US All Set to Help India Revamp Renewable Energy Sector

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Washington, DC – The United States is working to help India “implement” in 2016, all the “promises” made in 2015 as the two nations evaluate “policies” according to a top Obama Administration official at the US State Department.

At a roundtable with journalists, Melanie Nakagawa, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation and Bureau of Energy Resources said, “Paris really laid the groundwork on this process called INDCs, the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. That was really a bottom-up approach, letting countries put forward what they considered their ambitious targets and then putting that into the mix for global consensus, global agreement.”

“Now in 2016 it’s about how you put Paris into practice?” said Nakagawa adding, “Now it’s how do you turn those paper commitments, those pledges into action.”

Citing India’s commitments on the 175 gigawatt renewable energy target by 2022, their commitments on solar, their commitments also in the finance infrastructure space, the Secretary said, “I think that there’s a story to be written there as they get closer to it but it’s going to be tough. I mean it’s going to take not just the political will, but it’s going to take the reforms and the policies needed to actually see this possible future happen.”

With Indian government needing $100 billion in investment including $70 billion of debt financing to meet their 175 gigawatt target by 2022, the Secretary said those numbers can’t be met with public finance alone. And necessary reforms are needed to attract private investment.

The “US-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force,” was established in September 2015 as a government-to-government agency focused on clean energy investment and finance while it is complemented on the private sector by a task force, “Clean Energy Finance Forum,” led by Uday Kemkha and SunEdison.

“The next task force meeting will be, which will hopefully be this spring,” said Nakagawa adding, “The task force has proposed three recommendations for how we can work with India on getting to scale clean energy projects.”

Elaborating on those three issues, Nakagawa said the three proposals on the table are one on standardizing power purchase agreements. “The idea of companies standardizing paper is a really impediment to scalable investments. And so if you get that first issue cracked, you can really start to make progress,” Nakagawa emphasized.

Labeling it as a bundling approach, the Secretary said, “The second issue we’re looking at now gets much more technical, which is a first loss facility to deal with some of the off-taker risks that are happening in the project space in India. And the third area is looking at this idea of warehousing and securitization for renewable energy projects. So it’s bundling approach.”

On a question about what a US delegation visiting India now was looking to achieve, long-term, short-term, the Secretary said, “It’s called the American Innovation Roadshow … and it’s going to four cities in India and it’s focused actually on the clean tech, clean energy innovation sector, in particular.”

Highlighting that need for “the blending of technology plus the policy solutions plus the finance,” she said, “And so the roadshow is featuring business models of success, the technology for success as well as the regulations and the policy matters that need to happen, to see that happen.”

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