SunEdison Inc. (SUNE), the best-performing solar company last year, is planning a $4 billion factory in India to supply the country’s booming market for clean power.
SunEdison will form a joint venture with the Indian power provider Adani Enterprises Ltd. (ADE) to build India’s largest photovoltaic panel plant, with as much as 7.5 gigawatts of annual production capacity, the Maryland Heights, Missouri-based company said today in a statement. Construction is expected to begin this year.
India set a target in November for as much as 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022, five times its earlier goal. The country is the third-largest source of carbon emissions and is under pressure from China and the U.S., the two largest, to reduce pollution. Last month it pledged to spend at least $100 billion on climate-related projects, and President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit New Delhithis month to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The prime minister has been revising upwards India’s aspirations for solar,” Pashupathy Shankar Gopalan, SunEdison’s managing director for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview. The planned factory “very nicely plays into the aspirations for the country to grow solar significantly, as well as wanting to create stronger domestic manufacturing.”
Solar demand in India this year may triple to more than 3.2 gigawatts, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The London-based research company expects as much as 63.6 gigawatts to be installed worldwide.
India gets about 60 percent of its power from coal. Under India’s existing energy policies, theInternational Energy Agency estimates that carbon dioxide emissions will jump 34 percent by 2020 and double by 2030.
The new plant in Mundra, Gujarat, will incorporate all stages of solar manufacturing, from polysilicon to cells and panels. Construction will take about three years and it will create about 20,000 jobs.
“Solar will be a very important part of the country’s energy mix,” Gopalan said. “The cost of solar has become so competitive that it’s our belief the facility we’re building will be able to compete head to head with fossil-powered energy in India.”
SunEdison shares climbed almost 50 percent in 2014, the most among the Bloomberg Intelligence Global Large Solar Energy index of 21 companies.