Nuclear fallout

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India's wind sector is just starting to feel the international economic sanctions imposed on the country following its nuclear bomb tests in May. Credit lines for renewables from the World Bank, the German Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund (OECF) are all affected. Wind was due to be a main beneficiary. The World Bank has postponed voting on a $130 million loan which had been expected for release shortly. KfW and OECF have become non-committal on loans for DEM 60 million and $25 million, respectively, both for wind projects.

Amidst the sombre outlook, the Indian Renewable Development Agency (IREDA) has its own plans. "Sanctions have delayed approval of certain funding sources to India. However, alternate measures to raise funds locally are being formulated by IREDA and may not affect the wind sector seriously," says Dr V Bakthavatsalam of the agency. Industry observers are also optimistic that IREDA's short and medium term plans will remain unaffected. The possibility of long term penalties, they feel, are remote. "All these financial institutions will have to finally come to India because it is one of the few countries with assured returns," says one.

In the current financial year (starting in April) IREDA has authorised a loan of $2.5 million for 12 wind projects for nearly 30 MW. An additional 40 MW is expected to be approved before the year's end, says Bakthavatsalam. To encourage wind development in the midst of the global freeze on Indian aid, IREDA's offers of concessions, rebates and provisions have taken on a new light. Wind energy projects sanctioned between May 6 and the end of last month will receive at least a 0.5% rebate on their loan interest. An additional 0.5% rebate is available to wind generators who deliver a set amount of power to the grid, as well as developers who use wind turbines with at least 75% indigenous components. The discount also applies in states where no commercial wind farms are established, provided the Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) has declared the state a potential site.

Like MNES, IREDA has also been working to attract public sector companies to invest in wind, extending its half percent interest rebate to them as well.

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