Home Interviews We will continue to invest in niche startups: Satheesh Kumar, Chairman, Enzen Group
We will continue to invest in niche startups: Satheesh Kumar, Chairman, Enzen Group

We will continue to invest in niche startups: Satheesh Kumar, Chairman, Enzen Group

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Enzen Group Chairman Satheesh Kumar discusses the company’s growth journey so far and the key focus areas of operation going ahead.

New Delhi: Global energy and water solutions major Enzen Group is mulling a major expansion in its portfolio across geographies including India. The $200 million firm is focusing on renewable energy, smart grids, energy storage and rural power distribution space, Satheesh Kumar, Chairman, Enzen Group and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD), Enzen India tells Sudheer Singh in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts..

What is the philosophy and the larger vision that drives the company?
Enzen was created with a clear vision and purpose to focus only on the energy, water and environment space and generate a positive impact in the world. Our goal was to create an Indian Multi National Company (MNC) that is admired and respected around the globe for its knowledge, empathy, work and ethics. In addition, we wanted to establish Enzen globally and grow on the basis of our credibility, track record as well as the value we deliver, rather than purely on cost arbitrage. At Enzen, we were aware that the areas we operate in — energy and water — are life essentials, and therefore represent a significantly large canvas. However, we have noticed that in most of the cases the entities that usually focus on these sectors work in silos. Enzen’s aim is to break these silos and bring everyone together to create a collaborative and well-connected network that delivers outcomes that impact a large number of people on the planet. Our primary goal is to ensure that energy, including gas and power, as well as water are made affordable and available in a sustainable manner to all.

Where does the company stand today in terms of its size of operation?
Enzen is in its 14th year of operation. We are headquarted in Bangalore and offer solutions and definitive outcomes in our focus sectors across 26 countries. With established offices in 8 countries, Enzen is a trusted partner to over 250 large energy and utility customers through its 4,000+ strong cohort of knowledge practitioners. Our revenue currently stands at over US$200 million. Enzen operates across the power, water and gas sectors, delivering solutions across the entire value chain, from generation to transmission, distribution and retail. In addition, renewable energy is a major focus for us as we are committed to improving the environment around us.

What is the strategy for growth in the Indian market? What has been the experience of delivering projects in India?
India has approximately 70 per cent of its population in the rural sector. The energy and water infrastructure in rural India are far from satisfactory. Even after over 70 years of independence, we still have to bail out the energy sector through subsidies that are in the tune of over US$20 billion, and the water and sanitation sector for over US$7 billion. An addition US$25 billion has been contributed by the state and center to salvage the underperforming distribution sector. Enzen’s focus in India has been to work on areas where high inefficiencies still exist. As part of this, we will continue to focus on building models, tools, technologies and competencies for the India rural power distribution sector. We already are managing a power distribution operation that caters to around 8 lakh consumers in the eastern part of India.

In the energy sector, in addition to launching the Distribution Performance Enhancement models, we are also promoting smart grids, renewable energy, distributed energy models, storage solutions, efficiency monitoring and delivery technology, as well as tools and solutions that can control and monitor energy quality and consumption. Demand Side interventions in the agriculture sector are also a high focus area and we are constantly on the look-out for ways to break the nexus between energy and water. We are also concerned with the decelerating ground water level and impact that this may have on stakeholders. Water efficiency, the associated control and monitoring technology, ground water modelling, treatment and sanitation and grey water treatment are also focus areas for Enzen, now and in the future.

Can you share some of the large projects delivered by the company in India?
Besides the areas already discussed, Enzen has recently implemented a smart grid at Mysore, as part of which it has enabled seven out of the eight smart grid features and capabilities. In addition, Enzen was one of the pioneering architects and a part of the very early and successful Agriculture Demand Side Management Intervention which is still delivering benefits. Overall, Enzen has delivered over 1,000 projects in India over the last 14 years. In addition to those highlighted above, we have worked across Automated Meter Reading (AMR), smart meters, retrofits for smart measurement of water, solar powered agriculture water solutions, water treatment plants, water SCADA, and Active Network Management (ANM). We have also worked on master water network plans for several villages and cities, smart city engagements, transformation projects for utilities, as well as policy initiatives for regulators through our journey.

What is your view on the government’s universal electrification drive – 100 per cent village and household electrification? What kind of business opportunities did it throw up for you?
The Government of India’s initiative on the universal electrification drive has certainly accelerated the access to electricity significantly. Enzen believes that it is still not 100% complete and more time is needed to provide quality access of power to the over customer base of over 214 million. For Enzen, areas such as grid stability, availability, power quality, customer services and management of high distribution losses will be the key areas of focus.

Your company is also working in the small wind space. What has been the experience there? What is the size of the market or business opportunity in technologies like small wind?
The small wind market in India is still quite nascent, with the focus thus far mainly being on utility scale renewable energy. We believe that with the growing shift towards decentralized distributed generation and microgrids to provide last mile energy access, small wind has a crucial role to play either on its own as standalone systems where solar potential is low, or as an additional source when combined with solar as they are complementary in nature. Microgrids are a billion dollar market and the Indian government has plans of installing 500MW of microgrids by 2022. We expect microwind by itself to be at least 30-40 per cent of this. The major sectors of focus will be telecom, fuel stations, street lighting, smart cities, EV infrastructure and coastal communities. We have already installed more than 35,000 turbines across more than 40 countries with approximately 500 in India itself.

Can you give an idea of the company’s investment plans both in India and globally, based on the new projects or opportunities coming your way?
Enzen plans to invest most of its growth capital in innovation (collaborative research & development), competency development and talent acquisition. We will also continue to invest in niche, sector-focused startups that complement and augment our portfolio. We are doing this with a view to maintain our market leadership position in the sectors where we currently operate, as well as to provide fuel for the planned areas upto 2021.

What are the plans for expanding the workforce in India and globally?
We are constantly on the look-out for smart, passionate and like-minded people who want to change the world around them. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere, and therefore, plan to hire a large number of people, including those with niche skills and competencies. We are looking to get a diverse, global workforce, thus guaranteeing high quality of service and outcomes for our customers across the world. In addition to making lateral hires, we visit the top business and engineering schools across India and the world to search for such talent. From a global perspective, we are expanding across all our offices, with an aim to deliver ongoing projects as well as future ones. In particular, we plan to bring in a large number of professionals in Australia and Spain over the next 12-18 months.

Source: energy.economictimes.indiatimes

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Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network