Tell us briefly about Magenta’s journey so far as a green energy solutions provider.
With a combined experience of more than 60 years in Power and Auto sector, the co-founders of Magenta Power started the company with a vision of providing clean energy solutions – generation, adoption and utilisation. This motto is evident in our business arms of rooftop power solutions, Power storage, EV charging and Battery swapping and Energy Infomatics.
We started in 2017 from a terrace outhouse and within a short span have been able to do some pioneering work in this space.
What are some of the key challenges faced by the energy sector in India and how can these be addressed?
The Indian energy sector is beset with a couple of challenges. The sector by itself is asset heavy and requires extensive investment and regular upgrades especially in the generation capacity and in long distance transmission. While the generation capacity has been increasing on the back of large solar capacities coming online, it is the ageing grid which is the Achilles heel.
On the regulations, we need to move away from thinking of the power sector as a government largesse to be used for political gains. This has and continues to eat away on the independence and profitably of the energy sector as a whole.
Smart metering which was kicked off 10 years ago has still not covered more than 15 percent of the distribution network. Last but not the least the power sector is still highly regulated and requires steady infusion of newer ideas moving towards a de-regulated market.
Do you think the growing focus on renewable energy, the dynamics of the power industry are changing?
Absolutely, what we think of the power sector today will not be the same in five years. Technology hitch hiking on the back of renewable energy is disrupting this domain. Microgrid is already a big concept in many countries.
At Magenta Power we call it ‘democratisation of the power sector’. Given the ridiculously low level of efficiency, the move towards an open network is a writing on the wall. As the storage technology improves and come upstream, without doubt, the DisComs of today will find itself in a different role, more as a market manager rather than a market maker.
What is the scope for a new technology like blockchain in the power sector?
As I said earlier, the new ear of power management is driven by technology. The democratisation of power systems banks heavily on technology like blockchain. The Distribution companies’ role as we see it today is providing power and billing for it. The blockchain allows for multiple entities generating and using power. The singular power producer to consumer approach which we see today is already getting challenged by microgrids. Block chain allows this entire play to be hosted on a tech platform. A lot of work is already happening in this space and Magenta Power has lined up plans to be in this space aggressively.
What kind of manufacturing capabilities and capacities does Magenta have?
Today, we are focused on two areas – Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure for which we have developed our hardware and software. We are soon to launch the energy management console for individual homes and industries. We are setting up a manufacturing unit in Pune soon for these solutions.
The electric vehicle segment is receiving bigger push from the government. Do you see the EV landscape changing drastically in the next two years?
More than change I call it establishment of the EV landscape. What is happening right now is spurts and sporadic work in this space. But as days pass, the infrastructure is slowly but steadily getting built up. There is a lot of learning happening now and two years from now we be les of learning and more of expansion.
Tell us about Magenta’s plans to create the EV Corridor on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as well as on the Mumbai–Bangalore route.
We set up the Mumbai-Pune EV corridor in Aug 2018 by identifying and setting up charging points at key locations. This included locations which were most convenient for the EV owner and which allowed them to charge themselves while the vehicle was being charged. While everyone was waiting for the government to setup up the charging infra, we decided not to wait But now we have the support of HPCL and others in this initiative. So effectively we setup the charging infra on this highway long before India caught up to the fancy of EV this year.
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has made a strategic investment in Magenta. Tell us about this partnership.
HPCL has been a great supporter of our work in this space and has supported us with seed funding and also technically and we take great pride in our partnership with HPCL.
We also installed the EV charging facility at HPCL’s Chembur colony last year which was inaugurated by the board of HPCL and we are working on numerous other initiatives together to support the EV ecosystem.
Are you working with any company for technological collaborations?
Given the pioneering work we have been doing in this space, we have technology collaborations with most of the dominant EV OEMs in India. We also have collaborations with multinational corporates in the core power sector. This is a growing ecosystem and we are aware that we need the support and backing of many entities to make this Drego’ ecosystem a reality. Fortunately, we have got immense support of our partners and collaborators to make this happen.
Earlier in April this year (2019), Magenta announced the launch of its training academy called ‘MITRA’- Magenta Innovation Technology and Research Academy. - What is the objective behind this initiative and how is it progressing?
We launched ‘MITRA’ to support Individuals and Organizations, in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and also to serve as the principal platform; a centre of excellence, and a repository of technology, resource and knowledge on green energy.
MITRA is a great first step for a career-focused individual to understand the world of green energy solutions.
The training provides practical tools to accelerate green energy deployment, that shall facilitate knowledge sharing and technology transfer to provide clean, sustainable energy for the world’s growing population. Aligned to this, there is a structured model imparting basics of solar power, electric vehicles and Informatics.
We believe that the conviction to move to clean solutions comes from education and awareness and that is what MITRA aims to achieve. The academy of MITRA is a manifestation of our zeal that amplifies our belief that green energy is everybody’s business.
What is your personal vision for Magenta? Where do you want to see it five years from now?
Magenta will be leading the vision of green energy, open, democratised and unshackled from the onerous regulations and challenges in the sector today. We are investing ourselves heavily to make it happen. In five years from now, we see Magenta Power as the dominant player in providing “open platform power solutions “in India, South East Asia and Africa.
“As the storage technology improves and come upstream, without doubt, the DisComs of today will find itself in a different role, more as a market manager rather than a market maker.”