For India to achieve its potential in renewable energy, the central and state governments need to play a vital role in reviving the financial health of the state distribution companies. That is the central conviction of Kailash Tarachandani, chief executive officer (CEO), Inox Wind. It’s not the only thing, of course. Considering the fact that a sizeable equity in the sector is expected from international investors, the tax structure related to the repatriation of dividends to investing nations also needs to be more friendly and consistent, he says. Nonetheless, the financial health of discoms is crucial.
Inox was incorporated in 2009 and it soon entered into a technology and licence agreement with the American Superconductor Organisation, after which there was no looking back. The progress has been fast and furious.
The company erected and commissioned its first turbine in Tamil Nadu in 2010. Its tubular steel plant and rotor blade plant started operations in 2011 and a year later, Inox Wind commissioned its 50 MW project in Gujarat. In terms of turnover, the company has grown at a compound annual growth rate of over 150 per cent from 2011 to 2015. Today, Inox has achieved a major share of the market and has a significant order book of approximately 1,200 MW of capacity.
“We have successfully commissioned projects for customers such as Continuum Wind Energy, Renew Power Ventures, Tata Power Renewable Energy, RITES Limited and Hero Future Energies. We have also completed 1,000 MW of cumulative commissioning in the past year and have become the fastest company to reach this milestone,” he says with pride.
Inox, he points out, has plenty of products that cater to low-wind sites in India. For example, it has launched a new wind turbine generator (WTG) with a rotor diameter of 113 metres and a hub height of 120 metres. This product has already exceeded the expectations of many people. Moreover, the company is diversifying into different states such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and has plans to expand its business in states with great wind potential, besides developing more products and technologies.
Inox Wind works on two different models. Turnkey solutions, in which the company takes care of all the aspects related to the development of wind power projects from concept to commissioning, including operations and maintenance. The other is the equipment supply model, in which Inox supplies the WTG and other associated equipment to customers for erection on sites owned by them.
“We have moved from 93 metre to 100 metre rotor diameters and are now moving towards 113 metre rotor diameter and 120 metre hub height, an increase from the earlier 80 metres and 92 metres. Inox’s WTGs are designed for low-wind speed sites and this has helped us gain a lot of market share,” he says.
Speaking on his expectations from the National Wind Energy Mission, Tarachandani says that there is need for a long-term and stable policy framework covering all aspects of the industry such as land allocation, tariff fixation, incentives, manufacturing policy, planning for transmission infrastructure and managing intermittency.
Huge potential onshore wind resources are available in India, which are yet to be utilised, says Tarachandani. “What is required is a right and stable policy framework to take full advantage of these. Offshore technology is a costlier technology when compared to onshore technology,” he adds.
Tarachandani is an electrical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He also has an MBA from INSEAD, France. His career began 22 years ago and some of the companies he has worked with are Kenerseys Private Limited, Vestas Wind Systems, Alstom Power, and Larsen and Toubro Limited.
He specialises in strategy management, global project execution, product management and business development. He has also been instrumental in building organisations, setting up plants, acquiring technologies and developing management teams.
Tarachandani has been happy in the power sector because of its growing importance in infrastructure development, which in turn contributes towards the economy. He says he knew early on that he wanted to work in this sector and the desire has only grown over the years with the increasing popularity and importance of green energy.
It gives him real satisfaction to see several renewable power projects coming up, usually in areas that are not well developed. The thought that he is helping create good infrastructure and jobs for the local people, in addition to knowing that the environment is being protected, is rewarding.
At Inox, the journey has been good and challenging. “Inox is a fast-paced and growing company and the renewable sector, too, is booming. Given the government’s current thrust on renewable energy, work has become all the more interesting,” he says.
Tarachandani’s top priority is to install more and more renewable energy so as to align with the government’s mission of 175 GW by 2022. His work would be easier, he says, if there was more clarity on policies and preferential tariff, faster government clearances, renewable purchase obligation (RPO) and renewable generation obligation compliance norms, and forecasting and scheduling of power.
“If these factors are taken care of in a timely manner and the challenges addressed, the government’s targets and vision of Power for All will become much easier to achieve,” he says.
Tarachandani feels that there is an acute need for strengthening the national and state grids to ensure adequate evacuation of power from sites identified for wind and solar plants. Financing is another challenge being faced by players, for which banks and non-banking finance companies need to step up their lending limits. “For renewable energy certificate (REC) trading to be an effective alternative offtake arrangement for renewable power, the state regulators need to prescribe stricter penalties for the breach of RPOs,” he says. Some of the other challenges are land acquisition, right of way, tax structure related to repatriation of dividend for international investors and the lack of an appropriate regulatory framework to facilitate the purchase of renewable energy from outside the host state.
Describing his management style, he says, “I work to inspire teamwork for achieving goals and to influence valuable changes. I am always open to new ideas coming from team members. I consult with them frequently and encourage and support independent thinking. I believe in establishing open discussion for decision-making, besides recognising the skills of key members and utilising their strengths to the benefit of the team,” he says.
As for the future, Tarachandani reiterates that the government’s aim of 175 GW of renewable power is achievable, provided the right policy framework is in place. “We at Inox are prepared to deliver as per the prime minister’s vision for renewable energy. In the coming two to three years, the wind segment is likely to face several challenges in terms of installations. However, I believe that Inox will play a major role in overcoming these and contributing to growth,” he says.