Funding for coal in India dropped 82 per cent y-o-y in 2019

New Delhi: Project funding to coal from commercial banks dropped 126 per cent from 2018 to 2019, according to a recent report. It said that commercial banks provided Rs 950 crore in loans to coal.

Whereas, coal financing further decreased by 82 per cent in 2019. “This marked the second consecutive year-on-year decline in coal funding, following a 90 per cent decrease in 2018,” the report added.

According to the report by the Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) and Climate Trends, there has also been a significant drop in state-owned financing of coal projects while there has been no government financing for coal in 2019 except for Rs 150 crore from EXIM bank.

“A significant drop in project finance to coal means that financial institutes are beginning to realise the associated financial and reputational risk in investing in coal. Pushing healthy commercial banks into financing unviable coal projects in India and abroad will only lead to more stress in the financial sector,” said Joe Athialy, executive director at CFA.

According to the report, in 2019, two coal projects with a total capacity of 3.06 gigawatt (GW) received Rs 1,100 crore in project finance. While in 2018, five coal-fired projects with a combined capacity of 3.8 GW received Rs 6,081 crore. Whereas in 2017, Rs 60,767 crore was lent to 17 GW of coal projects.

“Of the total lending to coal in 2019, Rs 700 crore went towards refinancing of JSW Energy’s Barmer power plant in Rajasthan. The Barmer project was also refinanced in 2018. The remaining Rs 400 crore went towards financing NTPC’s new coal project in Barh, Bihar,” it said.

According to recent reports, shutting down coal plants that are 20 years or older could save up to Rs 53,000 crore over five years for various discoms.

Renewable energy:
According to the report, 41 renewable energy projects received a cumulative of Rs 22,971 crore in 2019, and though it saw a minor contraction of 6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), renewables received 95 per cent of the total lending to energy projects.

“Solar PV accounted for 69 per cent of this finance, while the remaining 31 per cent went to wind projects. Lending to wind energy dropped 30 per cent, while lending to solar increased by 10 per cent compared to 2018. Solar dominated project finance loans to renewable energy in 2017, 2018, and 2019,” it said.

It, however, added that due to the financial stress in India’s power discoms, investment in the renewable energy sector had been impacted. Discoms owe generation companies Rs 116,340 crore.

“Commercial banks provided the majority of loans to renewable energy projects, disbursing Rs 12,887 crore in funds. Majority state-owned financial institutions accounted for 24 per cent of these loans,” the report said.

It added that Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh continued to be the most attractive states for renewable energy projects, accounting for 79 per cent of total lending to renewables in 2019.

The report looked at 50 project finance loans across 43 coal-fired and renewable energy projects in India. Only projects that reached financial close between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2019 were included in the analysis.

The article published in economic times can be accessed here.

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