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REC to Lend ₹1.20 L cr to Power PSUs for Solar Rooftop Projects

REC Commits ₹1.2 Lakh Crore for National Rooftop Solar Expansion

Source and citation: Information and quotes adapted from ET Bureau article published on January 24, 2024, on ETMarkets.com

Analysis for Layman

REC Ltd, a prominent public infrastructure finance company, has announced a significant initiative to provide loans totaling ₹1.2 lakh crore to state-owned power companies for the installation of rooftop solar systems across India. This initiative aligns with the newly introduced federal scheme by Prime Minister Modi called “Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana,” aimed at expanding rooftop solar capacity.

Under this scheme, REC will not only offer financial support but also coordinate the implementation process as the official project management agency designated by the Prime Minister. The plan’s objectives encompass the installation of rooftop solar projects on residential, commercial, and government building rooftops. The ultimate goal is to have 10 million Indian households adopt rooftop solar within the next few years, along with achieving an overall national rooftop solar capacity of 40GW by 2029, which is four times the current levels. Increased consumer subsidies are expected to incentivize more households to embrace solar energy.

REC to Lend ₹1.20 L cr to Power PSUs for Solar Rooftop Projects

Impact on Retail Investors

For retail investors in REC Ltd, the company’s appointment as the project management agency and its substantial lending commitment underscore its strategic role in India’s renewable energy expansion efforts. This solidifies REC as a key channel for financing the nationwide growth of rooftop solar in collaboration with public agencies.

The approval of a ₹1.2 lakh crore credit line signifies a robust and sustained business pipeline for REC in the long term. As household solar adoption gains momentum due to increased subsidies, REC’s lending portfolio could experience rapid growth over the next five years.

As a result, REC investors can reasonably anticipate steady revenue and profitability growth in the medium term as solar installations become more prevalent. Potential catalysts for upside include REC securing more state-led project mandates, establishing partnerships with green energy financiers, and attracting international bilateral funding through REC.

Impact on Industries

REC’s focus on rooftop solar is poised to have a positive influence on several industries, including manufacturing, construction, and renewable energy. Domestic solar module suppliers such as Tata Power Solar, Waaree Energies, and Premier Energies could witness a surge in orders. Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractors like Tata Projects, L&T, and Sterling & Wilson are well-positioned to benefit from increased demand.

The mainstreaming of rooftop solar is expected to drive investments in related technologies such as smart meters, battery storage solutions, and microgrid controls. Startups specializing in solar panel cleaning/maintenance, performance monitoring, and fintech financing may also attract funding as the market matures.

Broader adoption of renewable energy could potentially moderate the growth of thermal power generation, especially if the dynamics of grid demand and supply shift. However, Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) would need to invest in grid stabilization technologies to effectively manage the decentralized and variable solar energy input.

In summary, this initiative promises to foster the development of a green energy ecosystem that includes infrastructure, equipment, and specialized services providers.

Long Term Benefits & Negatives

Over the long term, the expansion of rooftop solar through REC’s dedicated lending promises to have a positive environmental impact by reducing carbon footprints in households and commercial establishments. The job creation associated with manufacturing also contributes to socio-economic development.

For REC, this program solidifies its long-term role as a key lender and coordinator for national renewable energy projects. By aligning with high-profile federal initiatives, REC enhances its credibility and public profile.

Successfully delivering large-scale financing for rooftop solar and facilitating the achievement of 40GW capacity by 2029 can position REC as a specialist in implementing globally funded sustainability projects.

However, if the projected adoption rates fall short of expectations, REC may face the risk of bad loans resulting from overly aggressive lending under the Prime Minister’s scheme. Weaker power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) that are unable to promptly adopt grid stabilization technologies could also hinder the growth of decentralized solar energy reliant on net metering.

Short Term Benefits & Negatives

In the near term, the clarity regarding REC’s crucial financing and coordination role under the new Prime Minister’s program provides positive momentum. The company can anticipate a gradual increase in project lending activity from 2024-25 onwards.

The push for expanded access to renewable energy aligns closely with the government’s international commitments to achieving net-zero emissions. This increases the likelihood of sustained long-term regulatory support and incentives to drive rooftop solar growth.

However, expediting the capacity expansion across 7-10 million households within 2-3 years could prove challenging without sufficient capacity among solar Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractors. Any delays in awarding large residential project clusters or revisions in net metering terms could potentially slow down REC’s lending pace, despite the availability of capital.

For investors, further clarification is required regarding REC’s potential equity funding commitments, either through direct investments or partnerships. While contributing equity, not just debt, could enhance REC’s exposure to the solar sector, it may also introduce asset quality risks if supporting policies undergo changes.

Potential beneficiaries and losers from REC’s solar funding:

Indian Companies likely to gain:

  • Power PSUs (NTPC, NHPC, etc.): With access to a generous line of credit and REC’s expertise as project implementation agency, these PSUs are poised to lead the rooftop solar rollout. Increased project volumes could boost their revenue and improve market sentiment.
  • Solar panel manufacturers (Tata Power Solar, Adani Green): Increased demand for rooftop panels will directly benefit existing players in the Indian solar manufacturing landscape. Potential production ramp-up and order inflows could drive share prices and attract further investment.
  • Rooftop solar installation companies: This initiative creates substantial business opportunities for companies specializing in rooftop solar installation and related services. Established players like Renew Power Ventures and Mahindra Renewables could see increased business activity and potential market share gains.
  • Building materials companies: Increased focus on rooftop solar might benefit companies producing roofing materials compatible with solar panel installations, like ACC Ltd. and Ambuja Cements.
  • Indian banks: Providing loans to PSUs and individuals for rooftop projects could offer new business opportunities for banks like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank.

Indian Companies potentially impacted negatively:

  • Traditional power generation companies (coal-based): Increased adoption of rooftop solar could slow down the growth of traditional power generation, potentially impacting companies like Adani Power and Reliance Power in the long run.
  • Grid operators: With distributed rooftop generation, the electricity grid might need adjustments and upgrades. While it creates modernization opportunities, grid operators like Power Grid Corporation of India might face initial challenges and potentially higher costs.
  • Real estate developers: Developers might need to factor in rooftop solar infrastructure during construction, potentially impacting project costs and timelines.

Global Companies likely to gain:

  • Global solar equipment manufacturers: While Indian manufacturers will benefit initially, increased demand might eventually attract investment from global players like Trina Solar or First Solar, leading to potential technology transfer and knowledge sharing.
  • International project management companies: REC’s role as project implementation agency might open doors for collaboration with international firms with expertise in large-scale solar projects.

Global Companies unlikely to see significant impact:

  • International power companies: The rooftop solar focus is primarily domestic, unlikely to directly impact global giants like EDF or Enel.
  • Global financial institutions: The loan funding is mainly through REC and Indian banks, limiting the involvement of international financial institutions.

Disclaimer: This analysis is based on limited information and should not be considered investment advice. Always consult with a qualified financial advisor before making investment decisions.

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