Nov 15 2017 | Industry View

Karunesh Chaturvedi, Head Corporate Affairs, Vikram Solar

Karunesh Chaturvedi, Head Corporate Affairs, Vikram Solar shares his view with Sandeep Sharma about his company, core competencies, manufacturing base, capacity and production process, prestigious solar installations, business opportunities in the rooftop solar plant segment, need to set up solar park, impact of drastic fall in solar tariff, and future prospects.

Tell us about your company, objectives and core competencies.
Vikram Solar is a globally recognized leading solar energy solutions provider, specializing in high efficiency PV module manufacturing and comprehensive EPC solutions since 2006. As a solar PV module manufacturer and EPC solution provider in India, our objective and mission is to contribute to the national and global renewable energy revolution, by focusing on module efficiency and performance improvement. Vikram Solar is the first company to gain recognition as Tier 1 Module manufacturing company in India by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Vikram Solar has two state of the art manufacturing facilities in Falta, West Bengal. Our products are designed to the highest standards of quality, reliability and performance. Our in-house research and development efforts have helped us in being ahead of the curve in the ever evolving solar technology space.

We reached 1 GW mark of annual PV Module production capacity in 2017. In line with the company’s focus on adopting pioneering and innovative technologies, our manufacturing facility has the finest machinery and equipment imported from United States, Switzerland, Germany and Japan. Our total EPC installation exceeds 440MW capacity in India. In just a decade’s time, Vikram Solar has contributed to shaping the solar revolution, not only in India, but across continents. Our tremendous growth and contribution in green energy revolution boasts of our competency as a PV module manufacturer and EPC solution provider.

Could you share with us details about your solar pv manufacturing base, capacity and production process?
We have two manufacturing facilities in SEZ Falta, West Bengal, India. Our current annual module manufacturing capacities just reached 1 GW. Our modules go through rigorous testing and certification process and our modules have IEC (6208, 61215, 61701, 61730, 62716), UL, MSC, CAN-CSA, CEC, JET certifications that upholds quality and performance commitment that we offer.

Currently we offer the following specialized modules:

  • PERC multicrystalline modules of >330 Wp category

  • Modules with micro inverter which generates AC Presently, we use 100% multicrystalline cells.

The reason is that the efficiency gain and cost reduction of mono makes it more viable than multi.

Which are your prestigious solar installations in India?
We designed, installed and commissioned India’s first floating solar power plant (10 Kw capacity) in 2014. We commissioned India’s largest rooftop airport installation in Kochi, Kolkata in 2015. In FY 2016-17 we commissioned 130MW and 50MW solar plants in Bhadla, Rajasthan and Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh for NTPC. In 2017, we commissioned (40x2) 80MW capacity solar plant in Gujarat for Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd. (GIPCL).

What kind of business opportunities do you see in the rooftop solar plant segment?
Rooftop segment has surpassed the 1 GW mark, achieving more than 113 per cent growth rate in the last 12 months. Statistics show that rooftop potential of the country stands up to 1,24,000 MW. And more than 30 per cent of which can be easily covered if only 1.3% of the total household in India is made solar compatible. Tamil Nadu (132 MW), Maharashtra (89 MW) and Gujarat (69 MW rooftop capacity) are leading India in terms of total installed rooftop solar capacity. Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi have also shown promise in becoming favourable environments for rooftop solar growth.

Government focus on net-metering, mandating solar installation in Government buildings, bringing huge investments, and raising awareness is introducing new opportunities in this sector, and as a solar PV module manufacturer and EPC solution provider, Vikram Solar identified the growing trend almost 7 years ago. We executed our first rooftop project in 2010. And within just 7 years, we have commissioned rooftop solar projects in nearly 170 locations within India.

With the huge experience and client trust in this sector, today we have approximately 18 MW capacities of commissioned rooftop projects, and more than 15 MW capacity projects under execution. Vikram Solar is certain that the improving scenario of rooftop solar industry sector will contribute in leading solar growth in India.

What’s your take on the need to set up sizable number of solar parks in India?
Given the mammoth solar target of 100 GW by 2022 ahead of us, it is very important for the Government to scale up the solar sector in India. Policies and aggressive initiatives have done nicely in setting state wise targets for solar capacity growth and encouraged private players to become important contributors in this solar revolution. And although India practically doubled its solar capacity in recent years reaching current solar capacity of 13 GW, it is important to note that the country has to install more than 17 GW capacities each year for the next 5 years to meet announced target.

In this scenario, mega-projects like solar parks can help in meeting the goal. And Government of India identified this requirement, announcing scheme to develop at least 25 solar parks, each with a capacity of 500 MW and above targeting over 20 GW solar power across the country in next five years at an expense of `4050 crore. Solar parks offer common development zones for developers with proper infrastructure and access to amenities, and required approvals. Such a platform considerably reduces the hurdles and risk of solar plant development and thus easily allows solar growth within India.

Vikram Solar bagged and commissioned (65X2MW) 130MW solar plants at Bhadla Solar Park Phase-II, in Bhadla Village, Rajasthan in FY16-17. And recently commissioned another (2X40 MW) 80 MW Solar PV Power at Gujarat Solar Park, in Charanka.

Considering the results, Government has decisively decided to double the capacity target of solar parks from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW (or 40 GW) by 2019-20. We welcome this decision, and we implore the Government to stabilize the energy tariff to increase investor interest and ensure project realization. Solar parks can lead solar energy to its future as a mainstream energy source, and we have high hopes that India will continue to pursue solar park development, focusing on giving domestic manufacturers advantage over foreign suppliers.

With the steep fall in solar based power generation cost, how far it is a profitable venture for companies to bid for such projects?
Uncontrolled tariff fall, without any indication of cost stabilization in future is not a good thing. Indian solar tariff has fallen from Rs.12.76 to Rs.10.95 per kWh in 2020-11 to INR 2.44/per unit in 2017 (near about 90 per cent fall). It is obvious that such tariff fall was brought on by influx of cheap imported (Chinese) modules. However, it is important to note that decreasing solar tariff is making solar projects financially unviable, by shrinking down the ROI generation. This is scaring off investors and putting Indian solar growth on an unstable ground. Indian Government has accepted the tariff drop as a forward step towards making ‘Power for All’ a reality. But we have to understand that continued tariff fall will increase financial unavailability and investors’ hesitation within the sector, slowing down solar growth.

Therefore, Government needs to focus on rationalizing solar power tariff and create a comfortable environment for investors for continued growth of the industry.

Going forward, where do you see your company five years from now?
From the day of its inception, Vikram Solar was focused on delivering products and services that upheld quality and performance. Our efforts and commitment has helped us to claim recognition as Tier 1 Module manufacturing company in India by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

To support the growing demand base for solar energy, we expanded our manufacturing capacities aggressively to 1 GW. To deliver products with highest standards of quality, reliability and performance, we used finest machinery and equipment imported from United States, Switzerland, Germany and Japan.

As Indian solar industry has shown incredible growth reaching 13 GW in 2017 from 10 MW in 2010, we believed that as a domestic module manufacturer and EPC solution provider, we need to have an equally aggressive plan to contribute successfully to the growing solar revolution. We commissioned near about 200 MW solar installations last year, and this year we have a larger order book that is constantly growing.

And with the new initiatives, policies and appeals concerning quality standardization, anti-dumping on modules, on the rise we are sure to claim a larger portion of the domestic and international solar industry in next five years.

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