BLP aims at 1GW power generation capacity in 5 years
The firm is raising capital and building power plants across the country to augment capacity, says founder Tejpreet Singh Chopra
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New Delhi: Renewable energy company Bharat Light and Power Pvt Ltd. (BLP) plans to raise over $1 billion in the next five years to reach a power generation capacity of 1 gigawatt (GW) from its current 200 megawatt (MW).
“To scale up, we are doing two things—raising capital and building power plants. We have projects being developed across the country,” said Tejpreet Singh Chopra, founder, president and chief executive officer of BLP, who prior to setting up the company was president and chief executive officer (CEO) of General Electric in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
He said it would take “over a $1 billion investment” to reach the 1 GW goal, adding that BLP will raise the money “through a variety of investors, banks and internal funds”.
Chopra said many “large global players who invest in the renewable energy projects are talking to us right now”, but declined to divulge any names.
Some of the current investors of the company, which was founded three years back, include UTI Capital and California-based venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which has invested in companies like Skype Inc.
At present, the company has three wind power plants running in Maharashtra and Gujarat with an installed capacity of 200 MW, which includes 150 MW of capacity, acquired from DLF Ltd. in July 2013. In addition, it is developing wind farms at locations across the country including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.
BLP partnered with US technology and consulting company International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. last November to use the latter’s cloud capabilities, analytics and mobility solutions in order to increase its power generation capacity.
It now hopes to use this expertise, said Chopra, to also manage the wind farms of global companies operating in the clean energy space by monitoring their windmills from data centres hosted on the cloud and using data analytics to predict patterns that could help these companies generate more power.
This would include monitoring windmill turbines from anywhere in the world and taking actions based on intelligence gathered from data patterns.
“At present, we are talking to three to four parties and hope to get our first third party customer in the next couple of quarters,” said Chopra.
He added that based on the 60 to 75 parameters associated with each windmill, BLP uses data analytics for predictive and cognitive intelligence. This includes avoiding gear box failure, forecasting wind direction and aligning turbines to it, integrating weather patterns with energy production and making these machines talk to each other on the cloud (a metaphor for the Internet) to optimise the capturing of energy.
Chopra said he expects a 50-100 basis point (bps) improvement in the plant load factor (PLF), a measure of average capacity utilization for the upcoming peak wind season that will translate to 5-10% more power generation. One bps is one hundredth of a percentage point.
Windmills communicate with each other by sending data to a server hosted on the cloud, which can be accessed by professionals working on the system. The data is then is relayed back to the windmills. The patterns (that indicate how the windmills can be made more efficient) are then converted into algorithms (software set of rules) and put back into the system as programmes so that the process can be performed automatically.
“Usually for cloud service providers and data analytics companies, energy is not a very exciting sector, since it is more focused on capital investments,” said Ajoy Menon, director of Strategic Outsourcing, Global Technology Services, IBM India/ South Asia.
“The first phase is collecting, monitoring and reporting data. How you correlate data and what you make out of it comes next,” said Menon.
Global investors in the renewable energy space are increasingly looking at India, since mature markets such as Europe and the US, produce sufficient energy to meet the demand, as against India, which still has over 400 million people living without access to power, according to industry estimates.
“If IT (information technology) solutions and emerging technologies such as data analytics can be deployed successfully,that can emerge as new a new business model for wind energy companies,” said V.Subramanian, chief executive and secretary general at industry lobby Indian Wind Energy Association.
“To increase the clean energy production in India, not only stable government is needed, but also policies that are favorable.” “Up until now, the wind energy sector hasn’t been getting a push that it needs,” he added.