Featured Talks With – Pradeep Kumar, Director of Business for India and Sri Lanka, Longi Solar

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Please tell us about your journey with LONGi? How has it been so far?

We all know that the industry is going through a lot of uncertainties over the past couple of years. Building the business base for Longi in India, and building a reliable team to do business has been very much challenging under such circumstances. LONGi is indeed the largest solar company in the world with module capacity exceeding 50 GW per annum, and also the largest wafer manufacturer in the world with capacities exceeding 100GW per annum. While the Covid-19 crisis is the biggest shock to the global energy system in over past 70 years, solar power represents the most stable option in the marketplace. Under such a scenario, the journey has been very much exciting and I hope it will be much more challenging and promising in days to come. 

What have been the major business developments for LONGi in the current year?

Till the end of 2019, Longi Indian business was at a very small scale. We started with the small and contented team by end of 2019 with a focused approach to the Indian market. We could do around 1.5GW supplies to India in 2020 with our initial efforts. Now we are about 60 members dedicated to Indian business, with a mix of Indian and Chinese employees, including all sales and non-sales functions. This team takes care of the entire business with a completely decentralized approach in terms of decision-making. We have built a strong base and strong relationship with customers which we will continue in years to come, and strive to maintain the market leadership in terms of shipments every year and also to be the first in introducing advanced reliable and sustainable technology in the PV module industry. This calendar year (2021), we have done around 3.8GW of shipments to India already despite facing several challenges in the industry, and hope to end with 4+GW supplies by December. We hope to do much more in years to come.

What differentiates the Indian PV module market from the International market?

Indian PV module market is a very conservative market compared to international markets. Though technology advancement plays a vital role in the generation, at what cost they are affordable to their project tariffs will play a major role. Under the National Solar Mission, India has done a phenomenal job in terms of its transition to Renewable energy. We have always been one of the top countries in the world when it comes to adding renewable capacity. The major reason is, we have been implementing a proactive approach towards the acceptance of new technologies and working closely with all reliable and bankable partners – thus making the projects very competitive and reliable for the long term. The strategy from the government looks promising with an intent to develop Renewable energy on a massive scale over the next 10-15 years. So is the strategy from investors and project developers, who continues to do GW-level projects despite facing a lot of challenges in the industry over the past couple of years. India is indeed a very promising market for us.

What have been some product and technological innovations at LONGi that you would like to highlight?

In terms of technology innovations, LONGi’s technological innovation will quickly be transformed to mass production and be promoted and applied on the consumer side, promoting the continuous reduction of the cost of PV power. From the monocrystalline technology, PERC cell, Bifacial PERC, Half-cut, M6 standard wafer and M10 ultimate size, we all did a great contribution to the PV industry by improving the quality and reliability of solar PV systems. For example, Diamond-wire slicing was introduced into mass production to the PV industry by LONGi, which saved almost 4 billion dollars every year in the PV industry. It can increase production capacity significantly and also reduce the wafer manufacturing cost. Also, LONGi’s bifacial module has been well accepted by global customers. Until now, over 20GW bifacial modules have been shipped to global customers. Bifacial modules account for 30-40% of the global market share now. The bifacial module can utilize the backside light and generate more power and the double glass structure is more reliable, thus can deliver more value to our customers. We can see this year more and more Indian customers begin to choose bifacial modules. Another key innovation is LONGi’s Hi-MO 5 based on M10(182mm) wafer, which also got the 2021 Intersolar award. It is also powerful evidence of technology innovation. Hi-MO5 adopts unique smart soldering technology, which can increase module efficiency by 0.3% and also reduce the stress applied on the cells resulting in better reliability. Over the past few years, we have seen a rapid advancement in technology. I think this trend will continue for the next few years and as the technology improves we will see higher reliability and efficiency. We are constantly working on new technologies such as P and N-type, mono HIT, BIPV solutions etc – we believe our job is to bring the best product which can be produced on a large scale to satisfy our customer’s needs.

What is LONGi’s India growth strategy for 2022? What is going to be the main focus of development?

The country is already working on the initial target of having 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 which includes 100 GW of solar. Furthermore, the targets for 2030 looks very promising and encouraging for any solution provider. From a technology provider’s perspective, this number is clearly a piece of music to our ears and we strongly believe India has the potential to achieve its plans. We think technology will play a key role in bringing renewable energy cost further down to make it more lucrative. Solar is now a tested and reliable source of power. We will continue to build our base, enrich our relationships by providing the most reliable and efficient solutions to all our customers in India. In 2020, the Indian solar industry saw a major transition from poly to Mono. In 2021, we could see that the Indian market is shifting towards bifacial technology. 2022 – we will roll out our new products with new technology, which will make solar more affordable and reliable.

How do you see the Indian module industry evolving in the coming years?

We at Longi very much welcome the PM’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and understand that this concept is of strategic importance for India to manufacture locally with an ultimate aim to achieve energy independence. However, it will require a lot of creative thinking and hard work. The solar industry has a lot of overcapacities globally, but India being a large market on its own, does give us an advantage as of now. In terms of opportunities and challenges – We have recently heard a lot of announcements of new capacity addition in cells and modules including the manufacturing tender. We as a country must focus on not just assembling cells into modules but to bring the entire supply chain into India. For Longi, being the biggest company globally in this field in monocrystalline technology, India has always been tempting for us to set up a shop and we are currently engaging with local partners to see if something can be worked out. If policies look favorable and stable for the long run, we are also on our toes to put up a manufacturing base in India. We are definitely here for the long run. However I would like to end my statement with caution by saying that: Developing the entire supply chain is not easy it will take a lot of time, investment and hard work. We are on the right track and the Indian module industry would be achieving new heights in years to come with the government rolling out more favorable policies for local manufacturing.

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