The escalating fears of a possible bankruptcy at U.S. solar company SunEdison have cast a shadow in India. Industry representatives and analysts are concerned that the trickle down impact on its Indian arm may drag down the pace of growth in the solar energy sector.
The U.S solar firm has not only a huge pipeline of solar projects in the country, but has also committed huge investments. The company is also known for its aggressive bidding on solar projects. In fact, this aggression is also cited as the principal reason for solar tariffs falling below Rs.5 per kWh. “Their pipeline was very big. They thought that the projects they were developing or buying from outside could be sold” to TerraForm, a renewable energy consultant told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity. “As long as you keep rotating the money, it is fine. If something stops, all the problems shoot up. With the fall of its arm, SunEdison is in trouble, and it will definitely have an impact on Indian business,” he said. It is also gleaned from sources that none of the projects that are bid below Rs.5 in the solar segment have achieved financial closure as yet.
In January 2015, it entered into an agreement with Gujarat-based Adani group to invest up to $4 billion in a solar PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing unit. A few months ago, SunEdison said that it would execute close to 2 GW of projects during the next couple of years.Read against this backdrop, the warning from TerraForm Global , a listed arm of SunEdison that owns and operates solar farms built by the parent, has come as a shocker. It has warned that SunEdison had liquidity difficulties and and hinted at the possibility of going bankrupt. Also, it has said that SunEdison may not be able to perform some agreements relating to projects in India. This has fuelled a big concern over its impact on the Indian arm and its business here.
Pashupathy Gopalan, Head of Indian operations, SunEdison, was not available for comment as his office said he was travelling to the U.S.Though SunEdison’s aggressive bidding made the government and others happy as the solar tariff was falling, the model remained a major concern throughout the sector as many a serious player felt it was not a sustainable model.Even as the company’s balance sheet was depleting, it continued its aggressive bidding in India, which, the industry analysts felt, was not a right approach.“Yes, everyone wants the solar tariffs to go gown, and that is good for the industry and people. But, there is a phase through which it has to move so that the industry takes that kind of a shock. It can’t be too fast either,” the industry consultant added.Unless the companies that were building the projects made money, the industry could not go forward.