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Welspun Bets Big On Renewable Energy

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Welspun Energy is betting big investments in renewable energy at a time when two diagonally opposite factors rule the power sector — the fact of worsening power deficit in the country and generation issues as also the high costs and low margins from renewable energy business.

Welspun Energy (WEL) will invest over Rs 11,000 crore in the next three years on solar and wind energy projects, Vineet Mittal, co-founder and managing of Welspun Energy told Businessworld. WEL, which has already commissioned 116 megawatt (Mw) of wind and solar power projects with an investment of over Rs 4000 crore, plans to commission 1750 Mw of wind and solar power projects by 2016.

For many years, investments in solar energy has been an viewed as an unprofitable business proposition because of the high raw material costs and big initial investment. But Mittal says the scene has changed. If the costs for setting up a solar project in India was nearly Rs 15-17 crore per MW three years ago, it has come down to nearly Rs 7-7.5 crore per MW. This was made possible mainly due to the crash of silicon prices and solar wafers, the most important part of a solar power generating equipment. Welspun Energy has been making profits from the first year itself, said the executive.

India plans to double its renewable energy capacity from 25000 MW in 2012 to 55000 MW by the year 2017. As part of this, India is implementing the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission to develop 22,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022 covering both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal.

WEL has about 150 MW of solar projects are at various stages of completion and will take off by the end of this year. Of this, solar projects will include 66 MW in Tamil Nadu, 32 MW in Punjab and another 23 Mw in various states. Plans are to have a mix of about 1000 MW of wind energy and 750 MW of solar power projects.

Welspun Energy is promoted by Balkrishna Goenka, promoter of the $3.5 billion pipe-to-home textiles manufacturer Welspun Group and Vineet Mittal, a serial entrepreneur.

In March, Welspun had achieved financial closure for a 130 MW solar project, India’s largest to date, coming up in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. This project is slated for commissioning by May 2014. Besides, the company had commissioned a 50 MW solar power project in Rajasthan, so far the largest in India.

Welspun has already signed Memorandum of Undertsnding (MoU)s with the Andhra Pradesh Government to set up 500 MW of wind power and 100 MW of solar. Similar MoUs were also signed with the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Chattisgarh. Welspun Energy funds the project through a 75:25 debt-equity ratio and plans to fully fund the equity portion with internal funds. After achieving big scale of operations, the company will look to rope in private equity investments or go for an initial public offer, said Vineet Mittal.