India raises $400m green bond to fund renewables drive

Money raised by the Power Finance Corporation will support solar and wind projects, contributing to national renewables target of 175GW capacity by 2022

One India solar thermal power plant, Rajasthan (Pic: Flickr/Brahma Kumaris)

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A leading Indian financier issued a $400 million “green” bond on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday, to support the country’s renewable energy drive.

In its first international bond for two decades, Power Finance Corporation (PFC) raised money for projects covering solar and wind power, energy efficiency and electric vehicles.

The projects will be independently verified and certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), to ensure they are sustainable, according to the framework document.

PFC chair Rajeev Sharma said: “The funds raised will help promote renewable energy projects across the country and aid in achieving the government’s target of 175GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022.”

The Climate Policy Initiative estimates meeting India’s renewable goal will require an extra $189 billion of investment over the period 2016-22.

Institutional investors have been reluctant to invest in renewables in India, perceiving the sector as risky, according to the thinktank.

Green bonds are a way of packaging projects to spread the risk and make a more appealing proposition for banks, pension funds and other big lenders.

Globally, the volume of bonds issued in 2017 that align with CBI standards passed the $100 billion mark this month. India is the ninth biggest national issuer, lagging behind China, France and the US.

PFC is one of India’s biggest non-bank lenders, backing both clean and dirty energy. The proceeds of this bond are ringfenced for growing its green portfolio. CBI will not certify any projects involving coal-fired assets, a spokesperson confirmed.

“The PFC green bond is another indicator of where the Indian market is going,” said Sean Kidney, chief executive of the CBI. “Large public organisations are seeking international investors, are increasingly adopting best practice, issuing certified green bonds and also listing internationally.”

Read more on: Climate Finance | Green bonds