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Interaction | September 2018

"Hybrid policy would benefit the RE target"

According to Badrinarayanan Thirumalai, Head of Business-Solar, Anchor Electricals (A Panasonic Group Company), at the moment only big players can participate in the utility scale hybrid policy.

How significant is the current market for your product? What products do we expect to see at REI Expo 2018? How has the Make in India programme helped the solar sector?
We engage with our SI /CP to promote our module retail sales, besides supporting them for rooftop EPC application in the industrial and commercial sector up to 100 Kwp. Panasonic directly provides EPC solutions > 100 Kwp onwards to end customers.

a) Solar Modules HIT 325 Wp (High efficiency > = 19.4 per cent)
b) Mono PERC 300 Wp (60 cells)
c) Poly 330 Wp
d) Solar Tracker
e) Solar KIT (1 Kw to 5 Kw)
The Make in India programme didn't benefit us since our modules are imported. We have future plans to start our manufacturing facility in India, which would allow us to focus on government projects also.

What are the upcoming opportunities for the RE sector in India?
RE is undoubtedly the future of India. The contribution of solar would be very vital to achieve the RE target by 2022. We foresee opportunities in the rooftop, especially in the industrial and residential segments. We also foresee opportunities coming up through institutions and commercial sectors. We see the future in solar moving towards Independent Power Producers (IPPs). However, the grid availability is a concern with many DISCOMs.

GST has left its mark on almost every sector. How has it affected the renewable energy sector?
During the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) at 5 per cent on solar modules, there was a slight slump initially. We face, further, challenges on account of differential GST rates for the Balance Of system (BOS) while executing Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) projects.

Nationalised and private banks should come forward in financing solar projects for residential. The security for the loan could be worked out using an insurance model like CGTMSE. Micro-financing should be implemented to promote rural projects. It would be very difficult to execute projects with tariffs at Rs 2.44 /Kwh. We expect the market consolidation would drive the tariffs close to Rs 3/Kwh. Execution of the project at above power tariff carries a high risk. While we call it enthusiasm or desperation, the chosen model should ensure the longevity of the business.

We are finding an increased enquiry for solar projects on OPEX mode. The scope for developer companies to invest and sign long-term PPAs are brighter. This would encourage IPPs to install larger capacities.

Does Hybrid Energy Policy make sense for India? If yes, why and what are the implementation challenges?
Wind energy sites in Tamil Nadu have high potential to harness maximum wind velocity of up to 25 m/s between April and June every year. Unfortunately, the grid is not suitable to take the additional generation and hence, unable to tap the excess energy. While new wind-solar hybrid policy would benefit the RE target, focus on the grid capability is of utmost importance. The hybrid policy has its advantages and associated challenges also. At the moment, only big players can participate in the utility scalehybrid policy.

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