Husk Power Systems, an off-grid energy provider has become the first mini-grid company to achieve profitability in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Husk Power Systems which pioneered the rural mini-power sources 15 years ago makes hybrid mini-grids using solar and biomass gasification technology coupled with battery storage.
The energy firm owns the largest ﬂeet of community solar mini-grids with up to 150 projects in operation.
The 100 mini-grids in India and Tanzania each provide about 50 kW of power, enough energy to bring electricity to homes, schools, agricultural processing facilities, retail shops, factories, cold storage, and water filtration operations.
The company contends it makes the world’s lowest-cost, grid-compatible systems, at less than $2.35 per watt or $300 per connection. Husk offers its customers a “pay-as-you-go” energy service, using a mobile-enabled smart metering system.
The company became EBITDA positive in Q4 of 2022 in its two primary markets, Nigeria and India. EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, is a widely used measure of corporate profitability.
Husk’s unprecedented growth has been attributed to its unique platform approach, which addresses the entire rural energy ecosystem. The firm also installs rooftop solar for businesses and offers energy-as-a-service for drinking water and agro-processing among others.
Husk pioneered the rural mini-grid 15 years ago using waste biomass gasification, and in 2017 followed up with the industry’s first solar hybrid mini-grid. Since then, the World Bank and International Energy Agency have both recognized the central role of solar mini-grids in ending energy poverty by 2030. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 mini-grids need to be built before the end of the decade.
“When I took over the reins of Husk in 2014, we underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take to discover the right business model, right team, and right technology platform to build a commercially viable mini-grid company on two continents,” said Manoj Sinha, Co-Founder, and CEO. “It took grit and innovation to arrive here – at a profitable and scalable mini-grid company.”
By achieving profitability, Husk has sent a clear signal to the market that rural mini-grids are an asset class whose day has arrived, as well as an important contributor to net-zero growth for hundreds of millions of unserved and under-served people in Africa and Asia.
“Husk has proven that the rural mini-grid business model works, in Asia and in Africa, and in off-grid, under-the-grid, and grid-interconnected communities. It works and it is robust,” said Board Chairman, Brad Mattson. “We have already scaled 10X, and are poised to scale another 10X. We urge the industry to embrace the roadmap Husk followed. If funders and governments embrace the mini-grid sector and this roadmap for success, together we can not only end energy poverty but also lay the foundation for a rural industrial revolution.”
In 2022, Husk signaled its ambitions to do its part in fueling that revolution by signing a UN Energy Compact. It committed to building at least 5,000 mini-grids by 2030 that would impact more than 10 million people and avoid 7 megatons of carbon emissions from diesel generators.
The company says that despite the coronavirus pandemic-induced economic downturn, Husk Power had no service disruptions and continued to provide emergency financial support to existing and new customers in India and Nigeria.