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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Helping Indian electric mass mobility dreams come true


Many investors have dubbed the next 10 years as ‘India’s decade’. The country’s projected GDP in 2024 is 7 percent, with rising disposable income of 15%, and a 1.43 billion population according to UN estimates, India may offer enviable long-term opportunities for decades to come.

Amidst a slew of sectors tipped for strong growth during this decade of transformation, is renewable energy. India’s stated goal is to pursue net zero emissions by 2070, with the government announcing its aim to have 90% of its energy sourced from renewable sources by 2047. To reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by this time, the nation would need to more than double its production of renewable energy.

E-mobility on the move

A key pillar for this planned economic transformation is the field of electric mobility (e-mobility). In August 2023, India’s government approved 580 billion rupees (USD $7 billion) for electric public transportation, pledging to deploy 10,000 electric buses in 169 Indian cities over the next decade. For the next decade to herald the arrival of an e-mobility generation, huge strides will be needed across numerous fronts. Recently, one small yet significant stride was taken in Surat, in the west coast state of Gujarat.

Local-international partnership

In line with India’s commitment of making public transportation more sustainable, GreenCell 

Mobility, has been playing an active role through the deployment of a fleet of 150 electric buses in Surat, Gujarat, which is expected to offset 99,747 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. GreenCell Mobility is India’s leading Green-tech company, delivering the core value proposition of non-polluting on-demand shared transportation, charging infrastructure, and enabling products for the e-mobility value chain.

Standard Chartered is the sole mandated arranger, lender and working capital provider for the procurement, operation, and maintenance of the airconditioned e-buses. The USD $15.2 million facility is structured as a five-year INR-denominated Project Finance term loan, with sponsor support helping to optimise GreenCell’s capital structure and borrowing costs during a challenging macro environment. 

This is the first Project Finance Green Loan to be issued in India’s e-mobility sector. Unlike local finance partners, Standard Chartered had to first address international stakeholders’ concerns including the potential risk factors of entering India’s nascent e-mobility sector. To achieve this, Standard Chartered evaluated the project for green loan eligibility, based on its Green and Sustainable Product framework, as well as international sustainability standards including the LMA Principles and the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards.

Standard Chartered was selected for its demonstrated ability in infrastructure project financing in India, in both local and international currencies, as well as its growing expertise in funding cleantech, e-mobility and battery projects.

2Q==

According to Prasad Hegde, Managing Director and Head of Project and Export Finance, South Asia for Standard Chartered, “The biggest challenge was to first understand this new sector, so that we could structure the transaction in a way that mitigates the risk,” he explains. Having secured India’s debut Project Finance Green Loan in India’s e-mobility sector, he is certain that Standard Chartered now enjoys a demonstrable edge in the growing marketplace. 

2Q==

“Every company we talk to these days wants a net zero target, or contribute to their sustainability agenda,” noted Prasad. “We have experts in place and a sustainable finance team which can guide people and companies with this requirement. environmental targets and inspiring further market confidence.”

New generation of comfort

Moving to electric buses meant that GreenCell would be reducing both the costs and emission levels caused by burning petrol, diesel or compressed natural gas. The environmental benefits are not limited to decreased air pollution and emissions. As new vehicles, electric buses also have a positive contribution in providing better quality of buses and ride experience, a benefit for passengers and local communities alike. 

As of January 2024, with more than half of the bus fleet in operation, both parties agree that the local response has been resoundingly positive. As a first foray into India’s e-mobility space, Standard Chartered views the project’s satisfied stakeholders, through to local bus customers, as a perfect end-to-end proof of concept. Such an international seal of approval could prove to be game-changing for the e-mobility industry.


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