US joins Japan in pledging millions for India’s green tech startups

green india sunny

Yesterday, we reported the sunny news about the world’s first solar-powered airport in India. Today, there’s more good news for cleantech entrepreneurs in the country.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma announced that up to US$2 million in grants will be made available to each innovative, early-stage clean energy project selected. These grants will be the first round of the PACEsetter Fund, a joint US$7.9 million fund established in June by the governments of India and the United States to push the pedal on commercializing off-grid clean energy solutions.

The US Ambassador also launched a new public-private partnership to marshal US$41 million to help growth-stage clean energy startups in India to sustain and scale their business.

The aim is to help one million Indians gain access to electricity through off-grid clean energy solutions. New Ventures India, Insitor Management, Global Social Business Incubator at Santa Clara University, and USAID/India are collaborating on this.

Solar nexus

solar power energy greentech

Both India and the US are keen on building a strategic partnership on energy security, clean energy, and climate change. The countries inked a pact called Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) in November 2009. Seven US agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of State (DOS), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are working with the Indian ministries for this. Together, they want to find ways to harness commercial enterprises to bring clean energy access to unserved or underserved individuals and communities. That’s explains the push for public-private partnerships.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has set ambitious targets of 100GW solar and 60GW wind power targets for India by 2022. Japanese telco SoftBank, Indian telco Bharti, and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn have also formed a fund named SBG Cleantech. It will back cleantech startups as well as bid for solar plant tenders ‎under the National Solar Mission program and state-specific solar programs.

Cochin International airport, hailed this week as the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, was developed in a public–private partnership model. The state government of Kerala holds a 33.36 percent stake in it, while non-resident Indians, individual investors, and various companies own the rest. Similarly, the Startup Village in Kochi – an incubator for student startups which made starting up fashionable in hundreds of engineering collleges in Kerala – was the result of another public-private partnership. Nasscom’s Startup Warehouse is another successful example of the model.

In countries like India where key projects often fall into bureaucratic quicksand, private-public partnerships could be the gamechanger.

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