A company aiming to boost its development of renewables-based mini-grids across Africa and Asia has received $20m in investment.

Husk Power Systems, a rural distributed utility, won the money from Shell Technology Ventures, Swedish development fund Swedfund and Engie’s impact investment fund, Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies.

The firm currently operates hybrid distributed solar PV and biomass power plants with battery energy storage in India and Tanzania, operating on a mobile pay-as-you-go model. The plants feature cloud-based remote monitoring and are “100 per cent theft-proof” according to Husk.

Over the next four years, Husk said it aims to add over 300 mini-grids in India and Tanzania, totalling 15 MW and serving over 100,000 customers.

Founded in 2008, the firm first developed a mini-grid to serve rural customers in India’s Bihar state. According to Husk, it was the first company to use 100 per cent biomass gasification from rice husks to generate electricity for households and small businesses.

Manoj Sinha, CEO and co-founder of Husk Power Systems, said: “Together with our strategic partners, we are now confident of achieving our vision of becoming the world’s largest rural utility company providing 24/7, 100 per cent renewable and affordable power to drive inclusive and sustainable development in growth markets.

“We believe that mini-grids are the most capital-efficient way to help reach 100 per cent national electrification goals,” he added.

Brian Davis, vice-president, Integrated Energy Solutions for New Energies at Shell, said: “We believe that decentralized solutions will play an important role in providing productive energy to customers who currently lack reliable power.

“We see Husk as a leading player providing reliable and affordable energy to off-grid and weak-grid communities in India and Africa and we believe they have a very credible business model.”

“The private sector plays a central role when electrifying the rural areas of developing countries. We are very pleased to be part of Husk’s expansion,” said Gerth Svensson, Swedfund CEO.

And Anne Chassagnette, Engie’s director of CSR and vice-president of Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies, called Husk’s business model “highly efficient and replicable” and said her firm was “very excited to step further into collective decentralized solutions that will further enhance the social and environmental impact of our portfolio”.