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Tata Power creates new arm to set up 10,000 microgrids in India


Tata Power

on Monday said it will create an arm, TP Renewable Microgrid, to set up 10,000 microgrids to provide power to five millions homes across the country.

The TP Renewable Microgrid would be set up in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, which will provide technical support and will be an equity partner in the venture, the company said.

The TP Renewable Microgrid represents important scaling up of efforts to provide access to affordable, reliable and clean electricity in India, and will serve as a model for expanding access to more than 800 million people who are without power worldwide, a Tata Power statement said.

“TP Renewable Microgrid anticipates setting up of 10,000 microgrids through 2026 to provide power to millions across India and help eradicate energy poverty,” it said.

According to statement by scaling up an innovative microgrid model to be implemented in collaboration with Smart Power India (SPI) and the Institute for Transformative Technologies, TP Renewable Microgrid will provide clean power to nearly five million households, directly impacting lives of 25 million people.

Rural businesses and households continue to rely on alternative sources to power daily needs – with more than 40 per cent of rural enterprises in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh relying on non-grid sources of power such as diesel, it added.

The TP Renewable Microgrid is expected to reduce carbon emissions by one million tonne per year as well as diesel consumption by 57 million litres yearly.

The TP Renewable Microgrid will be operated and managed by Tata Power with about 11,000 MW of installed power generation capacity and over 2.6 million customers under management across Delhi, Ajmer and Mumbai.

“…Once at scale, TP Renewable Microgrid anticipates supporting 1,00,000 rural enterprises, creating 10,000 new green jobs, and providing irrigation for over 4,00,000 local farmers,” said Tata Power CEO Praveer Sinha in a statement.

SPI, which was launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2015, has built microgrids that provide clean, distributed electricity to more than 200 villages in rural India.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to transform the lives of millions of people in India by providing access to power,” said Rajiv J Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

In addition to building, owning, and operating microgrids in India, TP Renewable Microgrid intends to provide ancillary micro enterprise services to benefit communities.

( Originally published on Nov 04, 2019 )

Tata Power venture TPRMG’s 200 microgrids expected to be ready by 2021: Rockefeller Foundation

NEW DELHI: TP Renewable Microgrid (TPRMG), a venture by

Tata Power

, is expected to complete installation work of 200 microgrids and make them ready for use by next year, said the Rockefeller Foundation — a partner in the clean energy project.

In November 2019, Tata Power had announced creating an arm, TPRMG, to set up 10,000 microgrids to provide power to 5 million homes across India.

US-based philanthropic organisation Rockefeller Foundation, which collaborated with Tata Power for this project, said it is using experience, knowledge and proven success to date in India, to help lead the development of large-scale, innovative partnerships.

It said such associations and tie-ups break down the silos between traditional utilities and disruptive new technologies, unleashing a new wave of last-mile electrification that blends grid and off-grid, fosters partnership between public and private sectors and champions clean, green and sustainable energy solutions. “Since the launch of TPRMG last November, the first microgrids are up and running with customers connected and additional construction is underway across Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The TPRMG team is working hard…we expect to have the first 200 sites ready in 2021,” Ashvin Dayal, Senior Vice President, Power Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation, told PTI in an email response to a query.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted the speed at which the project was being implemented in India, he said. India, Dayal said, is home to one of the largest “un-electrified and under-electrified” populations in the world where communities, especially in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, still use non-grid sources like diesel generators to power more than 40 per cent of rural enterprises. Off-grid solutions, he said, can help India meet the urgent power needs of communities in a quick manner and these are cheap as well. There is a good market for off-grid power solutions in India, he said. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in a study has noted there is an over USD 50 billion market opportunity in India for distributed renewables and clean energy innovations.

Dayal informed that the Rockefeller Foundation has already been working in the area for quite some time in India. The Rockefeller Foundation launched Smart Power India (SPI) in 2015, which has supported establishment of 300 operating mini grids, run by a perse set of private companies, benefiting more than 2.5 lakh customers. “The partnership with Tata Power last year, which established what will become the largest mini grid company in the world, reaching 10,000 villages and serving over 25 million people,” he added.

How creative approaches can help business philanthropy achieve sustainable social change

It’s good to talk about philanthropy, more so because for many years, it existed off the beaten track as something the media rarely reported on, and those giving resources being mostly reticent about. Philanthropy wasn’t something that made for boardroom conversation. This changed with liberalisation, when many new business leaders openly embraced the idea of giving back. This accelerated with globalisation when international philanthropists began looking at India for their projects, which also inspired Indian businesses. And today, the concept of the triple bottom line further galvanises the trend. This mainstreaming of philanthropy has had a positive cascading effect.

Family-based philanthropy, part of India’s cultural traditions, frequently provided for social and humanitarian needs like relief measures distributed during a natural calamity.

However, this has now taken on a new role, with resources invested towards long-term targets linked to the achievement of India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The potential is huge. The number of Indians with a net worth of over Rs 1,000 crores has grown exponentially over the past decade, fuelled in part by a dynamic startup boom which expanded from about 100 inpiduals in 2012 to over 830 in 2019.

Funding from family philanthropy now touches about Rs 12,000 crores (FY20). While this is good in itself, what is even better is that many of the younger, newer entrepreneurs and startup leaders are also seeking to actively contribute to society — this is the cascading effect.

The question is, can philanthropy expand its ambit to become a catalyst that contributes more effectively to India’s growth story? Of course more funding will help achieve that goal but there’s also the crucial question of approach. As an example, we’ve seen sizeable philanthropic contributions made during 2020’s Covid-19 outbreak. This has continued as India battles the pandemic’s second wave. Most of this involves transferring funds to NGOs. But that has its own challenges.

During disasters, there is often a deluge of funds flowing into institutions located at the forefront of providing relief. These small frontline organisations frequently don’t have the capacity to manage this flow as effectively as larger, more institutionalised entities. They often lack the processes, systems and human resources to create better efficiencies or lasting impacts.

An ideal way forward here is for private philanthropic organisations to focus on capacity building efforts with small NGOs to bring them up to scale.

People working in the NGO sector are driven by passion and empathy — if private philanthropic set-ups train them with the right skill sets, they can help create a large pool of professionals who will drive long-term, sustainable impacts across thematic segments, from education and rural development to healthcare and disaster mitigation. Some specific skills philanthropists can help grow are building organisational processes to develop governance and monitoring, report writing and grant applications and fund management.

This is one way for philanthropists to do good — forge partnerships with the best service providers, train them with key skills, capacity build with the right institutional frameworks and fund them. Here, the implementation is managed by experts and the philanthropist gets access to a huge repository of existing domain knowledge, sectoral insights and swift, well-defined outcomes.

The other more organic but timeconsuming approach is where the philanthropist decides to build things ground-up or manage the implementation directly. This needs patience and resources, bringing in the right people and investing in domain knowledge to create everything from scratch. Only once that is done does the actual development work begin. This approach borrows from a managementdriven phi losophy, focused on creating deeper impact. The aim here isn’t immediate or piecemeal change — it’s driving deep pockets of change to empower more sustainable socioeconomic effects. In India, the Shiv Nadar Foundation follows this approach. Globally, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation have built reputed institutions ground-up.

While both approaches differ, there is a common factor too. Both need to leverage technology as a force multiplier — many of our philanthropists have made their fortune in the tech sector. They could help frontline organisations leverage tech innovations for better project implementation, greater transparency and spreading more social awareness.

(The author is Chief strategy officer, HCL Corporation and the Shiv Nadar Foundation.)