Mitsui & Co., a Japanese trading house, is planning to develop small-scale solar projects in India by investing $9.11 million (~₹582 million) in OMC Power, a rural power company that finances, builds and operates small solar power projects with mini-grid distribution.
Mitsui and OMC Power will establish a joint venture to set up solar plus storage projects for factories and warehouses, and small-scale solar projects in regions of India that lack access to electricity or have unreliable power supply.
OMC Power specializes in constructing small solar projects to supply power to telecom base stations. As of now, OMC Power has constructed 75 small solar projects in India. OMC Power independently plans to increase its number of solar systems to 250 by the end of fiscal 2018.
Mitsui, through this partnership is targeting construction of 2,000 small-scale solar systems by 2020. The strategy behind Mitsui’s investment is to target the large cellphone user base in India. Cellphone use has spread in much of India, even in communities that lack access to the grid. Approximately 300 million Indians live in areas without access to electricity and if the numbers who live in areas with unreliable power supply is included, there are 400 million Indians without reliable or no access to electricity. Out of the total population of 1.25 billion, 1 billion people, or nearly 80 percent of the population uses cellphones, as a result there are about 450,000 telecom base stations in the country.
All base stations in the past were diesel or fossil fuel powered, but now as the country move towards clean energy, telecom giants are looking at renewables, especially solar to power their base stations.
Image credit: OMC Power