Interview: Rajeev Kashyap

Vice President and Managing Director at Nextracker India Pvt. Ltd.

Envisioning a promising future for solar power generation in India

December 28, 2023. By News Bureau

Nextracker's ongoing projects and partnerships in India are shining examples of the profound impact of its technology on the ground. The firm is actively engaged in supporting more than 30 projects across the country, with a cumulative capacity of 5 GW, shared Rajeev Kashyap, Vice President and Managing Director, Nextracker India Pvt. Ltd. in an interview with Anurima Mondal, Associate Editor of Energetica India.

Que: Congratulations on doubling Nextracker's manufacturing capacity to 10 GW in India. Can you tell us about the key drivers behind this expansion in the Indian market?

Ans: Doubling Nextracker's manufacturing capacity to 10 GW in India has been a significant milestone for us, and it's a result of several key drivers that we believe are shaping the future of India’s renewable energy industry. India's ambitious renewable energy goals and favourable policy framework have played a pivotal role in our decision to expand our manufacturing capacity in the country. Moreover, the government's policies favouring manufacturing in India have provided companies like Nextracker with a strong incentive to expand production capabilities within the country. With initiatives like ‘Make in India’, we have been able to leverage these policies to drive local manufacturing, which not only benefits our business but also contributes to the development of the Indian economy and job creation.

Our commitment to being export-friendly has also been a significant driver for this expansion. We are proud to say that Nextracker is exporting its cutting-edge solar tracker technology to four continents. This showcases our commitment to global sustainability as well as highlights the quality and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in India.

The Indian market is also increasingly recognising the value of new technologies, such as solar trackers, to maximise the benefits of bifacial modules. Bifacial modules have the potential to increase energy yield, and Nextracker's advanced tracking solutions help in optimising their performance. As developers and investors in India focus on long-term Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), our technology aligns perfectly with their goals.

Que: What are the specific challenges and opportunities that Nextracker has identified in the Indian solar power market, and how has Nextracker planned to address them?

Ans: Securing land at the outset of a project can be a time-consuming and complex process that can impact the delivery timelines. The other challenge we face is lack of accurate and timely data related to soil parameters, wind speed, corrosion rates, and various environmental factors that are crucial for optimising solar installations to ensure their longevity and performance.

Amid these challenges, we've also recognised several exciting opportunities in the Indian solar power market. The demand for solar energy is quickly increasing, fuelled by India's ambitious target of generating 280 gigawatts of solar power by 2030. Solar tracker systems are critical in this growth trajectory because they optimise the angle of solar panels, ensuring optimum sunlight exposure and greatly improving energy generation efficiency. ‘Make in India’ has made it possible for us to manufacture up to 80 percent of our components locally, and thus, transfer the benefits of costs, logistics and currency hedging to our customers.

Solar trackers play a pivotal role in ensuring a competitive Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) in the long term. By significantly enhancing the energy yield of solar installations, our tracking technology perfectly aligns with the Indian market's emphasis on long-term financial sustainability.

India's growing energy demand presents another remarkable opportunity. As the country's energy requirements surge, solar power emerges as a clean and sustainable solution to meet this escalating demand. We are also exploring the potential for supply chain independence, a strategy aimed at reducing reliance on imports by collaborating with local suppliers. This approach enhances the resilience of our operations and supports the development of a robust domestic supply chain.

Que: You mentioned the focus on providing advanced locally-sourced solar tracker technology. Could you elaborate on this and the benefits of locally sourcing these technologies for the Indian market?

Ans: Our commitment to deliver locally sourced content is at the heart of our strategy for the Indian market. This approach carries myriad advantages that enhances our offerings and plays a central role in fostering the growth and sustainability of India's renewable energy sector.

Firstly, locally manufactured tracker components ensure supply security and enable timely delivery. It also significantly trims logistical costs and simplifies financial operations by conducting transactions in local currency, reducing forex hedging expenses thereby simplifying financial operations and reducing associated costs.

Next, the emphasis on local domestic content plays a pivotal role in the development of new skill sets in India. It fosters technical know-how, design expertise, and the execution capabilities necessary for the successful deployment of renewable energy projects. This not only enhances the local talent pool but also ensures that the industry is well-equipped to tackle the evolving challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy landscape.

Embracing local sourcing aligns with our sustainability goals by reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Moreover, it contributes to job creation and the advancement of domestic manufacturing capabilities.

Que: Can you share some insights into Nextracker's collaborations with manufacturing suppliers and the creation of clean energy jobs in India?

Ans: At Nextracker, our commitment to advancing clean energy extends beyond ground-breaking technology. We also embrace the empowerment of the clean energy workforce and fostering economic growth through local collaborations and skill development.

Our focus on local manufacturing is exemplified by our partnerships with more than 12 factories and we've been able to achieve over 80 percent domestic content in our products. This collaborative effort has yielded more than just quality products; it has been a catalyst for the creation of clean energy jobs in India. Approximately, 2,000 individuals have been added to the clean energy workforce, each contributing diverse manufacturing skills to our collective mission. This employment growth showcases our dedication to providing top-tier technology and strengthening the economic landscape by creating job opportunities and enhancing various manufacturing skills in India.

Our PowerworX™ Academy is committed to enhancing the knowledge and skills of solar professionals worldwide. With a global reach encompassing regions such as the United States, India, Brazil, Spain, and Australia, PowerworX™ has empowered over 1,500 solar professionals. Our comprehensive, hands-on guidance, led by seasoned subject matter experts, ensures that these professionals are well-versed in the finer details of our PV tracker systems' design, installation, commissioning, software, operations, and maintenance.

Que: Could you provide some insights of Nextracker's ongoing projects or partnerships in India that demonstrate the impact of your technology on the ground?

Ans: Nextracker's ongoing projects and partnerships in India are shining examples of the profound impact of our technology on the ground. We are actively engaged in supporting more than 30 projects across the country, with a cumulative capacity of 5 GW. These projects have been made possible through the deployment of our award-winning NX Horizon™ smart solar trackers.

Our aim is to make significant difference in the solar industry using advance solar technology. By utilising NX Horizon solar trackers, these projects benefit from a higher energy yield, ensuring a better Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). This means that not only are these solar installations more efficient, but they are also financially sustainable, which is crucial for the long-term success of clean energy initiatives.

Our product development priorities are informed by listening to customers and innovating to create value for them. As we advance our solar energy initiatives in India, where we encounter distinctive challenges like unpredictable weather conditions and varying landscapes, Nextracker's intelligent solar tracker platform - NX Horizon, coupled with yield boosting solution -TrueCapture™, become indispensable in ensuring the success and optimisation of solar projects throughout our nation. These innovations provide an unprecedented level of accuracy and adaptability, ensuring that each solar project is optimised to thrive in its specific environmental conditions.

Que: As a leader in solar tracker technology, how do you envision the future of solar power generation in India?

Ans: I envision a promising future for solar power generation in India, which is deeply rooted in its vast potential and sustainability. India stands at the cusp of a renewable energy revolution, with the capacity to generate an astounding 750 GW of solar energy. This immense potential lays the foundation for a dynamic and flourishing solar energy sector, ready to make a significant contribution to India's energy requirements and environmental goals.

The cornerstone of this vision is the promotion of local content manufacturing. This approach ensures the high quality of solar components and they also act as a catalyst for economic growth in the region. By sourcing materials and expertise locally, we not only enhance the domestic manufacturing ecosystem but also create job opportunities and contribute to the overall economic well-being of India.

Crucially, India's commitment to achieving a Net Zero target by 2070 is a significant milestone. It underscores the nation's resolve to rely solely on renewable energy sources to drive this endeavour. Solar energy will undoubtedly play a central role in this transition, providing clean, reliable power, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting India's sustainability goals.

Land clusters with high irradiation levels provide ideal conditions for solar installations, harnessing India's geographical advantages. Grid stability will be crucial to ensure the seamless integration of solar energy into the national power grid, supporting India's transition to cleaner energy.

Que: With your extensive experience in the solar energy industry, what advice would you give to emerging companies and professionals looking to make an impact in the renewable energy sector, particularly in India?

Ans: With growing energy consumption and the government’s encouraging thrust on renewables, joining the clean energy taskforce makes for a compelling case for young adults. The accelerated rate at which the clean energy transition must transpire, calls for path breaking innovation to enhance the energy yield and efficient storage of this energy. The renewable energy sector is a fertile ground for fostering innovation and making an impact. A more underlying purpose of being associated with the industry is the chance you get to play a responsible role in shaping the future of our world.

Ultimately, the goal is to make green energy affordable and accessible to future generations. It's not solely about generating power; it's about creating a clean, sustainable environment for all. As emerging companies and professionals, prioritize strategies and innovations that lead to cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions. This vision serves as the compass guiding your work in the renewable energy sector, propelling India towards a greener and more sustainable future.

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