India’s largest lender, the State Bank of India has committed Rs 75,000 crore for the generation of 15,000 MW of renewable energy in the next five years.
“SBI has committed to provide Rs 75,000 crore over a period of five years for the renewal energy sector,” SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said at the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet (RE-Invest) in New Delhi.
“The funding would be for 15,000 MW of renewal power. Of course, the proposals will have to be viable and they also have to be viable as per the norms of the banks,” she said.
SBI has a loan exposure of Rs 1.78 lakh crore in the power sector including conventional energy and discoms.
Of this, she said, the bank’s outstanding loans towards clean energy are to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore.
Asked if there could be concessional rate for clean energy, she said, as per the existing norms it cannot be.
“Interest rate will depend on the borrower. We have to do internal rating of the customer plus external rating. So, rate will not be the same for all customers. It also depends on the size of the project, viability and the risks involved. So it will not be the same for all,” she said.
Bhattacharya said, interest rate can come down for the sector, provided RBI classifies the renewal energy in priority sector lending category. It would give incentives to banks for lending to this segment.
Echoing similar views, HSBC country head Naina Lal Kidwai, Indian Bank chairman and managing director TM Bhasin and Exim Bank chairman and managing director Yaduvendra Mathur said that inclusion of renewable energy in the priority sector category would help in easy financing.
As per RBI norms, banks have to necessarily lend 40 % of the total loans towards priority sector category.
The SBI chairperson further said the RBI may look at raising the sectoral exposure limit or a separate class could be introduced for the renewable energy.
However, it would be difficult for the regulator to raise sectoral cap, she said.
On cut in the base rate, Bhattacharya said, “The easing cycle will happen. It may not happen now. You have heard the RBI Governor also saying it takes three quarters for things to sort of trickle down.”
She further said the cost of fund still is the same. Till it comes down, there is a little chance of cutting down lending rate.
“So it will take a little time but definitely the easing cycle is on,” she said without giving any specific timeline.