India is about to kick-start a planned US$7.9 billion investment in its electricity grid as it prepares to introduce more solar and wind.

The first €250 million (US$332 million) of investment - out of a committed total of €1 billion (US$1.33 billion) for Indian grid improvements - is expected “soon” from the German development bank KfW,  Ratan P. Watal, secretary of the ministry of new and renewable energy told Businessweek.

According to Watal, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the country’s own National Electricity Fund and local governments, will also contribute to the programme.

India experienced huge blackouts in 2012 that left 700 million people without power.

According to the World Bank, 400 million people in India have no access to electricity. A number of on- and off-grid projects are under way to reduce this number.

Solar has a potentially large contribution to make. Off-grid solar can help rural communities while a recent report by Greenpeace and consultancy Bridge to India found that Delhi could reach 2GW of rooftop solar by 2020 if the regulatory environment was altered.

Renewable energy was highlighted as a key pillar of strengthened economic ties between Germany and India that were agreed in April 2013.

German firm Solea recently agreed a deal to build a 100MW solar farm in southern India’s Tamil Nadu province.

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