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Solar technology At Reasonable Cost Is Heralding Solar Revolution In India: Kunwer Sachdev, MD, Su-kam Power Sytems Ltd.

Kunwer Sachdev talks to BW Businessworld about the development of solar power in India and future prospects.

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Kunwer Sachdev is the founder of Su-Kam Power Systems. The success story of Sachdev’s Su-Kam is the biggest example of ‘Make in India’. Speaking to BW Businessworld, he talks about the development of solar power in India and future prospects. 

Since Su-Kam has the biggest share in India's residential solar market, tell us about the demand scenario of solar products in India?

The demand for solar solutions and solar products has increased at a very remarkable rate. According to a recent report, renewable energy comprises 16 percent of India’s energy mix. This is expected to rise up to 40 percent by 2030. Fortunately, the government is encouraging the use of solar energy. But yet a lot more needs to be done. A lot of people are still not aware of the benefits of solar energy. What we require is a strong and focused push by the government towards solarizing India by taking further initiatives of educating people about renewable energy.

You spearheaded the invention of India's first solar hybrid UPS, Su-Kam's Brainy. How has the response been on home solar UPS?

Demand for solar products has definitely increased over the years as more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of solar energy. Su-Kam’s Brainy has been designed with a zero transfer time keeping in mind the health and safety of the sensitive appliances. Apart from Brainy, we are continuously improvising our technologies and products and have come out with more products that will do more than Brainy.

Secondly, we have combined inverter and UPS in one product, which provides zero switch- over time hence eliminating the need for additional UPS’s in homes and offices for IT equipments.

You came up with India's first touch-screen and wi-fi enabled Solar Power Conditioning Unit, Solar DC Power Systems. So, basically, we are witnessing a lot of innovations in this area from you. How do you think they will help solar industry in India?

In addition to highly advanced technology, the products greatly enhance the comfort level of consumers. We aim at solving the problems faced by the customers. In addition, Su-Kam is playing an instrumental role in helping offices, institutions, schools and colleges in going solar which can be regarded as the future of India’s energy roadmap. Not only it is eco-friendly, it also has the potential to reduce burgeoning power bills. By providing access to solar technology at a reasonable cost, we are heralding a solar revolution in India.

We are bringing in newer technologies which are more efficient, customer friendly and offered at a lower price for the convenience of the customer.

You say you want to see every Indian household running on solar. What are the challenges associated with it?

India has laid out an ambitious target of achieving 100GW of solar energy by 2022.  This can be achieved only if more and more establishments and households go solar. However, there are certain impediments which need to be addressed. The policy to provide subsidies on installation of the solar power units is should be made hassle free; at the moment, it is very cumbersome.

At the policy level, the government should provide subsidy by local state electricity board on generation instead on the installation of a solar system. This change will simplify the installation process and make claiming of the benefits much easier. Another challenge is a threat from cheaper and inferior quality Chinese products.

Domestic solar module manufacturers have been losing market share in the country to Chinese equipment makers who sell their products at 8-10 percent lower prices. Fortunately, the government has realized the magnitude of the situation. The recent order of the Ministry of New and Renewable energy (MNRE) which mandates sellers and makers of solar photovoltaic systems to get their products registered under quality parameters set by the Bureau of Indian Standards will go a long way in weeding out sub-standard imports from China.

Which are the areas where you think government should intervene to make things better for the solar industry?

Although the government is encouraging the use of solar energy, we require a more proactive approach like the framing of strong policies especially geared to promote the solar energy. Sufficient incentives should be provided to households to go solar. Net metering should be actively promoted. Although the net metering policy is in place, lack of adequate financial incentives acts as an impediment.

Another major challenge is the non-availability of skilled and trained manpower. This couples with loosely drafted rooftop leasing agreement and sharing of roles and responsibilities between the developer and the rooftop owner. Though subsidies are available, the government needs to make it more easily accessible and encourage people to use it.

Su-Kam has solarized 35 schools in Rwanda and installed solar street lights in remote villages of Malawi too. This can be a great source of reducing power consumption. Are you looking forward to undertake such initiatives in the upcoming smart cities of India?

Su-Kam has played an instrumental role in helping more and more establishments going solar both in India and aboard especially in the Middle East. Solar energy has a crucial role to play in upcoming Smart City mission of India. Solar applications such as solar street lights, solar rooftops can go a long way in reducing the carbon footprint. It will also help in employment generation and promote the use of renewable forms of energy and thus help the country tackle the growing concerns of global warming and pollution.

It has already been mandated that 10 percent of the smart cities’ energy requirement will come from solar energy and at least 80 percent buildings should be energy efficient and green buildings. With a plan to develop approximately 100 such cities, the rate of renewable energy usage will go up in the country.

Su-Kam looks forward to undertaking solar initiatives in upcoming smart cities and thus usher in a solar revolution in India.

We have already solarized thousands of homes in villages in Uttar Pradesh under Lohiya Awas Yojna with our efficient and cheap Off- grid DC Systems, these projects provide electrification of rural areas along with optimal utilization of solar energy, since DC systems consume much less power as compared to normal solar systems.

What are your future projects?

We are making highly efficient solar products that will enable the return on investment to be reduced to 3 years from 5 years since we are providing solutions that can convert normal inverters to a solar inverter at a very low cost.

At the same time, our Grid tie inverters will not only fulfill the energy requirements of the home where they are installed but they will be able to feed excess power back to the grid hence enabling earnings as well.

Solar along with storage will be the next big thing worldwide, so Su-Kam will be a company selling power rather than selling products.