How SoftBank can help fulfill India’s dreams with solar power, explained

By Prarthana Mitra

Just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the importance of the International Solar Alliance, an organisation headquartered in India, SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son offered to supply free electricity to the ISA, in what could be a crucial gain for the clean energy economy.

“I promise to provide free power to India as well as other ISA member countries after 25 years of PPA (power purchase agreement). This is my effort to provide equal opportunities to everyone,” Son said on Wednesday, at the second RE-Invest conference in Greater Noida.

How this can help ISA’s agenda

While inaugurating the conference earlier this week, Modi had advocated the need for ‘universalizing’ the membership of the ISA. He also hoped to make all UN nations eligible for membership, which could, in turn, see Germany, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Nepal and Afghanistan joining the ISA within a few years, and help fulfill ISA’s initial plan to include 121 ‘sunshine countries’ situated between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

Son, who heads SoftBank-owned SB Energy, has been active in India’s emerging clean economy sector and wishes to capitalise on solar power generation, which is cheaper in India than anywhere else.

With India’s solar tariff as low as ?2.44 per unit, Son’s offer will give India the right push to meet the ambitious target of 175 gigawatts (GW) by March 2022. 100GW of this energy is supposed to be solar, which has helped bring electricity to millions in rural India, which hopes to achieve universal household electrification by 2019.

In this regard, Son also spoke about making battery storage affordable, which would help store solar power generated during the day.

More on SoftBank’s exploits

SoftBank’s investment portfolio in India includes winners such as Flipkart, Ola, Paytm, Snapdeal, Oyo Rooms, InMobi and others, amounting to more than $7billion. It is also involved in a deal with Walmart over Flipkart worth $22billion.

Now with India emerging as the world’s favourite playground for renewable energy start-ups and projects, the government has already invested $42 billion on clean energy, according to Modi. Over the next four years, the green energy sector has a business potential of around $70-$80 billion, he said at the conference which was attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez and French PM Emmanuel Macron among others.

Antonio Guterres in his address seemed hopeful about the initiative, saying, “It is India where we are going to see global renewable energy revolution. Solar energy is at the centre of this revolution.”

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

ModiSoftBankSolar PowerSustainable development