Vibrant Energy Plans Green Hydrogen Foray as it Expands its C&I Footprint: Interview

The company recently announced its plans to develop two hybrid projects for Amazon


In an exclusive interview with Mercom India, Srinivasan Viswanathan, CEO of Vibrant Energy, talks about the company’s contribution to the growing renewable energy transition in the nation’s Commercial and Industrial (C&I) segment, recent developments, key trends, and the company’s plan to pivot towards a green hydrogen ecosystem.

Vibrant Energy operates a renewable energy portfolio of 132 MW, with an active development pipeline of ~3 GW. The company has, over the years, played an active role in helping C&I consumers transition to renewable energy to save on costs and earn green attributes in the process.

Could you give us an overview of Vibrant Energy’s business?

Vibrant Energy’s business is exclusively focused on corporate renewables; our vision and mission have always been to play a key role in mitigating climate change.

One of the main areas to decarbonize is the C&I sector, with a combination of clean energy and clean fuels as an extension of that. We work with corporates across India to support them in their decarbonization agenda.

We primarily work on three business strategies, one where we have a significant development pipeline built at the state level delivering intra-state open access strategies for our clients.

Our second business model includes an inter-state transmission system (ISTS) to deliver round-the-clock renewables through wind-solar hybrid projects to our clients with pan-India operations.

The last strategy is innovating business models around green energy attributes that we can also deliver through our large ISTS pipeline.

What is the adoption rate for renewable energy amongst C&I consumers in India?

We have to divide the answer to this question into two parts: the demand and supply sides. In terms of the demand, if we were to consider our non-fossil fuel goal of 500 GW by 2030, it translates to 45-50 GW a year of renewable energy capacity to be brought online. We cannot expect the market to execute only government tenders for the entire 50 GW.

Some of the beneficial reforms by the government have laid down a clear roadmap to assist in setting up this capacity through the C&I segment. Every corporate, big, or small, is looking for strategies and solutions to meet their net-zero commitments in India and globally.

In terms of supply, India, a vibrant democracy, witnesses constant stakeholder consultation and pushback to the government as and when required. The industry has always come together to challenge the supply issues out there and meet the rising demands of the corporates.

Could you tell us about your recent partnership with Amazon?

Amazon has a large decarbonization agenda, and in India, they have been partnering to build new capacities to extend their renewable energy penetration. We will be one of the first companies to work with them on a large hybrid project, as the previously announced ones are pure solar. We will focus on a complete wind-solar hybrid, and in terms of capacity, it is one of the biggest C&I hybrid PPA (power purchase agreement) in the corporate space at 300 MWac, and around 476 MWdc spread across two locations.

What could the government do to contribute in terms of a policy push?

One of the things all of us developers agree needs regulating is the Deviation Settlement Mechanism (DSM), which is currently a very narrow band. During extreme weather conditions, we can register significant losses in the project due to the very strict DSM band, which is required at the state load despatch center (SLDC).

The strategy should be to very quickly build a large ancillary market that is yet to pick up. The whole storage system must become a mechanism for an ancillary market that is pan-India. It doesn’t matter who it is, it could be behind-the-meter for a customer or an SLDC, and that is the liberalization that we hope to achieve and help resolve the DSM issue.

Of course, this is a long-term solution, but in the short term, we, as stakeholders, must work together and let the regulators know.

What direction is Vibrant Energy headed in the upcoming years?

We will be reaching close to 5 GW of assets under management capacity in the next three years, and at some point, we are looking to pivot our business from just delivering clean energy to delivering clean fuels.

We are actively exploring opportunities to deliver green hydrogen and green ammonia to our clients. The interesting part is that almost 75% of the cost of green hydrogen is power, which we offer, providing us the advantage of delivering green hydrogen at competitive rates.

It also works as a natural extension for many of our customers who are potentially buying massive amounts of green energy from us to simply allocate some of it to run an electrolyzer to generate green hydrogen, which becomes an input fuel for their processes.

India imports almost all its crude, and if we can pivot a lot of our industrial use of hydrogen to green hydrogen and, at some point in the future even pivot our large truck transportation mechanism to hydrogen, we can save a significant amount of foreign exchange for the economy and that will be a huge accretive scenario for the country.