SoftBank's India solar
ambitions may gain from Modi's electric vehicles push
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[June 05, 2017]
By Aditi Shah
DELHI (Reuters) - SoftBank Group is in talks with the Indian government
to facilitate the use of renewable energy like solar to charge electric
vehicles in the country, a senior executive at the Japanese group's
local unit told Reuters.
India is considering electrifying all its vehicles over the next 15
years, a plan that could boost SoftBank's solar ambitions in the country
if the government adopts renewable energy to charge the vehicles.
SoftBank, which has said it will invest up to $20 billion along with
Foxconn Technology and Bharti Enterprises in solar projects in India,
estimates the electrification drive could create a requirement for over
150 gigawatt (GW) of additional power.
India has an ambitious target to generate 100 GW of solar power by 2022
and while President Donald Trump is pulling the United States out of the
Paris accord on climate change, India is sticking to its renewable
SoftBank is also one of the biggest investors in ride-hailing firm Ola,
which is preparing for a large-scale rollout of electric vehicles by
next year and in May launched its first trial project to test viability.
"Clearly we are at the intersection - on the solar side we are building
plants and on the electric vehicles side Ola is planning induction of
vehicles," Manoj Kohli, executive chairman of SB Energy, SoftBank's
solar business, said in an interview.
In a few years when the number of electric vehicles and charging
stations is significant there may be need for dedicated solar plants to
supply energy for transportation, Kohli said.
In a strategic shift, India's most influential government think-tank,
headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unveiled a policy blueprint last
month aimed at electrifying all vehicles in the country by 2032.
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An employee works at a solar cell production line at Jupiter Solar
Power Limited (JSPL) plant in Baddi, in the northern state of
Himachal Pradesh, India May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/File photo
The blueprint, designed to help India reduce emissions and cut its oil
import bill, suggests lower taxes and loan interest rates for electric
fleet taxis like Ola while capping sales of petrol and diesel models.
Despite government subsidies, electric vehicle sales in India have been
negligible mainly due to high battery cost and lack of charging
infrastructure, problems automakers say could make electrification
Kohli said the local government would need to take the lead on setting
up charging infrastructure and that the new policy, expected to be
finalised before the end of the year, is likely to include suggestions
to enable that.
SB Energy has held discussions with government officials on ways in
which countries in Europe and the United States are using solar power to
charge electric vehicles and the potential solutions for India, Kohli
"The intention is very clear that electric vehicle charging should be
done using renewable energy. How it is done, the modus operandi, the
architecture is still to be finalised," he said.
(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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