Interview: Brijesh Prajapati

Brijesh Prajapati,
Managing Director- India at Sofarsolar

“Sofarsolar to Kick-Start Local Manufacturing Unit in 2021”

We are doing good business in OEM segment, and are on top position in the OEM development in Indian market. Our management has decided to start local manufacturing unit in 2021, and will announce very soon about the location. We are very aggressive towards developing our business on local manufacturing concept, said Brijesh Prajapati, Managing Director- India, Sofarsolar, in an exclusive conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Prajapati shares about his company’s product offerings, business growth, expertise, expansion plans for India etc.

“Kindly explain in brief about Sofarsolar and its latest product offerings for Indian customers.”

Sofarsolar is part of the Sofar Group, a diversified company ranks No. 1 in the GPS business. The Group has been involved in the communications and renewable energy fields since 2007 and entered the PV inverter business in 2012 with the establishment of Sofarsolar, specialist in R&D, production, sales and service of grid-tied inverters.
In order to support the current growth of the Indian photovoltaic (PV) market, Sofarsolar has taken steps to strengthen its business position in the country with a new office and leadership. New versions of Inverters which are very compact in size make Sofarsolar differentiate from others. Sofarsolar has positioned itself to play important and leading role in the Indian solar industry. Below are the latest product offerings:
• Hybrid Inverter- 3kW/3.6kW/4kW/5kW/6kW (1 Phase)
• Hybrid Inverter- 8kW/10kW/12kW/15kW/20kW (3 Phase)
• AC Retrofitting Single phase 6kW
• New upcoming Rating:- 80kW/100Kw/125Kw /136kw; and 255kWwith 1500v DC
• Electrical Vehicle Charger
• Sofar AMASS Li-Ion Batteries.

“How has the H1 2020 been for Sofarsolar amidst Covid-19 in terms of revenue, order intake etc.?”

The company has a total manufacturing capacity of 10 GW with a Year on Year growth of more than 20 per cent. However, currently with the impact of Covid - 19, “The entire world is on edge with the Coronavirus epidemic, it is a very bad impact on global economy, despite, our team is available to support clients in the best possible way during these times.”
Impact of the Coronavirus mostly effected our first-quarter growth due to highly impact of Coronavirus on China, where our manufacturing plant is situated in Shenzhen. Then, in India also our business affected upto some extent in second and third quarters as well. Also, we are not sure about fourth quarter, although, nowadays renewable sector is doing well in India. The disturbance to industrial production and global trade flows and global logistic networks could be more severe due to the drag caused by the prolonged production shutdowns. WHO officials also, earlier, stated that one cannot predict the direction, duration, scope and scale of epidemic, which created an extra dose of uncertainty. Although, the work has started now, but “factories do have spare capacity and may cover up for lost exports by speeding up production. However, demand in India is lesser as compared to our previous numbers and this will have an impact on total production.” The Covid-19 outbreak has made it more difficult to achieve the targets due to the challenges of land acquisition, grid unavailability, supply chain bottlenecks and a lack of project financing. In the manufacturing sector also every product depends on the raw materials or third party vendor. We also faced difficulty, during this epidemic, in procuring material on time and achieving execution timelines.

“Shed some light on Sofarsolar’s focus areas wrt research, innovation, marketing etc.”

We are more focusing on product development, current model up-gradation, designing level, easily prompt service network technology, online data provision, innovation and we are running with market demand new technology. So we are investing more time in developing innovation work and in Research and Development, Marketing activities, sales conferences, along with participating in Expo more than 15 times in different countries in a year. We focus and market through product innovation and Development, Conferences, Webinars, Service solution platforms and also look into how we will better serve higher quality products to clients, which is also our motto.

“What is the market USP of Sofarsolar as compared to its peers?”

Our unique selling proposition (USP) includes:
• Top 3 On-Grid solar inverter for the residential market in India and perfect choice for Rooftop market product. Local Sales - Service Support and company warehouse at Ahmedabad, India.
• Top 5 string inverter manufacture in China.
• Specialized in on-grid string inverter since 2012, with wide range from 1kW to 136kW.
• Leading storage solution, including AC retrofitting storage inverter and hybrid inverter.
• BIS Certified Inverter.
• 8 Year’s Warranty (onsite Replacement warranty).
• OEM/ODM Partner First choice is Sofarsolar (No.1 position in Indian market).
• Online Service Support system.
• 10 GW Manufacturing capacity.

“What are the future investment and expansion plans of Sofarsolar for the Indian market?”

Yes, we have EV Charger products and already our management has decided to come with this in the India market with our quality products. Also discussions are going on with some Indian reputed companies about EV Chargers. We believe, EV chargers and Li-Ion batteries have good scope in Indian market. For future scope, Sofarsolar is very much interested in EV segment business in India.
We believe in prompt service support with long vision reliable product business policy, and grow together with lesser complain ratio. In the future, we will develop more ‘Photovoltaic Storage and Charging’ products with excellent performance. We already have strong market presence in rooftop solar business and also in EPC sector.

“As the government is aggressively promoting manufacturing in India, how do you see the market scope for Sofarsolar in OEM segment?”

Well, very interesting question about local manufacturing setup. In a 2020-2021 year Sofarsolar is very aggressive with new agenda for business expansion with new innovative products along with some up-gradation on current products. We have good installation in rooftop market and also last year our business witnessed significant growth, particularly in rooftop segment so it’s very easy to start local manufacturing with existing client data based and we are ready to take up any task related to Government policy. We respect our clients in renewable industry and the Government. Being a contributor in the renewable industry we will not take a back step in future as well and will never compromise on products quality with on time prompt service response. We are doing good business in OEM segment, and are on top position in OEM development in Indian market. Our management has decided to start local manufacturing unit in 2021, and will announce very soon about the location. We are very aggressive towards developing our business on local manufacturing concept.

“How do you see government’s steps amid Covid-19 scenario? Any suggestions.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought global manufacturing and supply chain realignment into sharp focus, with the outbreak accelerating a wide array of established trends. From strategic risk diversification to cost considerations and business continuity concerns, businesses are increasingly looking for alternative global manufacturing destinations, with manufacturing in India set to benefit. The government assured renewable energy developers of providing more business-friendly environment and policies like payment security mechanism to lower risk on investment. Government is committed to managing curtailments to enhance the Ease of Doing Business for developers in the renewable energy sector.
Government need to think about more on Farmer subsidy scheme with more incentive proposals for PM KUSUM YOJNA and Rooftop Segment Subsidy.

“Post coronavirus, how do you see the market scope for EVs as compared to traditional ICE-based automobiles?”

India’s Electric Vehicle (EV) segment has grown in recent years. The pace of such growth, however, has been slow. Still policy support has been insufficient for realising the full potential of the EV market. The sale of EVs remain low, especially when compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a policy shift, or even an overhaul, in various sectors of the economy. Within this shift, the Indian government must also rework its policy approach for the EV sector. EV sales in India are mostly driven by electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers, and the four-wheeler segment is still small. The pace of this segment will continue to be slow, since there are limited incentives for the adoption of EVs in personal mobility, and none for four-wheelers. As the auto sector struggles to recover its pace, the government must consider going slow on its EV deadlines and contemplate leveraging alternative cleaner gaseous fuels such as auto LPG.

Interview 17/11/2020 by Manu Tayal
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