will take over those projects… Investors need not be worried about it, bankers are not worried about it. There is enough interest in the market for much larger volumes than what they have taken up in India.”
Earlier this month, reports had surfaced that the Adani group is in talks with the US-based renewable energy major SunEdison to acquire the latter’s Indian assets.
The group led by billionaire Gautam Adani has asked bankers to sound it out on whether SunEdison is also putting on the block its solar power projects in India.
On the use of coal to generate electricity, Goyal said the dry fuel will continue to be important.
“It’s the base load of power in India. We will continue to have coal and newer coal plants coming in. But India is a very responsible global citizen and we working on clean coal technologies,” he added.
“We have research going on with Australia on clean coal. I will shortly be tying up with MIT in Cambridge for developing clean coal technologies… Coal will remain mainstay of our energy, but we are open to looking at cleaner coal technologies so that we don’t do what the West has done to the environment over the last 150 years.”
On the issue of dollar tariffs, Piyush Goyal said, “We have already seen about 35 per cent reduction in tariff. I am open to the idea if I find that can help to bring down tariffs even further, I am still open to the idea. I have a team which is continuously working on how we can bring tariffs to even more competitive levels.”
“One thought that has been suggested to me and I am working on is whether a part of the tariff which relates only to the debt component could be linked to the dollar or basket of currencies, may be dollar, euro and yen and just that the debt is covered so that the risk is left to only on the equity component,” he said.
Indian rupee, by the way, has been best performing currencies particularly among emerging economies, he added.
On the lack of thrust on nuclear energy, Goyal said: “I think there is space for everybody. Renewable energy has it own place, nuclear energy has its own place…
“On nuclear energy we still have to see more visibility, there are several questions still on the table. There is a question of effective cost on life cycle of nuclear power, there is a question of safety.”
After all, on one hand companies demand restrictions on their civil liability but at the same time they are claiming to be absolutely safe and secure, he added.
“So we will have to balance the dichotomy between claiming to be 100 per cent safe and then wanting to have gap on the liability. So, if it’s 100 per cent safe then the cap on liability is questionable.
“We are open to all forms of energy. we also need to see what will be the de-commissioning cost and its impact. We are waiting to see what France does about it, we would like to see what is happening in Japan post Fukushima,” he said.
Goyal further said: “So India is not in a tearing hurry but we are open to further expanding nuclear power installations. We have already taken up some projects. We have uranium supply agreements on place with some countries. We are in dialogue for equipment with some countries and I am sure nuclear may have its own place.”