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2014-10-01

Why start-ups should venture into renewable energy space

The government has decided to soon come up with a Renewable Energy Act to streamline power generation, supply and tariff and attract more investment.

Apart from the global macro factors and a drive towards renewables, the Indian government is making some solid statements that indicate their thrust and seriousness about the renewable energy space. In fact, the renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal, in a statement to Economic Times, has declared $100-billion investment in renewable energy and India’s intent to become a world leader in this space in the next five years.

 

That’s huge.

 

Given these statements, it appears that the government will create policies to provide more conducive environment for entrepreneurs to venture in this sector.

 

According to a latest report, the government has decided to soon come up with a Renewable Energy Act to streamline power generation, supply and tariff and attract more investment. It has also urged RBI to bring renewable energy funding into the priority sector.

 

While several opportunities exist, one has not seen too many entrepreneurs considering it. Especially at an early-stage, there are very few entrepreneurs creating start-ups addressing this segment.

 

In addition to the government’s thrust on the sector, the BJP government’s plan to create 100 smart cities too represents significant opportunities as renewables, and green and sustainable energy will be a part of the smart-cities program. It has to be.

 

The current models in the renewables sector have had challenges, especially on commercial feasibility. But it should be viewed as an opportunity that needs to be addressed. Given the government as well as the private sector intent to consider renewable and cheaper energy options, there is an appetite to evaluate and seek innovations in products, services and business models.

 

There are a few early-stage companies who have demonstrated some phenomenally innovative technologies and concepts. For example – GreenOil, a company in the bio-energy space has used frugal innovation to develop a digester that can take in industrial and farming waste, including acidic liquid affluent, and convert it into gas and natural fertilizer. This is a low cost, high efficiency technology that breaches the cost threshold, making it profitable to use industrial and farming organic wet waste to profitably produce methane (the main constituent of natural gas). They have already demonstrated the technology in Rajasthan and are now raising capital to scalp up this solution.

 

Similarly, Solar Town has innovated solar products and solutions with an integrated solar inverter and roof top solar energy products for homes.

 

However, these innovations are few when compared to some of the other sectors which are more visible in India. This has to change.

 

The challenge, as it often is, is in getting funding for start-ups in the renewables energy space. I think this is where the industry and the government agencies too need to collaborate to create platforms for easier access to capital for start-ups and early-stage companies.

 

Prajakt Raut is an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship evangelist. He is the founder of The Hub for Startups, a resource centre for start-ups and early-stage companies. The Hub for Startups is putting together a framework for such a platform.  Click here to view his profile. 

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