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Journal Article | A Payment Security Mechanism for Off-taker Risk in Renewable Energy Projects in India

Gireesh Shrimali
Vaibhav Pratap Singh
Vinit Atal
Journal of Structured Finance

India’s renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022—including 100GW of solar and 60GW of wind—is an ambitious path to meeting increasing energy demands. Meeting this goal is not going to be easy; India faces a shortage of attractive capital to meet its renewable energy targets. Investors face two major risks to investing in India, including in renewable energy: currency risk and off-taker risk. Off-taker risk is a key contributor to the overall credit risk of power projects in India, adding as much as 1.07 percentage points of additional risk premium to the cost of debt for renewable energy projects. Mitigating the off-taker risk requires long-term structural fixes focused on addressing the systematic failures of the utilities sector. However, short-term solutions are still needed to mitigate the off-taker risk. One short-term solution to mitigate off-taker risk is a government-sponsored payment security mechanism that would provide assurance that the payments under power purchase agreements are made on time. In this article, the authors lay out a framework for designing a payment support mechanism for single off-takers, to effectively achieve target credit enhancement in the beneficiary projects. They find that, barring outliers, the average payment security support in their sample turns out to be 12 months, or 10%–20% of capital expenditure, which is significant. They also discuss avenues for future research.