ReNew Power: Re-Structuring the Face of Renewable Energy in India

The story behind this unicorn’s rise to the top and initiatives that are rattling industry norms


The world is changing and much of it is due to rising levels of pollution and climate change caused by an ever-increasing population. We sometimes tend to forget the fact that this world has a finite number of resources and that is a big problem. Nowadays, even businesses face the same issues. Given the rapidly expanding population and the demand that grows with it, businesses have to push for more resources to keep up. The more resources that are in demand, the fewer resources that are available in the long-run, which makes existing resources all the more expensive. This vicious cycle is unsustainable long-term, so what is the solution?

Renewable energy seems like a good place to start. Every business on the planet needs the energy to operate, and energy generation contributes to a large chunk of our global and national pollution levels. That is where ReNew Power comes in. Ever wonder what a clean and green India would look like? Well, this is the right place to start looking for those answers.

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Renewable energy is coming into demand and it is absolutely crucial to find more sustainable ways to utilise and distribute it in developing nations like Indian. This is why unicorns like ReNew Power are so vital to the country's infrastructure.

What Is ReNew Power All About?

ReNew Power is the brainchild of an IIT graduate and former CEO of Suzlon Energy, Sumant Sinha. Launched in 2011, the company was founded with the mission of building the best renewable energy company in the world. So far, things seem to be well on their way to achieving that goal. Initially, the platform was begun to develop and distribute wind and solar energy projects.

Within just a few months of launching, the company received its first rounds of funding from Goldman Sachs. What is impressive about this particular unicorn is that as a start-up, it became the first Indian company and the 11th company on a global scale to cross the 5GW (GigaWatt) of installed capacity. The icing on the cake comes with the company entering the unicorn club, just six years after its inception as it cruised into the exclusive club in 2017 at a $2 Billion valuation.

The company started out relatively small, with just three employees to man the Mumbai-based office and the initial funding of $200 million that it received from Goldman Sachs. With extensive fundraising and bootstrapping, the platform was able to sink its teeth into the renewable energy sector with its very first venture just one year after being founded. In 2012, ReNew Power established a wind farm venture in Gujarat.

ReNew Power was initially focused on wind energy and acquiring wind farms across India but later moved into solar, hydro and eventually biomass energy production projects.

ReNew Power Utility Solar

What ReNew Power Brings to the Table:

In terms of a business angel, ReNew power is oriented towards building a world-class portfolio and becoming an industry leader in renewable energy assets. It also seeks to use said assets to change how we fundamentally use energy, move away from unsustainable sources, help its customers and the world at large to transition towards more innovative, energy-efficient solutions.

In terms of what it has to offer, you could think of the company as a platform or a think tank that provides renewable energy solutions as its primary product. ReNew Power has worked on everything from commercial business to urban housing projects with some of the biggest clients. Generally, they operate projects in three broad categories: wind, solar and B2B solutions. Just to give you an idea of the scale, as of 2017, it had installed a capacity of over 2000 MW (MegaWatts) across India and is currently operational in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand. Quite impressive for a start-up.

Utility Scale Wind

Wind farms and wind energy represents the bulk of the company project portfolio. With wind farm projects across India in states such as Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the company is pushing hard to achieve a goal of 60,000 MW by 2022.

The company has reached a historic milestone by installing the tallest hybrid wind towers in India which stand at around 120 metres tall (30 metres taller than the conventional wind towers). This go-big-or-go-home approach was rightly done by Sinha as he recognised the massive potential of the rapidly growing wind energy sector. Wind farms are highly beneficial in the long-run as they produce more energy than they take up and are a giant boon in reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

ReNew Power maintains a fleet of high-performance wind turbines with a focus on quality and ensuring that they have the best domain experts overlooking the day-to-day checks. This not only gives them an edge in performance but also helps in adhering to all the safety and regulatory norms in place for such projects. More compliance means more investor confidence and therefore more expansion.

Utility Scale Solar

With the massive success that the company saw in the wind energy projects, it started the ReNew Power solar ground-mounted division in early 2013 with the aim of replicating the success of the wind projects. The first solar power project was initiated under the Madhya Pradesh State Solar Policy competitive bidding for a large-scale grid project. Upon winning the bid, ReNew Power set up a 50 MW solar farm. This generated a lot of clout for the brand. Within a short period and with the help of industry experts, the solar assets were scaled to a sizable 4.10 GW of installed capacity. The capabilities of the solar project segment of the company have grown to such an extent that the company can complete Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) work in-house. That basically means that the company performed well enough to a point where it can self-sufficiently handle the entire A-to-Z of the project from procurement to engineering, to output all by themselves with the aid of integrated technologies.

The clout and resources have grown so much that ReNew Power even has a program under the solar wing where it adopts rural villages and installs solar panels in innovative ways to help in their development. One such example is the adoption and development of the Saidapur village in Karnataka and the Ananthasagar village in Telangana. There ReNew Power has installed ‘Water ATMs’ which run on solar power and generate clean water for around 4000 residents. Apart from the solar initiatives the company also runs health camps and educational programs for these adopted villages. This ties into a high standard of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

B2B Solutions

This wing of ReNew Power’s projects is the third broad category of business in which the company provides long-term eco-friendly and sustainable energy solutions to businesses. These solutions can be customised to a business’s particular needs with ReNew Power handling everything from start to finish.

For a business, ReNew Power will design and install a customised renewable energy project that fits all regulatory compliances and brings down the monthly electricity bill. This puts businesses at a distinct advantage, not just in a cost-saving and eco-friendly manner, but also paints them in a positive light when it comes to public perception.

To top it all off, this project can be opted for by a number of different sized businesses, as the company offers a variety of cost-saving packages and handles all the maintenance and set-up in-house.

This entire process is very streamlined. With over 500 installation sites undertaken in 80 cities, spread out over 18 different states, this wing of the projects offered by ReNew Power is a prime example of the wide reach and the upscaling that this initiative has achieved.

ReNew B2B Solutions and renewable energy prospects
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What ReNew Power does is focus on just a few key areas and has thereby developed and scaled up projects in those areas considerably. Quality, not quantity.

The Secret Behind Their Success

Now, when considering the large-scale uptick in ReNew Power’s operations, it is evident that it is not something a conventional start-up does, especially with the whole village adoption initiative. It is effectively going completely out of its own way and branching off early on in the game. The reason that all ReNew Power has been able to undertake such immense expansion in such a small period is due to two factors. One is the streamlined approach to delivering cutting-edge projects and keeping the core focus to a few but key aspects of the renewable energy industry like solar and wind, which are on the rise in developing nations like India. Between 2019 to 2020 ReNew Power’s Projects contributed to nearly 1 per cent of the total electricity generated in the country and mitigated 0.5 per cent of the carbon emissions. A massive accomplishment, especially given that it is a start-up.

The other reason for success is the powerful backers that the company has managed to garner since its inception. It should be noted that the renewable energy sector, while lucrative and growing, is very capital intensive and requires a lot of funding just to get the business off the ground. The only way a new start-up like ReNew Power was able to secure these necessary funds was to prove to investors that it was worth their time. In more recent times ReNew Power has garnered the backing of players like the aforementioned Goldman Sachs, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, JERA (a joint venture between two of Japan’s largest utility companies, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co.) and Global Environment Fund, bringing the total enterprise valuation to a staggering $ 8 Billion and earning it a spot on the coveted NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) listing.

With this combination of streamlined quality projects and big-ticket backers laying the foundation, it is a clear entrant into the exclusive unicorn club and what makes it one of India’s largest and fastest-growing titans in its respective industry.

Over the years ReNew Power has hit quite a few milestones. For instance, today there are more than 100 active projects active across eight different states that have been set up within the 10 years of the company’s inception. In that same period, it has seen steady growth in its operational capacities via organic growth and smart-move acquisitions like that of Ostro Energy in 2018. This was the largest acquisition made by the company to date and further cements its position in the renewable energy market as a giant. It has also serviced some of the biggest client names out there like Tata Services Limited, BigBasket. Tata Communications, Toyota, Mercedes, Marriot and Delhi Metro to name a few.

In light of these achievements, ReNew Power has won many awards. A few notable ones are the United Nations SDG Pioneer Award (2020), the Mahatma Award for Social Good (2021) and the Reuters Clean Energy Transition Award (2020).

Individuality Makes All the Difference

Even with all this success and recognition, the thing that sets ReNew Power and its projects apart from the competition is the integration and consideration of CSR. Apart from the business aspect of building a great empire in renewable energy, each and every project is established around the core concept of empowering communities and improving their lives through education and access to better resources. As per the company website, the projects are built around three main factors: Human, social and natural capital.

ReNew Power holds extensive social awareness on how every project can impact (negatively or positively) the environment and the people. With this knowledge in mind, these projects are structured in a way that the threshold between unsustainable practices and sustainable living are soon closed. This is what makes ReNew Power and the products they offer such a game-changer in the renewable energy industry.

For more inspiring stories like this, read our Inspire Section.

DU Desk
DU Desk
Stories from DU Desk are the collective efforts of our in-house authors, guest authors and subject matter experts who collate and distill their ideas and thoughts to bring out actionable insights for our readers.

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