In an insightful interview with SolarQuarter India, Mr. Manish Bagadia, Managing Director, Grace Renewables shares his view on the contribution of New &
Renewable Energy in helping India lessen its dependence on Oil import & save on foreign exchange. His updates will help the readers understand the sector in greater detail.
- Can you please share some of the key products / services offered by your Company?
Grace is one of the leading solar EPC solution providers in India with a focus on providing world class quality and cost effective solar solutions to our customers. We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of solar products and services, ranging from Solar EPC services for Residential, Commercial & Industrial segments to Utility scale projects and Solar PV modules.Our philosophy is to enable energy independence to our clients by reducing their dependency on fossil fuel and create a lasting impact on social well-being.
We are also the exclusive channel partner of leading solar module manufacturing company and have built strong partnerships with many leading global technology providers to extend our reach to our clients globally.Grace is actively engaged in development of various solar projects in India and across the globe. We have rich experience and exposure of executing projects conforming to international standards.
As we have already installed a solar project in Indonesia, have projects under execution in Nepal and presently developing a 4 MW solar project in Africa.
- Any interesting projects OR product development in the pipeline, which you would like to share with our readers?
Grace is actively engaged in development of various solar projects in India and across the globe. In India, we have an approx 10 MW capacity project still in the pipeline. In addition, we have rich experience and exposure of executing projects conforming to international standards. As we have already installed a solar project in Indonesia, have projects under execution in Nepal and presently developing a 4 MW solar project in Africa. Grace is always at the forefront of adopting technologies to innovate. We are working on Building Integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) projects to offer smart energy solutions in order to satisfy our client needs. With 60+ MW of turnkey projects commissioned across the globe, Grace has had an impeccable record in India and abroad across various geographies and segments. Our focus on quality and customized solutions has allowed us to maintain a leadership position in the solar sector.
- Your view on the contribution of New & Renewable Energy in helping India lessen its dependence on Oil import & save on foreign exchange. Also your take on the rising interests amongst investors across the globe on India’s Renewable Energy sector.
During this pandemic crisis, people at large have fathomed the need to be self reliant.
Subsequent disruptions in the supply chain from China during lockdown has adversely impacted India’s ambitious solar target of achieving 100 GW by 2022. In order to combat this, the Government of India is aggressively pushing Make in India policy, which can be a welcome move for the solar industry to become more self reliant.
Further a favourable solar policy framework from centre and state government can provide much needed push to boost the solar sector eventually adding to the solar power generation capacity of India.
India has favourable climatic conditions which ensures 300 sunny days in a year with the daily average solar energy incident over India varies from 4 to 7 Kwh/m2. This unlocks huge potential for the solar energy sector. Renewable industry in India has tremendous potential taking into consideration the government’s intentions of energy transition through clean energy and affordable power, the opportunities are immense.
Another reason would be high return on investment; the solar industry ensures 30-35% ROI in the captive sector and in the case of the government PPA and Opex sector it offers only 15% ROI. This has echoed well with the thought process of many investors and seen a steady increase in investment in this sector at domestic and international level.
- How scientifically & technologically are we, including your company, equipped to innovate and gear up to meet the requirements in future?
India has made significant progress in promoting renewable energy through various policy frameworks and public platforms. However, in these days where the Government of India is emphasizing on becoming Atmanirbhar by boycotting Chinese goods, the Indian solar industry is heavily dependent on Chinese products where almost 80% of solar components are imported from China. Currently India is just a follower of China and European market when it comes to the renewable energy industry and nowhere leading the technology and innovation market. This brings up a very important question that does an Indian developer have core competence, robust policy framework, infrastructure and ecosystem to innovate. Positively to boost the solar manufacturing industry in India, manufacturing linked solar tender were floated by SECI.
- With your years of experience in this all important space, your advice/tips to all those following this vibrant sector.
Over the years, people have become more aware of the benefits accruing from installation of Solar rooftops in their homes or factories. This is evident with the customer interactions we have on a daily basis who are eager to switch to solar energy for their power needs. It is just a matter of time till you will get to see rooftop solar in every household and industry. Although, we as an industry must proceed with caution. One needs to be vary of the fact that this mindset shift can soon change if we do not focus on a key parameter for the customers – Quality. This sector is plagued with cost competitiveness and a blind eye is given towards quality. It is not only the responsibility of the manufacturers and developers but also of the customers to understand that quality of product should be of paramount importance, even superseding the price. It is clear that one who ensures the right mix of quality and price will succeed in this aggressively contested market.
- How has been the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in the RE sector? How do you see the recovery in the sector and future for the industry?
The renewable energy sector was on a high growth trajectory before the pandemic hit. However during the lockdown phase people have realized that we need to be responsible towards nature and the planet. The awareness and interest about renewable energy, its long term benefits and benefits to the environment has increased significantly post lockdown.
Also people who had already installed the wind of solar power projects have seen benefits during the lockdown that in spite of the fact that the entire world was at a standstill, they could still reap the benefits of renewable energy. We believe that with the correct government policies and push, the target of 175GW by 2022 is achievable.
- As a developer what key challenges do you face today?
Today the solar industry is facing an existential threat and that too from a totally unexpected source, Central Government Policy change!! Recently MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) announced changes in the solar policy regarding gross metering which has completely changed the financial equations for solar rooftop project ROI. As the readers might be aware that currently for solar installations by Industrial or Residential customers, net metering facility is available which provides set off in the electricity bill for the solar units generated. This provides a return on investment within 3 to 5 years depending on the project capacity and consumption. However recently MNRE has come out with a notification, which states that any project over 10KW will not be able to avail the benefits of net metering. As per the new notification, all projects over 10KW will be considered for gross metering which states that all solar units generated by rooftop projects will be purchased by the discom at a fixed tariff instead of providing a set off against the energy consumed by the prosumers. This reduces the IRR for the solar projects above 10KW and increases the payback period of the projects. As such projects above 10KW form bulk of the orders for the Rooftop solar industry and hence it would be a very challenging future if the Gross metering policy is implemented If the gross metering policy is implemented across all states, then it will be an unprecedented detriment to the adoption of solar power by the public at large. All the effort and time spent towards educating the customers regarding the benefits of solar power and the infrastructure created towards the same, will be laid to waste. The Solar industry will undergo tremendous job losses and thousands of crores of investment might become bad debts. Our Solar Industry Associations have made multiple representations to the MNRE and hope for a positive outcome from the government side to encourage the adoption of Solar Energy by the public at large.
- What is your outlook for the future of the Rooftop solar industry? How can it help fulfil India’s commitment towards the Paris Climate Accord?
We believe that the Rooftop Solar industry is primed for take-off and the only thing holding it back is the gross metering notification recently announced by MNRE. Currently the installed Rooftop Solar capacity is near 6 GW which is just 3 % of the total energy requirement of India. We believe that we can achieve the targeted 40GW Rooftop capacity with the positive government policies.
The technology for solar power generation has reached a point where it has become commercially viable without relying on any subsidies from the government. As is evident from bids received in the recent auctions for utility scale projects, the power cost has reached Rs 2/ unit. So we believe that the Rooftop solar industry would grow exponentially and significantly contribute towards the reduction of GreenHouse Gases.