Saudi Arabia and BP Group betting big on India

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A week after two credit rating agencies predicted India will miss its ambitious 175 GW by 2022 renewable energy target, Saudi Arabia and Lightsource BP have placed big bets on the nation, with partnership and technology sharing announcements.

Saudi Arabia is interested in joining forces with India to develop complementary supply chains as well as deploying finance and new technologies, while Lightsource BP is keen on developing solar projects with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India (NIIF).

The announcements were made at the India Energy Forum sponsored by CERAWeek, which was held from Sunday to yesterday in New Delhi.

“The lowest cost PV solar project is in Saudi Arabia. I think some of the developments in financing, as well as future technologies that we will be developing in the kingdom, will be given priority, hopefully to be deployed as part of India’s solar vision,” said Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy, industry and mineral resources minister, and Chairman of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer.

However, Mr. Al-Falih emphatically dismissed the idea oil will soon be phased out as the dominant global source of energy for transport. “The narrative that electric vehicle and solar will take over the market is wrong,” he added, on Monday. “This is creating serious risks for the global energy market. Electric vehicles and renewables will make market penetration, but at a slower pace.

Plentiful investment committed to India

Bob Dudley, Chief Executive of BP Group, told a forum press conference: “We are working with a new company called Lightsource BP, developing solar projects on a very, very large scale. So far we have committed to a fund – [the] Green Growth Equity Fund, [or] GGEF – about $250 million [Rs1,839 crore] of investment in solar projects. I believe that will get to be a billion dollar fund to develop solar.”

BP Group has already made a $12 billion funding commitment in India and the GGEF aims to bring the figure up to $1 billion dollars of investment through contracted power, distribution infrastructure and energy services.

In June, Lightsource BP commissioned a 60 MW solar site in Wagdari, Maharashtra – the company’s first utility solar asset in India.

The national 175 GW clean energy target acquires added importance because the country is the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, after China and the U.S. By 2030, India plans to meet 40% of its electricity needs from non-fossil fuel sources and reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels.