Wenergie wants to make alternative energy a fixture across India through its platform
Combating climate change is the need of the hour. A key piece in this puzzle is finding a solution to the burgeoning energy crisis.
To Akshay Harikumar, the idea to build a company in the cleantech space did not come immediately. He set his foot into ecommerce as 2013 at Flipkart and he joined an engineering Services firm, Airize Solutions as a Co-founder in 2017 and left the company in 2018.
Kicking off on a new foot in 2018,is a company that looks to make solar energy a reliable source of power 24x7. Keeping lean with only about 8 members, its solutions caught the eye of energy major Shell which included it in the Shell India E4 programme—investing $20,000 dollars into the Bengaluru-based firm.
“As a young team, we were looking to build a startup that could leverage our hands-on domain-specific experience and put our knowledge and skills to the test of fire,” said Akshay.
In comparison to other countries globally, India ranks fourth in renewable energy capacity and ranks fourth in wind power and solar power capacity, according to Invest India. India has reached 166GW of renewable energy capacity till October 2022, little above 40% of overall installed power capacity. There are several players looking to leverage this momentum in the country, including Bengaluru-based Wenergie.
“We are a young, dynamic team, with a background in technology and the challenge of providing reliable and affordable energy to households, especially via solar energy systems...” says Akshay.
This endeavour is not without challenges. The biggest among them is attempting to aggregate varied distributed energy resources onto a single, common platform, and making them communicate in real time—all with a unified communication protocol and standard.
This is still a work in progress. “Developing a communication and control standard, while allowing flexibility of the type of clean energy asset, and then aggregating them on a common platform to function optimally together, is the problem we are trying to solve,” says Akshay.
Saving energy with Nucleus
Wenergie’s product Nucleus is a gateway device that integrates grid-tied Solar PV systems—the unit which converts sunlight into energy—with any kind of storage technology to function as a smart micro-grid.
Through this, the Nucleus does away with some of the major challenges with implementing solar energy—like its intermittent nature, and dependency on a grid the entire time. This also ensures that the solar PV is available for use during the whole day, even during times without adequate sunlight.
In simpler terms, Nucleus facilitates the integration of the solar panels with battery storage. One common use case where this has been used is in optimising home energy systems.
“We are creating a niche for ourselves primarily by our focus on the home and personal energy consumption space, whereas most energy management and related companies focus on the industrial and commercial market,” says Akshay.
Wenergie plans to build products that overcomes gaps in demand and supply of clean energy. Thus far, it has deployed paid pilots at 50 locations to optimise home energy systems. Besides this, Wenergie has plans to deploy the platform for early stage pilots with electric vehicle (EV) charging company abroad.
Here’s how Nucleus works—when the grid is up and the energy requirement is low, the platform enables export of surplus solar energy to the grid. However, when the quality of power supply drops it enables a switch in the flow of power, and this surplus power is used to charge up batteries. This directly delivers increased uptime from the battery backup, monetary benefits from the optimisation, as well as improves the life of these assets.
Further, the open platform created helps with all types of distributed energy resources that can be aggregated with no restriction on manufacturer or make.
The scope for renewable energy as an alternative
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said India would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and to meet 50% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030 to combat climate change, at COP 26.
According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), installed renewable power generation capacity in India has gained pace over the past few years, posting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.92% between FY16-22. India is a market with the fast growth in renewable electricity, and by 2026, new capacity additions are expected to double.
This report also found that more than Rs. 5.2 lakh crore (US$ 70 billion) has been invested in India’s renewable energy sector since 2014.
“We are building for universal clean energy automation, rather than building a walled garden,” says Akshay.
Edited by Akanksha Sarma