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How SunEdison’s Bankruptcy is Hurting India’s Solar Market

April 27, 2016, 3:39 PM UTC
SunEdison Installs Solar Panels On Kohl's Rooftops
Photograph by Robert Nickelsberg—Getty Images

SunEdison filed for bankruptcy just about a week ago, but the failure of one of the world’s largest clean energy companies is already having global repercussions.

One country that will be hit uniquely hard is India.

According to Bloomberg, SunEdison is looking for financial partners, or acquirers, for 2.4 gigawatts of its planned and operating clean energy projects in India. One gigawatt of power is about what one large coal, nuclear, or natural gas plant can generate.

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The Indian government has a goal to have 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. Currently, the country has just 6.7 gigawatts of solar and 26.7 gigawatts of wind, notes Bloomberg.

While SunEdison (SUNE) is only one company that has been operating in the Indian solar market, the dynamics of the country are particularly unique. The country’s regional governments sells solar and wind project deals through auctions to the lowest bidders, driving down prices of solar projects to unusually low rates.

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Some of the rates are so low that companies either aren’t making money on the deals or are at risk of not being able to meet those low rates. In addition, companies like SunEdison can score enormous deals that could be harder to win in other regions. For example, SunEdison won 500 megawatts of capacity that was sold in an auction late last year in Andhra Pradesh.

Now that SunEdison is struggling, many of its planned projects are up for sale. But so are many of the other solar and wind projects in India. Bloomberg estimates that 10% of the country’s existing solar and wind projects are now up for sale.

For global power companies bullish on clean energy that could be a huge opportunity. But for a country that is struggling to meet its aggressive clean energy goals, that could mean a lot of volatility.