Interview (Mr. Raghav Mittal)

Mr. Raghav Mittal,
Founder and CEO at SunAlpha Energy

“How viable is solar power leasing currently for a) commercial clients, b) industrial and c) individuals?”

For commercial connection consumers, the debate of whether solar is viable or not has already passed. Now the real question is what’d be the capacity of the rooftop solar plant for the commercial consumer because commercial
consumers are paying upwards of 8/ unit across all major metropolitan cities in India whereas via solar leasing, they can save upto 20% on the per unit cost of electricity without incurring the upfront capex. That translates to significant savings over a long term. Commercial consumers have adequate space to go solar and solar leasing is not only viable but a very attractive proposition for them. For Industries in Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, solar leasing is a very affordable and the most cost effective way to opt for solar power. Industries are now buying land in the vicinity of their manufacturing units just so that solar leasing
companies like SunAlpha can install solar plants and sell solar power to them. Solar panels can be attached to industrial
metal sheds as well as installed on RCC roofs. The flexible installation of solar anywhere makes solar leasing viable for industrial consumers in states which are close to grid parity as mentioned before. Not viable at present but it will be viable in another year

“Please share details on the 48 kWp solar plant that was installed on TERI University. What kind of modules and inverters were used here?”

TERI's solar plant uses the best combination of the inverters and modules. The 48kWp plant uses SMA sunny tripower inverters which are german-made, state of the art and highly reliable along with Jinko solar modules which are highly reliable and have a phenomenal track record in various performance parameters. A dedicated 5kWp R&D plant is also a part of the 48kWp plant. The R&D plant will be used to provide practical training to students of the M.Tech in Renewable Energy Management course. We have also installed a display at the university's reception area which shows the live output of the solar plant along with the day's yield. One can easily see the amount of irradiation on the rooftop and at what efficiency are the panels converting sunlight into electricity. This can be checked and monitored on a free app on any smartphone. We are planning to work out the same seamless and client friendly interface for residential consumers across India and hope to achieve a breakthrough anytime soon.

“What are the challenges that solar power leasing companies are currently facing in India w.r.t. growth opportunities?”

1. Policy hurdles: Approvals and net metering application processing is still a work in progress in India. Except Delhi, net metering application processing is painfully slow in all other states. Delhi also has come out with the most progressive solar policy across India. There's no CEIG approval required in Delhi as the responsibility of the granting the approval comes into the picture only when one applies for net metering. Otherwise, there's minimum/no approval required for <100kWp systems.
2. Lack of Bank Support: Banks in India are yet to warm upto solar as a reliable technology. We have been conducting workshops, training programmes & talks for bankers to educate them on this new healthy industry which is necessary as almost all the bankers do not have the adequate knowledge about Solar and what it entails. Solar Industry in India has the potential to transform itself into an ecosystem than just remain an industry full of cut throat competition. This can be achieved only when the bellwether banks start lending to solar industry.
3. The two face scenario: Policy, as I already mentioned, is a challenge but in India, it's implementation is an even bigger challenge. Each conducive policy has two faces: on paper and on ground. Ideally both should be the same sides of the same coin but that is not the reality. The state govt. post notifying any policy needs to start monitoring the efficacy and efficiency of the implementation of the notified policy. The success of the policy depends completely on the implementation of the same.

Interview 10/12/2015 by Moulin
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