An emerging source of clean power in India: city waste

January 17, 2013

An Indian company which plans to build a power plant that runs on city waste will aim for a $200 million IPO next month, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company is called Ramky Enviro Engineers, and it’s backed by the private equity arm of Standard Chartered.

India asks its carbon-intensive industries — like power generation and mining — to get 10 percent of their yearly energy quotient from clean sources. The regulations currently aren’t widely heeded, but the Executive Director of Ramky Enviro Engineers, Goutham Reddy, tells Bloomberg that he thinks that the government will soon get much more strict about environmental regulations.

The growing amount of waste in India can be a valuable resource. India has a population of 1.2 billion and an increasing amount of those people are living in cities. India’s cities now generate 55 million tons of solid waste and 38 billion liters of sewage per year, according to consulting firm Energy Alternatives India and cited by Bloomberg.

The waste per capita is also rising in India as GDP grows. The rapidly growing Indian middle class will soon want to consume similar amounts of power to the U.S. and Europe, and that will require a massive power infrastructure build out in the country. India plans to add 100 GW of power generation over the next several years, and that will be made up by mostly coal and clean power.

The Indian government is infamous for setting lofty goals and then coming up quite short of those numbers. “Aspirational goals” is what many call them. For example, the Indian government has a top-down plan to deliver 20 GW of solar across the country by 2020. We detailed some of the realities of the growing pains of the Indian solar market here.

If Ramky Enviro Engineers raises the funds it wants in an IPO, it will spend close to $100 million on a 48 MW waste to energy plant in Hyderabad. The company is already profitable off of its waste management business. U.S.-based Waste Management has also been interested in waste to power plants.

Waste to power plants are still rare in India. They are more common on European countries like Germany. Agnion Energy is a German startup that has developed a gasification process that can turn trash into energy.

(c) 2013, GigaOM.com.

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