Business Today

Winds of change?

RRB Energy is gearing up to take on Suzlon. Today, it is doing everything it can to catch up—not only in size but also in terms of public mindshare and recall.

Print Edition: September 21, 2008

In many ways, RRB energy can be called a pioneer in the wind electric generator segment. It was founded in 1987 and had a headstart over competition. Suzlon came to the scene much later, in 1995. The company, though, was left by the wayside even as Suzlon battled its way to the forefront and became the fifth-largest wind power company in the world.

Today, RRB is doing everything it can to catch up—not only in size but also in terms of public mindshare and recall. “We were shackled earlier by our joint venture partner (Vestas), which had a 49 per cent stake. We were bound by an agreement to restrict operations only to India,’’ explains Sarvesh Kumar, Deputy Managing Director, RRB. Things started moving after the promoters bought out Vestas’ stake in 2006, though technical support continued till May this year. With Merrill Lynch committing a PE investment of over Rs 200 crore (the largest deal in the renewable energy segment in Asia ) in November 2007, the company now has drawn up a clear cut strategy.

RRB’s Kumar: Powering up
RRB’s Kumar: Powering up
“When we were with Vestas, we could only achieve a turnover of Rs 500 crore. Today, it’s near Rs 800 crore. This has allowed us to invest in a state-of-the-art technology blade manufacturing plant in Chennai, which has been validated by several agencies as Asia’s best,” Kumar says.

The company plans to leverage the technological edge it claims it has over Suzlon. Already, its exports are growing—turbines worth Rs 35 crore were exported to the US, Canada and nearby Asian countries last year. While the company had committed a capex of Rs 100 crore last year, this year an equivalent amount is being invested; this will be further scaled up next year. The turnover target for the current year is Rs 1,500 crore, with exports estimated at 15 per cent. If Suzlon has already got high-power 1.65 MW wind turbines in its stable, RRB plans to go one-up by launching a 2 MW version in a year’s time.

An IPO is planned for 2010 “and there is no stopping us,” Kumar asserts confidently.

Nitya Vardarajan

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