Indian Energy Providers

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Understanding who the major players are in terms of energy providers is important to the larger picture of the energy environment in India. There are three major categories in which these providers can be placed: government, large independent power providers, and distributed energy enterprises. Although the first two focus on large-scale power plant operations, distributed energy enterprises can benefit from an understanding of where their competition exists, and the experiences of the larger enterprises.

Government Providers

As discussed in the Government Overview section, there are five major ministries that deal with energy at the federal level. With the exception of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, all of the energy ministries operate at least one federally owned energy enterprise.  Likewise, each state government owns and operates a significant number of power plants.

Ministry Number of State Owned Enterprises
Ministry of Power 6
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas 15
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy 0
Ministry of Coal 3
Department of Atomic Energy 5

 

These public sector companies dominate the energy market and are responsible for producing the majority of fossil fuels. For instance, in 2012, public enterprises owned 73% of India’s generation capacity, 72% of crude oil production, 59% of gas production, 63% of refining capacity, and 90% of coal production. This has made private investment in conventional energy production difficult for entrepreneurs. Furthermore, as discussed in the Energy Access section, most of this government investment is focused on grid expansion. For these reasons, distributed energy enterprises stand a better chance of entering the market than do large-scale conventional operations, especially if they focus on renewable energy.

Independent Power Producers (IPPs)

Although the government dominates large-scale energy generation, there are some large private companies that have been able to gain a foothold in the energy market. The Electricity Act of 2003 allows for IPPs to sell their electricity to users via an open grid policy. Excluding renewable energy, IPPs owned about 15% of India’s total capacity. While some IPPs are working with renewable energy, these projects make up only a fraction of the total capacity of these companies and they are mostly large solar plants that produce over 40 MW. The three largest IPPs in India are the TATA Power, Reliance Power, and Adani Power.

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TATA Power is a subsidiary of the TATA Group conglomerate and was founded in 1911, dealing primarily with hydro-electric projects. Since then, the company has grown into one of India’s largest private energy producers, with over 8,500 MW of installed capacity. Of this, 447 MW  is hydro, 28 MW is solar, and 397 MW is wind.  Within the TATA Group is also TATA Solar, which has created a variety of small-scale solar lighting products that can be used in rural villages. TATA has also created a Social Enterprise Challenge, through which it funds promising social ventures.Adani Power is another IPP in India. Adani has achieved significant growth over the past two years and now has a total installed capacity of 7300 MW. Adani has commissioned a 40 MW solar array in Gujarat, which is one of the largest in India. Adani is also actively involved in the carbon credits program under the Kyoto protocol.

Finally, the Reliance Group, another large Indian conglomerate, is a major player in the energy market. Reliance power has an installed capacity over just over 2,500 MW, but combined with its subsidiaries, the company’s portfolio has a combined planned and installed capacity of around 35,000 MW. Reliance Power has also begun to develop solar power projects in Rajasthan with a combined capacity of about 150 MW, although the company is not actively involved in distributed energy projects.

Distributed Energy Enterprises

Because conglomerates such as Adani, TATA, and Reliance work on large-scale energy operations that feed into the grid, distributed energy enterprises are crucial to improving the energy environment in India. The populations suffering from energy poverty are often in rural communities that are difficult for conventional power utilities to reach or they are in urban centers where the state regulatory or logistical environment has made conventional power unviable. Furthermore, the focus of many social enterprises on clean energy makes them a better alternative considering future climate and fuel availability issues.
There are over 250 enterprises headquartered in India dealing with off-grid energy solutions, although the scope and focus of each of these enterprises varies widely. The highest concentrations of energy enterprises are in Delhi, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, which each have over 35 energy enterprise headquarters. The majority of the remaining enterprises are in the south and western parts of the country, with the exception of West Bengal, which has 17.  Onergy IMG_8110
By far the most popular energy solution is solar, which over 200 of these enterprises provide in one form or another. The next most popular is biomass, followed by micro-hydro and wind projects. Below is a table of some of the distributed energy enterprises that are working in India. Some of these enterprises are featured here on the Energy Map.
Enterprise NameDescriptionPower Source/ProductStates of Operation
AVANIAVANI is a non-profit community development organization which has developed innovative models for distributing solar lanterns and panels in villages.Solar, BiomassUttarakhand
Barefoot PowerBarefoot Power develops and sells affordable high-quality solar products to off-grid households around the world.SolarKanartaka
Cosmos Ignite InnovationsCosmos Ignite is a joint venture between an Indian distribution company, Cosmos Energy, and an American product design firm, Ignite Innovations, Inc. Cosmos Ignite has designed a small-scale solar powered lamp, the MightyLight, targeted at poor customers without access to reliable electricity.SolarNational Capital Region (New Delhi)
CTx GreEnCTx GreEn helps villages build the capacity to convert locally available under-utilized and un-utilized oil seeds into biodiesel and value-added services to increase productivity and improve the local economy.BiomassOdisha
d.light designd.light design develops quality, affordable, solar-powered lanterns for families with no access to reliable electricity.SolarWorldwide
Desi PowerDESI Power installs biomass power plants in villages while at the same time helping villagers develop businesses to turn generated power into value addition and boosted income.BiomassBihar, Karnataka
Duron SolarDuron Solar aims to provide reliable, safe, and easy to use power solutions to off grid communities in India and other developing markets.SolarKarnataka
E-Hands EnergyE-Hands Energy aims to deliver modular power solutions with micro-wind and solar PV hybrids. The company targets small businesses and farmers. Wind, SolarTamil Nandu
Envirofit InternationalEnvirofit designs low-cost energy-efficient cookstoves, which reduce fuel consumption, air pollution and health hazards for users. They sell through partner organizations in India and around the world.BiomassNationwide
FREEDFREED conceives, designs, and implements projects transforming wastelands into jatropha plantations that produce biofuel that replaces imported fossil fuels and qualifies for carbon credits.BiomassWest Bengal
Gram PowerGram Power sets up energy efficient Smart Microgrids in remote areas to provide on-demand, reliable electricity to telecom towers and rural households with an affordable prepaid purchase model.Micro-grid, smart metersRajasthan
Greenlight PlanetGreenlight Planet operates in over 31 countries, providing solar powered lamps, like the Sun King, to consumers who lack access to electricity.SolarWorldwide
Husk Power Systems
HPS owns and operates 100% biomass based, de-centralized mini power plants and wires entire village to provide electricity to households and small businesses.BiomassBihar
International Development Enterprises India
IDEI is a non-profit product development firm, which fills the gap of less-profit-focused R+D to design energy-saving water-focused products based on farmer need.Human-PowerNational Capital Region (New Delhi)
Kuvam MicrogridKuvam Micro-grid is dedicated to provide quality and affordable solutions in the field of off-grid and on-grid power generation, and to becoming a leading energy service provider for rural and urban India.SolarBihar, New Delhi
Mera Gao PowerMera Gao Power builds, owns, and operates micro grids in Uttar Pradesh, India serving off-grid villages with high quality, dependable lighting and mobile phone charging services. MGP’s unique model is able to provide service to a typical hamlet for $1,000, making it one of the lowest cost designs for micro-grids.Micro-GridUttar Pradesh
Nishant Bioenergy Pvt. Limited
Nishant Bioenergy produces carbon-neutral biomass briquette stoves as a cheaper, greener replacement for LPG stoves in university kitchens and roadside canteens.BiomassPunjab
Nuru EnergyNuru Energy creates solar powered lights and an innovative human-powered cycle used to charge batteries. Villagers can become entrepreneurs by charging batteries with the cycle and selling lights.Solar, Human-PowerBihar, Maharashtra, New Delhi
ONergyONergy is a renewable energy venture providing lighting, cooking and electrification solutions to rural India. ONergy is building a unique full service rural distribution infrastructure for clean technologies.SolarWest Bengal
Prakti Design
Prakti develops products for the basic energy needs of the bottom of the pyramid, and specializes in improved cooking stoves and fuels.BiomassPondicherry
Prakruthi PowerPrakruthi Power creates solar lights, fans, AC generators, and charging stations, which empower rural communities and give businesses access to electricity.SolarHyderabad
Promethean Power SystemsPromethean Power Systems has developed a rapid-cooling milk chiller sold to dairy processors in India.OtherMaharashtra
SELCOSELCO links sustainable energy to poverty alleviation by providing quality customized solar home lighting systems to poor customers, partnering with banks to provide financing for increased affordability.SolarKarnataka
Simpa NetworksSimpa Networks provides PAYG solar systems. customers pay small upfront cost for solar panel like that from SELCO, then pay in small installments until the full price has been paid. Once it is paid in full, the product unlocks and free solar power is supplied.FinancingUttar Pradesh, Karnataka
THRIVE
THRIVE Energy Technologies designs, develops, manufactures and promotes low-cost solar powered LED-based lighting systems to replace kerosene lamps. The Lighting Systems are primarily distributed through partner NGOs who implement a rent-to-own system designed by THRIVE Energy Technologies.SolarAndhra Pradesh, Hyderabad
The list above is far from exhaustive, which means that there are many other enterprises operating in this sphere. Recall that India is home to a sixth of the global population and that despite the presence of government power utilities and powerful conglomerates, over 400 million people still lack access to modern energy. Therefore, there exists tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to look for innovative ways to provide energy to millions of unconnected Indians.

Even though distributed energy enterprises operate differently than IPPs, they can still benefit by learning from some of the experiences of these large companies. For example, taking advantage of government incentives or carbon credit schemes can help distributed energy enterprises to finance their operations.

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