New Delhi: Global green energy firms seems to be making a beeline to take bets on India’s renewable energy story as companies including New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed NRG Energy Inc are planning an India entry.

NRG has an installed capacity of 50,000 megawatts (MW). India needs as much as $250 billion to meet its target of installing 100 gigawatts of solar power and 60,000MW of wind power by 2022.

“These firms are actively scouting for an opportunity to invest in India, given the scales involved here and also the rate of return. These firms have big plans. A case in point being NRG, which has one of the largest global renewable energy platforms," said a person aware of the firm’s plan, requesting anonymity.

A senior government official, also requesting anonymity, said many firms are scouting for investments in the green energy development and manufacturing space.

The National Democratic Alliance government has pushed renewable energy to the top of its energy security agenda and is looking to provide green power at less than 4.50 per unit. According to the government, the Indian clean energy market is largely driven by asset-based finance to the extent of 94% of total investment in the sector.

Speaking at Mint’s fourth annual energy conclave on Friday, Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary in India’s ministry of new and renewable energy, said most renewable energy companies are scouting for opportunities to set up base in India.

With affordable tariff holding key to the success of India’s green energy plans, state-owned NTPC Ltd plans to supply electricity from 10,000MW of solar power capacity that it is setting up on its own, at 3.20 per unit, by bundling it with unallocated power to bring tariffs down. In addition, it plans to sell electricity at around 5 per unit for 15,000MW that it is buying on behalf of the ministry of new and renewable energy.

Queries emailed to NRG Energy remained unanswered at the time of going to press.

The government has put a lot of focus on the solar energy space. “Solar power capacity is projected to grow 24 times from 2015 to 2022. Concomitantly, a lot of policy action has also been taken in the sector at the centre as well as state level. CARE Ratings believes more than central scheme (mainly JNNSM), it is the states who would be the key driver in facilitating solar capacity addition," CARE Ratings wrote in a 27 August report.

JNNSM is the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

There has been growing interest from overseas investors in the Indian renewable energy space. Russia’s OAO Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, US-based First Solar and China’s Trina Solar are among the firms looking for opportunities to participate in India’s solar energy sector. In June, SoftBank, along with Bharti Enterprises Ltd and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology, proposed to invest at least $20 billion in solar energy projects in India through a joint venture, SB Cleantech Ltd.

Also, a number of utilities and private equity (PE) firms are trying to get a slice of India’s growing green energy pie. These include NYSE-listed Brookfield Asset Management, Switzerland-based PE firm Partners Group AG, infrastructure investment manager I Squared Capital, Dubai’s PE firm Abraaj Group and Doha-based Nebras Power QSC.

A subsidiary of Singapore-based Sembcorp Industries Ltd acquired a 60% stake in IDFC Alternatives-backed renewable energy firm Green Infra Ltd for S$227 million in February. In the same month, Actis Capital committed $230 million to create an Indian renewable energy platform called Ostro Energy Pvt. Ltd. SunEdison recently agreed to acquire Continuum Wind Energy Ltd.

In India, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China, renewable energy currently accounts for only 13%, or 35,777MW, of the total installed power capacity of 2,74,818MW.

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