International solar panel manufacturers are now looking to diversify their presence into project implementation and facilitation in India. After SunEdison’s plan to set up distributed solar power projects in rural areas of the country, First Solar is planning to help entrepreneurs and corporates set up micro-grid solar power projects.
First Solar plans to initiate a pilot project to set up distributed solar power projects in villages and rural areas that lack access to electricity. Economic sustainability being a major hurdle, the company would offer financial support for the implementation of the projects.
Start-up companies have technical know-how but lack financial support to sustain a model to expand and maintain the distributed power plants. While some large companies have adopted these projects, large-scale implementation across the country would require a concerted and cohesive mechanism between project developers, financial institutions, and corporations.
Linking corporate social responsibility with development of rural distributed solar power projects makes sense, as Indian companies are now mandated to invest a set minimum amount for CSR activities.
SunEdison has recently secured a tender to set up solar power-based micro-grids in villages in two states in the country. The projects would be subsidized by the state governments. Other companies, like Azure Power and Welspun Energy, are also planning to implement similar projects.
One of India’s largest solar equipment manufacturers, Tata Power Solar, recently announced a partnership with Bajaj Finance to provide interest-free loans for solar power equipment such as solar lanterns and rooftop solar power systems.
First Solar is among the largest solar panel suppliers in India. The company has supplied panels to several projects operational under the state power policies and the national solar mission. However, the company may soon face anti-dumping duties from the Indian government. Thus, a diversification into the rural rooftop solar business may help the company continue to have a presence in the Indian solar power market.
Image credit: Solar panels via Waynenf | CC by 2.0