The Masayoshi Son-led SoftBank group has proposed offering free power from its solar plants in India, after 25 years of service period under power purchase agreements. Recently, the Union government had cancelled a bid by SB Energy, a unit of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, for a solar power project, saying it was “too high’’.
Speaking at the second Re-Invest conference on Wednesday, Son, SoftBank CEO, announced that SB Energy’s solar power plants would extend the free-power offer to all member countries of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
“As long as you have the land, and sunshine, as long as you have the eyes and ears listening to me, I will give you free power,” Son, who’s also the chairman, Task Force of Corporates on Innovation at ISA, said. SB Energy, which is trying to find a strong footing in the country, had earlier sought easing of norms to help it invest in India.
SoftBank aims to invest $1 trillion by 2030 in the Indian renewable energy sector. For the same, it wants the Centre to auction 900 Gw of solar power projects in one go. In 2015, it formed a venture with Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn with an estimated investment plan of $20 billion in the clean energy sector. Its initial plan to set up a solar cell and module manufacturing in India hasn’t seen any major progress yet.
The focus of project developers and policymakers till now has been limited to the 25-year power purchase agreement period. But Son said he believes in the potential beyond it.
“The life of a solar power project can extend to 80 to 100 years. The capacity of the project lowers by 15 per cent in the first five years. But after that, the generation is maintained at 85 per cent of the project capacity for its lifetime,” he added.
When asked about the degradation of the quality of the solar panels over a period of time, Son said, “the solar panel is made up of crystals. And this crystal is the final form of the material. It is not going to change into anything else.’’ So as long as it is cleaned of dust, and as long as there is sun, it will keep generating power, he added.
Son, who’s one of the biggest investors in leading Indian technology start-ups, pointed out in a presentation that less than 1 per cent of India’s land mass will be sufficient for 1000 Gw of solar power generation capacity. He said, “there’s sufficient waste land in the country for the same.”
The SoftBank CEO said money and technology wouldn’t be a problem, while indicating that passion was the most critical factor in big projects such as this one.