“L&T Has Made Significant Breakthroughs in the Middle East Region” Shaji John, L&T Construction

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Larsen & Toubro is a US$ 21 billion, Indian technology, engineering, construction, and manufacturing conglomerate, operating in over 30 countries worldwide. Globally, L&T Construction, the construction arm of L&T is one among the top 15 EPC Contractors. Further, L&T Construction, is India’s largest construction organization offering end to end, EPC solutions to execute large scale industrial and infrastructure projects from concept to commissioning. 

In an exclusive interview with Mr Shaji John, Head-Business Development (Domestic & Global Markets), Renewables Business, Power Transmission and Distribution IC, L&T Construction, Larsen and Toubro Ltd., we got some valuable insights on L&T’s Renewable Business. Mr Shaji also talked about the various projects the company is undertaking along with the digital transformation initiatives. We also got insights on the company’s future plans and its way forward.

1.  Could you brief our readers about the engineering capacity – both in terms of innovation and execution of L&T’s Renewable Business Unit?

The Renewables Business of L&T Construction, is one of the leading players in the solar segment with proven EPC capabilities to indigenously design and execute utility scale solar projects including power evacuation systems. 

With more than a decade of experience in the solar segment, the company has a strong track record with vast experience in various module technologies, module mounting systems, storage technologies, etc. L&T surpassed a significant milestone of 5 GWp of Solar EPC Portfolio with its commissioned and under execution projects globally. L&T offers economically viable, technically superior, bankable solar power project solutions. Internationally, L&T  has established a huge presence in the Middle East Renewables Market and is rapidly expanding into the renewables markets of Africa, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) regions. 

L&T’s Renewables Business has developed engineering capacities for utility-scale solar ground mounted, solar-wind hybrid, floating solar, battery energy storage and large microgrid segments.

2. Please tell us about the Battery energy storage solution that L&T provides.

L&T offers in-house products solutions such as containerised battery energy storage solution, solar trackers including bifacial adaptability, automated module cleaning systems, mobile solar generator cum storage solution and operation and maintenance services. 

L&T’s containerised solution for battery energy storage systems (BESS) is an all-in-one design including power electronics, control systems and advanced battery technologies. With its flexible and scalable design, the company offers solutions ranging from kW to MW scale. The storage solution is specifically designed for a plug-and-play model, to reduce installation time. L&T’s newly constructed BESS integration facility is located at Kanchipuram, near Chennai. Various tests are also carried out on integrated containers by replicating site conditions, to ensure smooth operation at sites. 

3.What have been some of your recent projects and how does the project pipeline look like? 

Among the numerous achievements across the renewables sector since its inception, L&T, recently commissioned India’s first large-scale solar PV-cum-battery energy storage project in Andaman and India’s first MW scale Floating solar project in Andhra Pradesh.

Presently, L&T is executing multiple large-scale projects: 230 MW ground-mounted solar PV project in Tamil Nadu, 490 MW+ of ground mounted solar PV Projects in Gujarat, and another prestigious MW Scale floating solar PV project of 20 MW in Uttar Pradesh. Further, L&T is having a strong pipeline of projects cumulating to 1.5 GW+ under various stages of discussion. Globally, L&T has made significant breakthroughs in the Middle East Region with over 1.5 GW of projects and in ASEAN, began construction of a battery energy storage project in Thailand.

4. How do you ensure that the safety and quality parameters are met at your project sites? 

Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) is a core value engrained in L&T. Well established systems are in place and are holistically implemented at all stages of construction. L&T is accredited with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. L&T has a strong focus on quality and safety standards, despite stringent timelines in renewables projects.

5. L&T had announced a strategic initiative for digital transformation. Could you please provide some details? 

Launched in March 2019, the company’s technology platform, L&T NxT, leverages the group’s deep industry domain expertise, information technology capabilities and learnings from the digital transformation of their diverse businesses to deliver disruptive digital outcomes for its global customers. Some of the digital initiatives implemented in renewables projects are drone-based geospatial surveys, worker availability, machine and material tracking, project progress monitoring, and vision analytics-enabled quality control. These initiatives optimise the productivity of resources, avoid project delays and cost overruns. L&T Nxt has launched several digital initiatives to maximise yield and reduce unplanned downtime to reduce operating costs and risks in solar plant O&M like online condition monitoring and predictive maintenance of critical plant assets, optimised spares stocking, optimised worker availability and yield maximisation, as well as remote monitoring of renewable assets.

6. What are the current and potential challenges faced by the solar EPC sector in India these days? 

Some of the key challenges faced by solar players in India are plummeting tariffs, introduction of basic customs duty, rising module prices, commodity price fluctuations and logistical issues. Further, operating during the on-going pandemic poses many challenges for EPC players along with delays and cancellation of PPA that affect the pipeline visibility. However, it is anticipated that market will stabilize in the next six months to one-year timeline 

7. What is the way forward for the RE sector and L&T specially?

With the government planning to establish 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, there is a lot to look forward to as the renewables market is moving towards round the clock power supply backed with a range of storage solutions.  

In addition, the huge influx of foreign developers and investors into the market, lays greater emphasis on construction quality and bankable EPC partners.

With L&T’s engineering knowhow, technologies such as bifacial modules on trackers, and massive mechanised and digitalised construction resources, we  are  well placed to give customers the edge with total solutions for large EPC tenders of 1-2 GW scale. L&T is constantly innovating and exploring various new and advanced technologies like bifacial trackers, battery storage solutions for various applications etc. Further, L&T sees Green Hydrogen as a next big game changer in the renewables market and aims to become a Global EPC solution provider for green hydrogen projects. 

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