India: Details emerge as to T-Solar and Astonfield’s solar partnership

Last week Spanish photovoltaic company T-Solar announced its partnership with Indian firm Astonfield, to develop grid connected projects in India. It came as construction began on a five megawatt (MW) site in Rajasthan region in India’s north-west. Today more details behind the deal emerged, that signal a bilateral strategic partnership.

Ameet Shah, Co-Chairman of Astonfield Renewable Resources told pv magazine that, "it is more than a financial commitment; this agreement provides for deep technical and operational collaboration, providing Astonfield the benefit of T-Solar’s world-class execution experience."

There are many challenges facing the Indian solar industry, not least securing financing for the 20,000 MW of grid connected solar capacity installation targeted under the Indian Government’s Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission (JNNSM). This level of development is estimated to require $40-50 billion in capital and many see it as crucial that Indian banks prove ready to provide finance for solar projects.

The EXIM Bank of India and State Bank of India were both involved in the financing of T-Solar / Astonfield project in Rajasthan and Shah told pv magazine this was a pioneering step. Furthermore, "T-Solar’s investment in Astonfield proves that investors are ready and willing to provide financing for financially strong, bankable projects."

Technological expertise also needs to be built in India and partnerships, such as T-Solar and Astonfield’s, is also seen as being an avenue through which this can be achieved. Shah added, "projects must be executed using world-class EPC partners to ensure India’s solar sector is built out with high performing, durable systems."

The focus of the T-Solar and Astonfield partnership will be on grid connected owned and operated installations. A recent report from accounting firm KPMG, saw potential in the Indian Solar sector in both on and off-grid installations. Two MW of off-grid installation is also a target of the JNNSM.

Early reports from this week’s Intersolar Europe indicate that all eyes are on Indian photovoltaic manufacturers as they look to build partnerships with firms with automation expertise. The KPMG report also envisaged significant opportunities for expanded solar manufacturing operations in India also.