Back to the future

1995 is a year I will never forget. For that is when wind energy stopped being just a way to control power costs and ensure regular power supply for my textile business, and became both work and passion for me. I set up Suzlon Energy Limited, India’s first home-grown wind technology company. We started out with a small 3 MW wind farm project in one Indian State (Gujarat) and few thought we would survive.

Interestingly,1995 was also the year India got onto the world’s super-Iway, when VSNL, then owned by the Government, launched the country’s first Internet service for public access. Access was over dial-up lines that were slow and had a distressing tendency to “drop carrier”. Given the wait-lists for telephone lines, it was thought the Internet would remain an elitist service, extending at best from 4 to 8-10 cities.

The rest, as they say, is history. The doomsayers and pessimists were wrong about both the survival of Suzlon and the spread of the Internet in India. Today, Suzlon has over 6,000 MW of installed capacity of wind turbines, and is the world’s 5th largest wind energy company. From 20 people we have grown to more than 14,000. We have a presence in 5 continents and manufacturing facilities in 3 of them. As for India-on-the-Internet … a whole generation is growing up using it as their primary channel of information and major mode of interaction and entertainment.

When you’re the first to enter a field, you become an advocate for it by default, as Suzlon and I have been for wind energy, particularly in India and Asia. We believe its potential to power industrial development in a sustainable way is immense. When I was first shown the Internet by my brother, what really struck me as an “energy man” was the sheer amount of intellectual energy it contained. I wanted to be a part of it, but …

Well, it’s finally happened. Through this blog, ‘Blowing in the Wind’, I want to share with you my perspectives on issues concerning wind energy, sustainability, global warming and climate change as well as lessons I learned along the way. A part of me still can’t believe I’m actually doing it, so I hope you’ll help me along with your reactions as well as questions.

Thank you for joining me.