Below are the excerpts of our recent interview with Mr. Andrew Upton, Managing Director, Seaward Group
Could we begin with Isothermal and Seaward’s collaboration in India?
Our business relationship with Iso Thermal PVT Ltd goes back over 10 years. Initially our business relationship involved trading in Micrometers, and over that time we got to know the company’s professionalism, passion and drive.
Seaward Group is a manufacturer of electrical test instrumentation for a variety of different industry sectors. As a company we are constantly developing and looking for markets which are going to evolve and are focused on providing safe electricity. With the emergence of renewable energy, we thought it was important to start investing in the sector, and that’s where our paths crossed about four or five years ago. It was a natural progression for us to work with a trusted partner, and we turned to Iso Thermal PVT Ltd because it is well-established and well-respected in the Indian market.
What have been some of the recent developments at your organisation?
Our latest model is the PV200, it is a fully integrated and very easy to use, multi- function PV safety tester with I-V curve tracing functionality.
We believe in ensuring that renewable energy is also safe energy, and it was that methodology which led us to an earlier model, the PV150. This was a game-changer for electrical contractors in the solar industry, as they could ensure that their installations were electrically safe and there were no hazards or fire risks.
When you are in an emerging market, such as renewables are in India, it is important to gain the confidence and trust of our users. We want to protect our reputation through facilitating good practice and quality installations.
The best way for us to ensure that solar testing is both safe and efficient is to use IV curve tracing. This is the thinking behind our latest products: integrating IV curve tracing technology with electrical safety. The result is our PV200 instrument which is the world’s first combined multi-function electrical safety tester and performance tester for the solar market.
Can you tell us a bit about the recent technology advancements in this sector?
The PV industry is currently making the move from 1000V to 1500V systems. 1500V provides us with longer strings, which brings down the overall balance of system cost.
However, testing at such a high voltage is difficult and as an industry we must innovate and move with the market demand.
It is great visiting exhibitions like Intersolar India and Renewable Energy India because it helps us to understand the market issues and challenges installers are facing.
What are your growth plans for the Indian market and what are the mile- stones you wish to achieve?
India is a very exciting market for us and offers many opportunities. The challenge is how to access the Indian market but still offer our renowned level of customer ser- vice and quality that we offer in the United Kingdom.
We hope to offer all of the above by working with our local partner Iso Thermal PVT India Ltd to educate the market, sharing our expertise on the importance of testing and the benefits it brings. With that we trust that local PV operators in India will adopt Seaward as their measurement partner and we will be able to make a positive impact on the growing Indian PV market.
What have been the latest trends in demand for your products and services in India? Where do you see the next demand growth coming from?
Solar PV technology has been installed in a range of different contexts throughout India, from off grid systems in out-laying areas to large-scale grid connected systems. In 2016, 10GW was installed in India alone and the expansion of the PV industry is only set to continue. With this in mind, the time is now for us to set in place regulation that will ensure high standards in energy production, energy efficiency and electrical safety.
We are in an advantageous position as the framework for safely commissioning, operating and maintaining PV plants has been outlined by the International Electrotechnical Commission in its IEC 62446:2016 standard. While this standard has been voluntarily adopted by the majority of the global PV industry, if we are to maintain growth and keep energy production high, it must become the mandatory standard.
The national adoption of this international standard will allow for the growth of not only Seaward but the Indian PV industry as a whole.