Interview: Avinash Hiranandani

Global CEO and Managing Director at RenewSys India Pvt. Ltd.

We intend to expand our PV cell line capacity from 100 MW to 2 GW

October 20, 2022. By Manu Tayal

We are already expanding our Encapsulants business from the current 3 GW to 11 GW. Our PV Backsheet capacity will be going up from 4 GW to 5 GW. On the PV Modules front, we will be expanding our module manufacturing capacity from 1.75 GW to 4 GW. Besides, we also intend to expand our PV cell line capacity from 100 MW to 2 GW. For this, we are currently considering various technologies, disclosed Avinash Hiranandani, Global CEO and Managing Director, RenewSys India Pvt. Ltd., in an exclusive interaction with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Mr. Hiranandani also discussed about his company’s growth journey, various industry-first innovations, the company’s testing labs, challenges faced by the domestic solar manufacturers, etc. Here’re the edited excerpts from that interaction:

Que: Kindly shed some light on RenewSys’ consistent growth journey.

Ans: RenewSys is the first integrated manufacturer of solar PV modules and its key components - Encapsulants, Backsheets, and solar PV Cells.

We started out with our PV Encapsulants and Backsheets business by bringing several years of expertise and leadership in specialized polymer formulation and manufacturing to a nascent PV Industry. We then added the manufacturing of PV modules and PV cells to our solar business.

We have been in this industry for a decade now and have pioneered several developments. A few of the firsts that we have to our credit include a proven UL certified POE, 500+ Wp Glass - Transparent Backsheet bi-facial PV module, India’s only Backsheet patent, etc. These trailblazing innovations are a testament to our commitment to R&D and an innovation-led culture.

Our focus continues to be on making the best-in-class PV products available for a greener tomorrow. To this end, we have also invested significantly to ensure that our manufacturing facilities are ultra-modern, automated, world-class hubs. In fact, a large number of our products have been adapted and adopted by the Indian PV industry to keep them abreast of international standards.

RenewSys is the ‘Renewable Energy’ arm of the ENPEE Group, an international conglomerate established in 1961 by Mr. N. P. Kirpalani. With an ethic and heritage of manufacturing excellence.

As part of the ENPEE Group we have inherited a vast experience in supplying to many international companies and we have capitalized on this legacy, to keep our product ranges world-class. Coupled with our motto of delivering more than we promise this held us in good stead and won us the hearts, minds, and respect of our customers.

Que: What will be the various range of Encapsulants that RenewSys will be offering during this year REI and their specialty?

Ans: Encapsulants are a crucial solar module component. They provide adhesion, cushioning, and electrical insulation, and hold the entire solar PV module or solar panel together. As the undisputed leader of the Indian PV polymer industry RenewSys has ensured that we develop and make available, ultra-modern, value-for-money offerings to support the Indian industry’s exponential growth. This has meant dedicating extensive resources and training our personnel to ensure that we are truly at par with the global industry. These efforts have also helped us establish a footing in globally mature PV markets like Europe.

At REI RenewSys will be showcasing some of our champion products, which include:

POE - India’s proven and UL-certified POE that combines the benefits of standard TPO and POE products. This innovation was also recognized at the Intersolar Awards 2019.

Named CONSERV E 36O, it has been supplied globally for the past 3-4 years now and can meet the demands of the Indian module manufacturers as they launch bi-facial Glass-Glass modules.

We recently also launched U+, an Ultra-Fast curing variant of our Encapsulants available in both POE & EVA bases. It will help module manufacturers save 2-3 minutes per lamination cycle, thus helping them increase line productivity by 20%, and defer laminator-related CAPEX expenses.

With a wide processing window, this Encapsulant is suited to all module configurations and technologies, including HjT, TopCON, and others.

Apart from these, we will also have our PID-free EVA, and UV Transparent EVA in fast and ultra-fast curing configurations. These have been industry favourites due to their contribution to module reliability across varied extreme climatic and geographic conditions.

Que: Kindly tell Energetica India readers in brief about RenewSys’ various industry-first innovations along with its Reliability Lab for testing.

Ans: RenewSys is India’s leading solar PV module manufacturer. We were the first to launch India’s first 5BB and 6BB Cells. First 500+ WP module - DESERV Extreme - that is a bi-facial Glass-Backsheet module and a range of lightweight and flexible modules.

Our Reliability Testing Laboratory at Hyderabad is a one-of-its kind facility with 7 environmental chambers that test modules under accelerated extreme climatic conditions including Damp Heat, Thermal Cycling, UV exposure etc.

On the PV component front RenewSys has been leading the production of world-class Encapsulants and Backsheets. We have several firsts including India’s first Transparent Backsheet, UL certified POE, First and only Backsheet Patent and fastest curing Encapuslant. Our Bengaluru plant is also home to a one-of-its-kind NABL certified PV Lab that test Encapsulants, Backsheets and their raw materials.

Que: As some of the domestic solar component manufacturers have already listed on the Indian Bourses or are planning to go for listing? Does RenewSys also have any such plans in the near future?

Ans: RenewSys will surely consider it at an appropriate time, though we have no such plans in the short term.

Que: What are the various kinds of Backsheets that RenewSys is planning to showcase for its customers during the show and their characteristics including UV test performance?

Ans: Glass-Backsheet modules continue to make up the largest share of modules sold in India. The RenewSys Backsheet offering includes bestsellers in both Fluoro and Non-Fluoro 1000 VDC and 1500 VDC variants.

The single-side black and double-side black Backsheets are also seeing good growth in demand due to their contribution toward enhancing the aesthetic appeal of PV modules for specific rooftop applications. These will also be on display.

Our Transparent Backsheet is gaining market share swiftly due to its qualification with the ultraviolet test, a distinction that very few Backsheet manufacturers can claim.

This Backsheet has been showing great potential to meet the surge in demand for bi-facial panels. A lighter-weight alternative to glass-glass bi-facial solar modules, this Backsheet will allow module manufacturers to produce bi-facial modules on the same lines that they are currently using for mono-facial Glass-Backsheet modules.

For customers, this Backsheet provides the perfect alternative for structures that require lighter modules, this is especially important as module weights have gone up with larger format 540+ Wp modules being manufactured.

Que: What does RenewSys feel about other types of Backsheets that are available in the Indian Market?

Ans: The RenewSys Bengaluru polymer specialty division recently conducted an extensive study of Backsheets available in the Indian market.

One of the key findings was the high volumes of cheaper, coated Backsheets available in the market had MVTR’s ranging from 3 – 3.5 g/sqm/day. This means that these Coated Backsheets allow 3 – 3.5 grams/sqm/day of moisture to enter the PV module.

This is extremely troubling and significant because moisture ingress or water vapour entering a solar module greatly speeds up the degradation of the PV module. Damage may be seen in the form of corrosion, discolouration of the Encapsulant, delamination, etc.

In comparison RenewSys’ PRESERV range of Backsheets exhibit an MVTR of 1.2 g/sqm/day to 1.5 g/sqm/day, 250 times better than its competitors supplying coated Backsheets!

Que: What are the company’s expansion and investment plans in the near future?

Ans: RenewSys has the following expansion plans:

We are already expanding our Encapsulants business as we speak from the current 3GW to 11 GW. Our PV Backsheet capacity will be going up from 4 GW to 5 GW.

On the PV Modules front, we will be expanding our module manufacturing capacity from 1.75 GW to 4 GW.

Besides, we also intend to expand our PV cell line capacity from 100 MW to 2 GW. For this, we are currently considering various technologies.

Que: Lastly, what will be your key suggestions for policymakers in order to boost the domestic solar manufacturing industry in the country?

Ans: We stand with the Indian Government’s Make in India policy and vision for a renewable energy-powered future. We would like to thank the MNRE for their support and guidance and RenewSys is committed to further increasing our manufacturing capacities manifold for PV Modules, Encapsulants, and Backsheets, in line with the national vision.

Some key suggestions include:

1. Maintain policy consistency - This is very important. Any short-term changes lead to uncertainty toward expansion plans in the minds of module manufacturers. As India is now focused on being ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ and promoting ‘Make In India’ a consistent policy will help us grow and thrive.

2. Capital Allocation – Through schemes like PLI we should ensure that both polysilicon to wafers and cells to modules receive the required balanced incentives to build production capacity.

3. Ancillary BIS - Key module components like Encapsulants, Glass, Copper, should also be brought under ALMM and BIS to ensure that high-quality standards required by the module manufacturers are met.

4. Priority Lending Sector – For solar PV and component manufacturing, the lowest interest rate should prevail till the manufacturing ecosystem has been suitably built up.

5. Availability of Land for expansion and setting up manufacturing facilities and the Bank and Infrastructure costs should also be looked at so that the cost of the solar module can eventually be brought down and the need for duty is reduced.

6. DCR - Provided good support to local cell manufacturers, however, it could not deliver on its full potential on account of a loss of opportunities during COVID. Hence, we request that the program be extended by 2 years.

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