India’s costs closer to coal
India’s solar power cost fell to a new low, edging closer to coal, as declining panel prices and increased competition drew offers to build plants from groups backed by BlackRock Inc and Electricite de France SA. India, which uses competitive bidding to select companies offering to generate clean energy at the lowest cost, awarded 750 megawatts of permits on Friday, half of that eligible to use imported equipment. The Indian government also offered grants to offset project costs for the first time, helping attract bids for triple the capacity auctioned. Winners of the import-eligible capacity, who bid seeking the least from the 18.75 billion rupees (US$302 million) of subsidies, priced electricity from solar panels at an average 6,500 rupees a megawatt-hour, down 25 percent from a national tender two years ago, said Jasmeet Khurana, head of market intelligence at solar consultancy Bridge to India Energy Pty. India plans a sixfold increase in solar capacity drawing US$11.7 billion of investment by 2017 to reduce blackouts as plunging panel prices help photovoltaic projects compete with coal and gas-fired plants.
S Korea, Australia ink deal
South Korea and Australia signed yesterday a currency swap deal worth US$4.5 billion, the Bank of Korea said, in a move to boost trades and help curb currency swings. The deal — signed by the countries’ central bank governors — allows the two nations to purchase and repurchase each other’s currency of up to 5 trillion won, the Bank of Korea said in a statement. The three-year deal, which is renewable upon agreement, is to allow greater flexibility for businesses to use local currencies for trade that have been commonly settled in US dollars, the statement said. “The agreement is designed to promote bilateral trade for the economic development of the two countries,” it added. Bilateral trade amounted to US$30 billion last year, the bank said.
US$140m to fund innovation
US President Barack Obama plans to commit US$140 million for two manufacturing innovation initiatives led by the US Department of Defense in the Midwest, the White House said in a statement. An institute to be located in the Detroit area is to focus on “lightweight and modern metals manufacturing,” the administration said in a statement on Friday. Aluminum, titanium and high-strength steel manufacturers are to work with universities and labs on research and development. A digital manufacturing institute in Chicago is to be the host for manufacturing and software companies to develop interoperable software and hardware for supply chains and to reduce manufacturing costs. The consortium’s 41 companies include Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc.
Bankers to circumvent cap
The bosses of Britain’s biggest banks are on course to be awarded millions of pounds in share payments to circumvent a bonus cap imposed by Brussels — a move that risks inflaming the toxic row over City of London pay deals. The new payments would be in addition to bank leaders’ basic pay because the EU is limiting bonuses to 100 percent of salaries — or 200 percent if shareholders approve larger payments. The big-four high street banks are consulting shareholders about bonuses for chief executives that hit the 200 percent limit, alongside discussions on additional share payments so that none of the elite boardroom-level bankers would be worse off as a result of the cap.