Interview: KN Sreevatsa

KN Sreevatsa,
Country Managing Director at FIMER (India)

“ABB’s Solar Inverter Biz Integration is a Decisive Step Forward in Our Strategy”

The integration of ABB’s solar inverter business is a decisive step forward in our strategy. With this transaction, we expanded our solutions portfolio and achieved an even more distinctive market positioning. With the acquisition of ABB’s solar inverter business, FIMER becomes the 4th largest solar inverter supplier in the world with the widest range of solutions available, says KN Sreevatsa, Country Managing Director, FIMER (India), in an exclusive conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Sreevatsa discussed about FIMER’s business strategy on ABB solar business acquisition, it’s Made in India products’ specialty, expectation on EV Policy in India etc. Here’re the edited excerpts..

“Tell Energetica India readers about FIMER and its manufacturing and R&D facility in India. Is this truly a Make in India initiative? Does FIMER export as well from this facility?”

FIMER Group is a 78+ years old company with technology engineered in Europe and with a strong portfolio in solar inverters and E-mobility solutions. A global player with presence across 25+ countries, it is having R&D and manufacturing facilities in Bengaluru, India and Italy and having over 46GW+ of inverter installations worldwide.
FIMER has 3 research centers, with one such R&D facility being situated at Bengaluru, India. The company’s commitment to highest product reliability across a 25+ year plant lifetime is ensured by it’s strong investment into R&D with over 200 employees working at a global level and over a dozen strong R&D professionals in India.
FIMER is operational in India since 2010. Its factory in Bangalore is the largest supplier of locally manufactured solar inverters in India, with an annual production capacity of more than 5GW with the latest infrastructure as well as testing facilities. The company supports local employment and the Indian factory operations are driven by a local team. This world class facility has set a benchmark in India for other manufacturers to follow suit. Our central inverters at our Nelamangala location are 100 percent ‘Made in India’. The same factory is also delivering these central inverters to markets around the globe, propelling India’s ambition for excellence in Exports.

“How new FIMER in 2020 analyses the acquisition of ABB’s solar business?”

FIMER is a highly focussed solar company with 94 percent of our business concentrated on solar. This is the most important segment for us to grow as a company. The integration of ABB’s solar inverter business is a decisive step forward in our strategy. With this transaction, we expanded our solutions portfolio and achieved an even more distinctive market positioning. With the acquisition of ABB’s solar inverter business, FIMER becomes the 4th largest solar inverter supplier in the world with the widest range of solutions available.
The evolution of our brand is reflecting the strive to evolve and dare to grow whilst staying a brand that reassures its stakeholders through its heritage, innovative capabilities and strength. Our DNA and our values are the same, but with the acquisition of ABB’s solar inverter business, FIMER has evolved into a new dimension and celebrates this occasion with a new visual brand appearance.

“Kindly shed some light on the company’s product offerings for clean energy segment for the Indian market.”

Our full range of solar inverter solutions includes inverters for all segments from 1kW to 6MW. Our range of products includes central inverters, string inverters and microgrid solutions as well as monitoring and control solutions - utmost quality across the full lifetime, high performance driven and reliable coming from a brand that has over decades of experience. In central inverter technology, we are the only company in India to have the first ever 5MVA inverter successfully commissioned in a utility-scale project. Providing complete solutions for the solar market, we address the challenge of energy transition. Today, inverter development and manufacturing is our main vocation and we can provide support to customers all over the world and at every stage of a solar project.
For E-Mobility: we have developed two lines of charging stations (both DC and AC) taking advantage of our experience in the development of inverters. AC-EVC is a charging station line able to recharge up to two electric vehicles in alternating current, each up to 22kW. AC to DC stations, we have conceived, designed and built ultra-fast charging stations.

“Recently, FIMER introduced its next generation PVS980-58, with 5MVA inverter. What is its speciality/ technical features? Name the projects where this next-gen inverter installed in India so far?”

FIMER is the first in the industry to introduce its next generation PVS980-58, with 5MVA the single largest inverter block in the market. Underlining the company’s portfolio of advanced solar solutions, the PVS980-58 central inverter has a unique approach to inverter design and technology ensuring it delivers high performance, increased uptime and long lifetime with reduced maintenance for larger PV plants. The inverter which comes with a modular construction has a patented (phase change thermosiphon) cooling technology to provide high efficiency and low auxiliary power losses. Some of the key features of this 5 MVA inverter includes outstanding endurance for outdoor use, Compact design for easy maintenance and installation, life cycle service and support, versatile design for large scale PV power plants, comprehensive simulation models and wide range of communication options.
We have just finished successful installation of two units of PVS980-58 5MVA inverter for an 8MW Project for a leading textile manufacturer in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India. Currently, more projects are being commissioned in the state of Tamil Nadu and also in Nepal. We have also successfully commissioned a 25MW plant in Mali. Globally, many projects are under various stages of commissioning in different parts of the world like Turkey, USA, etc.

“How FIMER team handles the work-in-progress projects on client site during the coronavirus lockdown in India?”

At FIMER, the health and safety of our employees & customers are our first priority and we are fully committed to their safety and welfare. We have continuously and closely monitored the evolution of COVID -19 since the very beginning and have in every moment taken appropriate measures in accordance with the local governmental and health authorities’ requirements.
Also, the company is committed to best possibly ensure on-time deliveries and keeping the Service support operational during the pandemic. We have a well spread network of service engineers located closer to our project sites in India, and are providing 24x7 online support to our customers. Our customers can drop an online request 24x7 for any assistance required and our team will respond at the earliest to rectify any issues. For our site engineers or channel partners visiting sites, mandatory health checks are done, and prior permissions sought before going to the site. Strict protocols are in place and followed rigorously.

“Do you think demand for FIMER inverters will increase under India’s ‘Vocal for Local’ approach? If yes, what will be the company’s future strategy to tap the market demand?”

Our main focus, in India and other markets, is to further expand our market share through the best support to our customers. Support means follow their needs and the market needs in terms of manufacturing, availability and Service. Our strategy will focus on these drivers and we will act following this mission. This is a wonderful opportunity for the nation to build its own resources and be an economic powerhouse in the future. We reinforce our long-term commitment to the Indian solar market with our premium quality inverters, robust and build to last.

“How significant is the selection of right inverter for a solar plant?”

The inverter is the heart of a solar plant and should be hence carefully selected from a “Trusted Partner” only. The right inverter should be robust, built to last, have proven lifetime of 25 years and more. Along with this highest reliability, and optimum performance of the product to maximize energy yields, availability of spares and service support should be also prioritised. Any obsolescence of inverter technology leads to increase in operational maintenance cost of the plant significantly. It is therefore advisable to choose a long-term player in the market who is available for customer support during the complete lifetime of the plant. Hence it is very important to select the right inverter supplier, so that developers are assured of availability of spares and services alongside premium product quality.
Our inverters ensure such high yields that they produce more energy than the market average. The technological strengths of our portfolio include the versatile design, enabling flexible use of the inverters in the application, the high quality of materials used and extensive control of the entire production process, ensuring robust and reliable products for 25+ years in the field, always fully compliant with all safety standards.

“In your view, which segment can help India in achieving its maximum solar targets for 2022 – residential, C&I, grid connected utility scale or distributed? Why?”

All segments play an important role in helping India achieve its set solar targets for 2022. Though utility-scale projects play an important role to achieve the scale of growth, there are ample opportunities available in C&I and residential segments as well.

“What will be your suggestions to the policy makers in order to boost EV adoption in the country?”

We are very glad that standardisation is already in place by the government of India which is a welcome move to boost the growth of electric vehicle adoption in the country. It is to be noted that an EV policy for India must be tailor-made to India’s particular needs. We request the authorities to bring in a common policy for installation and owning the charging stations and uniform policy for introducing charging as a service in India. Accelerating the availability of necessary electricity network infrastructure as well as domestically produced technologically superior EVs, chargers and components will bring down costs and increase the options available for transportation electrification in India.

Interview 06/10/2020 by Manu Tayal
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