24 Jul 2020
NEW DELHI : India plans to build a solar power park in Sri Lanka as part of a strategy to project its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) amid Chinese attempts to lure nations into its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, said two people aware of the development.
Leveraging its solar expertize, India’s largest power generation utility NTPC Ltd plans to set up this project in the island nation under the aegis of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
The move comes amid a growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region, which India considers its sphere of influence. Further flexing its muscle, the Indian Navy on Monday conducted joint exercises in the Bay of Bengal with the US Navy, which sailed in with an aircraft carrier battle group led by the USS Nimitz.
“We are looking at setting up a solar park in Sri Lanka,” said a senior Indian government official requesting anonymity.
State-run Ceylon Electricity Board has an installed power generation capacity of around 35.8 gigawatts (GW). India has been working on improving the energy infrastructure in Sri Lanka.
Petronet LNG Ltd had earlier announced its plans of setting up a liquefied natural gas terminal in Sri Lanka.
India is also exploring laying an overhead electricity link with Sri Lanka as part of efforts to create a new-energy ecosystem in the South Asian neighbourhood. China is already one of the biggest investors in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
The solar park is NTPC’s second foray after Colombo scrapped a proposal to set up a $500 million coal-fuelled power project in Trincomalee over environmental concerns in 2016.
Queries emailed to the spokespersons of NTPC and India’s ministry of new and renewable energy remained unanswered.
With an installed capacity of 62.91 GW, NTPC’s Sri Lanka solar move is one of several such contracts being pursued to help build 10 GW solar capacity in ISA member countries.
Green energy projects now account for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity of 370 GW.