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In Conversation With – Sunil Badesra, Country Head-Sungrow India

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How many Inverters have you supplied to India till now?  

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In India, Sungrow has achieved 10 GW shipments up till now. We will continue to offer our world-class products and services, and accelerate the step to fulfill our mission of “Clean power for all” in the future.

Budget 2021 increased Import Duty as BCD on Inverters in India. Do you think the government will increase it more in the near future? If yes, do you plan to make it in India?

The government has imposed a 22 percent duty on inverters. Many competitors have dropped the prices, and rather than focusing on local production, their focus is on price reduction. Sungrow already has a manufacturing setup in India. With a unique perspective, our focus is on the manufacturing setup in India and therefore, we have expanded it from 3 GW to 10 GW annual production including PCB manufacturing line and testing facilities. Further, Sungrow is committed to improve the capacity required as per the market demand.

What are the biggest challenges in India’s goal of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030? How much can we achieve by 2022, 2025 and 2030?

In my opinion, India can achieve the target of 175 GW. The next target of 450 GW by the year 2030 is also achievable. The coming policies are supporting the mission, but the challenge is that the policies need to be planned in advance. Stable policies are required to take care of inverters, modules, or other suppliers whose components are used in solar projects. We want the government to address those challenges.

What are your views on Inverters- Make in India?

Sungrow is always promoting “Make in India”, which is the best part where we talk about such a big GW capacity in India, which is not limited to modules but inverters, cable and the major components used in any solar project also part of it. SUNGROW has a 10 GW setup here in India.

What are the current opportunities and the biggest challenges in Indian Solar Market?

A lot of big projects are coming in all segments like Utility, C&I, the MSME sector and other sectors like residential are also booming. C&I segment is playing a vital role in achieving the solar target. There is no limitation in residential. We have such a big population and potential in India for the residential segment. Currently, I think it is not going up to the mark, but I would say that it will grow a lot in the coming years. In India, we are full of potential which can be utilized in the solar segment.

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From a challenging perspective, especially, in the residential segment, the policies keep on changing. There are some challenges related to government policies, which is a major parameter not only for the investors and manufacturers but for overall solar development growth like the Net metering policy. Such problems come up regularly until the policies are not aligned as per the market requirement.

What are the expectations from the Indian Government, Policy Makers and Regulators?

As a manufacturer, we want the kind of PLI scheme, which has been given to the module manufacturer and missing for the inverter manufacturer. In my opinion, if such motivations also continue for inverter manufacturers, then it will help the solar and renewable market in India. Aside from this, the policies/guidelines that hamper the project timeline and other things should be avoided. As a supplier, we understand if a delay happens because of the pandemic, but like in the case of tariff revision, they are expecting revision in products and pricing as well, which negatively impacts the market. These kinds of things should not happen as it demotivates manufacturers and developers. 

Kindly enlighten our readers on the performance of your Inverters in India in various geographic locations and customer feedback?

Seven years ago, we commissioned our first project with a string inverter, and it’s almost six and a half years since we first installed our central inverter. The same customer has given us multiple orders in the last six years, reflecting our product quality and service offerings.  

Sungrow has wide experience in India. In the Rajasthan area, string and central both are commissioned in high-temperature zones and operating perfectly fine. We have supplied our string and central inverters in other areas, like the ones near the sea, and performing well. So, we have products that can sustain all kinds of environments. So, the geographic location of the project is not a challenge for us. We have many performance appreciations letters from our customers in all the segments.

Please tell us in brief about your company.

Sungrow India is a big team, and we are continuously growing. It is more than seven years in India, and we are going to be in this market for a long time. With the kind of products and solutions we offer to Indian customers, I am confident that Sungrow is going to remain in this market forever.

What is the size of your company in terms of manufacturing capacities, growth chart, future expansion plans, revenues, shipments etc.?

In total, including India and oversees set up, Sungrow has 90 GW of annual production capacity Sungrow is ready for the fulfillment of future demand. We have storage solutions as well and a separate set-up for that. In terms of finances, Sungrow is a listed company so everything is open. In India, we have a 10 GW manufacturing set up and we have the service team and operations set up. Everything is ready in India.

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Describe the various technologies and their suitable applications such as Central Inverter, String, Micro Inverter, 1500V inverter, Outdoor, Container solutions etc.?

We have the products which suit the requirements of all the customers as per their project. We have string inverters, majorly used for the rooftop segment and utility-scale (provided the land is uneven). If it is a small project size, we always recommend from our side that string inverters are better. Whereas in case, customer has a big land, and the land is flat, it is always recommended from our side to use the central inverters.

On the technological front, 1500V inverters are already there in the market. Looking forward, we are expecting that this voltage is going to be higher. In terms of micro-inverter, it is a bit costlier. So as per the Indian market scenario, I would not recommend these kinds of inverters because we have seen many companies which keep on launching new products but later on when products need service, they are not able to provide them. So, I would say it is better to use new technology. The new technology keeps on coming in string and central inverter as well. We have all the products which are required by the Indian industry. We are continuously launching our new innovative products, in future also, we are ready for the kind of requirement that comes.

Kindly comment on Energy Storage as a game-changer, its technology, cost trends etc.

In energy storage, recently there were two tenders – one in Chhattisgarh and the other one is in Leh. We have proposed our solution to EPCs and the developer, who are bidding on this project.

In past, the storage was not taken so seriously, and now it is considered seriously. Still, the storage solution is not getting viable. Customers are expecting better pricing, but we are also dependent on our vendors. So, battery pricing is going to take some more time. I think the EV and storage market is going to move together. Maybe after three or five years, we can expect to see some sharp price decrease in the battery pricing. After that, I would say that the energy storage market will pick up. Right now, projects are happening but not to that level. Energy storage has good potential, and Sungrow is also looking at it.

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Kindly highlight your product, technology & company USP’s, distinctive advantages etc.

Sungrow is a global company and that’s our major strength. Our products have been accepted across the globe, reflecting the quality and different kinds of solutions the company provides. We keep on growing and launching new products as per customer requirements.

What are the trends in new manufacturing technology equipment, materials, processes, innovations etc.?

Till now, majorly assembly was happening in the production in India. Sungrow is taking the next step now, even though we are setting up the assembly line manufacturing here. All the PCBs used inside the inverters are going to get locally manufactured. We are doing this because we have a long-term plan to stay in India. We want to make as much as we can make this product locally and support the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

We are targeting to have at least 50% of local content, by this assembly line manufacturing under the latest technology, testing laboratories and other things in our factory. We are going to have a world-class testing facility in our factory.

What is your commitment to the solar sector in India?

Our commitment to the solar industry is to provide a good quality product, good quality service. In the end, we want to contribute as much as we can. At least we are targeting to achieve 40 percent of what the government is targeting.

What are the expectations from Tech Suppliers like Modules, Inverters, BOS, Trackers etc? What is the tech solution you are thinking of deploying?

Everything has to go together for any technology up-gradation. All these complement each other. Technology up-gradation is happening in all the fields, and this market is going to innovate constantly. Otherwise, it is going to be tough for everyone. Aggressive bidding and other things will not be possible that easily.

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