In Conversation With, Mr. Manoj Gupta, Vice President- Solar Business (India & Asia ), Fortum India
How do you feel about the progress of the Indian solar industry and the new policies being introduced by both state and central government?
Solar power in India is a fast-developing industry. The solar market in India looks very promising and lots of growth potential. MNRE is also trying to address various challenges related to the industry like Power Evacuation under ISTS scheme by making SECI as a Nodal agency and the land issue by incentivizing state with a recurring annual income of 2 paisa per unit of electricity generated on the land parcel allotted by the state agencies to the solar power developer.
What do you have to say about the recent Indian Budget. Was it able to address all pending concerns from its last budget for this industry?
This year’s interim budget by the Hon Minister Piyush Goyal was indicative of the government’s vision of inclusive growth for India. Fortum India appreciates the government’s focus on clean and renewable energy sources. We especially applaud the steps taken in the past years by Government of India, for improving the investor’s sentiments and helping company like Fortum to bring investment in India and to increase the usage of bio fuels, as that solves many critical issues, like saving foreign exchange, waste management and providing domestic & clean energy sources. As Fortum India, increases its presence in India in partnership to building and operating a bio-refinery with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and Chempolis, we look to support the country in its path to sustainable development. Lastly, we wish to highlight the governments’ vision for 2030 paving a way for Electric Vehicles with renewables becoming a major source of energy supply. The aim to have 30% Electric vehicles in India will surely boost the economy and put us on the world map. Together with the government, we at Fortum, look forward to work collaboratively by contributing towards technology and provide smart solutions to support India in its journey and make it an energy reliant country.
What kind of challenges have you faced as a Solar Developer in India. How is the Indian solar industry different from other countries?
As a Solar Developer, the first criterion of investment is policy for all i.e. favourable to both Indian and MNC’s, the tender process and transparency in conducting the bidding. The Government of India has been successful in this regard since the announcement of National Solar Mission program. There is a clear transparency in each and every stage of the process whether it is a central level bidding through SECI or NTPC or state level bids. The 2nd criterion is easy execution of the project ie availability of land and Power Evacuation system on time. This is still a challenging area for the developers to execute the project. Even if, there are lots of tender under the Solar park scheme but still there are various delays in handing over of clear title of land and timely availability of Evacuation system which is affecting the delay in execution of the project and ultimately affecting the profitability of business. The 3rd and last criterion is uninterrupted feeding of solar electricity to grid and timely payment by the counter party. Here also , I don’t see much of the challenges except some delay but sometime you need support from MNRE or DISCOM.
Compared to other countries, India has a very clear focus on achieving 100 GW by 2022 and also making this whole sector subsidy free. The solar tariff has already achieved the Grid parity in India in a very short span of 10 years. Another step forward is that the government has now come out with a new vision of 300 GW by 2030. It means, a long- term clear visibility for the solar developers/investors.
You are also active in EV space in India. What do you think is the future of RE & EV in our country? Will it progress hand in hand?
There is a clear interplay between EV adoption and solar power installation. While solar power would provide the green power to operate the charging station, EV shall bring in much needed flexibility to manage the variable load in the system. Further, increased adoption of EV means improved battery technology at affordable price. This will have simultaneous impact on adoption of storage in solar plant as well. This way we can say EV and Solar would supplement to each other’s large-scale adoption.