Interview (Mr. Mohandas Mekanapurath)

Mr. Mohandas Mekanapurath,
Business Head at Bosch Energy and Building Solutions India

“Please tell us about Bosch journey into the solar sector in India?”

Initially, Bosch was into module manufacturing until 2014 in Germany and selling in India. That’s where Bosch started its journey into solar industry. Later, the company took a decision to sell off the manufacturing plant in Germany due to global market conditions. However, the company had already established expertise in executing solar projects in India during that time, so the company continued with project integration business. Today, Bosch provides turnkey solar solutions in India. The company has zeroed down on specific focus areas for functioning of its business. For this, Bosch has developed 3 pronged business approach. One of the focus area is Clean Energy, which is being executed through solar energy. In addition to this, Energy Efficiency forms another approach, where the company studies the processes of the customers and develops ways to improve the same, also through automation, if the need arises. Bosch offers solution for HVAC Efficiency, Integrated Heating and Cooling and Steam Distribution Optimization solutions. Each of these services are customized depending upon the need of the customers and understanding the customers’ processes and utilities.

“Bosch has commissioned one of the largest rooftop solar plant for Honda in India and also completed India’s first Green airport, Cochin International Airport. What role did Bosch’s 3 pronged approach play in executing this mega projects?”

Bosch has built its competency over the period of time through its solar solutions business. The company offers engineered solutions to its customers for complex applications. Honda is one of the automotive customers of Bosch, which has its own advantage as we are an existing supplier to them. Similar to Honda, we have various automotive customers, with whom the company shares long term relationship, helping us to engaging with them more specifically. The first prong of clean energy was taken up with a 12 MW rooftop solar plant at 3 different locations of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India. An additional 7 MW rooftop solar plant is currently under execution at their plant in South India. The second prong has been taken up with an energy efficiency solution at one of their plants which has helped them save 50% energy costs in a particular process. Other Honda plants are exploring implementation of this solution. The Honda project and Cochin International airport project look for competent solution providers. The company enjoys advantage here as the customers like Honda and likewise knows our competency and focus on quality. We are in constant touch with these customers to explore other energy saving solutions. So, yes Bosch 3 pronged has played an major role as it has helped in establishing or focus area of operations and solutions offering and it has quiet suited the requirements of customers like Honda and Cochin International airport.

“Bosch has completed an 11 MW solar power plant project on a canal. How has Bosch overcome extreme challenges while commissioning the project?”

Basically, we have a strong competency is engineering and design of complex energy solutions. The team consists of industry experts for whom a good project is something which throws extreme challenges to them and here is where they come into play to overcome those problems and complete the project. We have experts and established engineering processes in various areas like structures, electrical and mechanical. This approach that is not easily replicable helps in designing solutions that will stand the test of time and provide the customer with maximum value. In this kind of project with such site complexities, are the areas where customer is also looking for the kind of expertise Bosch offers. Before taking up this project we have worked closely with Cochin International Airport on a 14.4 MW ground-mounted solar plant. Our fruitful engagement with the customer, overcoming the complex site situations and customer’s faith in Bosch has helped in execution of such complex solar power plant.

“The Bagmane Tech solar power plant is the fastest solar power plant to be commissioned in the industry by Bosch. What role did Bosch play in achieving this feat?”

In this particular project, the land was provided by the customer and we executed the project on open access mode. Bosch undertook complete study of the terrain which was on the hilltop with extreme wind. These conditions proved to be a challenge. The primary reason for the success of this project was the detailed level of planning we undertook before commencing execution work. In order to meet all project timelines, multiple teams were employed for execution of the project. Bosch engaged multiple partners, while non-dependent execution processes were undertaken concurrently. We had the strong backing of our design and engineering team who worked on-site very closely with our execution team and the support of our partner network. Due to this, Bosch could complete the project under stipulated time. This project approach has created several learnings for the team and we are confident of achieving similar milestones in our projects going forward.

“How Bosch does plans to stay afloat in the industry competition with advent of international players as well as indigenous manufacturers in the Indian solar industry?”

We are integrators for solar power plants and energy efficiency solutions for commercial and industrial clients. So as far as integration goes, we are technology neutral. Our goal is to provide the best value to the customer with the equipment that meets the customers’ requirement and our quality standards. Our offerings and business are relatively unaffected by the change in the ecosystem. Having said that, we appreciate the fact that Indian manufacturing sector is picking up in the solar domain. Safeguard duty is good step as it is actually supporting the domestic manufacturing but if we look at maturity of domestic manufacturing in terms of capacity, we have a long way to go and efforts are required to be made in direction of the same. Yes, international players are venturing into the Indian space, while bringing the cost down of solar PV module manufacturing. When we engaged with the customers, we did see that the cost is going up for them with the duty impact or prices of domestically manufactured components. So, it’s the customer who has to take decision on the additional cost that he is going to be incurred due to safeguard duty and look at the kind of ROI they are expecting.

“Bosch spends around 8-10 % of its total turnover on its R&D. What kind of R&D process Bosch has undertaken in order to align with its ever evolving customer’s requirements?”

Bosch’s R&D spend is focused more towards the core area of manufacturing. So, R&D is happening on product development, future production solutions as well as on the solution part of it. Bosch has been focused on solution front and keeps exploring in that area from time to time. The company spends its carbon neutrality R&D budget on its solar energy and energy efficiency projects internally. So, yes energy plays an important role in all the things that the company develops. So, at all the Bosch plants in India & globally, the company studies the process and looks at the automation that is required. So, energy plays an integral part of all the processes as well as while catering to customer’s requirement, in order to provide environment-friendly solutions.

Interview 10/12/2018 by Moulin
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