The renewable energy industry has been facing headwinds of late, notes Naveen Khandelwal, chief investment and strategy officers at Hero Future Energies, one of India’s biggest renewable energy IPPs. “While there is significant latent demand, discoms are not showing any signs of buying power and are not willing to buy power above a certain tariff. As a result, no new tenders are being floated in the market or tenders are being deferred,” he comments. Policy uncertainty, aggressive bidding, and financing and evacuation issues are adding to these challenges.
Khandelwal has nearly 16 years of experience in the power sector, in areas such as corporate finance, equity investments, capital raising, M&As, growth strategy, project finance and general management. He joined Hero Future Energies six years ago and has played a pivotal role in the growth of its renewable portfolio, which is now close to 2.5 GW, comprising onshore wind, solar PV, rooftop solar and international projects. The company is looking to aggressively grow this portfolio to reach 5 GW in four years, he says. Prior to this, Khandelwal worked with SembCorp Green Infra for over four years. He also earlier worked with SBI Capital Markets and NTPC Limited.
Despite the challenges in the sector, Khandelwal is optimistic about its long-term outlook. “It is an established fact that renewables have the lowest cost of energy. The market size is so large – in multi-gigawatts – in India and globally, and no other source will be able to compete with renewables,” he says. In fact, with the interplay of technologies – wind-solar and solar-energy storage – the segment will be able to deliver firm power in the coming years. “One can confidently claim that renewables can replace coal-based power,” he adds.
Khandelwal recalls his most cherished assignment as his recent securing of $125 million in private equity from the International Finance Corporation. He was also instrumental in launching the country’s first certified domestic green bond for the expansion of Hero Future Energies’ wind portfolio.
Khandelwal is an engineer from the National Institute of Technology, with a master’s degree from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He is also a charterholder of the CFA Institute, USA. He likes to spend his spare time with his family. He unwinds by listening to Indian classical music and reading, keeping himself updated on global economic trends in particular. He is currently trying his hand at golf as well.