SunEdison setback may delay Modis ultra mega solar drive in India

first_imgThe likely collapse of SunEdison Inc’s solar project in India, the first of 32 planned “ultra mega” complexes, could delay Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to increase renewable energy fivefold by several years and probably cost consumers more.As the U.S. solar giant fights to stave off bankruptcy, the 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh state it won last November lies idle with ground yet to be broken. The other projects are still to be bid on.It’s doubtful any rival will pick up the project at the aggressive power pricing promised by SunEdison, which beat out 29 other bidders with a record-low tariff of 4.63 rupees (7 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour.That will force Indian officials to tighten auction rules to ensure that only serious, bankable bidders show up, industry sources said. India plans to auction more of the “ultra mega” projects — those which generate at least 500 MW– in the current fiscal year through to March 2017.”There is always a trade off,” Upendra Tripathy, secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, told Reuters of the renewable energy auctions.”There can be a relaxed condition so that more people can participate and there is another where you can make sure fly-by-night operators can’t come in. It’s an ongoing process and we are open to suggestions.”Tightening auction rules could slow the pace at which projects are awarded and built, pushing back Modi’s goal of expanding solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2020 to the middle of the decade, say officials and industry players.Tripathy, however, said India will for now stick to its goal, set by Modi soon after taking office in 2014, and that it has planned for SunEdison-like bumps in the road with a strong project pipeline.Modi is banking on India’s 300 days a year of sunshine to help fight climate change rather than committing to emission cuts like China. But he has also pushed firms to provide cheap power, which risks leaving too little profit on the table.Heavily indebted SunEdison, which according to one of its publicly listed units could soon file for bankruptcy protection, drew criticism from analysts for its low winning bid for the Andhra project.The company is now exploring a sale of its Indian assets of around 1 GW or seeking partners for them, sources said, and has drawn preliminary interest from billionaire Gautam Adani’s fast-expanding Adani Group. Apart from the Andhra project, SunEdison has several other small plants under construction across India.POSSIBLE RE-BIDA person close to Adani said the low tariff agreed for the Andhra plant will make any deal with SunEdison difficult for Indian firms, which have a relatively high cost of capital. If no buyer is found, the project could be re-bid, the industry sources said.SunEdison did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”The tariffs are a tad aggressive and that may not be healthy for developers themselves and also for others in the ecosystem manufacturers and financiers,” said Santosh Kamath, head of renewables at consultancy KPMG India. “That might be a warning signal for the industry.”SunEdison’s troubles notwithstanding, India has attracted deep-pocketed investors to its $100 billion solar energy program – the biggest in the world.Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises have separately pledged to invest a total of about $20 billion in India’s renewable sector. Global solar giants like First Solar Inc, Trina Solar Ltd and Finland’s state-controlled utility Fortum Oyj are also expanding their presence.India wants the share of non-fossil fuel in total installed power capacity to jump to 40 percent by 2030 from 30 percent currently.Challenges include the weak finances of state distribution companies forced to sell subsidised power, difficulties hooking up solar projects to grids, and access to affordable capital. Land acquisition is also an issue that Modi’s government has been unable to fix – a 500 MW solar project needs on average 2,000 acres (800 hectares).”Given the energy deficit, need for energy security and sustained economic growth, the potential clearly exists for 100 GW of solar (energy) in India,” said Sujoy Ghosh, country head of First Solar. “The question would be on the time lines in which the goal is achieved.”The Indian government is trying to persuade state banks to extend loans to solar projects, but most lenders are saddled with bad loans and unlikely to risk getting exposed to renewable projects with low rates of return.To avoid projects getting stuck for a lack of backing, India should make it mandatory for solar bidders to get funding assurances from banks at the beginning of an auction to ensure only serious players take part, analysts said. Tripathy, the government secretary, said he could consider the suggestion.”We’ll have to take care that projects don’t become unviable,” KPMG’s Kamath said. “If some projects become unviable then banks will stop lending to new projects and then they get stranded, like we have seen in the power and road sectors in the past.”($1 = 66.4938 Indian rupees)last_img read more

NDTV denies reports of SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh picking up majority stake

first_imgRepresentational imageNDTV.comNDTV officials have denied reports of SpiceJet’s Ajay Singh taking a majority stake in the news channel. “Not even a single sentence of these reports is true,” a senior NDTV official told The Hindu on Friday.Earlier, on Friday, the Indian Express (IE) had reported that Ajay Singh, the co-founder and owner of SpiceJet, has tapped a majority stake in India’s first English language private news channel NDTV.”Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights,” a source had told IE. Sources further said that Ajay Singh will have a controlling stake in NDTV of around 40 percent, while promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will hold around 20 percent stake. IE had reported that Singh would also pick up NDTV’s debt of over Rs 400 crore and the total deal was valued at around Rs 600 crore, sources told the daily.Singh had played an important part in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2014 poll campaign, and also coined the campaign slogan “Abki baar Modi sarkar.”Promoter shareholding in NDTV as of June 2017 stood at 61.45 percent, while the remaining 38.55 percent is held by the public, according to data available with Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). RRPR Holding, the parent company of NDTV, owned by founders Prannoy Roy and wife Radhika Roy is presently facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe for allegedly concealing a share transaction. In June, the CBI had conducted searches at the residences of the Roys.NDTV had then called the raid a “blatant attack on the freedom of the press”. CBI had filed its FIR based on a “shoddy complaint” by a “disgruntled” former NDTV consultant who has not obtained a “single order from the courts,” the channel said in a statement then.Following rumours of the acquisition, the NDTV stock was locked in the upper circuit of five percent at Rs 53.10 on the BSE. On the other hand, SpiceJet was trading two percent lower at Rs 143 after hitting a low of Rs 142 on BSE.For the June quarter, NDTV’s standalone income dropped 36 percent sequentially to Rs 69.9 crore from Rs 109.6 crore in March 2017 quarter, while the net loss stood at Rs 15.94 crore.last_img read more

Trump Democrats spar as government shutdown looms

first_imgUS Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (2nd R), alongside US Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn ®, Republican of Texas; US Senator John Barrasso (L), Republican of Wyoming; and US Senator Orrin Hatch (2nd L), Republican of Utah, speaks after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and the Republican Senate Caucus at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPUS President Donald Trump clashed with Democratic leaders in dramatic fashion Tuesday, heaping pressure on Congress to craft a compromise on federal spending or face a crippling government shutdown in 10 days.Hours after the president suggested a funding deal with Democrats may be impossible, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer pulled out of a planned White House meeting with Trump that they said would be fruitless.“Given that the president doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” the pair said in a statement.Trump shot back that he was not surprised the Democrats rejected his offer, saying they were “very far apart” on several issues like immigration.“They’ve been all talk and they’ve been no action. And now it’s even worse, now it’s not even talk,” Trump declared during the meeting, which went ahead with Republican congressional leaders-an empty chair on either side of the president underscoring the absence of their Democratic counterparts.The rare public rejection of White House talks ratcheted up tensions in Washington over a 2018 spending bill that must pass by a December 8 deadline, and served as a stinging rebuke to a president who often mocks his rivals on Twitter.The spat heaps pressure on Congress to craft a compromise or face a crippling government shutdown next month.And it muddied the waters on the same day Trump headed to Congress to urge fellow Republicans to unite behind his tax overhaul, a controversial bill that he wants on his desk by year end.Trump lunched with Senate Republicans for an hour, answering questions from Ron Johnson and Susan Collins, who have concerns about the bill.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, addressing reporters afterwards, acknowledged the challenge in getting at least 50 of his chamber’s 52 Republicans on board, likening it to solving “a Rubik’s Cube.”‘Chuck and Nancy’Behind the tough talk, Trump needs Schumer and Pelosi to rally their party’s votes to keep government running through the next 10 months.But the self-styled master dealmaker Trump derailed Tuesday’s plans for a bipartisan White House meeting on the challenge ahead when he hit the two top Democrats-whom he called “Chuck and Nancy”-in a morning tweet.“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes,” he added. “I don’t see a deal!”Schumer later said Democrats would meet with Trump “any time, anywhere, any place,” so long as he was serious about a deal.“But there is an alternative; when the president stays out of it we seem to do much better.”The White House expressed disappointment at the no-show, urging Democrats to “put aside their pettiness” and “grandstanding,” and saying Trump’s invitation remained open.High priceBut McConnell did not hide his irritation at the snub, calling it “a lack of seriousness” about the prospect of a looming government shutdown.In 2013, a similar spending feud caused 850,000 government officials to be sent home temporarily, and as much as half a percentage point was shaved off economic growth.Trump has staked much of his fragile political reputation on being a good steward of the economy, so failure could be damaging. But Democrats are demanding a steep price for their support.They say funding for Trump’s border “wall” must be stripped out, and Trump must honor the Obama administration’s pledge to allow migrants brought to the country as children to remain.The issue, as tricky as it is, is not the only problem on Trump’s plate.Tough sleddingIn December, a “debt ceiling” deadline is also looming-if missed, the US government could be hurtling towards a technical default in the new year.And beyond the spending fight, Trump’s primary task will be to pass tax cuts, which Republicans see as absolutely vital to keep voters and donors happy.Having so far failed to pass health care, immigration or infrastructure reforms, Trump faces a party revolt if he cannot make tax cuts law.With the party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, the task should be straightforward. But little is straightforward in Washington these days.The administration has struggled to convince the public that the tax cut will help middle-class families, and a Harvard-Harris Poll showed a majority of voters oppose the bill.Democrats portray the proposals as good for big business but bad for ordinary Americans, while half a dozen Republican senators have publicly expressed doubts about the plan, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects would increase the national debt by $1.4 trillion by 2027.The White House argues the cuts will boost growth, in turn increasing tax revenue, although most economists disagree.last_img read more

Village blocked for voting BNP

first_imgMap of RajshahiThe village has been virtually cut off. After the 30 December national parliamentary polls, buses no more pass through the village, auto-rickshaws cannot leave the vicinity and cable television has been disconnected.The villagers have been isolated because the candidate from the opposition political camp secured more votes than the ruling AL candidate contesting in the national polls.Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) candidate Aminul Haque got 1,249 votes while the Awami League candidate Omar Faruk Chowdhury got only 653 votes from the village.This village is Kolma in Tanore upazila of Rajshahi. It is located 50 kilometres away from Rajshahi city and is under the Rajshahi-1 (Tanore-Godagari) constituency. Voters of this village voted at the Kolma Government Primary School centre.On condition of anonymity, the villagers said their only ‘fault’ was that more people voted for the BNP candidate in the village.The correspondent, while visiting the village, met with BNP supporters, though could not locate any of the party’s leaders. The supporters were reluctant to speak openly.They said, apart from closing down bus service and satellite connections, the deep tube wells of the village were taken over by Awami League activists and supporters.It seems water for irrigation will be stopped as well, they added.The locals said that there were two ways to exit from the village- either from the west through the village Billi or from the east through Dargadanga village. However, the villagers are now blocked from all sides.Tanore upazila AL president Golam Rabbani told this correspondent, “I heard about what is going on in Kolma, but can do nothing about it.” “Now anyone, regardless to their political beliefs, is being attacked. The other day two pro-AL college teachers were beaten up and their motorbikes were vandalised on the way to college,” said a local.An auto rickshaw driver of the village complained that a group of AL activists kicked him out from Dargadanga Bazar and now he could not drive his auto rickshaw.Kolma ward AL president Sirajul Islam alleged that BNP activists and supporters attacked a union parishad chairman and Tanore upazila Juba League president a day before the election, leaving five of them injured.Citing it to be the reason of fray, the AL leader said the attack on the teachers was a mistake.He hoped the situation would improve very soon.Most of the shops and restaurants were found closed in the Kolma bazaar while an owner of a restaurant told the correspondent that the dispute had affected their businesses.This correspondent contacted Mohammad Ali, supervisor of a Bismillah Paribahan bus travelling from Rajshahi to Tanore. He said the bus was not running through Kolma village after the election.Asked about the reason he said, “There are clashes in the village.”Tanore police station officer in charge (OC) Rezaul Islam and Kolma UP chairman Lutfar Haider did not answer their phones when attempts were made to contact them.However, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Chowdhury Golam Rabbi told Prothom Alo that nobody told him anything about the matter.He said necessary action would be taken after the matter was investigated.last_img read more