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UK-India to sign agreement for multi-billion pound solar energy

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British companies are set to confirm multi-billion pound investments into India’s clean power sector today as part of a £10bn trade package signed by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during a three-day trip to the UK.

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The deal will include a £2bn investment by Lightsource Renewable Energy that will see the company design, install and manage around 3GW of solar power infrastructure in India over the next five years. Lightsource says the deal will create around 300 jobs and £42m of revenue in the UK, as well as benefiting hundreds of families in India.

Lightsource Renewable Energy chief executive Nick Boyle said the deal would help drive development and cut carbon emissions in India. “The government in India has ambitious plans to electrify India and Lightsource will contribute significantly to that goal,” he said in a statement. “India will be a key market for Lightsource in the future.”

Modi is scheduled to launch a drive to promote the adoption of solar power across developing countries at the UN climate conference in Paris next month. He has invited 110 nations to join the initiative, which is expected to attract $100bn of solar business by 2020, while India alone is aiming to install 100GW of solar power by 2022.

The Solar Trade Association said the new investment illustrates the “booming” international opportunities available for UK businesses. But said these would only be available if the UK government retains a strong domestic solar industry.

“This visit by the Indian Prime Minister, probably the world’s greatest solar advocate, should make British politicians stop and think about what is at stake economically and technologically,” said Leonie Greene, the association’s head of external affairs, in a statement.

“While Modi is lining up an anticipated $100bn of global solar business, the UK is pushing most of its solar industry backwards, leaving us at an international disadvantage. It is not too late for our government to get fully behind the British solar industry and ensure we take full advantage of global solar markets estimated to be worth trillions of pounds over the coming decades. ”

The new £10bn trade deal also reiterates a £1.2bn agreement with British fuel cell technology company Intelligent Energy to deliver clean power telecom towers in India. The company announced in September that it would purchase contracts from Indian utilities provider GTL to supply energy-management services across more than 27,400 of India’s telecom towers, which the company said currently burn billions of litres of diesel each year during grid failures.

Henri Winand, chief-executive of Intelligent Energy, said the technology would help to bring a stable, reliable power supply to the towers as well as demonstrating the full power of hydrogen fuel cells.

“Using our technology, India can leapfrog into an information-driven future without assuming the costs and experiencing the difficulties of first implementing a conventional energy grid,” he said in a statement. “This deal sets a significant precedent for shaping India’s energy future.”

In a letter of commitment sent to Modi on Thursday, the company said it is already facilitating an initial order of over 10,000 hydrogen fuel cells, worth around £128m.

Air pollution in Delhi has risen to up to 10 times normal levels in the last month, while last year the Indian capital was ranked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s most polluted city. The pollution, which is partly attributed to the widespread use of diesel generators, is thought to cause thousands of excess deaths each year.

The Indian prime minister’s three-day visit is also expected to see UK and India agree a partnership to develop three smart cities in India, where the UK’s technological expertise could be used to help boost sustainable development in the country.

A statement endorsed yesterday by the UK and Indian premiers highlighted the “special partnership” between the two countries. The statement – which noted that the UK is the largest G20 investor in India, and that India invests a larger amount in the UK than all other members of the European Union combined – also promised collaboration in technologies that cut the carbon footprint of the two countries.

“We will be at the leading edge of research, technology and innovation in realising the vision of a low carbon future, while meeting the development aspirations of our people,” said the statement. “We will power the lives of our people with clean energy that is affordable and accessible. And we will partner in making our rivers cleaner, our habitats healthier and build smart, sustainable cities in which everyone can prosper.” Source

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