With India on track to achieve its renewable energy targets, LONGi Solar, the largest supplier of solar panels globally, has been instrumental in serving the country’s need for reliable, affordable, and innovative solar panels.
In India, the company has been present for more than five years and has now consolidated its position as the largest exporter with the highest market share.
SolarQuarter got an exclusive opportunity to interview Mr. Pradeep Kumar, MD – LONGi Solar India.
Pradeep is a dynamic leader and one of the solar industry’s top emerging talents. He is specifically credited with turning around businesses through robust decision-making and thoughtful strategy. In his present role, he works as the Managing Director for LONGi Solar India and has been instrumental in shaping LONGi’s business in the country with his astute leadership. From being in 17th position in 2019, LONGi Solar has now emerged as the undisputed market leader in the country with over 25% market share over the last two years.
SolarQuarter sat down with Pradeep for a quick Q&A, below are the excerpts.
The company is doing exceptionally well globally and in India what do you attribute your key reasons for the success in the Indian market?
For any successful company, there are three to four main components that make it a market leader, first is the technology, here LONGi has been a trendsetter with 0.6 Billion investment so far in the R&D, and that is most likely the highest in the solar industry, setting a benchmark. This also helps us in scaling the latest in a way that is very difficult to imitate and giving our products a clear edge technologically. Developers understand this well and that’s one of the prime reasons for our global and Indian success.
Secondly, it’s the sheer scale of our manufacturing, that helps us to get an edge, last year we had more than 105GW of Wafer capacity and more than 60 GW of module capacity, making us a market leader. And finally, there is “reliability” which is a critical component for any successful solar manufacturer, since a system needs to perform for 25-30 years and there is a huge cost involved, with LONGi our full focus has been to add to customer value, and therefore we introduced ‘LONGi Lifecycle Quality’ a comprehensive technical quality standardization management, covering the whole lifecycle of both modules and power plants, the company now represents an industry benchmark for quality and reliability. Add to it our financial stability and also numerous certifications, it’s a recipe for success. But, there is one more ingredient for our sharp rise in the Indian market and that is the India first approach with an Indian team that is focused and tailor-made to serve our customers here in India.
What are the key challenges that you see in the Indian market and what’s LONGi’s strategy for India in the short run and long run?
There have been multiple challenges not just for LONGi but for the industry overall, and some of them are related to the external environment, like the supply-chain issues and the ship-freights and others are policy related, and it makes life tougher for everyone, but especially for the large-scale developers who are critical for India to achieve its renewable energy targets. So, there is a rise in the solar module, owning to upstream pressures and then there is a massive 40% duty on the imports add to it the rise in the interest rates, so you have the margins shrinking a lot and it would eventually impact the scale of the solar installations in the country. We at LONGi are very clear that even though at present there are multiple challenges at the moment, the long-term prospects remain positive, and we are confident that this will change eventually, and we have a distinct advantage here in India with our local team which is highly experienced.
What do you have to comment on the increasing role of the Government and its impact on the business?
Unlike other industries, Government has a far bigger role to play in the renewable energy industry since energy is a national core concern. As a developing nation with global aspirations, the demand for energy is ever increasing, and at a conservative estimate, the
demand for energy in our country would be rising more than 4% per annum, which would mean an addition of 16GW of additional capacity requirement every year and that’s on top of the Govt’s aspiration for 280 GW of Solar by 2030, so overall we are looking at more than 30-35 GW of capacity needed for the next 7-8 years, and that’s massive and needs collaborative efforts of both the domestic and international manufacturers like LONGi.
However, it need not be ‘either’ and ‘or’, what we need is a more nuanced and tailor-made approach where both these priorities are well balanced because both are critical for India’s new energy independence and the common denominator in both these diverging sides is
technology. We need to be on the technology’s side, which will truly differentiate and accelerate our journey, and we know that the policymakers understand this well.
Global market leaders like LONGi with its cutting-edge R&D and massive scale are partners for the Indian Developers as we are committed to a long-term future for India and creating a win-win situation that is not dictated by the current binary, there is enough room for both these to thrive together and India needs both these to successfully accomplish its 2030 target of 280 GW of renewable capacity.