Economic zone status for test site

India's first special economic zone (SEZ) for the manufacture and testing of non-conventional energy equipment will be near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The zone will also have a technology park manned by foreign universities. According to Tamil Nadu's electricity minister, Arcot N Veerasamy, companies from Germany, France and America have already shown interest in setting up projects in the SEZ. Land for the zone is currently being acquired, with $66.6 million in initial funding provided by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) together with international companies, which have yet to be named. The project is expected to attract an investment of around $670 million over the next four years and will be spread across 600 acres, says the minister. Tamil Nadu was chosen because of its pro-active approach to renewable energy, its engineering strength and particularly its good port facilities, says TEDA. "Our aim is to bring renewable energy into the mainstream. This we propose to do by making the SEZ act as an incubator of technology. By creating the eco-system to stimulate the growth of renewable energy and training inputs, the SEZ can evolve as a centre across a gamut of technology."