India is setting up an Investment Promotion Cell for the energy sector to provide a single point of contact for investors, Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Mr Farooq Abdullah, has said.

In the next five years, the country plans to invest $50 billion in renewable energy, including $19 billion in wind, $25 billion in solar and $3 billion each in the hydro and biomass segments, he said.

“The cell will be our window for potential investors to engage with us and bring their efforts and ideas to fruition,” Mr Abdullah told presspersons after addressing an investors’ meet here last evening.

He asked global investors to invest in India’s renewable energy sector and support its quest for a low-carbon and environmentally sustainable growth path.

“We strongly believe that it will be a win-win situation for all of us,” he said, asking investors to forge partnerships in the country.

Mr Abdullah said more than 40 investors attended the meet and “they seemed to be very keen to invest in solar and wind projects”.

Further, he said India has seen an “impressive increase in installed power capacity, from about 1,350 MW at the time of independence 65 years ago to about 2,00,000 MW at present”.

However, he added that despite such big strides, about 33 per cent of India’s rural households are still deprived of access to commercial energy sources.

“The average per capita consumption of energy in India is still quite low at around 800 units per annum,” he said.

Mr Abdullah said India today stands at fifth position in terms of renewable energy capacity, after the US, China, Germany and Spain.

“India today stands among the top five countries in terms of renewable energy capacity, with an installed base of over 25,000 MW, which is around 12.5 per cent of the total power generation capacity, contributing to about 6 per cent in the electricity mix.” he said.

“We have decided to increase the share of renewable energy in our power production during the 12th Plan period (2012-17) by increasing the installed capacity by about 30,000 MW,” he added.

He said an investor friendly policy framework has given a strong foundation for the growth of the wind sector in India and “today we stand fifth in the world in terms of total installed capacity of about 17,353 MW.”

Mr Abdullah said, “Towards harnessing the bountiful solar energy, my Ministry has started the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which aims to harness 22,000 MW of solar power by 2022.”

Biomass, an eco-friendly source for production of electricity, also holds considerable promise for India, he said.

“Our estimates indicate that with the present utilisation pattern of crop residues, the amount of surplus biomass materials is in the range of 120-150 million tonnes, which could generate about 18,000 MW of power. We also have the potential to generate about 5,000 MW through bagasse-based cogeneration,” he added.

Over $10 billion was invested in the Indian clean energy sector in 2011, with a substantial quantum coming from foreign direct investments.

The next frontiers of research and development would be off-shore wind, CSP solar, wind forecasting, storage technologies and smart grid, which shall together catapult the renewable sector into a new growth orbit, making it a practical alternative to the existing fossil fuel-based energy technologies.

“The challenge before us in the renewable energy sector, therefore, is to reduce the cost of renewable energy generation. Like many other countries, India too has taken up the challenge squarely, by encouraging economies of scale, easy transfer of technology and indigenous research and development,” he said.