India Surpassed by Chile in Green Ranking as Modi Seeks Funds

  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance study ranks 55 developing nations
  • Modi seeking 175 gigawatts of renewables to cut pollution

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks $200 billion of investment to fund India’s clean energy ambitions, the nation was surpassed by Chile in a survey of the best places for renewables companies to do business.

India ranked fifth among 55 developing nations in the study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, down one slot from a year ago. It was displaced by Chile, which ranked third behind China and Brazil.

The findings are a reminder that developing nations are increasingly competing for capital to fulfill their ambitions for producing more electricity without increasing pollution. With environmental groups concerned that India’s cities including New Delhi have some of the dirtiest air in the world, Modi’s government is under pressure to spur renewables as an alternative to more polluting fossil fuels.

The research dubbed “Climatescope” showed enthusiasm in the industry for Modi’s goal to stimulate 175 gigawatts of renewable energy. That includes 100 gigawatts of solar by 2022, up from about 4 gigawatts now. The findings come a week before world leaders gather in Paris for a round of talks on climate change that the United Nations hopes will result in a historic deal limiting emissions in all nations for the first time.

New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 emerging economies examined by Climatescope to hit a record $126 billion, 39 percent more than in 2013. For the first time, developing nations such as India eclipsed the world’s wealthiest countries in attracting more investment.

Elected in 2014, Modi’s government brought in green policies that are only now starting to have an impact, said Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, an analyst for BNEF.

"For example, in 2015 we see new permits of almost 10 gigawatts of solar being issued and work on improving the transmission lines for clean energy expedited," Agrawal said.

Key government policies include quintupling solar target for 2022 to 100 gigawatts under the National Solar Mission and an effort to achieve 20 percent biofuel content in motor fuels by 2017. 

The Climatescope assessment includes 10 Indian states with top clean energy activity. They are: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal.

Of the 50.4 gigawatts of new clean capacity built in these developing countries, China ranked first, adding 35 gigawatts on its own, the report added.

South Africa ranked ahead of India in the most recent ranking, although it too was surpassed by Chile in Climatescope, which is supported by the U.K. and U.S. governments and the Inter-American Bank Group.

“While India’s clean energy capacity grew just 15%, Chile’s capacity grew by 67% in this period,” Agrawal said.

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