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Partners Group AG, a Switzerland-based private equity (PE) firm, is planning to invest $300 million in leading rooftop solar firm Sunsure Energy for a majority stake, two people aware of the development said.

The private equity firm plans to grow Sunsure, one of India’s largest solar rooftop engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies, as a green energy platform, on the lines of how Actis Llp developed renewable energy platforms Sprng Energy and Ostro Energy.

Partners Group, which has around $131 billion of assets under management globally, has its India office in Mumbai. It is a key investor in logistics firm Ecom Express Pvt. Ltd.

“Partners Group is looking to invest $300 million in Sunsure Energy," said one of the two people cited above requesting anonymity.

Some of the other clean energy platforms in India backed by private equity investors include Actis Llp’s BluPine Energy, KKR’s Virescent Infrastructure, European alternative asset manager EQT and Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte.’s O2 Power.

A Partners Group spokesperson, in an emailed response, said, “We have no comment on this." Sunsure Energy founder and chief executive officer Shashank Sharma did not respond to phone calls or to text messages.

Founded in 2014, Sunsure focuses on large-scale rooftop and open access solar plants that supply electricity to the commercial and industrial (C&I) segment. Open access allows large users of electricity to buy power from the open market, instead of depending on a more expensive grid. These projects are generally insulated from risks such as power procurement curtailment and tariff-shopping by discoms. Also, India has set up a 40 gigawatt (GW) solar rooftop target, with the overall investment in the renewable energy sector expected to the tune of around 30 trillion by 2030.

Moody’s Investors Service, in a report on Monday, said, “In India, renewables projects (solar PV and onshore wind) have already achieved grid parity, where generation costs can match coal-fired power over the project lifetime. Government policies are further encouraging renewables projects by giving them priority in power dispatch, reducing demand risk."

Some of the marquee measures taken by the government to promote domestic renewable energy include imposing basic customs duty (BCD) of 40% on solar modules and 25% on cells with effect from 1 April, 24,000 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, and domestic content requirement in ministry of new and renewable energy schemes. Also, being on the approved list of solar PV models and module manufacturers (ALMM) is mandatory for a manufacturers’ equipment to be sourced for government-supported schemes and projects from where discoms procure electricity. The National Green Hydrogen Mission targeting fertilizers, refineries and city gas sectors is also expected to be a game-changer for India.

“In India, renewables‘ priority in dispatch will lead to a further decline in coal power utilization. Specifically, we expect coal power utilization to decline from 56% over the last three years to below 50% if the country meets its renewables capacity addition targets of adding 500GW by fiscal 2030," the Moody’s report added.

India has an installed renewable energy capacity of 163GW, with green energy projects recording a foreign direct investment of $78 billion. India’s green energy deal space has also been active. Mint reported earlier that Canada Pension Plan Investment Board-backed ReNew Energy Global Plc is looking to sell 1GW of operational clean energy capacity; firm BP Plc, Norway’s state-run electricity firm Statkraft, and New York-based I Squared Capital are in the fray to buy Continuum Green Energy (India) Pvt. Ltd, and Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries Ltd is buying US private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners’ (GIP) clean energy platform Vector Green Energy.

Also, Actis Llp’s BluPine Energy acquired 404 megawatt (MW) solar power assets of Kolkata-based Atha Group.

Global investors’ interest in India’s clean energy space is sustained and growing, given the Union government’s focus on the unfolding energy transition, the largest such exercise anywhere in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in Indonesia said that India is on track to achieve its target of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Also, global investors are enthused by India’s Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy that was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP 27; wherein renewable energy, e-mobility, ethanol blended fuels, and green hydrogen were announced as an alternate energy source.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Utpal Bhaskar

"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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