Clinton Backing World's Largest Solar Project in India, Report Says

The Clinton Foundation has done some impressive work promoting clean technologies, but if a report out of India is true, former President Bill Clinton’s philanthropic organization could be taking its climate change work to a whole new level. According to the Business Standard, the Clinton Foundation is helping set up a 5-gigawatt solar project that could cost almost $5 billion (Rs 20,000 crore).

The project, coined the Integrated Solar City, is supposed to be built in the state of Gujarat in western India in collaboration with the government. It will both provide solar power and manufacture solar materials. The Gujarat government is reportedly considering the Kutch and Banaskantha districts for the location and plans to bring on John Byrne, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning working group within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to manage the project.

A project of that size could help bring down the cost of producing solar power to be competitive with the price of cheap fossil fuel-based electricity. We’re not sure if the Integrated Solar City will be based on a series of centralized solar thermal plants or many distributed PV rooftop projects — perhaps a combination of both? While we’ve talked with solar thermal companies that are planning to build 1 gigawatt projects in California’s Mojave desert, we doubt a single plant could produce the full 5 gigawatts.

The report pegs the Clinton Foundation’s available assets for green energy at $12 billion. In 2006 at the second annual meeting of the CGI there were 215 commitments from organizations valued at more than $7.3 billion, according to the Foundation. For the year ended December 31, 2006, the Foundation had $109.73 million in contributions.

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