Astonfield readies $2 bn for Indian energy market

Mail Today 2009-07-25, New Delhi
US renewable energy firm Astonfield Renewable Resources plans to pump in over $2 billion (Rs. 9,656 crore at current rates) into the nascent renewable energy market in India.

The firm, set up in 2005 with the express aim of developing and operating renewable resource-based power projects in India and Africa, is targeting 100 MW of power generation capacity over the next five years, based on bio-mass fuel. At Rs. 5.5 - 6.3 crore per MW. This translates to a capital investment of Rs. 550-630 crore in bio-mass plants alone.

In addition, it is aiming to become a major player in the solar power business in the country. "Two-thirds of the $2 billion will be in solar power", said Sourabh Sen, co-chairman, Astonfield. The company has approvals for 218 MW of solar photovoltaic cell based power, of which 200 MW is in Gujarat.

Its first project in India, though, is a 10 MW plant located in Gangarampur in West Bengal. Another plant is at an advanced stage of finalization. It will be located in West Bengal's Burdwan district, the company's co-chairman Ameet Shah said. Both these will use bio-mass as fuel, mainly bran and husk sourced from rice mills. Supply agreements have been negotiated with 104 rice mills in the region, Sen said.

The company has entered into a strategic partnership with the renewable energy arm of French power plant and generation major Areva. Areva is the world's largest producer of civil nuclear energy.

Anil Srivastava, Chief Executive officer of Areva Renewable, said his company is operating 2.8 gigawatts of installed capacity renewable energy plants worldwide, covering solar, bio-mass and ocean turbines, Areva sold its 29.9 percent stake in wind turbine maker Re-power last year to Indian wind energy major Suzlon but plans to take on Suzlon in its home market in wind power as well.

The firms did not disclose details of the partnership agreement, or the source of funds for the proposed investments.