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Inaugural summit aims to propel India’s renewable energy sector

India has a strategic mission to have energy independence by 2022. This is underpinned by a variety of Government initiatives, including the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

The need for energy efficiency is presently a global hot topic, and so the inaugural National Energy Investment Summit being held next month, is both a timely and significant platform for the region.

The event is taking place on July 21st – 22nd 2011 at The Grand in New Delhi, and is seen as pivotal in the country’s quest to achieve its 2022 agenda.

It is supported by a number of Government and industry associations, including the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, The Energy Resource Institute, World Institute of Sustainable Energy, Indian Wind Energy Association, Solar Energy Society of India, Indian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, All India Association of Industries and Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C WET), Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership and Independent Power Producers Association of India.

Up to 150 investors, Government officials and renewable energy solution providers are attending. Investors are expected to travel from the Middle East, Europe, China and Australia – as well as India.

This initiative provides an ideal arena for all parties to discuss projects geared towards transforming the country’s energy industry. Key issues such as emission reduction, carbon emission trading and Clean Development Mechanism are also being debated.

The two days are organised and hosted by business information group naseba. “We are proud to host this summit and grateful for the support of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India. This is the first capital raising platform for renewable energy projects of its kind in the region, and up to US$ 7.5 billion in expected to be invested.” commented naseba General Manager (INDIA) , Mohammed Saleem

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Sunny India needs German solar technology

During her day’s sojourn in India earlier this month on the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, held inter-governmental consultations, quite unusually, at the cabinet level. Such cabinet-level discussions are held with very few countries. India is the first Asian country with which such discussions have been held. About half a dozen ministers accompanied her with the intentions of further expanding and intensifying economic cooperation between the two countries. Germany is the largest trading partner of India in the European Union.

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Govt approves scheme to fast-track National Solar Mission

NEW DELHI: In an effort to fast-track the National Solar Mission, the Government on Thursday approved a scheme which will help in availability of funds for carrying out projects under the mission.

The Union Cabinet cleared the Payment Security Scheme to enable financial closure of projects under the mission by extending Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) amounting to Rs 486 crore to the New and Renewable Energy Ministry (MNRE), an official spokesperson said here.

The scheme will help MNRE in the event of defaults in payment by the state utilities to NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the Central Agency which will purchase solar power from the developers and sell it to the utilities bundled with unallocated thermal power available from NTPC utilities.

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Job ads show Google wading deeper in clean energy

Google has invested significant money and employee time in clean-energy technologies over the past few years but recent job openings point to stepped-up efforts to build its own products.

There are currently five renewable-energy engineer job openings listed on Google’s job site, including a top manager position at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters that hints at Google’s bigger ambitions.

The “head of renewable energy engineering” will lead a research and development team within Google to lower the cost of renewable energy. “As the engineering leader of Google’s clean energy initiative, you will be responsible for building a team of top technologists to develop disruptive new technologies that dramatically lower the cost of renewable electricity – with the goal of making renewable energy cheaper than coal within a few years,” according to the job posting.

The other job openings specify skills in designing and prototyping utility-scale renewable-energy systems. Google is seeking people able to assess and create different renewable-energy technologies with the potential to be cheaper than coal-generated electricity, including solar, wind, enhanced geothermal, and other “breakthrough technologies,” according to a listing. Another job is geared at making Google’s operations more sustainable, such as reducing its energy use and achieving the corporate goal of carbon neutrality.

Google first launched its renewable energy cheaper than coal initiative in 2007. The company invested in a few start-ups and took a number of measures to improve the efficiency of its operations. In the past several months, though, Google has sped up its activity in renewable energy.

In April, its Google Energy subsidiary invested directly in a wind farm in Oklahoma located near a planned Google data center. Altogether, Google has also invested more than $400 million in renewable energy, including a large wind farm in Oregon and a large solar project in California earlier this year.

Yesterday, it announced that it is expanding to 450 electric-vehicle charging stations on its campuses, acting as a corporate customer to advance electric-vehicle technology.

Through its philanthropy Google.org, Google invested in start-ups, including high-wind company Makani Power, enhanced geothermal companies, and solar company BrightSource Energy, which filed to go public earlier this year. The company also developed PowerMeter, a home energy monitoring Web application, the only energy-related product Google has released.

In 2010, Google’s green-energy czar Bill Weihl said that engineers had built a prototype of a sun-tracking mirror called a heliostat which could lower the cost of solar energy. Weihl also told Reuters that Google was discouraged in the amount of money going into early-stage renewable-energy technologies.

By expanding its internal research and development around clean energy, Google appears to be stepping up its commitment to develop more technologies internally.

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Synapse Helps Make Clean Electricity Affordable for Low Income Households in India

Synapse Helps Make Clean Electricity Affordable for Low Income Households in India
Pay-As-You-Go Solar Energy System from Simpa Networks Improves Quality of Life While Reducing Fossil Fuel Consumption.

Synapse Product Development engineers are currently helping Simpa Networks realize their idea to bring clean, safe, and sustainable energy services to 20 million people by 2020 through a pay-as-you-go in-home solar energy system.

“We are always looking for ways to work with Clients whose values are culturally similar to ours,” said Chris Massot, Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Synapse. “Working with Simpa is a wonderful opportunity for us to use technology to promote the expansion of sustainable energy.”

Synapse designed and built the Simpa Regulator™ prototypes currently being tested with customers in Bangalore, India. The Simpa Regulator™ hardware platform enables the Progressive Purchase™ pricing model by metering and adjusting electricity availability in response to the entry of payment codes by customers. The result is a secure, low-cost, intuitive, rugged, and tamper proof device that allows Simpa to test and prove their new pricing model with real customers, giving them valuable new information about customer needs and desires.

“Our engineering team developed a cost-optimized hardware platform in a tamper-proof enclosure running an encrypted payment entry and validation scheme,” said Cameron Charles, Project Manager at Synapse. “This has been a great opportunity for our team to design something for a set of users who would not normally have access to this type of product.”

Nearly 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity, and another one billion lack reliable grid connections. Most rely on traditional fuel such as kerosene for lighting and often need to travel great distances for services such as mobile phone charging. These energy expenditures can consume up to 30% of household income.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Synapse through this critical phase of development,” said Paul Needham, President of Simpa Networks. “Their team was able to understand our requirements and develop a solution that was ready for installation in customer homes. Based on our synthesis of customer feedback, Synapse was able to quickly turn around new iterations of our Simpa Regulator™ which were back in front of customers right away for real-time testing.”

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Google Heats Up Solar R&D To Diversify Business and Save Money

A strategic weakness of Google(GOOG) has been complete reliance on advertising. The company has worked for years to break out of the mold. In 2010, it sank 12.8 percent of its revenue into R&D. So far, no great luck. But one new area that might prove promising is solar power.

Last year Google announced a new mirror system for concentrating solar radiation. Now Google’s patent application for the technology has surfaced and the company is hiring three technical positions for a new R&D group “to develop electricity from renewable energy sources at a cost less than coal” at “utility scale.” The question is whether the new venture will receive the support it needs as CEO Larry Page tries to more effectively focus the company’s efforts.

One problem with solar energy has been the inefficiency of conversion cells that turn light into electricity. The devices have been expensive enough that the resulting cost of electricity is too high compared to standbys like coal. That leaves one of two possible fixes: make the cells a lot cheaper, or increase efficiency.

Google is clearly going down the efficiency road with a strategy to increase the amount of light hitting a device and boost the resulting amount of energy. The patent application is for a heliostat system that keeps mirrors trained on a device that receives the light. The twist is that Google’s system uses a camera to measure the brightness of the light and appropriately adjust the collector mirrors.

But the specifics of the device are almost beside the point. Google has had a practical interest in energy costs for years, given the amounts it uses in server farms. The company has invested in energy firms for some time and has also indulged in some energy-related development before, like its PowerMeter software. In addition, Google conducts R&D for its own infrastructure, like developing its own storage technology.

Getting into solar power that the company could apply to its data centers seems like an extension of efforts. But this is a significant shift. The planned hires — a technical program manager for the heliostat project, as well as a renewable energy engineer and mechanical engineer — may be small potatoes for the company, but they underscore how Google may be taking the topic more seriously.

The question is whether such an initiative can last. Page is trying to bring more focus to the company and a number of recent efforts, like Wave and Buzz, went nowhere. However, an energy R&D group has one thing that many of Google’s would-have-beens never offered: a chance for hard savings. Even a small reduction in expense could pay for the group many times over, making it a tactical necessity, even if not a strategic one.

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Policy Irregularities Block Renewable Energy Growth in India

A recent report titled ‘The Rising Sun’, published by KPMG, indicates that the solar power in India is anticipated to fulfill around 5% to 7% of its power needs by 2021-2022 and will enable the country to cut down its coal imports by more than 30%.

However, the government regulatory structure in the country is yet to acquire a solid shape. The report indicates that governments and utility companies are finding it a challenge to buy expensive solar power at nearly Rs.12 a unit when the normal power is available for Rs.3 or Rs.4.

The report indicates that clean energy producers were earlier encouraged by the 15% clean energy mix spelled out by the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), but the ministry had subsequently brought it down to 6% and the current production hovers around 3.5% to 4%. This has created mixed opinions and confusion among solar stake holders. The new proposed plan has set an overall target of achieving 21,700 MW in the ensuing six years, thus making the total share of renewables to 41,400 MW.

The government estimates that the solar power generation will ultimately go up in India due to the anticipated reduction in power production costs. The government expects that solar power will come down to Rs.11.80 per unit in 2013-2014 and ultimately reach a level of Rs.9 per unit in 2016-2017.

The report estimates that the solar power production will cut down carbon dioxide emissions in India by 2.5%, which is only a tenth of the 20%-25% reduction the country has agreed at the international summit on climate change held at Copenhagen. The report indicates that solar power producers in India are concerned about the slow implementation of a scheme that makes it compulsory for utility firms to buy certain amount of renewable power.

Source: http://www.kpmg.com/

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PROINSO to supply its first 2 MW project in India

PROINSO will conduct the supply throughout this year and, according to company sources, is currently negotiating the provision for other solar energy projects in India in excess of 20 MW power for 2011, for both Indian and European developers with projects in India.

MECASOLAR and PROINSO- companies that form part of Grupo OPDE- plan to open an office in India before the end of the year, and will be travelling there in April on a trade mission with the Spanish Association for the Internationalisation and Innovation of Solar Companies (SECARTYS-SOLARTYS).

This mission will enable both companies, – who participated in the Renewable Energy Technology Congress held in New Delhi -to see first hand the commitment that the Indian Government is making to solar energy, its current plans for the development of solar energy the forthcoming years –National Solar Mission-, and the various plans that some regions are carrying out. During this mission contact was also made with a large number of promoters, EPC companies and customers.

At the end of this year both PROINSO and MECASOLAR will attend INTERSOLAR INDIA to be held from 14 to 16 December. Prior to this, they will be present at INTERSOLAR EUROPE to be held from 8 to 10 June in Munich, where they hope to make contacts with customers in India, taking advantage of the huge attendance at the event.

PROINSO have highlighted the enormous growth potential for the solar energy market in India in the coming years, as forecasts suggest that by 2020, the country will have installed 10,000 MW.

World leader in distribution

PROINSO, which has offices in Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, United States, Britain, Canada, China and Czech Republic– expects to exceed the figure of 1,000 MW supplied throughout 2011. The company can provide these forecasts as they have closed orders which predict that this figure will be added together to the 812 MW which has already been supplied since 2005.

PROINSO has a strong international focus, as is indicated by its more than 1,555 qualified installers who are part of its Network, in addition to more than 90,000 m2 of logistics warehouses spread out among its delegations.

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Investors Keen to Be Part of India’s Green Growth

NEW DELHI — India has made it into the A-list of global investors in renewable energy, a recognition of the country’s proactive government energy program, natural resources and mushrooming swathe of entrepreneurs.

India ranked as the third favored destination with 35% of the respondents saying they would invest in India, behind the U.S., which was targeted by 53% of the respondents, and China (38%), according to a report, called Green Power 2011: The KPMG Reneweable Energy M&A Report,” released Wednesday by KPMG that is based on a survey of 500 executives active in the renewable energy arena globally.

Adeel Halim/Bloomberg NewsDismantled windmills lie on the ground at a wind farm in Kammalapatti in India, April 11.

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For instance, India’s wind-energy companies, which are in the midst of a hectic pace of development, have attracted more than $586 million of project financing this quarter. This already is 63% of the $934 million raised in all of 2010.

“The Indian market has become increasingly dynamic in recent years as a result of strong natural resources, greater accommodation to international investment compared with China and a variety of government incentives,” the report said.

While Indian banks continue to be the main source of funding, international lenders are taking note. HSBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. provided $110 million debt project financing in March for a wind farm in the western state of Gujarat.

The pace of growth and investments in India is part of a worldwide trend. Deal activity among renewable energy companies globally surged 70% in 2010, and continues to maintain this hectic clip in the first quarter, according to the report.

In the first quarter, 141 transactions worth $11.2 billion were signed, while last year, an average of 96 deals worth $5.5 billion were announced in each quarter.

“All in all, 2011 looks set to be another buoyant year,” the report said, but added a caveat that the first quarter data doesn’t reflect the impact of the tsunami in Japan in March.

The survey data also revealed that investors preferred to invest locally rather than across borders. But nearly 60% of Asia-Pacific acquirers said they are targeting India or China. India also features as one of the top three destinations for solar energy companies along with the U.S. and Italy.

“With India it is a combination of factors,” said Siobhan Smyth, head of renewables at HSBC, who was interviewed as part of the survey.

“There is a portfolio standard on a state-by-state basis. Developers have the ability to get [public-private agreementss due to utility obligations. Then there are the generation-based incentive and tax-depreciation incentives. You are looking at 15% to 20% returns depending on the state you look at and the type of assets you are buying.”

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India Creates Scheme to Boost Solar Projects

India‘s federal cabinet Thursday approved the allocation of 4.86 billion rupees ($108 million) toward a scheme to guarantee payments for electricity bought from solar power producers, as part of the government’s efforts to encourage development of renewable energy.

The funds will be used as guarantee in case state-run power utilities and distribution companies default on payments for solar power, which currently costs much more than coal-based electricity.

The payment security scheme aims to help solar power producers arrange finances for their projects, the government said in a statement issued after a cabinet meeting.

The scheme will help the federal government meet targets under its National Solar Mission, which aims to build 1,000 megawatt of solar power capacity by 2013 in the first phase. India aims to add 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022 under the solar mission.

The scheme will be implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. will be able to draw funds from the account as per the scheme’s provisions, the statement said.

NTPC Vidyut, a unit of India’s largest power generator NTPC Ltd., buys solar power from the producers and sells it to utilities bundled with coal-based power.

But most state-run distribution companies are cash-strapped with weak finances. This has elevated the risk of solar power producers not being paid for the electricity produced. That has affected solar companies building these new plants as lenders aren’t willing to give loans to projects where returns are risky.

Solar companies that have been awarded projects under the mission’s first phase in particular are facing hurdles in arranging finances. For the projects awarded so far, companies have to raise funds by the end of June.

India currently has 20,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, constituting more than 11% of the country’s total power generation capacity of around 174 gigawatts.

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