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How France Is Helping India Meet Its 100 GW Solar Target

During Modi’s recent visit to Paris, India and France signed a memorandum of understanding to expand cooperation in the fields of solar and other renewable energies.

The memorandum was signed between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and France’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. France is eyeing major cooperation with India in the field of solar energy. So far, French firms are involved in the production of 10% of the solar electricity output in India.

joint statement issued by the two countries read:

France welcomes the very ambitious objectives set by the Indian government in terms of energy access to all and the development of renewable energy. France is already supporting India’s efforts to secure its energy supply and develop its sources of renewable energy, including solar power. India welcomed the target set by French companies aimed at developing 8 to 10 GW of solar energy in India by 2020-2022. France is also willing to support other renewable sources in India, such as wind, biomass and hydropower.

The Indian government was in talks with the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, or AFD) among others, to raise low-cost debt finance for both utility scale and rooftop solar power projects. President Hollande confirmed the target of AFD credit line of 1 billion euros over the next three years for sustainable infrastructure and urban development in India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande while jointly addressing the media

French solar projects developer Solairedirect SA has been present in India almost since the start of India’s National Solar Mission. While the majority of the company’s installations are located in France, India represents the second largest market for the company.

As of now Solairedirect has four solar projects in operation or under construction, with a total capacity of 72 MW. This includes a 21 MW solar PV plant inaugurated in Fazilka district of Punjab in Februray 2015. Very recently, the company won a new tender from the state of Telangana for three projects with a total installed capacity of 57.5 MW. As per its announcements at the Indian RE-INVEST international renewable energy investors summit, Solairedirect has set goals to install 2 GW of solar PV capacity in India over the next few years. If the company achieves its target, it could see India becoming its largest market terms of generation capacity.

The renewable energy arm of French state-run utility Electricite De France SA (EDF), EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), and Luxembourg-based EREN have a 25% stake each in ACME Solar Energy Ltd, the solar energy arm of New Delhi-based ACME Cleantech Solutions.

In the deal notified in December 2013, ACME was to get Rs 5.5 billion spread over three years. Only last year, ACME Solar declared plans to own 1,000 megawatts of installed solar power projects by 2017.

PR Fonroche, a joint-venture between PR Clean Energy (India) and Fonroche Energie S.a.s (France) commissioned two solar photovoltaic based power plants (5 MW and 15 MW)  in Bikaner, Rajasthan. These projects were awarded to the company under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’s Phase I Batch II scheme.

Incidentally, the first of the two projects of 5 MW capacity, which was commissioned in December 2012, was the first Indo-French collaboration in the Indian Renewable Energy sector.

Areva Solar (now closed), the CSP arm of nuclear major Areva had been awarded a contract by Reliance Power Limited to build a 250 megawatt (MW) concentrated solar power (CSP) installation in India.

Under the contract, AREVA was to build two 125 MW CSP plants using its Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology in Rajasthan. However, with Areva Solar closing its shutters, only one plant was realised and came online last year. The second unit is said to be in the planning phase.

In another interesting partnership, Bengaluru based  Enzen Global Solutions Pvt (EGSPL) has tied up with with the French company Ciel et Terre to build floating solar power plants in India. The State of Karnataka, (India) alone is said to have 36000 irrigation lakes of more than 24 acres. As per information on EGSPL’s website, a detailed project report (DPR) has been submitted to the authorities for the the state’s first floating solar power station on water, to come up on Nittur Lake of Tumakuru district.

For expansion in Eastern and North-Eastern India, Ciel et Terre has entered into an agreement with Klystron Electronics, which is one of the leading Electrical Construction House in Eastern India

Other French companies present in the Indian solar space include the oil major, Total, present through its subsidiary SunPower , and Alstom Power is engaged in four solar power plants of 25 MW for supplying steam turbines.

Photo Credit: French Embassy In India via Flickr

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is a Fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, New Delhi). He tweets at @indiasolarpost. Views and opinion if any, are his own.


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