We are on Track to reach 2 GW Renewable Development in India: Harmanjit Nagi

We are strongly committed to renewable development in India, with 2GW of renewable capacity targeted by 2022 through wind, solar and hydro projects. I’m happy to say we are on track to reach this target. Thanks to new opportunities in 2019 and early 2020, we now have significant pipeline of renewable projects under development: 1 GW in solar and 400 MW in wind. EDF is also providing technical services in hydro engineering for pumped storage hydro projects, says Harmanjit Nagi, Director, EDF India, an Indian arm of French electric utility Électricité de France S.A. (EDF) Group. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Nagi shared his views on various topics including company’s business verticals in India, its initiative for startups, implementation of smart meters and smart cities projects, future strategy for India etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s May 2020 edition:

Q. Shed some light on EDF’s various business verticals in India in the clean energy space.

Harmanjit Nagi, Director, EDF India

Harmanjit Nagi, Director, EDF India

India is a strategic country for EDF’s international development. Today, our business in India covers all the fields that are crucial for building a lowcarbon electric system in the country. We are strongly committed to renewable development in India, with 2 GW of renewable capacity targeted by 2022 through wind, solar and hydro projects. I’m happy to say we are on track to reach this target. Thanks to new opportunities in 2019 and early 2020, we now have significant pipeline of renewable projects under development: 1GW in solar and 400 MW in wind. EDF is also providing technical services in hydro engineering for pumped storage hydro projects.

We are implementing one of the largest Smart metering projects in India. This includes installation of 5 million smart meters and associated infrastructure across the country. Such a project reduces the losses in the distribution system and improves the overall efficiency, thus reducing the carbon footprint of Indian Discoms.

We are also exploring possible business opportunities in EV charging infrastructure, hydrogen generation via electrolysis which is CO2 free as well as Zinium (Zinc Air) batteries for e-mobility. EDF is working along with NPCIL for the development of 6 EPRs of 1650 MW each, totaling 10GWs of low carbon generation at Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

Q. How will the EDF Pulse India programme support Indian startups?

The EDF Pulse India programme is aiming to support socially inclusive Indian-based innovations for an electric world that is more eco-friendly and better connected.

EDF will provide laureates with a marketing campaign aimed at the general public to boost visibility. Depending on the award, a prize money up to USD 20,000 will also be awarded to develop their business.

We are sure, the positivity created by this event, will be the core ingredient, for the business community, for coping up in this testing time of COVID -19 crises.

Q. What is the vision behind this?

The very idea of EDF Pulse Awards – be it in India or in other countries where EDF launched this initiative, is to create, develop, reinforce and promote low carbon innovative players which is fully aligned with the core strategy of the EDF group. By providing access to EDF network and expertise, the group will help to develop further business opportunities and enable start-ups to move from the planning phase to commercial roll-out.

This initiative is also beneficial for us as a company. In the long term, it will bring us valuable insights into rapidly changing needs of more intelligent & digitalized consumer in India. It will also give us better view of innovative projects Indian start-ups are able to come up with to address those needs.

Q. Tell us something about the company’s smart metering project in India?

Today EDF, is a major player in the smart metering segment in India. It is responsible for designing the infrastructure, installing, and looking after operations of the system.

Looking at the economies of scale, our pricing is very competitive and still a benchmark for future projects. 5 million smart meters are under installation under EESL project. Although, schedule adjustments might be needed due to lockdown, the project is well underway.

Q. Do you face any challenges in India while working in the smart meters segment, including dealing with Discoms?

I am proud to say, that today, EDF has developed and implemented first of its kind smart pre-paid metering solution in India, starting from Bihar.

The pre-paid solution, always comes with its own difficulties of implementation like consumer understanding of the project, change in business process of Discoms, etc., but thanks to incredible support received from EESL and Bihar Discoms, our team today, is more confidently overcoming these on-ground hurdles.

The pre-paid smart metering program will definitely be game changer for largely improving financial efficiency of India’s electricity distribution sector. The system will also give customers better control of their energy budget and allow them to play an active role in their own consumption.

Q. As EDF is also working on smart cities project in India in street lights vertical. How was your experience till date? Any difficulties faced?

Street light business is just starting point for us. Our ambition is definitely to play much more significant role in this connect urban infrastructure space.

EDF has an experience in managing smart streetlights for 1,000 cities with 2.5 million light points currently in operation globally. In India, EDF group, via Citelum, is managing more than 250,000 street light points in Ahmedabad and Noida.

In this space, our operational and safety standards have definitely created new benchmark. We are excited to venture more in this space, with new technologies – more efficient, connected and better adapted to consumer demands.

Q. What will be your key suggestions for the government that could help companies in working during this Covid-19 situation?

I believe this pandemic, in long term, will really change the way the companies will work. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the world will use 6 percent less energy this year – equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India. So, definitely, this is a testing for all companies working in energy space.

Getting the economy back on track should not eclipse another emergency which is still there: the fight against global warming. Low-carbon electricity is clearly an ally in this challenge. Lowcarbon economy, as a whole, with all the business branches it involves, is an amazing opportunity for creating jobs and triggering sustainable growth.

Q. Do you have any investment or expansion plans for India in near term?

EDF has been present in India since more than 25 years. Our aim is to be one of the key partners in the country’s ambitious energy development program. The latter puts a strong emphasis on building a low-carbon electric system.

This is our core business and we are more than happy to bring our know-how and experience in all the fields that are crucial to turn this ambition into reality: electricity generation from renewables and nuclear, smart metering, electric mobility, energy efficiency etc. We are keen to implement solutions that best fit Indian context. That’s why it is so important to be connected to the economic fabric and support those who innovate. And that’s what EDF Pulse India challenge is all about.

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Manu Tayal

Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.

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