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Focus | February 2012

Power backup market

Aggressive growth is pushing the market for gensets, inverters and batteries, says Daya Kingston.

The chronic and acute power shortages across India have proved to be a stumbling block to the pace of economic and infrastructure development. In spite an increasing power deficit, about 17 per cent demand-supply gap in generation and major T&D losses, the Indian power sector has achieved both qualitative and quantitative growth though demand continues to outstrip supply. This is where the backup sector of gensets, inverters and batteries comes in.

Market overview

The power shortfall however has proved to be a boon to the power backup market which has been growing rapidly.

This market comprises generators or gensets, and battery-based devices like inverters and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems. This is growing at a healthy annual rate of 15-20 per cent though it slightly varies within the three different segments. The Indian power inverter market is not to be left behind and was valued at approximately Rs 20,000-22,000 million in 2010-11. Double-digit growth rates have been projected for the next three to four years.

Growth in gensets

The genset market is highly competitive and growth in this sector is driven by the construction, telecommunication and banking sectors.

Cooper Corporation markets the 10 to 40 kVa range of gensets in diesel and gas. The company will shortly be launching its higher range from 62 kVa to 180 kVa powered by 3, 4 and 6 cylinder engines. Behram Ardeshir, MD, Cooper Corporation, said, “The genset market for us is extremely exciting as we have a revolutionary product in the Cooper Ecopack Genset powered by a CRDi engine. This is the first time CRDi engines have been introduced in gensets in India and we are well ahead of contemporary gensets in technology and performance. The market response has been very encouraging and people are convinced about the superiority, compactness and fuel efficiency offered by the Ecopack. We are targeting a 10 per cent market share in our range of 10 to 40 kVa ratings. While the market has seen a large dip due to the drop in telecom procurements, we are facing good traction from the retail segment where customers prefer the latest technology offering from Cooper over conventional engine gensets.”

Key players in batteries, inverters

A look at the current market shows about 25 brands and several products from the unorganised sector. The leaders are Microtek International, Luminous Power Technologies and Su-Kam Power Systems. The market has also seen a surge in branded suppliers in related product categories, such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, gensets, batteries and others in the past few years. These include Emerson Network, Mahindra Powerol, Amara Raja, Lucas and so on. Besides these, consumer durable companies like Whirlpool, Videocon, Crompton Greaves, Usha, Godrej, Bajaj, BPL and others have entered the segment for a share of the lucrative pie.

Key challenges

The industry faces challenges like the increasing cost of raw materials which include components like battery and packaging materials. Another cause for concern is the competition from the unorganised sector, cheap Chinese imports, price pressure and lack of consumer awareness. The silver lining is that with the large distribution network, quality, cost-effectiveness and support, the unorganised sector is shrinking. The greatest challenge for gensets is to comply with emission and noise levels and yet deliver good performance.

Innovation in technology

The inverter and battery industry will undergo many technological innovations to cater to different applications. There is a demand for cleaner energy and brands are exploring this area. Su-Kam has developed a series of solar PV power electronic products for industrial use. When it comes to gensets, the move is towards greener ones. In this context, Behram said, “Our engines have CRDI with four valves per cylinder and are turbo-charged with charge air-cooling. The engines of compact size occupy less space per unit output. Our gensets give up to 30 per cent fuel efficiency and have very low operating and maintenance costs. The noise levels are lowest at 65 dB and the emissions are the lowest as the engines are Euro IV compliant.”

Future outlook

The chief driver is the power shortage. The market will expand for gensets and inverters that are eco-friendly and move towards non-polluting sources like solar or gas power. India is poised to become the world’s largest market for gensets in the next few years and demand is also expected to rise in niche gensets. The inverter and battery market too will move towards more eco-friendly and efficient solutions.
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