Categories: Sustainable Finance

Everything You Need to Know About Green Bonds in India

In COP21 – the United Nations Climate Change (UNFCC) conference – held in Paris in 2015 global economies committed to moving towards a low-carbon future. For instance, India pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 33-35% (of 2005 levels) till 2030. The need for finance to carry out this transition has made ‘Green Financing’ the talk of the town. While there is no common definition of what constitutes green financing, the term is primarily used typically for funds earmarked to projects that are environment-friendly and low-carbon – encouraging resource efficiency, usage of renewable resources, or effective waste management.

Green Bonds

Instruments to fund green projects

There are several instruments by which governments, foundations, banks, and private investors can fund ‘green’ projects. They can be categorized into grants, risk-mitigation products, equity, and debt. Project-specific grants such as for decentralized solar mini-grids for rural electrification – are usually provided by global foundations and NGOs. Risk-mitigation instruments include credit enhancement guarantees and insurance products. In guarantees, government organizations, development financial institutions (DFIs), or financial services companies can give assurance to lenders covering partial/entire payment in case of a default by the borrowers. Green insurance products provide environmental risk liability coverage and indemnify against climate/ecological losses. Under equity, the DFIs can provide early-stage seed capital to kickstart a project. Further, venture capitalists and private equity funds can invest in such projects/assets for an ownership stake or the general public can also invest via initial public offerings (IPOs).

Debt instruments are largely classified as two types – green loans and green bonds. Green loans are provided only by the banks but green bonds, also known as climate bonds, can be issued in general, for the broader investor market. In a bond, the holder is the lender, the issuer is the borrower, and the return to the lenders is in the form of fixed interest payments. Out of all the green finance instruments, green bonds have seen the most traction. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) – an international not-for-profit organization – the global green bonds and loans issuance increased 51% y-o-y to reach ~$257 bn in 2019.

In India, one of the fastest-growing green bonds market in Asia – the first half of 2019 had $10.3bn of green bond transactions, as per the Economic Survey 2019-20. As noted previously, green bonds are like any other bonds but whose proceeds have been earmarked for specific “green” i.e. climate-friendly projects or assets. There are three broad types of green bonds – organization-guaranteed bonds, asset-backed bonds, and hybrid bonds – based on the source of repayment for the lenders and the available recourse in case of a default. Now, let us say an organization issues bonds for setting up a solar farm.

Type of bonds

The structure for the three bond types is explained below:

  • In an organization-guaranteed bond (also called general obligation bonds), the credit-worthiness of the bond is based on the issuing organization and not just the financed asset, i.e. the solar farm. The farm is on the issuer’s books and the lenders are repaid by all sources of cash flow the issuer has and not just those arising from the farm. These bonds can be issued by the government, public institutions, or corporates. Some of these bonds are also convertible, i.e. the lenders are given an option to convert them into equity at a later date.
  • In asset-backed bonds, the credit-worthiness is tied only to the expected revenue from the solar farm and not the other cash flows of the issuer. The solar farm asset is transferred into a separate entity, known as a special purpose entity (SPE) or special purpose vehicle (SPV). This entity holds just this asset. The repayment to the lenders will be done from the revenue earned from this farm only.
  • A hybrid bond is a dual-recourse bond (also known as covered bonds) and can be structured in two ways. In the first method, the farm is on the books of the issuer and in case of a payment default the lender will own the farm and if the value of the farm is not enough to cover the default, then the lender will also have a claim on issuer’s other assets. In a second method, the farm is in an SPE, and in default, the assets of the SPE is transferred to the lender. Similar to the first method, if the value of the assets is not enough, the lender can place a claim on the issuer’s other assets as well.

Framework for Green bond issuance

To enhance the transparency and integrity of the green bonds market globally, there are a set of voluntary process guidelines – the Green Bond Principles (GBP) – issued by the International Capital Market Association. They recommend the issuers to create a framework for green bond issuing process across four key components. The first one is the use of proceeds where the GBP has defined what projects are eligible to be called as ‘green’. The second is the method of project evaluation and selection where the issuers need to communicate the project’s environmental objectives and the likely risks as well as their mitigation methods. The third is the management of proceeds, where the issuers should keep the funds in a sub-account or a separately managed account and keep the lenders updated on the flow of funds. Lastly, the GBP mentions methods for transparent reporting to the lenders, including the impact generated by the project.

To boost investor confidence and scale the green bonds market, the Climate Bonds Initiative has issued a voluntary standards and certification scheme to promote investments that are genuinely aligned with addressing climate change. Getting the certification can help the issuers gain traction with the investors as their bonds meet the industry standards. It helps reduce the due diligence cost as well for the lenders due to greater confidence and process transparency. Currently, the certifications can be obtained for bonds in energy, transport, water utility, and building sectors.

In India, several public organizations, banks, and private companies have issued green bonds, starting from Yes Bank in 2015. Most of the bonds have exposure to the energy sector. Indian companies have also issued Green Masala Bonds – i.e. bonds issued outside India but in Indian Rupees and not the local foreign currency. The currency exchange rate fluctuation risk is borne by the investors in this case.

Key Green Bond Issuance in India

Given below is a list of key green bond issuance in India –

IssuerAmountIssued DateTenureType of BondSector ExposureCredit Rating
Yes BankINR 10bnFeb 201510 yearsNAEnergyAA+ (CARE and ICRA)
EXIM BankUSD500mMar 20155 yearsNATransport, EnergyBaa3 (Moody’s)
CLP Wind FarmsINR6bnSep 20153, 4 and 5 yearsAsset-backedEnergyAA (India Rating and Research)
IDBI BankUSD350mNov 20155 yearsNAEnergy, Transport and Water ManagementBBB- (Fitch)
Hero Future EnergiesINR 3bnFeb 20163 and 6 yearsAsset-backedEnergyNA; CBI Certified
PNB Housing FinanceINR 5bnApr 2016NANABuildingsNA
Axis BankUSD500mJune 20165 yearsSenior, UnsecuredEnergy, Buildings and TransportGB1 – Green Bond Rating; Issuer rating Baa3 (Moody’s)
ReNew PowerINR 5bnAug 2016NAAsset-backedEnergyA+ (CARE)
NTPCINR 20bnAug 20165 yearsUnsecuredEnergyBBB (Fitch)
GreenkoUSD500mAug 20167 years Energy
ReNew PowerUSD475mFeb 20175 yearsAsset-backedEnergyBa3 (Moody’s); B+ (Fitch)
IREDAINR 7bnMar 201710 yearsGovernment-guaranteed bondEnergyAA+ (ICRA)
Rural Electrification CorporationUSD450mJuly 201710 yearsSenior UnsecuredEnergy, Water and Waste ManagementBaa3 (Moody’s)
Azure PowerUSD500mAug 20175 yearsNAEnergyBB- (Fitch)
IREDAINR19.5bnSept 20175 yearsGovernment-backedEnergyGB1 – green bond rating; Baa3 – issuer rating (Moody’s)
Power Finance CorporationUSD400mDec 201710 yearsNAEnergyBaa3 (Moody’s)
Indian Railway Finance CorporationUSD500mDec 201710 yearsSenior UnsecuredTransportationBaa2 (Moody’s)
ReNew PowerUSD375mMar 20195 yearsNAEnergyBB (Fitch)
Adani Green EnergyUSD500mJun 20195 yearsSenior SecuredEnergyBB+ (Fitch)
GreenkoUSD950mJuly 20195 and 7 yearsOrganisation-backedEnergyBa1 (Moody’s)
GreenkoUSD300mAug 20193.5 yearsOrganisation-backedEnergyBa1 (Moody’s)
ReNew PowerUSD300mSept 20193 yearsNAEnergyBa2 (Moody’s)
Azure PowerUSD350mSept 20195 yearsNAEnergyNA
State Bank of IndiaUSD650mSep 20195 yearsGovernment-guaranteed bondEnergyBBB- (Fitch)
Adani Green EnergyUSD362mOct 201920 yearsNAEnergyBBB- (S&P)
ReNew PowerUSD450mJan 2020Avg 5.5 yearsNAEnergyBB- (Fitch)
State Bank of IndiaUSD100mMar 20202 yearsGovernment-guaranteed bondEnergyBBB- (Fitch)
Source: Climate Bonds Initiative; Organisation press releases; News articles

India has set itself high targets to achieve the reduction of carbon emissions, particularly by the adoption of renewable energy and increasing resource efficiency. The introduction of green bonds in India has helped organizations address the financing gap in the traditional domestic capital markets due to the inherent risks associated with the projects and the industries like renewable energy itself being at nascent stages. India is likely to become one of the largest issuers over the next few years as the green bond markets mature and standards/certifications being developed give both global and domestic investors more confidence.

Disqus Comments Loading...

View Comments

Published by

Recent Posts

History of Firecrackers in India

Not just sacred and formidable, fire is also alluringly entertaining in its various avatars. One of its avatars is fireworks.… Read More

5 days ago

Snow Leopard Researchers Call for Ethical Standards for Wildlife Camera Trapping

Camera traps set out for wildlife research often capture images of people including local community members and suspected poachers. A… Read More

1 week ago

How Halfbike is transforming urban commuting

Riding a brand new Halfbike is an experience in itself. One of the best things about this product is that… Read More

1 week ago

Here’s why you should dispose of your drugs responsibly

Whether you unsafely dispose of your medication or you keep your expired/unsafe medicine in the home, you could be putting… Read More

2 weeks ago

Better and Sustainable Cotton for India

Cotton is known as white gold in India. It is a key raw material in the apparel/textile industry. About 250… Read More

4 weeks ago

Slow Living Lifestyle is Purposeful and Fulfilling

Why on Earth are we trying to hurry? It is not good to be lazy or procrastinate, but what’s required… Read More

4 weeks ago