Minigrid Company Husk Nabs $5 million in Funding 

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Husk Power Systems, a minigrid company that focuses on India and Africa, has received a $5 million investment from FMO, a Dutch development bank.

“Not only will the investment be a catalyst for Husk to achieve its ambitious minigrid roll-out plan, it gives us a partner with deep knowledge and experience in scaling innovative energy technology companies like Husk Power to focus on promoting productive uses of energy,” Manoj Sinha, Husk chief executive officer, said Oct. 5.

The Fort Collins, Colorado-based company makes hybrid minigrids using solar and biomass gasification technology coupled with battery storage. Rice husks and corn cobs provide the fuel for the gasifiers.

minigrid

Courtesy of Husk Power Systems. See full video here.

Husk operates 75 minigrids in India totaling 1.75 MW serving 120,000 people and five minigrids in Tanzania totaling 0.2 MW serving 1,000 people.

At less than $2.35 per watt or $300 per connection, Husk contends it makes the world’s lowest-cost, grid-compatible systems. Husk offers its customers a “pay-as-you-go” energy service, using a mobile-enabled smart metering system.

Husk aims to grow in India, Africa

Husk aims to install 30 MW by 2022, including 20 MW in India, 7.5 MW in Tanzania and 2.5 MW in West Africa.

By 2030 the company hopes to provide electricity to 10 million people in Asia and Africa.

“Any emerging economy government wanting to achieve 100% access to electricity must have minigrids as a component of their national electrification strategy,” Sinha said in an FMO publication. “It’s cheaper, more reliable, creates local jobs and reduces carbon emissions.”

FMO sees minigrids as having a major role in providing rural areas electricity.

The development bank  considers minigrids as the key to unlocking a successful rural distributed energy sector, both off- and under-the-grid” for micro, small, and medium enterprises and residential customers in rural areas in developing markets, according Keesjan de Kruijf, FMO principal investment officer.

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Customers of this size see the round-the-clock supply of power as crucial in reliably supporting their businesses for further growth, de Kruijf said.

FMO sees minigrids as promising

FMO considers the distributed/off-grid energy sector as very promising, given its high impact on economic development, the bank said in a summary of the Husk investment. However, within the off-grid sector, the minigrid niche is still less developed and commercial funding is scarce, according to the bank. 

“Husk being one of the more advanced, experienced and leading players in the minigrid space has great potential in terms of providing affordable new and/or improved access to energy for both productive, commercial and residential use in rural areas in developing markets,” FMO said. 

The funding from FMO follows a $20 million equity investment in 2018 by Shell Technology Ventures, Swedish development finance institution Swedfund International and ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies, ENGIE group’s impact investment fund.

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