According to reports, in 2006, soaring hotel costs and traffic snarls led Infosys to build Le Terrace, a four-star hotel with 500 rooms for its employees and overseas clients in its campus in Bangalore’s Electronics City.
Eight years on, the software industry poster child is about to embark on generating its own power, in the process saving costs, getting clean reliable power for its operations and fulfilling its broader obligations to society.
Infosys has proposed a 50 mw solar park in Karnataka, becoming the first software company in India to think of generating its own power that will meet a bulk of the electricity needs of its offices in Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.
Karnataka’s Energy Minister DK Shivakumar told ET on Monday that Infosys had held one round of talks with the state government in which it had expressed keenness to build the solar power facility. “The company will buy land on its own,” he said.
Infosys confirmed the intent and said it will submit a formal proposal to the government once they finalise the land. “We hope to commission the park in about a year,” said Infosys Executive Vice President Ramadas Kamath told ET. Asked why Infosys is entering captive generation, he said that his company wanted to be self-sufficient in energy.
“We want to promote use of clean energy and reduce carbon emission. Solar is the best option. Several parts of Karnataka have good solar intensity. We now have solar technologies wherein you recover your investment in eight years. It has less of maintenance hassle, and easy to build,” said Kamath, who heads facilities, administration, security and sustainability at Infosys.
Kamath said the idea to build a solar park had been mooted a year ago by Infosys’ Head of Green Initiative Rohan Parekh, and had won the support of the company’s board of directors. “Narayana Murthy and the Board have been very keen that we do this,” Kamath said.
The company has already started looking for some 300 acres of land in regions of Karnataka where solar intensity is high. The company expects project cost, including land, to be about Rs 360-380 crore, small change for a company that is sitting on a cash pile of Rs 30,000 crore. Infosys estimates that it would require about five acres of land to generate one megawatt of solar power and excluding land costs, each MW of capacity will require its shell out around Rs 6.5 crore.
All the Infosys offices in Karnataka, which between them have around 65,000 seats, consume about 95 million units a year. The pro- posed 50 MW will generate about 84 million units, nearly 90% of Infosys present energy needs. 1 MW capacity equals 1000 kilowatts or 1.67 million units of energy a year and is enough to light up anywhere between 300 and 350 homes in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore.
“We will buy the balance from the grid,” Kamath said, adding that the company would consider scaling up its generation capacity based on its experience with the 50 MW initially planned.
Grid power presently costs the company, which has managed to halve its per capita consumption of power between 2007 and 2013, about Rs 5.65 per unit, while its own solar power would cost about Rs 3 per unit after factoring in depreciation. Barring a few states, grid power is unreliable in most parts of India, forcing companies to also have diesel-operated generators for back-up power and raising their overall power costs. Companies such as Infosys, which carry out mission-critical operations for mostly overseas clients, need uninterrupted power and its solar experiment, if successful, could lead to other firms to think along similar lines.