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Wall Street Journal: Renewable Energy Powers Up Rural India

Solar startup Omnigrid supplies remote villages, relying on income from telecom towers


Renewable-power companies serving remote areas of India often supply telecommunications companies and villages with solar energy. PHOTO: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

HARDOI, India—A small field of solar panels on the outskirts of this rural district was built to generate energy for a cellphone tower. Now it also supplies electricity to local residents who have suffered from chronic power shortages for decades.



QUARTZ : India’s rural mobile towers create new businesses—and light up homes

Henri Winand runs a fuel-cell company. Fuel cells run on hydrogen to produce energy. So why has Intelligent Energy, Winand’s firm, just agreed a deal to manage some 16,000 diesel-powered mobile network towers in India?

One reason is that the deal will bring in an estimated £1 billion ($1.5 billion) in revenue for the company over the next decade. For a business that posted a £48-million loss on revenue of £13.6 million for the last full year, the income certainly helps. But the larger reason is that Winand plans, over time, to replace the diesel generators that power rural mobile towers in India with fuel cells. Winand can become his own best customer.

Setting up a fuel cell in India.(Intelligent Energy)

Winand’s plan might just work. Intelligent Energy has been in India since 2009, and already manages 10,000 of the country’s mobile towers, many of which are off-grid for eight hours a day. As the diesel generators that keep them running the rest of the time begin to mature, Winand has started replacing the majority of them with fuel cells. Speaking with Quartz before news of the new deal, Winand characterized the tower agreement with gleeful confidence: “We have eight-year visibility,” he said, referring to the minimum length of the contract. “It’s like a pension fund.”


GreenTechMedia: Solar Minigrids and Micropower for the Energy Poor

SunEdison – the leading renewable energy developer – expands deeper into emerging markets.

In a conference room in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, large screens glowed bright orange with the SunEdison logo. But the gathering was not a sales pitch for SunEdison, argued the company’s CEO, Ahmad Chatila.

“We hope next year there will be many more companies here with us, and many more after that,” Chatila told the audience during an impromptu address.

The company was front and center, however. At the Eradication of Darkness Summit this week, SunEdison announced plans to bring electricity to 20 million people by 2020, with an interim goal of lighting up 1 million homes in 2015.

Many say off-grid power has transformed their lives

The commitment would only address a fraction of the 1.3 billion people who live without electricity and the billion others who only have intermittent access to power. But it is a considerable pledge from a single company — and a helpful boost to the World Bank’s goal of getting 500 million people connected to power through private business investments.


FierceEnergy: OMC & SunEdison to bring power to millions by 2020

SunEdison sets goal to bring power to 20 million people by 2020

SunEdison has announced a plan to bring electricity to 20 million people in underserved world communities by 2020. The project will be conducted by SunEdison Social Innovations, a group whose mission is to help rural communities by developing business models and introducing new communities to help renewable energy sustainable.


“Billions of people worldwide don’t have access to electricity,” said Ahmad Chatila, president and chief executive officer at SunEdison. “Without electricity they can’t access many of the things we take for granted — health clinics with vaccines, or schools with computers and fans. But by applying a mix of new business models, new technology, and charitable donations, we are tackling the issue head on.”