In September 2019, India announced its target to reach 450 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, making it one of the most ambitious targets in the world. India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) estimates that the country will require ~INR 162.5 lakh crores (USD 2.5 trillion) from 2015 to 2030, or roughly INR 11 lakh crores (USD 170 billion) per year for climate action. While India’s energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the world and has been attracting substantial investments, meeting the country’s climate goals will require proportionate, transformative investment increases at sectoral level.
Strong financial support and timely policy interventions from the Government of India have played a crucial role in accelerating the growth of the country’s renewable energy sector. But given current rates of penetration and the overall health of the sector combined with slowdown created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government will have to find new and alternative ways to finance the transition and incentivize private sector participation to scale up investments for a sustainable and transformational impact. International finance is also likely to come with “green strings” attached. Therefore, identifying and analyzing key sources of finance, the instruments used for mobilizing and disbursing funds, and their ultimate beneficiaries become critical for diagnosis, planning and monitoring green investments in the country.
The Landscape of Green Finance in India is a one-of-a-kind study undertaken by Climate Policy Initiative that presents the most comprehensive information on green investment flows in the country in FY 2017-FY 2018. The study tracks both public and private sources of capital and builds a framework to track the flow of finance from source to end beneficiaries. This report helps understand the nature and volume of green financial flows in the country and identifies the methodological challenges and data gaps in conducting a robust tracking exercise.
Green finance flows in India total INR 111 thousand crores1 (USD 17 billion) for FY 20172 and INR 137 thousand crores (USD 21 billion) for FY 2018. The average stands at INR 124 thousand crores (USD 19 billion) per annum, while the total tracked green finance for the years 2016-2018 amounts to INR 248 thousand crores (USD 38 billion).
Breakdown of investment by source
Breakdown of source of finance by origin and channel of delivery
DOMESTIC SOURCES OF FINANCE
During the years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, domestic private investors contributed the largest share (63% and 51%) of about INR 139 thousand crores through debt and equity respectively. Commercial financial institutions accounted for 40% of these funds4. Nearly all the funds were directed towards renewable energy development in the country.
Public finance was disbursed either by the central government’s line ministries and state departments (37%) or by dedicated public sector undertakings (PSUs) (63%). The bulk of public finance was directed towards the power generation sector (70%) followed by energy efficiency and power transmission (20%), and sustainable transportation (10%).
Expenditure on climate mitigation activities undertaken by dedicated PSUs more than doubled in FY 2018 from FY 2017, while the budgetary allocations increased by 36%. This can largely be attributed to the several initiatives and schemes introduced by the government of India.
PSUs are important channels for the disbursement of funds for the central and state governments, bond markets, and international development agencies. They also operate as a critical source of green finance themselves. Therefore, to avoid double counting, this study only tracks the actual annual expenditures reported by these PSUs in their annual financial statements5.
INTERNATIONAL SOURCES OF FINANCE
The share of international public finance in tracked green finance remained nearly the same during both FY 2017 and FY 2018 at 10% (INR 12 thousand crores). Official development assistance (ODA)6 and other official flows (OOF)7 were disproportionately split between bilateral and multilateral agencies (75% and 25% respectively).
The majority of bilateral funds (56%) went into the sustainable transportation sector, as loans for infrastructure development of metro rail projects. Delhi and Mumbai metro rail projects received the lion’s share of these funds (45% and 25% respectively). On the other hand, multilateral funds were targeted at the development of solar parks and rooftop projects (40%) in the country.
The study tracks two sources of international private finance, namely, foreign direct investment (FDI) and philanthropy during FY 2017 and FY 2018. The funds allocated through these sources were disbursed via equity and grant instruments respectively.
Foreign Direct Investment in the renewable energy sector crossed the USD 1 billion mark in 2018. The FDI (INR 12 thousand crores) for both years was allocated almost exclusively to the clean energy sector and was almost equally split between solar and wind energy projects due to the presence of advanced markets. While FDI inflows into the clean energy sector have been steadily increasing (Mercom, 2020), they still account for only 1% of the total FDI flows into the economy.
The study reveals that while the public and private actors provided finance via a range of instruments, simple straight debt was the predominant instrument. Of all the finance tracked, the primary instrument used to channel money from state budgets was in the form of grants- in-aid and budgetary allocations (90%) for direct mitigation activities like procurement, installation, construction, renovation and maintenance of facilities, indirect activities like research and development, and administrative expenditure. The government also invested sizeable amounts through several dedicated PSUs. These PSUs, in turn, not only utilized the grants for supporting essential indirect activities such as research and development, and capacity building (53%), but also leveraged these funds in the market directly to finance projects through debt (40%)
Breakdown by instruments
SECTORS AND SUB-SECTORS
In line with global trends, the power generation sector remains the primary recipient of the tracked green finance in 2017 and 2018, representing nearly 80% of the annual flows. The industry’s maturity enables deeper investment potential in the sub sectors, specifically into solar PV and onshore wind power, which constitute over 80% of the total finance flowing into the power generation sector. While data coverage and reporting may be more comprehensive for renewables as opposed to the other mitigation sectors, we are constantly improving our data collection methodologies to cover these data gaps and use proxies and surrogate data to make the dataset more robust, primarily in the private sector.
Average annual finance directed to sustainable transportation projects increased by 43% in FY 2018 from FY 2017. This was chiefly driven by capital expenditure on mass rapid transit systems (MRTS) projects by the central and state governments and the sale of electric 3-wheelers by the private residential and commercial segments. While the years in question, FY 2017 and FY 2018 were not notable years for financing of sustainable transportation, the upward trend suggests a promising future.
Energy efficiency and power transmission which comprise investments in built infrastructure, retrofits, renovation and modernization (R&M), smart grids, and green energy corridors, totaled INR 20 thousand crores over the two years. Green energy corridors projects captured the major share of these investments at about 47% followed by smart grids under the NSGM mission at 14%. Both were driven by funding from domestic and international public actors. PSUs including Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited constituted the major sources of finance at 34%, central and state budget investments came a close second at 33% of the total tracked finance. A large share of public financial institutions in energy efficiency and power transmission financing can partly be attributed to limited data availability with regard to private investments into R&M and retrofitting. We are in the process of refining our methodology to capture private investments in the sector more exhaustively.
Breakdown of source of finance by sector
One of the objectives of the study was to identify the barriers and opportunities in measuring green finance flows in India. This study allowed us to pinpoint the following challenges:
- Non-availability of data on the disbursement of funds at multiple levels within the value chain.
- Non-standardised reporting of data due to the lack of a harmonized green finance taxonomy in the country.
- Large variations in granularity, format, and categorization of data at the state-level.
- Data confidentiality issues arising from the absence of climate-related financial disclosure policy in the country.
Consistent guidance and emphasis on data tracking for green finance would go a long way in helping understand the extent of green finance investments in India. Although there are indications of an overall upward trend, India’s tracked green investments in the three sectors i.e., power generation, energy efficiency and power transmission, and sustainable transportation, fall far short of the requirements laid down by several national and international studies. A business as usual scenario of investments may not be enough to bridge the ever-increasing finance gap in these low carbon sectors. By most conservative estimates, the current tracked finance in India represents only 10% of the total requirement across sectors. This study helped us identify a few opportunities to scale up green finance in India:
- India needs an integrated domestic measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system to streamline green finance attributes, identify financial constraints and enhance transparency. A comprehensive climate budget tagging framework should be developed to track climate-related expenditures in national budget systems to take advantage of already mainstreamed climate action through policy formulation, and help further mainstreaming.
- PSUs play an important role in mobilizing and increasing green capital flows. The creation of dedicated PSUs has been a catalyst. Further utilizing this as a policy approach with enhanced responsibility for each PSU should be encouraged, but by explicitly adjusting the mandates and leveraging upon expertise and reach to enhance private sector participation.