Madrid-based developer in talks to sell India projects

According to recent news, a Madrid-based developer of large-scale solar plants ‘Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) is in talks to sell its 100 MW power project in India in a deal of approximately INR 500-600 crore.

The company is in talks with various investors like Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), green infra JV between PE fund Everstone Group & UK-based Lightsource BP’s Eversource Capital and Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus Fund for the deal.

The project up for sale was awarded to FRV by SECI in a PPA for 100 MW in 2016. This is FRVs first project in India, situated in Ananathpuram solar park in Andhra Pradesh.

Recently in April PE firm Everstone Group joined hands with Lightsource BP, the UK-based leader in renewable energy development, to form a JV platform name ‘Eversource Capital’ to fund the green energy businesses in India. The platform has also launched a Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF) with a target of $700 million where the UK government and India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will be co-anchors with a commitment of $160 million each.

Another participant, Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus Fund, is a new set up the infrastructure-focused fund by Edelweiss Alternative Asset Advisors. The fund has already raised Rs 2,000 crore till last month and plans to raise $1 billion in total.

Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) has been an active investor in Indian energy sector and have previously invested in Adhunik Power & Natural Resources, Soham Renewable Energy India and Ind-Barath Energy Utkal.

If we look at the past years’ trend of global investment in India, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)  of the investments from 2004-2017 is about 11.33%. The graph depicts many ups and down over the years, with the highest investment in 2011.  2017 also shows decent investment scenario. 

                                                                              Source: Indian Environment Portal Report – Global Trends 2018

Several other foreign entities are also in the process of bringing their businesses to India, with the Indian market picking up speed and shining globally.

 

Accelerated Depreciation Benefit for Wind Projects Withdrawn

Recently the Central Government withdrew Accelerated Depreciation (AD) benefit for wind projects. This was widely anticipated (we had covered it earlier here), but there were some uncertainties (see Economic Times article of a few days back which said the benefit will be extended).

 

AD played a key role in building the vast wind base that India has developed – India has more than 16,000 MW of wind mills, one of the largest in the world. However, it also led to inefficiencies and small scale projects.

 

Several factors have led to the removal of AD benefit:

  • The wind sector already has scale. The market has been steadily moving towards an Independent Power Producer (IPP) model for some time. IPP based projects do not get AD benefit – instead they avail Generation Based Incentives (GBI). However, investments based on AD remained significant (according a Bloomberg article AD based investments accounted for 70% of total in 2011).
  • The removal of AD was a part of the larger cleanup of the Direct Tax Code.
  • Small scale investments led to inefficiencies and sub-optimal asset utilization. For example, many companies own a single or few wind turbines, often no more that a few hundred kilowatts in capacities. In contrast, IPP often aim to develop several hundred megawatts.

 

This change will change the industry structure significantly. At present, companies selling WTGs sold the whole package – land, approvals, WTG (ofcourse), erection and commissioning and day-to-day management of the wind farm. This catered primarily to the small investor who was in it for the AD benefit. IPPs tend to work differently, preferring to select different vendors for each task and often managing the asset very proactively.

 

Under the AD benefit, companies could claim 80% depreciation in the first year itself. With the benefit gone, they will be eligible for 15% (the rate in the Income Tax act for Plant and Machinery). They are also likely to be eligible for a further 20% available to power equipments. Thus, the total depreciation benefit will be 35%. In other words, a significant asset like the WTG can be depreciated in 3 years – not a small benefit at all in absolute terms.

 

Its important to note that AD benefit will continue for Solar projects. It will be interesting to watch the solar industry now, and at least some of the investment that would have traditionally gone into wind may now shift to Solar. A critical factor in that would be the emergence of a Suzlon-equivalent in the Solar space – a company that can package the whole thing for the small investor.

 

Interestingly, GBI also had a sunset date of March 31, 2012 (Word file). It is yet to be withdrawn or extended. However, the market expects the benefit to be extended mainly because it caters to IPPs.

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