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NTPC lands raft of solar project contracts in Cuba, Malawi, and Niger

While NTPC has been awarded the project management consultancy (PMC) contract for setting up 900 megawatt (MW) solar projects in Cuba, it has also secured similar contracts in Malawi and Niger to set up 100 MW and 50 MW solar capacity respectively. (REUTERS)Premium
While NTPC has been awarded the project management consultancy (PMC) contract for setting up 900 megawatt (MW) solar projects in Cuba, it has also secured similar contracts in Malawi and Niger to set up 100 MW and 50 MW solar capacity respectively. (REUTERS)

  • The contracts are under the aegis of International Solar Alliance and will help set up solar parks to meet electricity demand in these countries

NEW DELHI : India’s strategy of showcasing its green energy credentials to land projects overseas has gained traction, with state-run NTPC Ltd securing a raft of project contracts under the aegis of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in Cuba, Niger, and Malawi to help set up solar parks to meet these countries’ electricity demands, said two people aware of the development.

While NTPC has been awarded the project management consultancy (PMC) contract for setting up 900 megawatt (MW) solar projects in Cuba, it has also secured similar contracts in Malawi and Niger to set up 100 MW and 50 MW solar capacity respectively. These are the countries after Mali (500 MW) and Togo (285 MW) where India’s largest power generation utility has been awarded PMC contracts through ISA, the first treaty-based international government organization headquartered in India.

NTPC is also eyeing similar opportunities in other ISA member countries in Africa such as Sudan, Congo, Mozambique, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Gambia, Tanzania, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. NTPC has been engaged as a facilitator by ISA and is targeting to help set up 10 gigawatt (GW) capacity in ISA member countries.

ISA, co-founded by India and France, has become a significant public policy tool for India and is considered a counter to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative. India’s strategy is to negate the growing influence of strategic rival China in the region.

In another development, NTPC is also looking to bid for solar power projects in African countries such as Congo. This assumes significance given the aggressive bids quoted by the state run firm in the recent solar auctions held in India. Of the 650 million people expected to be without energy access in 2030, a majority of them are likely to be from Africa.

“NTPC has been endorsed by International Solar Alliance (ISA) as Project Management Consultant (PMC) / Solar Project developer, to ISA member countries in Nov'2019 through a transparent and competitive process of Swiss Challenge. Under this endorsement, NTPC and ISA have been jointly approaching member countries for collaboration in the implementation of solar parks and projects in these countries," a NTPC spokesperson said in an emailed response.

The Cuba and Niger assignments were received by India’s largest power generation utility in June, with the Malawi assignment received in March. This also comes at a time of India’s efforts at a global leadership role on tackling climate change.

“Regular meetings are being held with Cuba side for finalizing the Pre-Feasibility Report for the project. Visit to Cuba by NTPC and ISA teams is planned for mid of Sept’ 2021 to gather further information and to discuss the modalities for implementation of the subject project," the NTPC spokesperson said and added, “Niger side has invited NTPC indicating a blanket capacity and has requested NTPC to identify the location. Currently NTPC is exploring various options where such power projects can be developed."

“In Cuba, total of 900 MW at 175 locations have been identified," an ISA spokesperson added in an emailed response.

China has made major forays into Africa since 2004-05. New Delhi is opposed to the Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to invest about $8 trillion in infrastructure projects across Asia, Europe and Africa, as it says the initiative lures countries into debt traps, and does not respect sovereignty or address environmental concerns.

“Regarding other African countries including Congo, we have been in regular touch with concerned authorities for the way forward. Additionally, NTPC has been participating in various tenders for capacity building and consultancy assignments in Africa which are at different stages of evaluation," the NTPC spokesperson said.

An ISA spokesperson in the emailed response said that NTPC had submitted a statement of intent to the President of ISA assembly power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh on 27 April last year to work with ISA to assist ISA member countries to set up solar plants and solar parks.

NTPC plans to reach 60 gigawatt (GW) renewable energy capacity by 2032 from around 4GW today. NTPC has also announced its target of 10% reduction in net energy intensity as part of its energy compact goals. Currently, the public sector unit has an installed capacity of around 67 GW across 70 power projects with an additional 18 GW under construction.

“NTPC is open to bid for projects in African countries including Congo where there is payment security and a robust regulatory environment," said one of the two people cited above requesting anonymity.

The state-owned power major green energy push is part of the government’s playbook with India’s solar and wind generation recorded an all-time high of 43.1GW on 27 July. India has also crossed the 100 GW milestone of installed renewable energy capacity.

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