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Shivanand Nimbargi, Managing Director and CEO, Green Infra Limited

13 Feb 2012

The increasing impediments in sourcing the conventional sources of energy have sparked investors' interest in the hitherto slow moving renewable energy (RE) segment. According to a recent analysis by a credit rating agency, the share of IPPs (Independent Power Producers) in the RE segment is expected to increase to about 40-50 percent in the next three-year period.

Green Infra Limited was incorporated in April 2008 by IDFC Private Equity Funds with an ambition to have a renewable capacity of 5 GW by 2015. InfralineEnergy's Chhavi Tyagi spoke to MD and CEO of the company about the inception of the company and their ambitious target.

Edited excerpts.

What was the thought behind setting up of Green Infra Limited?

IDFC Private Equity Funds was looking for a suitable partner to enter the field of renewable energy investments in late 2000. However, on not finding a suitable opportunity the investment company decided to incorporate a separate company on their own which would cover all aspects of renewable energy -Wind Solar, Hydro, Biomass - and Energy Efficiency. Thus, Green Infra Limited (GIL) was incorporated in April 2008 with the mandate of being an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in the renewable energy space. Furthermore, as part of our energy efficiency initiative, GIL invests strategically into companies which promote energy efficiency.

GIL plans to have a renewable generation capacity of 5GW by 2015, what steps have you taken to achieve this target?

Currently we have an operating portfolio of 174 MW, out of which 164 MW is in wind and the rest 10 MW comprises of solar PV. The 164 MW of wind capacity is spread around in different states namely Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu while our 10 MW solar plant is based in Gujarat. The solar plant was commissioned in a record time on November 11, 2011, much ahead of its deadline of December 31, 2011.

On a short term basis we are looking at adding 100 Mw by Mar'12 (under construction) and in the medium to long term we have the following strategies to build our capacities:

On Wind we have plans to develop large scale projects on our own including land and its development. In addition to this we are working on frame agreements with our strategic partners.

"Out of the planned capacity addition, a substantial part will comprise of wind-based energy, followed by solar, hydro and biomass. Also, for energy efficiency plan we are considering Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants. Unfortunately, gas availability and its pricing is an issue when it comes to implementing CHP."

On Solar we have recently won a bid for a solar PV plant of 25 MW which comes under the JNNSM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission) of the government. We are also looking at participating in bids from states like Rajasthan , MP, and others.  In addition we are looking at catering to requirements of captive and open access consumers for RPO compliance. We are also working on Off Grid solutions including power for Telecom towers. Going forward we are also working on large capacity CSP solutions to participate in 2013 bids.

In Hydro we are currently executing 40 Mw projects in the state of Himachal Pradesh and are looking at further opportunities.

In Biomass we are starting construction of 8 Mw plant in Rajasthan and we have 80 Mw of licenses in different states which will be taken up for execution progressively.

In addition to the above plans, we are also considering acquisitions as a route to meet our capacity addition targets and we already have a very active pipeline of opportunities.

Is wind-based power going to be the company's mainstay?

Out of the planned capacity addition, a substantial part will comprise of wind-based energy, followed by solar, hydro and last but not the least, biomass. Another area that is under our consideration for energy efficiency is the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants. Unfortunately, gas availability and its pricing is an issue when it comes to implementing CHP.

"There is a further need to support the renewable energy sector for the development of REC market by way of stricter compliance to RPO regulations."

We are also contemplating hybrid solutions; however policies are yet to be formulated for it. We understand that hybrid solutions are the future of the country and we are currently involved in technically evaluating the possibilities.

What are the issues faced by the RE segment in the country?

The policies have been very supportive and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy's (MNRE) support has ensured a steady increase in the capacity addition. However, there is a further need to support this sector for the development of REC market by way of stricter compliance to RPO regulations.

"There is a need for a greater acceptance of the renewable power on the grid. It should not happen that the renewable power is disconnected on the availability of the conventional power."

Another important requirement is to speed up the processes of land acquisition so that projects can come up speedily.

Would a single window clearance help in speeding up the projects?

The wind industry has achieved a certain level of maturity while solar is on its way towards it. The issue is that most of these projects get executed at the state level so there is a need of consistent policies and support at the state level. While there is a broad framework provided by the MNRE however it is very important to have a strong support system at the state level in terms of implementation. Providing a single policy in line with MNRE at state level will help and a single window concept for all approvals will cut short the time of implementation.

Another important factor is to strengthen the transmission and distribution system as most of the natural resources are at locations where grid connectivity is an issue. Also, there is a need for a greater acceptance of the renewable power on the grid. It should not happen that the renewable power is disconnected on the availability of the conventional power.

The country needs a pan-India grid network which would enable the scheduling of power in order to provide maximum promotion of the renewable energy and conventional sources can be used for base power generation. We need to decide as to how to best optimise the usage of both the conventional and non-conventional sources. Grid management is needed at the regional level to balance the renewable power and the conventional base load stations in order to maximise the renewable energy.

(InfralineEnergy thanks Shivanand Nimbargi, Managing Director and CEO, Green Infra Limited for sharing his valuable insights with our readers. The column 'In-Conversation', is a platform to engage experts from various sectors to share their views on the different transformations happening in the Indian energy sector.)