Radiance Renewables: Driving India’s Clean Energy Revolution with Innovative Solutions

Manikkan Sangameswaran - Executive Director & CEO - Radiance Renewables

Manikkan Sangameswaran - Executive Director & CEO - Radiance Renewables

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Although exciting, change is not always appreciated. The uncertainty associated with it makes people resist it. However, if we trace history, change ultimately wins. The transition of energy from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is one such change that, once considered unrealistic, is now the reality of our existence.

Driven by the need to combat climate change and reduce our dependence on finite resources, this transition is reshaping our energy landscape. This shift not only provides cleaner and more sustainable alternatives but also paves the way for innovative companies like Radiance Renewables to lead the way towards a greener future.

Radiance Renewables, which commenced business in 2019 and is backed by Eversource Capital, is spearheading India’s clean energy revolution. Their goal? Redefining renewable energy standards in the Commercial and Industrial sector. As the nation’s fastest-growing renewable energy solution provider, Radiance isn’t just about green energy—it’s pioneering sustainable power generation. Their tailored, cost-effective solutions drive economic savings while preserving the environment and promoting sustainable business practices

The Man at the Helm

As the old saying goes, “The tone at the top sets the standard for the entire organisation.” In the case of Radiance Renewables, this adage holds true with its eminent Executive Director and CEO, Mr Manikkan Sangameswaran.

Mr. Manikkan, or Mani as his colleagues affectionately address him, is committed to excellence and innovation. It is his visionary leadership that has placed Radiance at the helm of decarbonization for the Indian Industry. However, his foray into the renewable energy sector didn’t happen overnight. A seasoned infrastructure industry veteran, Mr Manikkan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role, leading Radiance Renewables to new heights of success. His journey began with a strong academic base, earning a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from SPCE, a Master of Management Studies from NMIMS and an M.Sc. in Business Economics from the University of Buckingham.

After completing his studies, Manikkan started his career with UBS Global, an equity-broking house, where he worked and gained invaluable experience across various industries. Later, he moved on to set up business for ABN AMRO Corporate Finance, where he oversaw mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets activities, raising capital for companies. He dedicated more than a decade, from 1998 to 2008, to building this business for ABN AMRO in India.

In 2008, he moved to Babcock & Brown to lead the infrastructure fund in India. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of Lehman, the company had to restructure its operations, which led him to join ICICI Venture as the President and Head of the Infrastructure Fund, where he spent five years investing in infrastructure projects and companies.

The Genesis of Radiance Renewables

During his time at ICICI Venture, Mr Manikkan’s fascination with renewable energy grew. Driven by a passion for addressing climate change, he left ICICI Venture in 2015 and founded Origin Renewables. Initially focusing on the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) market, they successfully completed approximately six projects within 2-3 years, totalling up to half a megawatt.

Recognising the need for additional capital to support their growth, Mr Manikkan sought investment opportunities and connected with Eversource Capital. Their common goal of developing a C&I business led to the creation of Radiance Renewables through the acquisition of Origin Renewables. Mr Manikkan took on the responsibility of expanding their capacity to 400 Mega Watts (MW) within the next three to four years. Initially joining Eversource Capital as an advisor in August 2019, he later transitioned to the role of CEO in April 2020, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, they persevered and successfully grew their capacity to 500 MW within four years, surpassing their original vision. Their current ambition is to further expand their business to 2000 MW by 2028.

Tailored Renewable Energy Solutions

Radiance Renewables offers renewable energy solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of corporates. Mr Manikkan says, “If I were to encapsulate Radiance in one line, I’d say we provide renewable energy as a service to corporate India.” Rather than just building and selling projects, Radiance manages every aspect of the project lifecycle. From design and construction to ownership, operation, and financing, Radiance takes care of it all, including land procurement, connectivity, approvals, and power sale.

Their solutions encompass various forms of renewable energy, including solar, solar plus wind, and integrated options like battery energy storage or pump storage hydro projects. They customise offerings to match consumer requirements and typically enter into long-term fixed-price power purchase contracts ranging from 15 to 25 years.

These contracts ensure consistent power supply to customers without them worrying about the complexities of market dynamics associated with fossil fuels. As a result, customers experience significant cost savings, typically around 30 to 40 per cent compared to grid power prices, along with access to green energy that aligns with their sustainability goals. In essence, Radiance Renewables delivers both economic and environmental benefits to its clientele.

Their Competitive Edge

The rapid growth of India’s renewable energy sector has transformed it into a lucrative space for new entrants. However, even within this competitive landscape, Radiance Renewables stands out with their dedication to fulfilling commitments made to customers, ensuring reliability and trustworthiness in all dealings. “When we make commitments to our customers, we stand by them,” asserts Mr Manikkan.

He elaborates, “However, what truly differentiates Radiance is our proactive approach to project development. Unlike others, we invest in developing parks and projects before customers sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with us. It offers them certainty regarding power supply within specified timeframes.” Their willingness to take risks and invest in project development upfront showcases Radiance’s commitment to long-term partnerships and delivering value.

Another factor differentiating them is that they don’t simply sell power as a commodity; but as a tailored solution. By understanding each customer’s load profile, power requirements, and regulatory landscape, Radiance recommends the best-suited solution. This customer-centric approach ensures maximum benefit for clients, whether it be Behind The Meter (BTM) solar, open-access power, or hybrid solutions.

Technology also plays a vital role in Radiance offerings. They utilise technology to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of solutions, leading to improved generation capabilities.

Why Radiance Renewables

For Radiance Renewables, corporate values and commitment to customer satisfaction are paramount. Benefitting from strong backing from its parentage—managed by Ever source Capital, which has raised India’s largest climate fund, Radiance Renewables ensures adherence to positive aspects associated with a robust investor base. Mr Manikkan emphasises,

“We are highly ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) compliant, which provides a lot of comfort to our customers. Many of them are top names in India, including Fortune 500 companies, and they chose to deal with us because of our commitment to quality”.

He explains, “Customers value partnering with a company that prioritises high levels of governance and sustainability, making us a preferred choice for long-term collaborations.”

With a roster of 75+ customers, with 20% of them being repeat customers, Radiance Renewables has earned trust through its ethical and transparent business practices. The company operates on the principle of educating customers, particularly in the relatively new field of renewable energy. Radiance aims to dispel misconceptions and misunderstandings about regulations and offers alternative solutions when beneficial for customers’ needs. “It is all about building trust, transparency, and ethics in how we conduct business,” asserts Mr Manikkan.

Current Initiatives

Innovation is a perpetual pursuit, especially in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, where staying ahead of the curve requires constant exploration and integration of emerging technologies. At Radiance, too, their team is currently engaged in several initiatives aimed at enhancing their operation excellence and efficiency.

Mr Manikkan elaborates, “One of the key initiatives we are working on is improving generation from existing plants through Albedo engineering—a strategy we’re actively pursuing. Additionally, there are projects currently underway to harness technology, particularly drone based performance monitoring, AI/ML integration to predictive analytics to enhance our project management capabilities.” Radiance Renewables has successfully implemented robot cleaning across all its sites, resulting in improved power generation. The team is also delving into predictive analytics to optimise asset management, a critical aspect of the business. Mr Manikkan highlights, “Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence in our analytics tools and dashboards enables us to proactively address issues at the plant level, minimising generation loss and ensuring operational efficiency.” He further explains,

“Our focus on digitalisation initiatives, such as predictive maintenance scheduling, further enhances our competitiveness and sets us apart from others in the industry.”

What Lies Ahead for Radiance Renewables

The Indian renewables market is experiencing rapid growth, offering ample opportunities for development. Capitalising on these opportunities, Radiance Renewables’ primary focus is on expanding within India. Mr Manikkan shares, “The renewables market within India is not just growing but undergoing a complete evolution, particularly in terms of our solution offerings. While the focus was previously on pure solar or wind projects, we are now exploring more hybrid solutions, and also integrating battery energy storage into our projects. This initiative aims to provide added value to our customers by enabling peak shifting of power.”

He further notes, “The market is also witnessing a pivot towards round-the-clock (RTC) power, prompting us to diversify our offerings to include more hybrid projects connected through the Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS), both at the State Transmission Utility(STU) and Central Transmission Utility(CTU) levels.”

Additionally, there is a growing demand for green power from corporate India, driven by sustainability goals mandated by boards. Companies increasingly value greener practices, leading to an increase in demand for Radiance Renewables solutions. At the same time, many Indian companies are exporting their products and services globally, leading to stricter sustainability requirements in their supply chains. “These market dynamics align well with our business model, as we aim to displace brown power with green alternatives, providing affordable, clean, and sustainable solutions. While the international market may hold potential in the future, our current focus remains on leveraging opportunities within India due to the abundance of growth prospects and evolving market trends,” concludes Mr Manikkan.

Leadership Mantra

Advising young entrepreneurs, Mr Manikkan shares, “Firstly, one has to have a passion for the clean tech industry. Secondly, that passion should be backed with a lot of hard work, research, and understanding of where the market is. If they are planning to build their business in India, they should ensure that the business has the potential and is supported by the right regulatory and other environments to facilitate faster growth. The last point is that a lot of hard work and commitment are required to build any business.

There will be numerous challenges along the way, and many people may doubt your ability to succeed. However, it’s important to remain committed, dedicated, and passionate about building a business that aligns with their purpose in life and what they aim to create. So, my message to young entrepreneurs is don’t give up, stay passionate, and remain focused on what you want to achieve. There will be a lot of hard work involved, but it’s worth it.”

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