SunEdison Launches Eradication of Darkness in India

They will do it by designing, installing and managing micro-photovoltaic (PV) plants throughout the country. A 14 kilowatt array is in the village of Meerwada, serving its 400 residents. SunEdison says they spent weeks with residents to find the best site for the solar array, provide safety education, and establish a council that will maintain and protect the system from vandalism or theft.

"As challenging as logistics are in rural electrification, it is important that residents have a voice in the development, deployment and management of a solution," says Pashupathy Gopalan, Managing Director, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Operations, SunEdison. "We have worked very hard to understand their needs and provide education about the possibilities of electricity. We believe education is one of the most important aspects to ensuring the project’s success."

29 other villages have been identified to receive solar arrays, which will funded through a combination of government grants and private funds from other investors and corporations.

Implementing the next 29 villages is intended to test and develop a business model that enables electrification of villages around the world.

It’s incredible that 20% of the world still don’t have electricity, and more than 400,000 of them live in India.

SunEdison, a solar project developer, is active in India, having installed about 50 megawatts (MW) of grid-tied solar there. Projects range from small rooftops to South Asia’s largest solar park in Gujarat. Also in Gujarat, the company recently installed a 1 MW project suspended over the Narmada Canal, that’s conserving drinking water while producing clean energy.

Although India is expected to become an anchor of world solar demand, mostly lesser-known local companies operate there, making banks jittery about financing. SunEdison and others have formed partnerships with local firms, giving it early access.

First movers such as SunEdison (NYSE: WFR), juwi solar, AES Solar, Conergy (FWB: CGY), Gehrlicher Solar, and Enfinity have employed this strategy to enter India, teaming with local developers to gain early market share or build viable project pipelines.

Last year, SunEdison secured $110 million backed by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to build solar PV plants in India.

In 2011, SunEdison built about 300 MW of solar throughout the world. It recently won a concession to build and and operate Israel’s largest solar plant, at 30 MW.

And it secured $300 million in financing for projects in the US and Canada, SunEdison’s largest raise to date.

In its early years, SunEdison pioneered the successful power purchase agreement model now widely used in the solar industry.