Wind-man of India – The Rise of Tulsi Bhai
Wind Power development in India started in early 80s when the global wind developers such as Vestas, Bonus and some other European companies were finding it difficult to do business in American and European markets. The new American President, Ronald Regan, after Jimmy Carter withdraw all the tax benefits offered to the wind developers and many of the European wind developers overnight got bankrupt. Indian market was picking up in early 80s and many of the European companies started exploring the wind power opportunities in the Indian market.
Tulsi Tanti was a new entrepreneur having his family business initially a cold storage and then a textile factory named Sulzer Synthetics. In early 90s there were rotational power cuts to the industries due to shortage of electricity supplies. Government of India introduced open access policies in early 90s and offered no power cuts to the industries by adopting wind power.
Tulsi Tanti initiated the idea of installing wind power generators for his captive use and with great difficulties he could come up with two wind turbines of Vestas make and it was the combined effort of the family members to erect these wind turbines after numerous challenges as local know-how was not available.
Implementation of this project inculcated the thought of venturing into wind business through Tulsi Bhai and after exploring multiple European companies, he could negotiate a collaboration with the company known as Sudwind Energy GMBH.
In 1995, Tulsi Bhai formed a company named Suzlon Energy. The Suzlon word is a mix of Gujarati and English words. The first part “Suz” represents “Sujh Bhoojh Ke” and “Lon” represents typical debt component. The idea was to intelligently loan in wind business and give multiplied benefits to the end users. In early 90s Government of India announced feed in tariff for wind power projects and also offered 100% accelerated depreciation benefits. This led to significant interest of companies and investing in wind power projects to take tax benefits. The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Suzlon was to offer end-to-end solutions for the wind power project developers. In early 2000, Suzlon expanded beyond India and started its operation in USA, Germany, Australia, China and Denmark. Company also started manufacturing wind turbine lades and exported these blades to various countries.
In 2005, Suzlon brought Initial Public Offering (IPO) and expanded its domestic as well as international wind business and became 5th largest wind turbine manufacturers in India with introduction of 2.1 MW wind turbine generator.
I had an opportunity to work in Suzlon at their corporate learning centre in Pune and had multiple opportunities to meet Tulsi Bhai. Whenever I happen to meet him, he was always inspiring. Tulsi Bhai created Suzlon, one of the great companies in renewable energy sector. He was able to demonstrate the work, how to do business in a typical Gujarati way. He changed the way wind power business is to be done and other companies followed him.
We salute to this great hero of India and pray to God that his soul rest in peace. We are sure that with his vision we will be able to extract every iota of energy from wind.