A Husk Power Systems mini-grid
Photo: Husk Power Systems

Husk Power nets $20 million from Shell, ENGIE, Swedfund to scale mini-grids

The deal is the largest equity investment realized to date by a mini-grid company. India-based Husk will use the funds to expand its business in India and Tanzania to 300 mini-grids, serving over 100,000 customers, according to company CEO Manoj Sinha.

The investment in Husk Power Systems, a leading rural distributed utility company operating mini-grids in Asia and Africa, came from Shell Technology Ventures LLC, Swedish development finance institution Swedfund International and ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies, ENGIE group’s impact investment fund. The capital positions Husk to accelerate its take advantage of what the International Energy Agency estimates as a $190 billion mini-grid market between now and 2030.

The announcement follows the recent entry of other major international energy companies into the mini-grid sector, including a $9 million investment in another leading India-based developer, OMC Power. ENGIE, Enel, E.ON, EDF, Caterpillar, GE Power, ABB and other companies have also taken a strategic position in the sector through different investments. It is Shell’s first foray.

Husk currently designs, builds, owns and operates one of the world’s lowest-cost hybrid power plant and distribution network in India and Tanzania. Husk developed a proprietary system by combining and synchronizing solar PV, biomass gasification system and batteries to deliver highly reliable, 24×7 power. It offers customers a flexible “pay-as-you-go” energy service, using a mobile-enabled smart metering system.

“We see Husk as a leading player providing reliable and affordable energy to off-grid and weak-grid communities in India and Africa and we believe they have a very credible business model“, said Brian Davis, Vice President, Integrated Energy Solutions for New Energies at Shell. “We believe that decentralised solutions will play an important role in providing productive energy to customers who currently lack reliable power. This investment is an important step for our Energy Access portfolio and we look forward to helping the business to scale and reach its growth aspirations“.

Established in 2008, Husk pioneered an off-grid power generation and distribution solution to serve rural customers in Bihar, one of India’s most energy deficient states. Husk was the first company to use 100 percent biomass gasification from rice husks to generate electricity for households and small businesses. Husk has since evolved its business model and launched the world’s first hybrid powered mini-grid system that provides grid compatible 24/7 and highly reliable power to customers. The systems are scalable, grid compatible, and secure against theft from power generation to delivery.

“Together with our strategic partners, we are now confident of achieving our vision of becoming the world’s largest rural utility company providing 24/7, 100 percent renewable and affordable power to drive inclusive and sustainable development in growth markets.“, said Manoj Sinha, CEO and co-founder of Husk Power Systems. “We believe that mini-grids are the most capital efficient way to help reach 100 percent national electrification goals“.

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