French multinational company, Schneider Electric is looking at expanding its footprint in micro grid and power solutions for electric transport in India. Known for its decentralised power, the company has sold 3 million e-charging systems globally.
“We are looking at the way we can connect people with no access to energy with relevant solar home systems and electric systems. This will enable them to access electricity. These are solutions we are offering in India since it is the most advanced place for such off-grid systems,” said Luc Remont, executive vice-president, international operations, Schneider Electric.
The company is developing these technologies at its innovation centre in Bengaluru.
Anil Chaudhry, country president and managing director, Schneider Electric, said it had created a special vertical called access to energy to focus on this segment.
“We have won projects such as the one from HCL Foundation to supply 47 micro grids for the Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh. This will benefit 70,000 people. This business has grown by 15-12 per cent in 2017,” he said, adding that he expected the sector to continue growing next year.
Remont said parts of the US and Australia have moved to decentralised power generation, essentially based on solar, because it fits into a geography where channelising power in the last mile is expensive.
“There are experiences in countries such as Indonesia, which are similar to India. In Africa, there is no central organisation of utilities at the city or village level. It is different in India, where there is a civil organisation that is strong and is enabling the development of technology,” he said.
According to Remont, finding a right balance between integration of decentralised and gridpower is a challenge in all countries. “Both are needed since if you have an unstable network, then the vast majority of those who have access to power will see their quality going down,” he added.
Schneider took over Luminous Power, the market leader in power back-ups in 2011.
Remont said there were very precise trends in India. The central government had a strong regulatory framework, enabling states to develop grids. A significant part of the population did not have power. There was an effort to provide them with power.
Another segment where decentralised power demand was likely to grow was transport. There was likely to be huge investment in this segment.
“The nature of investment is grid scale (for transportation). The type of technology and infrastructure needed for power for transportation is not the same as decentralised power,” said Remont. “These two have to be deployed at the same time with very different technologies. The needs are very different. We find in the Indian market ground competence and technology to bring in the both.”
Schneider plans to put up e-charging stations for electric vehicles. “As government policy matures, we will be putting it in the market,” said Chaudhry.