Economy

Rapid growth in renewable power needed to meet demand: Sumant Sinha

Suresh P Iyengar Mumbai | Updated on March 01, 2021

Sumant Sinha, Chairman, ReNew Power   -  Businessline

Renew Power has become the first Indian company to list on Nasdaq using the Special Purpose Acquisition Company route. Sumant Sinha, Chairman, ReNew Power, spoke to BusinessLine on the way forward for the company. Excerpts:

What is the reason for Nasdaq listing through SPAC compared to Indian listing?

Our ultimate objective was to get listed. Listing in the US through SPAC has become a viable way forward and a number of companies are using this route to list on the Nasdaq. For us, it was another way to become a listed company.

Did you weigh the option of listing in India?

We did consider both the options. The market for ESG companies like ours in the US is more liquid. ESG as an investment theme has really picked up in the US. So we thought we will have access to a deeper and more liquid market for the longer-term. This was the main reason for getting listed overseas than in India.

You plan to use the proceeds from this deal to reduce current debt and expansion plans. Could you give us some details?

Currently, we have an installed capacity 5.5 GW and 4.5 GW is under construction. The money raised will be used to fund the ongoing projects and future bids. In the absence of winning new bids, we will repay debt. We will not be able to share the exact details.

How do you see demand for green power going ahead?

The power demand in India has been growing 5-6 per cent per year. We see demand doubling. The bulk of incremental demand will be met by renewable sources because it is much cheaper than thermal power. A large part of renewable energy will come from solar. The government has set a target to put up 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 from the existing 90 GW. Based on this target we are looking at a growth of five times in 10 years. We expect solar power addition of about 350 GW.

Is the target of 450 GW achievable?

Honestly, we do not have a choice. There are no fresh power plants based on coal, hydro, nuclear, or gas being build right now. Moreover hydro, nuclear, and gas are much more expensive. The cheapest is renewable and it requires less gestation period.

All these factors point to rapid renewable power growth to meet the incremental demand. If investment in renewables does not happen the power demand will not be met and this will hamper GDP growth.

What has been driving large thermal power companies to solar projects?

They are seeing good opportunities as there are no fresh capacities being added in the conventional sectors. Moreover, getting funding for thermal plants is becoming difficult. Nobody wants to invest in an asset for 25 years based on coal without knowing how long it is going to be viable and how long people are going to buy coal-based power.

Do you see an increase in bidding rate for solar projects?

It may go up if the government imposes customs duty on solar panel imports. I do not think solar is going to touch ₹3-3.5 a unit from ₹2-2.5 a unit currently. There is a lot of head room for price increase in solar but it will still be cheaper.

Will performance linked incentive scheme boost solar panel manufacturing in India?

The whole think has to be looked at 360 degree policy mechanism. PLI is just one aspect of it.

They have to add customs duty to protect the domestic market if they want more manufacturing in the country. We ourselves are waiting for some of the policy announcements to be firmed up.

How is the acquisition of Pune-based artificial intelligence company Climate Connect helping you out?

It is possible to improve asset performance by harnessing data analysis. It is very critical for us as we have to sweat the asset as much as possible. It is an important area for renewable energy. We are looking at whether we can develop products in these areas.

Published on March 01, 2021

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