Shell picks up 20% stake in solar power firm Orb Energy
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Global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc has acquired a stake of almost 20% in Orb Energy Pvt. Ltd, a Bengaluru-based solar power services provider, in the latest bet on an Indian renewable energy company.

Orb Energy said in a statement the investment from Shell’s New Energies business will help it provide lower-cost solar power to more Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The company offers SMEs credit to invest in rooftop solar systems. This drives Orb Energy’s own sales.

“Shell’s investment will power the next phase of our growth and ensure that more underserved SMEs in India can benefit from clean, lower-cost electricity from solar,” said Damian Miller, Orb Energy’s CEO.

Brian Davis, vice president at Shell Energy Solutions, said the multinational giant was attracted by Orb Energy’s focus on providing cleaner and affordable energy solutions to SMEs in India. “This is a vital and growing sector, with great potential to contribute to the country’s renewable energy ambitions,” he said.

Davis said the deal is part of Shell’s ambition to provide reliable electricity supply to 100 million people in the developing world by 2030.

Shell, through various arms, has previously invested in at least three Indian-related renewable energy companies.

In August Shell India invested in biomass company Punjab Renewable Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd as part of a Series B round of $7.7 million. 

Last year, Shell Technology Ventures LLC led a Series C round of $20 million in Husk Power Systems Pvt. Ltd, which supplies off-grid power to rural areas. In December last year, Shell acquired a 49% stake in Singapore-based Cleantech Renewable Assets Pte. Ltd, which develops solar projects in India and Southeast Asia under the name Cleantech Solar.

Orb Energy was founded in 2006 by Damian Miller and NP Ramesh. It claims that it has sold 160,000 rooftop solar systems in India with cumulative capacity of about 75 MW since inception.

Orb has two factories in Bengaluru to make solar photovoltaic panels and solar water heating systems. It employs 250 people in India. Orb also has operations in Kenya.

Existing investors in Orb Energy include Dutch development bank FMO, Bamboo Capital Partners and Pamiga SA of Luxembourg, Switzerland’s Rianta Capital and the US-based Acumen Capital Market Funds I.

Unitus Capital acted as the exclusive financial adviser to Orb Energy for the transaction with Shell.

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