Coming of Age

Top 10 start-ups that made it big

Taking advantage of the huge push to renewable energy development over the past decade, a number of companies set up clean energy ventures. Supported by an influx of foreign capital, these ventures have grown in scale and across geographies over the years. Renewable Watch features 10 new ventures that made it big during the last decade, and takes a look at their portfolios and main backers…

Amplus Solar

Founded in 2010, Amplus Solar currently has a portfolio of more than 800 MW across over 400 operational and under-construction projects. It focuses on on-site solar projects as well as open access solar power projects. In 2015, it received an equity investment from I Squared Capital and later, in 2019, was completely acquired by Petronas.

Avaada Power

Avaada Power was set up in 2016, with its co-founders using a part of the proceeds from the sale of their renewable energy portfolio in Welspun Renewable Energy to Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited. The company has 1 GW operational, 3 GW of projects in pipeline and is targeting a solar portfolio of 11 GW across Asia and Africa. Its funders include ADB, DEG and FMO.

CleanMax

Established in 2011, CleanMax has over 600 MWp of operational capacity spread across 500 projects. The company focuses on on-site rooftop solar, ground-mounted solar, open access, captive and group captive projects. It is backed by Warburg Pincus, the International Finance Corporation, and Macquarie-managed UK Climate Investments.

Fourth Partner Energy

Founded in 2010, Fourth Partner Energy has a portfolio of around 2,000 projects aggregating around 400 MWp of capacity across 23 states. The company focuses primarily on the commercial and industrial (C&I) solar segment. It is also diversifying into off-site solar parks for open access. The company, moreover, offers renewable energy trading services through bilateral contracts and power exchanges. One of the earliest investors in the company was Chennai Angels. In 2018, it raised funds from the Rise Fund managed by TPG Growth.

Gensol

Established in 2012, Gensol started out as a pure-play solar consultancy but eventually diversified to provide design, engineering, operations and maintenance, financial and consultancy services to wind and solar companies. As of November 2020, its portfolio includes solar advisory services for 28,168 MW of projects, solar EPC for 222 MW, solar O&M for 2,313 MW and solar monitoring and analytics for 3,753 MW. In October 2019, it went public and was listed on the bourses at a premium.

Husk Power Systems

Founded in 2008, Husk Power Systems is an energy technology company that aims to accelerate access to clean, modern and affordable electricity in Africa and Asia by developing and operating renewable energy minigrids. Since 2018, FMO, Shell, Swedfund and ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies have made considerable equity investments in the company. Other key investors in Husk Power Systems include LGT Venture Philanthropy and Acumen.

Punjab Renewable Energy Systems Private Limited

Incorporated in 2011 with the aim of building a viable biomass supply chain ecosystem, Punjab Renewable Energy Systems Private Limited (PRESPL) has since grown and now develops bioenergy projects as well. Since its inception, PRESPL has received private equity (PE) investments from responsAbility Investments, Shell and Neev Fund (a joint venture of SBI Caps and the UK’s Department for International Development).

ReNew Power

Established in 2011, ReNew Power’s key backers are Goldman Sachs, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, JERA and the Global Environment Fund. As of November 2020, its portfolio comprises around 5.4 GW of operational capacity and 4.8 GW of capacity in the pipeline in the wind, utility-scale solar and distributed solar segments. It is one of the largest IPPs in India in terms of portfolio size.

Sprng Energy

Backed by Actis, a PE fund manager, Sprng Energy was incorporated in 2016. As of November 2020, Sprng Energy has a contracted capacity of 1.55 GW (comprising 600 MW wind and 950 MW solar), of which 700 MW is operational. The company aims to have 1.2 GW of operational capacity by March 2021.

SunSource Energy

SunSource Energy began its operations in 2010, with a key focus on the C&I solar segment. Its portfolio includes over 400 MWp of solar capacity, delivered and under development. It has also delivered solar engineering services for over 1 GW of projects. SunSource Energy has expanded to several countries including the US, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, and is backed by the Neev Fund.

The way forward

Change is the only constant in the renewable energy sector. The strategies, business models, technologies and skills that have helped these start-ups grow over the past decade may not be as effective in the next decade. Change is already visible in the industry with new ventures coming up in the energy storage, residential rooftop solar, bio-CNG, microgrid and PV waste management segments. More new ventures could well enter the renewable energy space on the back of clean energy targets, tax incentives, foreign investments and, most importantly, the growing aspirations of India’s young population. However, for these startups to succeed, they will need to come up with novel ideas that disrupt the status quo and deliver real results.

 

 

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