GE Says India Renewables More Attractive Than Coal or Gas

Sep 04, 2014 9:26 am ET

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Clean-energy power plants will be a more attractive investment in India than coal or natural gas projects, according to General Electric Co.

“Wind and solar will continue to offer significant value over other fuels for several decades,” Mahesh Palashikar, GE’s India head of renewables, told a conference in Noida, near New Delhi.

GE invested $24 million in India’s largest solar-power project in April, a 151-megawatt plant under development by Welspun Group. It also invested in three Indian wind farms in July.

Conventional power projects are facing fuel-supply constraints and rising costs that won’t be resolved quickly, Palashikar said. In contrast, GE expects the cost of wind energy to continue to fall as the technology improves, allowing turbines to generate more electricity at lower wind speeds, he said.

Solar electricity will increasingly become central to India’s rapidly growing cities as rooftops are harnessed to help combat blackouts, Palashikar said. That echoes statements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which wants to accelerate solar deployment in the nation by fitting everything from farm irrigation pumps and village huts to mall rooftops with photovoltaic panels.

Until now, almost all of India’s 2,700 megawatts of solar power is in large, desert facilities financed by investors such as BlackRock Inc.-backed SunEdison Inc. and Helion Venture Partners LLC-supported Azure Power India Pvt.

Modi seeks to broaden the industry to smaller installations across rooftops, a model that helped put Germany and Japan among the world’s largest solar markets.

“For urbanization, you certainly need decentralization -- there’s no two ways about it,” Palashikar said. GE was targeting solar installations on large rooftops of commercial and industrial consumers, such as information technology parks and factories, which pay the highest power rates, he said.