Hitesh Doshi_Eloectric Pumps_ProjectsMonitor—Hitesh Doshi, Chairman & Managing Director, Waaree Energies Ltd

Tell us about the capabilities of your solar module plant in Surat. How does an indigenous plant help customers in getting affordable solutions?

We have set up a 500-mw photovoltaic module manufacturing plant in Surat. We started way back in 2007 with a 30-mw manufacturing capacity unit. Over the years, we scaled up extensively and today, we have a manufacturing capacity of 500 mw. Moreover, we have a world class manufacturing facility with in-house testing equipment. This puts us right at the forefront in the solar manufacturing sector in India. We plan to double the capacity over the next one year. When it comes to providing affordable solutions, we offer best quality solar panels in the competitive price band.

From where do you source solar cells?

As frontrunners in manufacturing of solar modules in India, we offer a wide range of solar modules from 4Wp to 400Wp. Depending on the customer requirement, we can source the cells from the top quality manufacturers from India, Taiwan, Korea and China. We buy cells from the reputed manufacturers only and we carry out a thorough inspection before the cells are procured. We follow transparent processes in order to satisfy the needs of our customers. We make sure they are able to practically inspect our quality control procedures as well as the actual production with the agreed raw material of the ordered panels.

India has not yet been able to set up a local manufacturing base for solar photovoltaic cells. What are the challenges in this pursuit, and how do you see the road ahead?

There are a couple of solar manufacturers in place already in India. In fact, the country is totally prepared to set up a local manufacturing base for solar photovoltaic cells. Given the scale at which we operate, we offer best quality solar panels at the competitive price band. There is a huge investment in harnessing the technology to bring it in an application. This is one of the challenges that we are facing. Additionally, it makes more sense if it brings proper visibility for business. The government of India has already set the solar capacity target of 100 GW that includes 40 GW of rooftop and 60 GW of large and medium scale grid-connected solar power projects. The tremendous growth in the solar sector is bound to happen as a result. In the future, many international companies will soon set up a manufacturing base for producing solar photovoltaic cells in India.

Waaree has achieved integration right from the manufacturing of PV modules to turnkey construction of grid-connected PV plants. Please discuss how this integration helps in providing techno-commercial efficiency to your clients.

Over the years, Waaree has developed expertise in offering end-to-end solutions to its customers. These integrated solutions help us to have control over the supply chain as well as procure the right material at the right time at the optimal cost. Naturally, these benefits assure the peace of mind for our customer as he has to deal with only one entity. Also, the in-house engineering design and manufacturing facilitates guarantee the timely execution of projects at an optimal cost.

Tell us about some major projects (contracts) completed or under execution by Waaree Energies?

To elaborate, a 50-mw Waneep solar project is the biggest one that we have executed. Also, we recently announced the commissioning of 27.5-mw DC solar power plant for Roha Dyechem Pvt Ltd at Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan. Sprawling across 125 acres, the project is first-of-its-kind and holds its differentiation of being commissioned in a record time of 116 days. Apart from this, we have implemented sub-10 mw projects in different states for our reputed clients like Sharada Constructions, Monosteel, Haldirams, Claris Lifesciences and Abellon Energies. Our 50-mw Waaneep Solar project in Andhra Pradesh and a couple of others are under execution.

India has significantly revised its solar target to 100 GW by 2020. How feasible is this? What challenges do you foresee?

The government of India has set up an ambitious target of 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022. This is almost 30 times the existing solar set up in the country. Out of that, 40 GW is supposed to come from the rooftop installations. In the past few months, at the state government level, particularly in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana, we have seen an uptrend in terms policy revision and implementation for the installation of rooftop solar systems. But there are challenges faced by the local manufacturers in achieving the set target, for instance, procurement of Indian solar cells.

Indian solar cells are less efficient and costlier than the imported ones. The financial health of the off-takers is as much important for winning the investor’s confidence. Bankability of the projects is one of the challenges. The biggest challenge in reaching the target will be the resistance or inability of cash-strapped discoms to buy (still more expensive) solar power.

Private developers are quoting aggressively for solar projects and tariffs have dropped perceptibly over the recent years? How has technology helped in bringing down capital costs of solar PV equipment?

Technology has played a crucial role in bringing down the capital cost of solar PV equipment. The right technology used for innovation in inverters, mounting structures, engineering design is responsible for the creation of higher efficiency modules. Secondly, solar PV prices dropped significantly in the last three years, primarily due to the rapid changes in the global solar markets. In particular, the price reduction can be attributed to demand and supply imbalance and the global recession. All these factors put together help in bringing down the capital cost.

What is your view on import of (cheap) modules from China and Taiwan? Are Indian solar module makers seeking government intervention in this regard?

Our concern is not about import of modules; it is about the poor quality of these modules, which are supplied at a cheaper price, which in the long run would probably harm the industry and affect the overall efficiency and the quality of output. Additionally, in China, the industry is highly supported by the government, which enables them to sell at cheaper price. Unfortunately, in India, we don’t have any such support and hence we lack level-playing field with imported solar panels.

We understand that Waaree also exports solar modules. Which are your principal destinations? How do you maintain your cost competitiveness in the global market?

Yes, we do export solar modules to USA, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Customers do look for quality products at competitive price. Since Waaree, with its proven track record over these years, is able to provide the required quality level, the cost consideration most of the times becomes secondary. Customers do look up to us for sourcing of the modules.

While grid-connected plants will form the backbone of India’s solar pursuits, please discuss how rooftop solar can complete the picture.

The rooftop solar market in India is evolving and is bound to grow rapidly. While, at this point of time, the rooftop solar installation may not be too big, but in coming years, we will witness a huge surge in the sector. If you look at the markets like the USA, nearly 6,45000 US homes and business have gone solar and we expect a similar kind of growth momentum in India in coming years.

Given the service portfolio of Waaree Energies and India’s huge solar potential, how do you see the years ahead for your company?

Waaree energy is ranked as number one, in Indian solar panel manufacturing space as per the latest report from the country’s leading research firm in the clean-tech market, ‘ Bridge to India’. We started manufacturing way back in 2007 in India and now we offer a complete range of solar panels right from 4Wp to 400Wp panels. We are a leading EPC service provider and have collectively commissioned more than 200 mw of projects across India. Talking about the future, solar sector in India is poised for a huge growth. Very soon, it would be one of the top three countries to have expanded its footprint considerably in the solar power market. We are geared up to meet and exceed the expectations of all stakeholders in terms of supply capability and execution excellence in the years to come. So far, we have made a substantial contribution to the Indian solar industry and will continue to do so. In the process of achieving these milestones, we believe that our company will grow in leaps and bounds.

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