LONDON, June 14 (UPI) -- India hopes to boost foreign investment in the country's renewable energy sector, an official said.
Indian Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said India is establishing an investment promotion cell for the energy sector, providing a single point of contact for investors, Press Trust of India reports.
"The cell will be our window for potential investors to engage with us and bring their efforts and ideas to fruition," Abdullah said following a meeting in London this week.
He said the event was attended by more than 40 potential investors who "seemed to be very keen to invest in solar and wind projects."
Abdullah said that within the next five years, India plans to invest $50 billion in renewable energy: $19 billion in wind, $25 billion in solar and $3 billion each in the hydro and biomass sectors.
Energy Ministry Secretary Gireesh Pradhan was quoted by Bloomberg News following the London meeting as saying that, of the $50 billion, the government would like a "bare minimum" of 15 percent -- about $7.5 billion -- to come from foreign direct investment.
A Pew Charitable Trusts survey released in April said that India ranks sixth among the world's 20 leading economies in attracting funds to build clean energy infrastructure. In 2011, private investment in the country's clean energy sector totaled $10.2 billion, an increase of 54 percent from 2010.
Noting that India is among the top five countries in renewable energy capacity, Abdullah said the country now has an installed base of more than 25,000 megawatts -- about 12.5 percent of the total power generation capacity. That represents about 6 percent of India's electricity mix.
For India's 12th Plan period, 2012-17, the government plans to increase the installed capacity by about 30,000 megawatts, he said.
"The challenge before us in the renewable energy sector … is to reduce the cost of renewable energy generation. Like many other countries, India too has taken up the challenge squarely, by encouraging economies of scale, easy transfer of technology and indigenous research and development," Abdullah said.
But he noted that 33 percent of India's rural households have no access to commercial energy sources.
"The average per capita consumption of energy in India is still quite low at around 800 units per annum," he said.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 report -- a U.N. Environment Program-backed study based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance -- released this week, indicates that India had the fastest expansion rate of any large renewable market last year, with a 62 percent increase in capital funding.