HYDERABAD:Lighting up lives may sound like a good tagline for an energy company, but Freyr Energy, a Hyderabad-headquartered full-service solar provider firm, decided to make it their largest project. One of the first large projects that the energy company took up was to set up more than 50 solar microgrids for rural tribal habitations in Andhra Pradesh. Microgrids power the entire village with sufficient battery backup for three days. It includes not only a solar power generating system, but an entire electrical infrastructure of poles, low tension wires, energy meters, load limiters, service cables, lights, switch boards, etc.
These projects are now lighting more than 1,500 homes giving power to nearly 8,000 tribals. The villages are in heavily forested, hilly terrain called Paderu in Andhra Pradesh. Founders Radhika Choudary from Hyderabad and Saurabh Marda from Bengaluru decided this was the best way to show the world what they can do. While Radhika did her BE in Mechanical Engineering, Osmania University (2004), Saurabh did his MS in Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (2005).
The founders say that most such sites require on-foot transportation ranging from 5 km to 15 km in hilly terrain; other challenges include dealing with Maoists, transporting material across rivers/streams. With no other source of power, the two took it upon themselves to light up lives, literally. “With the rural project, 8,000 tribals with no access to electricity now have daily power supply; Street lights provide safety for villagers at night; Children can now study after 5 pm. Neighbouring villagers moved to these electrified villages as there was better quality of life,” the duo say. In the overseas markets, Freyr has several projects, especially in Africa, in the pipeline.
Says Saurabh, “A significant opportunity to show our prowess while making a difference in their lives is what made us take up Paderu. From start to finish, the project took a year, with our 600 employees working on the project and the the first phase of electrification happened in 2016.” From understanding the locals’ needs to keeping the environment in mind and ensuring that it was a smooth process, the founders said it was an eventful journey.
The company is also among ‘Top Ten Startups in India in Computable Technology’ and is the only energy company that won the laurel. “We won it for our software that helps entrepreneurs to easily design solar power systems for their clients,” Saurabh informs. Incidenally, the energy company’s co-founder Radhika is among AnitaB.org India’s Top 10 winners of the 7th edition of the Women Entrepreneur Quest (WEQ) 2017. WEQ is a contest for technology startups founded by women. The company has recently bagged Southern Power order.
The company which also has microgrid projects in Manipur, Assam, UP, Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh, and other insurgency affected areas has on December 20, 2017, bagged a `3.4 cr TSSPDCL order to add solar power to its offices in Telangana. This includes their department offices and substation government buildings in Medak and Nalgonda. Around 600 kWp of roof top solutions will be deployed in 12 months. According to Impact Investment Exchange’s (IIX) Social Return on Investment Report for Freyr Energy, for every US$1 raised, US$4.62 of impact is created by the organisation.
Power translates into:
5,000+ students have access to better quality education infrastructure
10,000+ tribals/villagers have access to electricity
17,000 people in Ghana have better healthcare infrastructure
2,000+ people have reliable access to drinking water supply