Welspun Group, backed by Leon Black’s private-equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO:US) LLC, completed India’s largest solar power project as the country diversifies energy sources to combat blackouts.
The 151-megawatt photovoltaic plant at Neemuch in central Madhya Pradesh state doubles the operating assets of Welspun Energy Ltd. and raises Indian solar capacity about 7 percent.
India plans to draw $11.7 billion of investment by 2017 to expand solar power sixfold as plunging panel prices make it less costly. Outages from fuel-supply bottlenecks at conventional power stations may deepen with the price of natural-gas set to double in April, making it too expensive for generation.
“With the ever increasing power crisis and rising prices of coal and gas, we must tie together the power of wind and sun to produce electricity,” opposition leader Narendra Modi, a front-runner in elections due by May, said today at the opening.
Modi, as chief minister of western Gujarat, invited companies to build solar plants in India in 2009, offering guaranteed rates for generation a year before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh introduced a national program. About half of India’s photovoltaic capacity is located in Gujarat.
Welspun Energy, India’s biggest solar developer, plans to complete 600 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity by the end of this year, according to Managing Director Vineet Mittal.
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