Interview (IndrajeetDudile)

IndrajeetDudile,
Co-Founder Director at PVFix
 

“Energetica India: What products does PVFix offer to the Indian solar industry?”

Indrajeet Dudile:

Introduction to PVFix
PVFix is a brand of solar mounting structures developed by Sunshot Technologies. After working for 5 years executing over 150 projects, the one thing we noticed was the lack in the availability of quality solar mounting structures. We being a young company decided to take the initiative of designing and developing cutting-edge modern mounting structures.

Though solar mounting structures come right after the modules inverters, we feel that the structure’sdesign engineering is not given needed attentionasgiven to, for example, solar modules inverters.The module mounting structure is an equally essential part because it holds the costliest investment in the projects i.e the solar modules.

In a market driven by innovation and cutting edge technologies; Sunshot Technologies is proud to present PVFix, an all new range of solar mounting structures.Most of the solar mounting structure players have limited exposure topractical requirements of the EPC from installation, layout design, longevity of the plant generation perspective. Taking this into consideration, Sunshot started developing its own PV module mounting structures from scratch with help of in-house experiencedengineering design team. We have been using them for our own projects for more than 1.5 years. The structure designs have been refined over the period after extensive trials.As a result,now, we have an excellent product line that could solve common challenges faced by small as well as large solar EPC players. Naturally, we decided to offer these products in the market of rooftopsolar power EPC companies.

Products:
PVfix now has an entire portfolio of the solar module mounting structures available for the variety of roof types that we see in India; be it a metal roof or RCC roof. Generally, roof is not maintained as good as other building areas. Therefore, roof conditions need to be taken into considerations while designing solar module mounting structures. Also, other factors such as installation time, ease of installation, fixing method with base of roof and leakage protection are equally important.

PVFixis designed and engineered keeping in mind these parameters and leverages the learning distilled from 5 years of experience across 150 installations more than 1000 sites.We have a portfolio of more than 8 variety of the structure designs catering to different requirements in the rooftop market.

“Energetica India: Did the new taxation in the form of GST impact the solar mounting structure industry in India?”

Indrajeet Dudile: I don’t see an impact of GST on solar mounting structures because the input - output GST rates are the same. If we are procuring the material required for structures we have an 18% GST rate and the same gets applied when we sell the structures, hence there is absolutely no impact.

“Energetica India: How are solar mounting structures selected by the buyer? Is it purely cost based or there are other factors that count for selection?

Indrajeet Dudile: An EPCplayer needs a solar module mounting structure “solution” which provides flexibility in layout design, easy installation, low maintenance, simplicity in shifting &storage. Additionally,structure design also needs to meet the criteria of thePV module manufacturer.Finally,the cost and lead time to supply are important factors in selection of an appropriate structure. PVFixmaintains a stock of our fast moving products so that we serve our clients within a week along with the engineering design validation. At PVFix all our structures are validated by third party agencies while some of our designs are “patent pending”. We also offer installation support and layout design support on-site pull-out tests.

To identify exact requirements,we engage with the client in a methodological manner where our engineer visits the site, assists in layout designing and identification of local roof parameters. This process helps us to offer the right solution to our clients.

We are launching our new web-basedplatform which will help clients to work out the modeling of the layout. The AI enabled tool will guide them in selecting the right type of module mounting structure. This will help in efficient and faster decision making for our clients.

“Energetica India: What kinds of problems does a solar developer/investor face due to poor solar mounting structure?”

Indrajeet Dudile: The costliest material in a solar power plant is the solar module, (approximately 55% of total project cost) held by a mounting structure. We have seen poorly designed structures leading to financial losses because of climate conditions.For example, Chennai has been facing cyclones more frequently over the last few years with erratic wind speeds, whereas dust storms are now occurring more often in northern parts of India. In such conditions, the solar plants would be experiencing difficult weather conditions. Poorly designed engineered structures shall lead to module damage, thus financial losses.In extremelywindy conditions,one could also see the modules getting dismantled and fly off in the vicinity,which can potentially injure people and damageproperties.
Companies usually go for structures based on theoretical design but we at PVFix always emphasizeon on-site testing of the products. Our team offers on-site pull-out testing tovalidate the design. Out of 150 installations that PVFix has done so far, some are in the coastal areas and we are proud to say that our designs have sustained thehigh wind speeds from cyclone Vardah which hit Chennai 1.5 years back.

“Energetica India: Has foreign imports impacted Indian solar structure industry yet?”

Indrajeet Dudile: There are few European companies making inroads in the Indian solar market. We believe that foreign competition will have little impact on Indian companies due to two reasons. One being the fact that the roof top designs in India are way different than what you seein Europe. European companies will need to customize their products to make them compatible with the Indian roofs. The second challenge is the cost. Unless you have a manufacturing base in India, the total product cost will be on the higher side. There ishigher import duty on metal structure but noton the raw material, so the net price for imported products would be 2x to 3x costlier. This will makeimports unviable for the Indian market.

“Energetica India: What percentage of total solar project cost does a solar structure constitute? Is there a way to reduce this cost while maintaining the quality?

IndrajeetDudile: PVFix team has gone through the design, engineering material optimization process for its solar module mounting structures. The process is carried out by using different alloys designswithout compromising on the quality or the engineering requirements yet making it viable for our clients.

Module mounting structures are absolutely optimizedwith respect to the costs and wedo not see any further possibility of price reduction. Given the type of roof, cost can vary from a 2% to 8% of the project cost depending on various factors. PVFix does not believe in reducing the cost by sacrificing the quality.Structure is the most important part which holds the module. So,our priority is to offer correctly designed and engineeredproduct solutionsfor the client at the best possible price.

“Energetica India Is the Indian solar industry adapting the pre-assembled mounting structure concept? Why is this gaining importance?”

Indrajeet Dudile: I personally believe that the pre-assembled solar mounting structures will have a very limited adaption in India. The pre-assembled structures are more feasible where roof configuration is uniform in terms of constructionmaterial design. You do not find such similarities across roofs in industrial areas or commercial buildings in India. However, you will find pre-assembled structures in European market as most of the roof designs are similar.

“Energetica India: What kind of innovation /R&D is PVFix working on for their products?”

IndrajeetDudile: We have in-house R&D team that focuses on developing new products. We aim to serve the market by offering sound engineered products at lower costs. The Indian solar market is highly competitive cost will be an important factor. We have tied up with government research institutes in India for research development.We are also working with laboratories in Pune to test validatethe structure prototypes.

Simultaneously, research is in progress to identify and develop alternative materials that will reduce cost of mounting structures without compromising on the quality.
Presently we are testing specially developed polymersto develop certain structure parts.

Interview 30/10/2018 by Rashmi
 
 
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