Tulsi Tanti - The wind man of India


Mr. Tulsi Tanti is a visionary and a great entrepreneur, who was instrumental in founding and turning Suzlon Energy Limited into the fifth biggest wind energy group in the world.  It has a significant global market share of around 13%.  The total revenues earned are around Rs. 21,082 crore or US$ 3.75 billion, in the year 2011-12 with an impressive year on year growth of 18%.  It has a global presence with offices in 32 countries in six continents.    

Early Life

Mr Tulsi Tanti was born in Rajkot, Gujarat in 1958 in a farming and business family.  He is the managing director, chairman and founder of Suzlon.  He has four siblings and two children.  Three of his siblings work with Suzlon Group. 

The Gujarat connection

Gujarat is known for entrepreneurship especially textile business etc. and Mr Tulsi Tanti, who is a Gujarati himself is no exception.  In 1994, he was running a textile startup which was under threat from rising power costs.  It inspired this talented entrepreneur to look for sustainable power solutions in the form of wind energy etc.  He was an engineering graduate with a commerce background, which helped him launch this rather unconventional venture.

Launching Suzlon

Setting up Suzlon was not an easy task even for the business savvy Tanti family.  Initially, the wind turbine market had earned a bad reputation because of some unscrupulous turbine manufacturers, who coaxed buyers into availing government tax breaks and offered substandard products with poor or no service. 

Soon, Tanti started with two wind turbines to provide electricity to his textile unit and as a result the ailing business started flourishing again as the cost of power had gone down considerably.  This led him to recognize the power of wind energy and Suzlon Energy Limited came into existence in 1995.  Tanti and his brothers sold his property worth $600,000 to finance the launch of the company and partnered with a German firm Sudwind to supply the technology. 

The first win-win partnership with Sudwind, a German turbine firm

Sudwind agreed provided Tantis bought the first ten turbines from the company.  Tantis agreed and sold these 10 turbines to its textile business supplier IPCL.  This 3.5 mw power project has been successfully running for the past 10 years at 97% efficiency at IPCL.  The focus that differentiates Suzlon from the competition is its commitment to maintenance and service, apart from superb technology.  To bring the best in terms of technology and efficiency, Suzlon went on with aggressive merger and acquisition spree with European companies in the 90s.   

The company was so ambitious and professionally managed that within a small period of just 15 years it became a global leader in sustainable wind energy.  Back home, it was such a huge solution to energy crisis that let the windmills rotating across the coastal region of Gujarat.  In a power starved nation, this renewable energy resource offered a new business opportunity to this young man, which was better than his textile business.  

The acute power shortage in India and growing demand for electricity

The power shortage is so acute in India that in Delhi, the Indian capital, government asks the stores to shutter down early in peak summer season to save electricity and minimize the use of home air-conditioners.  There is a huge power shortage in various other states of India as well.  For economic growth and to sustain population boom, India needs twice as much power as compared to what is available today.    

Awards and accolades

Besides being a successful commercial entity, Suzlon is also dedicated to the society and sustainable development.  The company has won many prestigious awards, including ‘Champion of the Earth 2009’, offered by the UN Environment Program.  TIME Magazine has honored Mr Tanti with “Hero of the Environment” award and the same year, and Ernst & Young honored him with “Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 Award”.

Dedication towards environment friendly technologies

Mr.  Tulsi Tanti, the founder and chairman of Suzlon Energy Limited, run this company as a cause and not as a business.  So at present, it is making a huge contribution towards social, economic and ecological development of the country and the world.  It utilizes the most advanced technologies in order to help the world avert the climate crisis.  Suzlon is now a $400 million company. 

Suzlon, the business and capital

Not only is Mr Tanti the foremost wind man in India, he is also a famous billionaire.  Suzlon also makes the machinery for wind power industry.  Tanti and his brothers hold around 70% stake in this public listed company in Indian stock market, which is around $5 billion.   

Headquartered in Pune, Suzlon leader Tanti wants his company to become a global leader.   In terms of production and installed capacity of wind generators, Suzlon ranks eighth in the world.  It competes with Vestas of Denmark, Enercon of Germany and Gamesa of Spain.  Though, in terms of revenues, Vestas is five times bigger than Suzlon, but Suzlon is consistently reaping profits for the past six years, whereas Vestas has incurred losses in the past two years.   

Growth in India

Indian government has made it mandatory for the power distributors to source a certain quantum of power through renewable energy sources such as wind turbo-generators.  There is also a provision of tax break for the businesses that use such power sources.  At present, India’s capacity to produce wind power is 18 gigawatts, which is enough for the power requirements of 3 lakh homes in the US and more than 6 lakh homes in India. 

India’s open fields are said to be ideal for wind power generators.  Suzlon has recently completed a wind farm project with a capacity of 500 megawatts near Kanyakumari, the southern coastal town with heavy winds from Indian Ocean.  It’s said to be Asia’s largest wind farm.  The regular wind speed here is 15 mph.

Expanding overseas

Suzlon is eyeing the vast global market worth $11 billion, which has maintained a steady annual growth of 27% for the past 5 years.  Suzlon has setup a marketing office in Denmark to target foreign customers and it’s steadily making inroads into US, China and Australia.  Suzlon is able to create its niche in tough foreign markets because its products are comparatively cheaper than the rivals and its robust turbines are said to have the capability to withstand extreme weather conditions.  Suzlon has setup a factory outlet in Minnesota, US and thus this ambitious Indian company has created hundreds of jobs in the US as well.   

Future prospects

With booming demand for non-conventional and cheap electricity, especially for farming and domestic use, Suzlon has excellent prospects both in India and overseas.  It’s expanding its presence in the US.   According to Tanti, wind power would become irresistible in future because of the increasing cost of fossil fuels.  He boasts that he doesn't need government handouts in order to survive.  His faith in Suzlon and the future of unconventional energy sources differentiates him from his rivals.  That’s the reason Tanti is known as the “wind man” of India.   

Salary of Tulsi R. Tanti

According to BusinessWeek Magazine, the Salary of Tulsi R. Tanti the founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Suzlon Energy Limited is INR 4,878,351 per Year for the financial year of 2013-14.

Last Updated: August 22, 2013

Tags : Suzlon, Tanti, wind turbines, wind energy, non-conventional sources of energy, wind power, wind farms

About Nashaat Quadri

Freelance Content Writer (Compare Infobase, New Delhi.) Ex Sr Content Writer, Western Software, New Delhi. Ex Relationship Manager, Mashreq Bank, Dubai.