From Gems to Solar Power. GRT Jewellers Takes The Next Big Step

GRT Jewellers is in with a big push for its solar power ambitions, with the approval of the tariff of Rs 2.54 kWh for its 150 MW solar project in Tamil Nadu

Chennai-based GRT Jewellers for a big push for its solar power ambitions, with the approval of the tariff of Rs 2.54 kWh by CERC for its 150 MW solar project, planned in Tamil Nadu state only.

The firm had won this bid last year, as part of its plans to expand further into renewable energy. It says something about the business case for renewable energy today that GRT jewellers, with a captive consumption requirement of just over 8.5 MW, has chosen to invest strongly in the sector. Founded by G Rajendran in 1964, the estimated $2.2 billion strong group hopes to fund its solar investment with a mix of long term debt (70 percent) and internal accruals, according to a note by a rating agency.

The firm has interests in hospitality, agriculture, education, trading and renewable energy resources like Solar and Wind energy. Besides its original jewellery business, of course.

The new capacity, assuming that it is completed in time by 2020-21, will be a multiplier on the firm’s existing solar and wind energy capacity,

with windmills producing 25.9 megawatts of energy besides another 15 megawatts solar energy production from units at Tamil Nadu. The interest in solar is not a new fad at the firm, with their earliest push coming way back in 2013 when feed-in tariffs were the norm. The fact that the firm has chosen to scale up when tariffs have crashed to less than 25 percent of the levels from those days is an indication of the way the sector has evolved. Mostly for the better.

While GRT has chosen to go the developer way, one hopes that other large Indian corporates will also realise that shifting their power footprint to a more solar-powered source is one way to do their bit for the environment, and don that profitably too.

The commercial and industrial segment (C&I), as it is called, remains one of the highest potential segments to drive growth in solar in India, with the right policies. Industries, with their large roof capacity and land in many cases, could also be the biggest drivers of faster solar rooftop growth, which has struggled to grow in India, with achievement today at barely 15 percent of targeted levels by 2022.

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