Major India Player Azure Enters Mini-grid Market for Last-mile Electrification

The NYSE-traded company, which has a portfolio of over 1.6 GW in 22 states, unveils M-Power, its new business focused on bringing power to rural households across India, and is the latest major energy company to enter the mini-grid sector

Azure Power, one of the largest developers and operators of utility-scale solar assets in India with a market capitalization of just under $400 million, is the latest in a string of large companies — MitsuiEngie, E.ON among them — entering the mini-grid market. Azure announced that it was awarded its first mini-grid project by Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) to electrify 320 households across 11 villages in the state, where 3 million households still lack access to electricity. JREDA issued a tender for the design, supply, installation, commissioning and operation for 5 years of decentralized distributed solar power plants along with power distribution networks for a total of 47 villages in the districts of West Singhbhum, Chatra, Sahibganj, Gumla, and Hazaribagh.

“Azure Power aims to bridge the energy access gap in India through its low-cost and reliable solar power solutions,” said Azure’s founder, chairman and CEO Inderpreet Wadhwa. “With the launch of Azure M-Power for electrification of villages across India, we are delighted to make a contribution towards the realization of our Honorable Prime Minister’s commitment towards 24x7 power for all.”

The company said that mini- and micro-grid development across India is “likely to be core” to achieving targets of the recently announced Saubhagya program, which set a goal of universal household electrification in India, where 300 million people still lack access to power, by the end of 2018.

Until now, India’s mini-grid sector has been the domain of smaller private energy service companies (ESCOs) such as OMC Power, Husk Power Systems and Mlinda, which have received the support of the Rockefeller Foundation-backed Smart Power India initiative, which currently has more than 100 mini-grids operating in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Azure Power’s launch of M-Power is another positive signal that the mini-grid opportunity is becoming more commercially attractive to bigger players.

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