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Suzlon Founder Tulsi Tanti, the man who harnessed wind, passes away at 64


Tulsi Tanti, chairman of wind energy firm Suzlon Energy, passed away on Saturday evening in Pune due to cardiac arrest. He was 64.

Tanti was on his way home to Pune from Ahmedabad after attending a series of meetings on his company’s ongoing Rs 1,200-crore rights issue when he felt uneasy and died soon after. He is survived by his wife Geeta, son Pranav and daughter Nidhi.

Tanti had made his fortune by investing in wind energy projects in the mid-90s when renewable energy was not in vogue. Suzlon acquired Senvion Energy in Germany for euro 1.4 billion in 2007.

But his good run soon ended as customers pointed out serious quality issues with the blades and Suzlon started delaying its debt repayments to banks.

In 2015, Suzlon had to sell Senvion to use the proceeds to repay bank loans and seek a debt-restructuring plan.

Tanti, who studied commerce in Gujarat University, started his business journey as a textiles trader. He diversified into renewable energy after rising electricity costs hit his main business. In 1995, Tanti started a wind power venture and later listed Suzlon.

In recent years, Tanti managed to get a financial restructuring done with lenders even as his own stake fell in the company.

“Tulsi Tanti was a pioneering business leader, who contributed to India’s economic progress and strengthened our nation’s efforts to further sustainable development. Pained by his untimely demise,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on social media.

“Tanti was a gifted visionary, who proved that India could be a global player in the wind energy space. Indeed, he was one of the foremost believers in Atma Nirbharta,” said Chairman of Adani group, Gautam Adani.

Company insiders said the COP26 pledge by India to become net-zero by 2070 and the role of renewables to fight climate change had enthused Tanti to re-engineer his company.

A firm believer in creating sustainable businesses and economies through energy independence and security, Tanti was a visionary and world-renowned expert on clean energy. He also championed the cause of affordable and sustainable energy, said Suzlon insiders.

Tanti envisioned the opportunity in the Indian renewable energy industry at a time when the global wind energy market was dominated by international players. It was also characterised by expensive and complicated technologies that were unviable for traditional businesses.

Instituting a new business model, he conceptualised the end-to-end solution to create realistic avenues for businesses to go green. Thus, he emerged as a strategic partner in developing sustainable businesses.

“India transitioned from a fossil-fuel country to a renewable-energy nation — thanks to the contribution of ‘Tulsibhai’. It’s no surprise that many consider him the ‘Father of the Indian renewables industry’ and the man who foresaw the future,” said officials.

For his efforts to fight climate change, Tanti received several awards. These include ‘Champion of the Earth’ by the United Nations, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2006’ by Ernst & Young, ‘Hero of the Environment’ by TIME magazine and many more.


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