Softbank in solar power venture in India

NEW DELHI - Japan's Softbank Corp, together with Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan's Foxconn, will invest about US$20 billion (S$26.6 billion) in solar projects in India, in one of the biggest investment pledges in the country's renewable energy sector.

Softbank, which previously said it would invest US$10 billion in India over time, yesterday said the companies had agreed a minimum commitment of generating 20 gigawatts of energy.

BRIGHT PROSPECTS

India has two times the sunshine (of) Japan. The cost of construction of the solar park is half of Japan. Twice the sunshine, half the cost, that means four times the efficiency.

- Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son

SoftBank will have majority control in the new company, SBG Cleantech, with Bharti and Foxconn as minority stakeholders.

"India has two times the sunshine (of) Japan," Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said. "The cost of construction of the solar park is half of Japan. Twice the sunshine, half the cost, that means four times the efficiency."

Mr Son said the timeline for investments would depend on state and central governments and on acquiring land for the plants.

The rapidly falling cost of solar power, expected to reach parity with conventional energy by 2017, has ignited interest in its potential in India, as the country steps up its own efforts to encourage investment in renewable energy.

Despite more than 300 days of sunshine a year, India relies on coal for three-fifths of its energy needs, while solar power supplies less than 1 per cent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has looked to industry for help in funding what government advisers hope will be a US$160 billion push into renewable energy over five years.

He aims to make India one of the world's largest renewable energy markets, targeting 100,000MW of output by 2022 from just 3,000MW now.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2015, with the headline 'Softbank in solar power venture in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe