The Business Opportunity in Distributed Power Generation

A few weeks back, I got an invitation from the Global Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur to deliver a talk at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2013.( The keynote speaker was Dr. Harish Hande, Founder of SELCO and winner of Magsaysay Award ). The event organizing committee wanted me to talk about the business opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
Even though utility scale grid-connected renewable energy projects – be it solar,wind or biomass – definitely offer lot of business opportunities for entrepreneurs, I have always believed that distributed power generation, especially using off-grid PV systems, had the biggest impact on a vast majority of the population. In India, even today, about 400 million people do not have access to the grid. That is more than the entire population of the USA. And even if a majority of the population have grid connectivity, power cuts(scheduled and unscheduled) are rampant. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, the power cuts even in cities last for more than 12 hours every day. Given this acute shortage of power, isn’t the distributed power generation(DPG) a great opportunity? For me it is obvious, and I chose this as the topic for my presentation.
One of the greatest advantages of DPG is that power is generated at the point of consumption, and hence, the transmission losses are minimal. There are other advantages in terms of lesser pollution and better health which results from the replacement of Kerosene by the renewable energy sources of energy. While the opportunity, purely in terms of the number of potential consumers(400 million), is mind-boggling, there are several challenges for anyone who intents to exploit this opportunity.The challenges could be social/cultural, economic viability, technical and infrastructural feasibility and operational hurdles. For example, payment collection from the consumers who are typically very poor and earn daily wages is a major challenge. Despite these roadblocks, several tenacious entrepreneurs(including Dr. Harish Hande,  Yash Khaitan, etc) have gone ahead and made a mark for themselves. They serve as an inspiration to anyone who is keen on venturing into distributed power generation.
In the presentation, which is shared below, the themes mentioned above are elaborated. I invite you to go through the presentation and share your thoughts.

As part of the research I did for this presentation, I came across an excellent study about the off-grid lighting market in India by the International Finance Corporation(IFC). It can be accessed here.
The presentation above highlights only 4 examples. For more examples, please refer to a compendium of 28 case studies released by MNRE a few months back. The details of the compendium are available here.
More presentations by RESolve at industry conferences can be accessed here and here.
Subscribe to RESolve Energy Consultants : Perspectives and Insights by Email