Goldman-backed ReNew has warning about renewable energy in India

India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, wants to raise its renewable energy capacity.

    India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh has been trying to renegotiate power purchase agreements with renewable energy producers, citing high prices [File: Amit Dave/Reuters]
    India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh has been trying to renegotiate power purchase agreements with renewable energy producers, citing high prices [File: Amit Dave/Reuters]

    Investors could be put off India by Andhra Pradesh state's difficult relationship with renewable energy companies, says Sumant Sinha, chair of Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power.

    India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, wants to raise its renewable energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW), or 40 percent of total capacity, by 2030.

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    The southern state of Andhra Pradesh is among the largest adopters of renewable energy, and ReNew Power - about 49 percent-owned by US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs - is India's largest renewable energy company.

    But the state has been curtailing power procurement from renewable energy companies, citing high prices, and pushing to renegotiate its supply contracts with them.

    "There are questions on what this means for sanctity of contracts in India. That has made investors jittery," Sinha told the Reuters news agency.

    Foreign investment is central to India's green energy ambitions, and a slowdown in overseas funding could hurt Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment to increase adoption of renewable energy.

    "The longer the issue carries on, the less likely [the renewable energy] target will be met," Sinha said.

    ReNew has an installed capacity of more than 5GW and plans to add another 3GW by mid-2021.

    India's federal government, the state-controlled NTPC Ltd, Solar Energy Corp of India and the Japanese ambassador to India have all asked Andhra Pradesh not to try to renegotiate renewables contracts.

    And in August, a court in Andhra Pradesh ordered state transmission companies to refrain from carrying out "arbitrary and discriminatory" practices towards power generating firms.

    Andhra Pradesh, which accounts for about 10 percent of India's renewable energy capacity, owes green energy generators 25.1 billion rupees ($353.5 million).

    That is the highest of any state in India and accounts for a more than a quarter of all dues owed by province-owned distribution companies, according to latest data published by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

    But Sinha said late payments by distribution companies overall was not as severe as it had been a few years ago. Along with land acquisition, delayed payments are seen as a major challenge to the growth of the renewable energy sector in India.

    "With the exception of states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, most states have started paying on time," he said.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency