EDF Wants to Double its Renewable Capacity from 28 GW to 60 GW: Harmanjit Nagi, MD, EDF India

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In an exclusive conversation with Solar Quarter India magazine, Mr. Harmanjit Nagi, Managing Director, EDF India talks about his company’s offerings in Indian market and globally. He also spoke about the company’s plan on smart meter expansion and solar portfolio in India.

Q1. Can you give a brief overview of EDF’s global portfolio?

The EDF Group is a French-based integrated electricity company active in all areas of the business: generation, transmission, distribution, energy supply and trading, energy services. A key player in energy transition, EDF is a global leader in low-carbon energies and has developed a diversified generation mix based on nuclear power, hydropower and new renewables. The Group is involved in over 20 countries all over the world and supplies approximately 38 million customers.

As a European leader in the development of renewable energy sources and 5th biggest player in the world, EDF creates, builds, and manages renewable energy power plants across the globe. Wind and solar photovoltaic power are the mainstays of our growth. Offshore wind power is also a stronghold for our organisation; alongside we also have a strong presence in other areas of the renewable energy sector, such as energy storage.

Historically, EDF has had a strong position in renewables in Europe and North America. The company is spreading to lucrative emerging markets like the Middle East, Brazil, China and of course India. Between 2015 and 2030, EDF wants to double its renewable capacity from 28 GW to 60 GW and triple its business outside of Europe. This strategic orientation is in alignment with the company’s raison d’être (corporate purpose), that is to contribute to a net zero energy future with low-carbon electricity and innovative technologies and services.

Q2. Can you please elaborate on EDF’s presence in India?

EDF Group has been present in India for more than 25 years and aims to support the country’s energy transition towards a low-carbon sustainable future by leveraging innovative solutions. EDF counts India as one of the main growth countries, crucial for achieving two of our strategic goals: tripling our business outside Europe and doubling its renewable installed capacity worldwide by 2030. India has proven to be an important market for EDF primarily in renewables with solar and wind energy projects. Active in all the areas of the electricity value chain that are key for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, we are now among the top 15 solar and wind project developers in India, especially after the most recent acceleration of our renewable energy portfolio.

EDF has achieved a secured portfolio of 2.8GW of renewable energy capacity in less than four years. In solar, EDF counts 207 MWp operating plants, 450 MWp under construction, and over 1350 MWp under development in India as of 2020. In addition, EDF counts 269 MW of operational and 300 MW of wind energy projects under construction. We are also in discussions with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) for the development and construction of the biggest nuclear plant in the world, with six EPR units totaling close to 10,000 MWe at the Jaitapur site, Maharashtra, India.

We have recently been awarded a contract by EESL, to install 5 million smart meters in India. This opens a new chapter in the development of EDF’s business in India, a country that is key in our international strategy. This is one of the two 5 million smart meters contracts ever awarded in India. In terms of number of smart meters, such contracts are the most important. Ours is by far the most competitive and the most innovative.

Q3. Did you have to adapt the timeline of your projects, for instance in renewables or the 5 million smart meters project? How much delay are you expecting due to the ongoing pandemic

Just like for most businesses, the sanitary crisis has inevitably had a certain impact on the execution of our projects. It is normal as the key priority during this time was to respect the sanitary measures and protect our employees and contractors. The energy sector has bounced back quickly, which makes us confident for the future. We are confident in our capacity to make up for the lockdown period.

This has been a first of its kind project to be implemented on a PAN India basis beginning with the state of Bihar. Here, we would like to emphasize that EDF has been implementing an AMI solution on Pre-paid mode, which is first of its kind in India.

What I’d like to stress is that the energy sector has the potential to play a major role in the economic revival after the crisis; it has the potential of creating quality jobs, especially in the fields such as renewables, smart city, energy efficiency etc. Don’t forget that the climate emergency is still there. We need to address the climate emergency and economic recovery at the same time.

Q4. Please give a brief overview about your plans for smart meter expansion in India.

The Indian smart meter market is expected to have a demand of 300 million units. EDF currently holds one of the two largest contracts in this sector for the installation of 5 million smart meters in India.

As for the latter, we just completed the first stage of it, which is the implementation of 100,000 smart meters in Bihar. The milestone marks the beginning of the commercial roll-out of 5 million smart meters installation across India, nearly half of which will be installed in the state of Bihar. The contract was awarded to EDF (95%) in association with Accenture Solutions Private Limited (India) in 2019. This is the first large scale prepaid smart meter solution to be deployed in India.

More than 85 people from EDF are full time deployed on this project. This figure will gradually increase to more than 120 people from EDF deployed on the project. EDF has hired so far 27 Indian engineers. 30 people are deployed by our IT subcontractors on the project. Additionally, in Bihar, operational teams are trained to install meters. It is expected that over 3000 jobs will be generated for the installation of 5 million smart meters in the field.

The smart meter project in New Delhi (NDMC) (with 75,000 installed smart meters) stands completed, with the system completely operational. It was commissioned in January 2019.

We are currently bidding on a number of smart meter projects across multiple Indian states.

Q5. Are there any plans to expand your solar energy portfolio in India?

Solar energy is a reliable, low-carbon and increasingly competitive solution. The segment is developing rapidly as a result of improved technologies and lower generating costs. Worldwide capacity increased by a factor of 66 between 2004 (3.7 GW) and 2015 (247 GW). Meanwhile, the price of photovoltaic modules was reduced by 90% over a 10-year period.

EDF has a strong solar expertise. The company is established in 13 countries with major projects such as DEWA 800MWc in the UAE, Bolero 146 MWc in Chile and Pirapora 400 MWc in Brazil. Last summer, our subsidiary EDF Renewables won the Al Dhafra project, the most powerful photovoltaic power plant in the world (2000 MW) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

In view of this, EDEN Renewables India, a joint venture formed by EDF Renewables and Total EREN signed last October a 25-year long term PPAs for four solar power projects totaling 716 MWp of installed capacities in Northern India. EDEN Renewables aims to reinforce its development on solar photovoltaic in the Indian market with competitive tariffs thanks to its experts based in New Delhi. We also successfully participated in 2020 solar PV tenders and won 3 projects amounting to 1350 MWp capacity to be built by 2022.

Currently in India, EDF Group has a portfolio of 2.8GW of renewable projects (operating, under construction and under development), making us one of the top 15 players in this segment. We definitely plan on pursuing our rapid growth supported by our local expertise and the resources of our shareholders and on growing our team and attracting new high levels of competences and talents. We plan to contribute to the Indian government’s plan to reach 220 GW of non-fossil generation by 2022

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