New Delhi: Norwegian state-owned electricity company Statkraft is actively scouting for hydropower opportunities in North India, including buying out stressed assets.
The attempt by Europe’s largest green energy producer comes in the backdrop of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government changing regulations governing the beleaguered sector earlier this month. Of around 66 gigawatts (GW) capacity facing various degrees of financial stress, there are 13 hydropower projects comprising 4.57 GW.
The first foreign investor in India’s hydropower space, Statkraft has been present in the country since 2004.
It has equity stakes in Malana and Allain Duhangan projects in Himachal Pradesh and acquired the 100 MW Tidong hydropower project in Himachal Pradesh last September.
“Statkraft is actively looking for hydropower project opportunities in India," said a person aware of Statkraft’s strategy in India, requesting anonymity.
Stakraft’s renewed focus comes at a time when India and Norway plan to collaborate in areas such as energy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the India-Nordic Council Summit last year.
“We are following our strategy to explore hydropower projects in the northern states of India and build on our core competency from the Nordics. This includes looking for distressed assets like Tidong," a Statkraft spokesperson said in an emailed response.
Rising non-performing assets in India’s power sector has been a major concern. The NPAs comprised about 5.9% of the banking sector’s total outstanding advances of ₹4.73 trillion, according to the Economic Survey 2016-17 issued in August.
“Our strategy was determined long before the change in regulations – Tidong was closed in September 2018," the spokesperson added.
India is seeking to leverage the advantages of hydro power defined by low life-cycle tariffs, reduce carbon emissions and lower dependence on thermal power. But at 45.4 GW, it comprises only 13% of the installed capacity of 349 GW.
Several hydropower projects have been delayed, leading to an increase in project costs. Building a hydropower projects is also time-consuming and tedious as they are located in remote areas.
Statkraft also had an exclusive partnership pact with Tata Power to jointly develop hydropower projects in the region that has lapsed now.
“Our partnership had ended and we are no longer looking at any joint opportunity with Statkraft," a Tata Power spokesperson said.
“We no longer have an exclusive partnership agreement with Tata Power," the Statkraft spokesperson added.