Tributes pour in as Indian wind giant Suzlon founder Tulsi Tanti dies

The global wind industry and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi have paid tribute to Suzlon founder and chairman, Tulsi Tanti, who died at the weekend.

Tanti founded wind turbine maker Suzlon in 1995 and drove it to become a global force in the wind industry,

Tanti founded wind turbine maker Suzlon in 1995 and drove it to become a global force in the wind industry, expanding beyond India into markets including the US, China, Australia, and Brazil. 

He died on 1 October from a cardiac arrest at the age of 64, according to the Times of India.

Suzlon stated: “With profound sadness, we inform you of the untimely demise of Shri Tulsi R.Tanti, the founder, the chairman and managing director, often regarded as the Father of the Indian Renewable Industry, and one of the promoters of Suzlon Energy Limited on 1 October 2022.”

“In this difficult time, the company continues to be supported by its highly experienced board of directors and senior management who are both able and committed to take Shri Tanti’s legacy forward and realise his vision for the company.”

Others from across the wind industry and the world of politics also paid tribute to Tanti.

The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association described Tanti as “the entrepreneur” and added that “he left a legacy for us to follow with inspiration to reach [India's target of] net zero by 2070”.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) added that Tanti “was among the first Indian wind energy champions, before taking his passion to a global audience”. CEO Ben Backwell added: “Tulsi was a strong advocate and spokesperson for the role of wind energy in the developing world, playing a role in many international institutions and events.”

Andreas Nauen, operating partner at climate-focused investment firm Sandbrook Capital, is the former CEO of turbine maker Siemens Gamesa. Before rising to the top job, Nauen served as technical project manager in India for Siemens’ wind division – just as Tanti was launching Suzlon.

Nauen said: “He saw the need to fight climate change much earlier than others and started a mission for which he will be remembered – in India and in the whole world.

“But he was also a very kind human being that had respect for all his employees and all people and loved his family above anything. He was one of the best people I ever worked with.”

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Shri 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. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti.”

Suzlon had faced financial and operational challenges in recent years – even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – as India’s wind market slowed down after its shift to auctions, and following the 2007-09 global financial crisis, as well as a blade-cracking issue.

However, since restructuring its debt in 2020, Suzlon has started to announce turbine orders again and turned a profit in its 2022 financial year (1 April to 31 March).