According to reports, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is interested in solar power, and his interest in alternative energy has provided a major boost to Indian solar operators in the private sector.
American Energy Holdings, a company controlled by Berkshire Hathaway, has acquired two solar photovoltaic power plant projects in California from SunPower Corporation. American Energy is to shell out over $2 billion for the sale, construction and operation of the projects by SunPower.
As a private solar player said, “India’s solar power sector was very popular with private equity players in 2012. More operators are looking for funds to carry out their expansion plans.”
India has over 40 private solar players such as Tata BP Solar India, Sun Technics Energy Systems, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Moser Baer, Premier Solar Systems and Maharishi Solar Technology, amongst others.
Officials said several States are rushing to install solar power to meet growing energy demand.
For instance, in Karnataka, the State Government has decided to construct a 500 MW solar power complex in Chitradurga district, instead of the Bijapur district.
Neighbouring Maharashtra too is expanding its solar power generation activities Vidarbha, Khandesh and Marathwada regions. Talks have also progressed with regards to a solar power plant in Osmanabad in Marathwada region.
In the case of Karnataka, the decision to relocate the planned solar park was taken following widespread opposition to the plant in Bijapur. In September 2012, the government had announced plans for the project that was meant to include private sector investment.
To be constructed in several phases starting with 100 MW capacity in the first phase, the solar park is part of Karnataka’s plans to add 4,300 MW of renewable power capacity in the coming two years.
The solar park is to also provide all infrastructure facilities to private investors interested in setting up their solar power panels, with a facility to evacuating power into the grid.
Though States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan already have a solar energy policy in place, officials added that much more needs to be done to ensure that the country’s installed capacity of 1,047 MW of solar power in November 2012, goes beyond the 2,000 MW capacity by March 2013.
The National Solar Mission expects 9,000 MW of solar projects by 2017, with Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh targeting 3,000 and 1,000 MW respectively.
The $50 million collaboration to promote solar energy research between the US and India has also proved to be a shot in the arm.
The Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS) has been set up by the Indian Institute of Science and the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), part of the US Department of Energy.
The two governments have contributed $12.5 million each and the rest is being obtained through industry bids. The three major points of focus in the PACE programme are solar energy, building effiency and biofuels.