(Bloomberg) — SunEdison Inc. will invest $4 billion to
build the biggest solar panel factory in India, advancing Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to rein in pollution by
expanding renewable energy.
The manufacturer based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, will
form a venture with the Indian power provider Adani Enterprises
Ltd. to build the photovoltaic plant, with as much as 7.5
gigawatts of annual production capacity. Construction is
expected to begin this year, the company said in a statement
With some of the quickest-growing carbon dioxide emissions
in the developing world, India is under pressure to join in the
international fight against global warming. Modi will meet
President Barack Obama in New Delhi next week where the two are
expected to discuss climate issues following last year’s pact
between the U.S. and China to coordinate pollution cuts.
“The prime minister has been revising upwards India’s
aspirations for solar,” said Pashupathy Shankar Gopalan,
SunEdison’s managing director for South Asia and Sub-Saharan
Africa. The factory “very nicely plays into the aspirations for
the country to grow solar significantly, as well as wanting to
create stronger domestic manufacturing.”
Modi has been ratcheting up India’s targets for renewable
energy in a bid to lower coal use and bring electricity to the
poor. The government set a target in November for as much as 100
gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022, five times the previous
India is the third-largest source of carbon emissions
behind the U.S. and China. In December, the government in New
Delhi said it could spend at least $100 billion on climate-related projects.
The targets have made India a fast-growing market for
photovoltaics. Demand for solar power in the country this year
may triple to more than 3.2 gigawatts, according to Bloomberg
New Energy Finance. The London-based researcher expects as much
as 63.6 gigawatts to be installed worldwide.
Solar remains a small part of India’s energy supply,
accounting for 1 percent of power generation capacity and less
than that for delivered electricity, according to the
International Energy Agency. Coal supplies 45 percent of India’s
energy and about 60 percent of its electricity.
Under existing energy policies, carbon dioxide emissions in
India will jump 34 percent by 2020 and double by 2030, according
to the IEA.
The new plant in Mundra, Gujarat, will incorporate all
stages of solar manufacturing, from polysilicon to cells and
panels. Construction will take about three years and it will
create about 20,000 jobs.
“Solar will be a very important part of the country’s
energy mix,” Gopalan said. “The cost of solar has become so
competitive that it’s our belief the facility we’re building
will be able to compete head to head with fossil-powered energy
SunEdison shares climbed almost 50 percent in 2014, the
most among the Bloomberg Intelligence Global Large Solar Energy
index of 21 companies.
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