Solar power sector is witnessing explosive growth

  • Interviews
  • Nov 30,-1
An interview with RelyOn Solar Private Limited to learn more about the company and the future growth of solar installations in India.
Solar power sector is witnessing explosive growth

An interview with RelyOn Solar Private Limited to learn more about the company and the future growth of solar installations in India.

I n June 2016, a research report issued by Bridge to India (BTI), a renewable energy consulting firm, stated that with expected new capacity addition of 5.4 gigawatt (GW), India will become the fourth-largest solar market globally, overtaking the UK, Germany and France. “The Indian solar market appears in full bloom right now. As many as 25 GW of projects are under different stages of development. The market is growing at an exponential rate, about 35 new tenders with a cumulative capacity of 15.5 GW were announced in 2015 and an additional 5 GW of new tenders were announced in 2016,” it added. In June 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased India’s target for solar power by five times from 20,000 MW to 1,00,000 MW 2022.

Against this background, IPF interviewed Suhas Pansare, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, RelyOn Solar Private Limited to learn more about the company and what lies ahead. Excerpts:

Could you provide an overview of your company’s operations?

RelyOn Solar is a niche player in the solar rooftop segment in India and was set up by Dr Gundu Sabde in 2010. We offer the best of technology advantage to our customers through our in-depth knowledge of solar PV domain, global supply chain and in-house R&D, which helps us in catering to our customers in terms of exceeding industry norms. The company has an installation base of 1,800+ solar PV systems (both grid-tied and off-grid) across 16 states of India. We also have an installation in UAE – which is one the best rooftop solar plants viz. the MESIA Conference in Dubai. With this technological edge, RelyOn Solar has developed unique applications and products for the solar market.

What prompted the company to foray into solar energy?

India offers one of the best potentials for solar power. For a power-starved country like India, dependence on conventional fuels (coal) has inherent issues – heavy dependence on foreign countries on supply of good quality coal and at an affordable price. This means a big risk for our energy needs. Over the last five years, solar PV systems have become competitive with respect to conventional sources of power. Moreover, its distributed nature makes it a best candidate for rooftop installation and penetration even in the most remote villages of India. And with economics driving the movement, it is of course advantageous to adopt solar power. It was a combination of such factors that led to our company entering the solar power segment

How was the scenario in solar energy at the time of the company’s launch and how has it changed to what it is today?

During our initial years of operations i.e. 2010-12, the solar power market was driven by government subsidies and limited to a few states. However, 2014 saw a dramatically positive change in this sector. The central government declared an ambitious target of 100 GW for solar power over the next eight years. This was accompanied with a steep fall in the prices of solar PV modules. Then Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) came up with attractive subsidy schemes. These factors triggered the growth of the market. Industrial and commercial consumers started adopting solar power as it made economic sense to them.

Could you provide details of some of your company’s installations?

Some of our major installations include Chennai Airport (1,600 KW), Siddhivinayak Cotton Spinning Mill (1,150 KW), MIT - Pune, Latur, Pandharpur (1,200 KW), RDB Rasayan - West Bengal (565 KW), Season’s Mall (560 KW), Begumpet Airport (500 KW), Institute of Chemical Technology (430 KW), Konkan Railway (350 KW), Godrej (190 KW), Forbes Marshall (140 KW), Gabriel India Ltd. (410 KW), and many others.

Could you elaborate about your installations in the Middle East?

RelyOn Solar has installed a unique 220 KW grid solar power plant at UAE. The uniqueness of this project lies in the fact it involves Li-Ion-based batteries. This caters to operations of the entire factory on solar power. In view of the above points, this project was awarded the best innovative rooftop solar power project by the Middle East Solar Industries Association of the UAE.

What is the company’s field of expertise within the solar energy segment?

RelyOn Solar has created a niche for itself in distributed (or captive) solar power systems. We analyse various factors like load pattern, available space, local regulations, and shadow analysis of the proposed installation. Based on this, we offer appropriate solutions to our customers with the aim of maximising the savings. The company has an exceptional expertise on selecting and specifying the correct bill of material for solar modules. This is a critical factor as solar panels are supposed to last for 25 years with specified performance. This is due to our deep knowledge of manufacturing processes, quality systems, etc. This has resulted in consistent performance of our installations, exceeding committed generation. Moreover, we have developed a supplier base from among global Tier 1 companies. This assures the customers best-in-class components in the plants.

What are your expansion plans for the next 2-3 years? What has been the percentage growth since establishment?

The solar power sector is witnessing explosive growth. We are one of the few companies in this domain who have seen sustainable growth over the past five years. RelyOn Solar has diversified into providing an efficient solar power management system. This system offers a solution to arrest the reverse flow of power into the grid, DG synchronization and remote monitoring of the performance. Recently we launched row trackers for ground-mounted systems. As a result, the output generation increased by 15-19% with incremental cost of less than 9% for the trackers.

What will be the future trend in use of solar energy, both in the residential and commercial space?

On one side solar power is becoming attractive as a cheaper source of power for industries and the commercial segment. However, the biggest limitation for solar power is limited window (8 am – 6 pm) of its availability. This puts a strain on grid infrastructure. The future area for exploration in solar power is 24 x 7 availability. This can be achieved through efficient storage (battery) systems, hybrid installation, reverse hydro, etc.

What kind of R&D is the company engaged in?

RelyOn Solar is one of the exceptions in the sense that we have a full-fledged R&D facility to develop and commercialize products and applications for solar power. Efficient solar power management system, row tracker, off-grid inverter, DC water pumps are examples of this success.

 – HUNED CONTRACTOR

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