In a first-of-its-kind initiative to support the government’s efforts in achieving its ambitious solar power generation target of 100 gigawatt (GW) by 2022, Waaree Energies, the Indian arm of global renewable major Waaree Group, plans to open around 1,000 solar experience centres in the next one year across India. The plan is to meet the growing requirement of electricity from the rural and un-electrified regions across India. The company sees an addition of `500 crore to its topline from these centres in FY19. Sunil Rathi, director sales and marketing at Waaree Energies, told FE the solar business that was earlier dependent on MNRE-funded subsidies has become financially viable in the last couple of years for both the developers and the customers. Going ahead, he believes government-sponsored schemes such as UDAY for the improvement of the financial health of state discoms will compel people in rural and semi-urban areas to save for electricity as an important expense, creating huge demand for untapped electricity for power generators. “To meet the requirement from this segment, we are opening around 1,000 solar experience centres along with our business partners at the district level to provide an end-to-end service to our customers from demonstration to installation of our PV panels and inverters. Customers want distributors and service centres to be close to their house to get the issues addressed immediately,” Rathi said. Out of six centres opened till date, two were opened by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and one by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. There are two types of revenues from the business, first for the business partners who are expected to break even in less than a years’ time, and an additional top-line of `500 crore for the company in FY19, the official noted. The official accepts these centres will not be enough to handle the kind of demand that is expected to be generated in the coming years. He said as business centres grow at the district and metro levels, they will open sub-business centres at the taluka and village levels. Waaree’s total manufacturing capacity will grow to 1.2 GW at the end of March from the existing 750 MW of panel manufacturing capacity. “Our new capacity at Tumb near Vapi will add another 650 MW, which we believe will be sufficient to cater to the growing demand in the coming years,” Rathi said.
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