French power major EDF Energies Nouvelles’ (EDF EN) has called off its partnership with Gurgaon-based green technology solution provider Acme Cleantech Solutions over differences in strategy, marking an end to its first venture into the Indian solar energy The Paris-based state-run power major, however, remains bullish about clean energy projects in the country.
“Yes, the process (of separation) is complete,” Antoine Cahuzac, CEO at EDF EN, told ET. EDF EN, along with Luxembourg-based EREN Renewable Energy, had formed a joint venture with Acme, called Acme Solar, in December 2013.
Acme Solar is the second biggest solar developer in the country (after the beleaguered SunEdison, which is on the verge of selling its India assets) with 600 MW of installed capacity, amounting to 7% of the market share. It has another 500 MW under construction and 400 MW more in the pipeline across 15 states. EDF and EREN both hold 25% in the JV company, with the domestic partner holding the rest. “Acme is a very dynamic company but after a while we felt we no longer shared the strategy we had in common at the beginning of the partnership,” said Cahuzac.
EREN too has quit the joint venture along with EDF EN. What impact this will have on ongoing Acme Solar projects is not yet clear. “We hold about 130 MW of solar capacity from our JV with Acme,” Cahuzac added. Trouble had been brewing at Acme Solar for some time with the foreign partners uncomfortable with the company’s aggressive bidding and manner of project execution, according to industry sources.
“I think Acme is the No.1solar developer in India and we are not looking to be number one at any price,” said Cahuzac, confirming this view. “I don’t want to be over aggressive because I may then get stuck with a project, which does not provide the return I expect. I will be stuck with constraints which is very painful.” Acme declined comment on Cahuzac’s response. As late as June, Acme executives had insisted that while there was some friction, there would be no breakup.”There is no plan or attempt on EDF or EREN’s part to get out of the Indian market, or anything like that,” Nikhil Dhingra, chief financial officer at Acme Solar Holdings, had said.
But he admitted the difference in outlook. “For them, India is one of many markets, for us it is the only market,” said Dhingra. “We have a much bigger appetite for exposure in India” Despite the Acme setback, EDF EN is upbeat on India’s renewable energy sector with plans to set up 2,000 MW in the country, investing $2 billion. But currently, it is only looking at wind and hydro power.In early 2016, it joined hands with domestic wind developer Sitac RE to set up 164 MW of wind farms in Gujarat. The project is expected to be complete by March 2017.Separately, EDF, EDF EN’s parent company and one of the world’s biggest power generators — is in talks with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to build six nuclear reactors of a combined capacity of 10,000 MW at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.