New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) The European Investment Bank (EIB) on Friday announced a euro 200 million (Rs 1,400 crore) long-term loan to the State Bank of India (SBI) to finance mega-solar projects in the country.
The loan will support a total investment of euro 650 million in five different large-scale photo-voltaic solar power projects for India's National Solar Mission. Four schemes, with a generation capacity of 530MW have been identified for the purpose.
The loan was announced ahead of the inauguration by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of the EIB's first permanent presence in India, by EIB President Werner Hoyer and Vice-President Andrew McDowell, responsible for the India and South Asia operations.
"This symbolically marks the recognition of the strategic depth of the relationship between the EU and India... both of us are extremely important global partners in trying to grow and fulfil the aspiration of our people," said the Finance Minister while speaking before inaugurating the Delhi office of the EIB here on Friday.
"We are also delighted that you are expanding your investments in India," Jaitley said.
"There is one of the largest infrastructure creation programmes, the world over, on in India. I think for next two decades, I see India's hands full in trying to expand this infrastructure and get rid of the deficit that existed in India.
"We need international investment in terms of FDI and also in terms of investment by various development agencies etc.," he added.
At the event, the EIB announced euro 250 million for construction of the Lucknow Metro that represents the second tranche of a total euro 450 million backing for the project.
Speaking at the event, Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB, said, "The opening of a regional office of the EIB in the sub-continent will ensure closer ties with public and private partners across the country, where our financial support and technical expertise can strengthen long-term investment crucial for improving lives and transforming economic opportunities across the region."
While announcing the loan, Andrew McDowell said: "Large-scale investment in renewable power is essential to enhance affordable, reliable and sustainable energy. Unlocking new investment in large-scale solar generation is crucial to ensure that renewable energy plays a leading role in India's energy mix in the years ahead."
This new project reflects the shared commitment of India and the European Union to tackle climate change and implement the Paris Climate Agreement, he added.
SBI Managing Director B. Sriram said: "The new cooperation between the SBI and the EIB will scale up investment in large-scale solar power generation across India, close cooperation between technical and financial teams from both institutions will ensure that world-class projects are supported."
Speaking on the European Union's growing engagement with India, Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, said: "The EIB has invested substantially in India's clean energy, and public transport sector in recent years. We believe that bank funding will be important in achieving the objectives of sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation that India has set for itself."
The 20-year EIB loan, facilitated by SBI Capital Markets, will support individual solar power generation projects in Telangana, Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.
Since 1993, the EIB -- owned by 28 member states of the European Union -- has financed projects in India totalling 1.7 billion euros (around Rs 11,900 crore).
During their visit, the EIB delegation will meet top officials of the India Renewable Energy Development Agency and India Infrastructure Finance Ltd to discuss future support for renewable energy investments in India.