Statoil, Total SA, Shell eye strategic stake in Amplus Energy
Norway’s Statoil ASA, France’s Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have shown interest in investing in solar power producer Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd, according to two people familiar with the development.
“Amplus is in talks for a strategic investment with three European firms,” said one of the two people, requesting anonymity.
The interest in Amplus, which has offered to sell solar power at a record-low tariff, comes amid the government exploring a change in the tariff structure for electricity from clean energy sources to boost offtake.
Mint reported on 30 January about the ministry of new and renewable energy contemplating a fixed-cost component to the tariff for power generated from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind.
“Total was looking at acquiring a strategic stake in Amplus,” the second person cited above said, also declining to be named.
In the renewable energy business, the largest expense is the cost of capital. It is here that the financial heft of the global oil majors may help India’s clean energy sector, which needs investments worth around $200 billion to build 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022 as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Some of these firms already have a presence in India. Statoil has been engaged with state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd to explore opportunities off India’s coast; Shell runs a liquefied natural gas terminal at Hazira on the west coast and has a presence in domestic fuel sales. Total has a lubricant, cooking gas and bitumen business in India.
Russia’s OAO Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil firm, has been exploring opportunities in India’s solar energy sector.
In June last year, Amplus acquired US solar power developer SunEdison Inc.’s roof-top solar power assets in India. Amplus is looking to increase its portfolio to 150-200 megawatts (MW) from 60MW by June 2018 and I Squared Capital has committed to invest Rs1,000 crore in the company.
Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director and chief executive of Amplus Energy, declined to comment. A spokesperson for Shell India also declined to comment in an emailed response.
Queries emailed to a Statoil spokesperson on Sunday night remained unanswered. Queries emailed to Gautam Bhandari, founder of I Squared Capital, and spokespeople for Royal Dutch Shell and Total on late Monday evening also remained unanswered.
There has been growing interest from overseas investors in the Indian renewable energy space. Some of the latest probable entrants include State General Reserve Fund of Oman, UK Green Investment Bank Plc and Investment Corp. of Dubai.
Recent large deals in the clean energy space include Tata Power Co. Ltd buying the entire 1.1GW renewable energy portfolio of Welspun Energy Ltd for $1.4 billion and Hyderabad-based Greenko Energies Pvt. Ltd, backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Holdings Pte. and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, acquiring SunEdison’s Indian assets for $392 million last year.