Random Levies, Approval Delays Hinder Energy Transition of Corporates: Interview

Amplus Solar has maintained its bus-bar tariffs in a range of ₹3.00-₹4.50/kWh


In an exclusive interview with Mercom India, Sharad Pungalia, MD & CEO of Amplus Solar, discusses the company’s approach to servicing its diversified portfolio of commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers transitioning to clean energy sources.

He explains how the company has switched to wind-solar hybrid with storage projects to address the limitations of the new energy banking policies introduced by various states.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

What are the C&I segments that Amplus Solar currently serves, and where do you see most of the demand coming from and why?

We manage a dynamic portfolio comprising  400+ C&I clients from diverse sectors such as automotive, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, real estate, technology, hospitality, and retail.

There is a rise in demand from every sector and region of the country, which is driven by many factors, but primarily the following two: Environmental Commitments and Cost Efficiency and Financial Savings.

Our clients are actively working towards fulfilling their environmental and sustainability commitments. By helping them adopt renewable energy, we help them get closer to their net zero goals.

Many businesses are switching to renewable energy to capitalize on reduced energy costs, leading to substantial financial savings over time.

The evolving landscape of government policies and incentives is also crucial in influencing businesses to embrace renewable energy solutions. Clients are aligning their strategies with these policies to stay competitive and compliant. While, to date, the manufacturing sector – primarily cement, steel, and automobiles – has been the large off-taker, we believe data centers and other commercial real estate will be joining the list.

How have the state-imposed grid support charges impacted the open-access business model? 

The imposition of grid support charges has increased the overall expenditure for consumers engaged in captive solar open access, diminishing the anticipated savings for C&I entities. As businesses make substantial investments in transitioning to renewable energy, they are already contending with various cost implications. Introducing additional charges, such as grid support fees, prolongs the expected return on investment period.

How is Amplus managing the increasing demand for round-the-clock (RTC) power through renewable plus storage and wind plus solar hybrid power projects?

We have strategically diversified our operations into the renewable energy sector, focusing on wind-solar hybrid solutions to meet the growing demand for RTC power. Earlier, when better banking support from the government and DISCOMS existed, developers could provide the expected power to the customers with plain vanilla solar sources. With growing limitations on energy banking facilities, we are developing solar-wind hybrid configurations with limited storage to provide a 75-90% capacity utilization factor.

Which states do you see most of the demand for open access business models coming from and why? What are your future target geographies and expansion plans?

The demand for open access business depends on the regulatory landscape and the C&I tariffs. Currently, we find promising opportunities in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat. We are developing projects in these states and planning ISTS-connected projects to cater to the demand.

Could you tell us briefly about the average power purchase agreement prices of Amplus’ projects across states and the factors influencing them?

It is difficult to standardize the PPA pricing over geography. Tariffs are significantly impacted by the solar module costs and generation. However, the tariff to the end consumer also varies with the open access charges, terms and structuring of power purchase agreements, etc. Historically, our bus-bar tariffs have ranged from ₹3.00-₹4.50 (~$0.036-$0.054)/kWh.

What, according to you, continues to be a major obstacle for C&I consumers to opt for renewables, and what would be the solution?

Regulatory uncertainties such as the imposition of charges and delays in approvals (net metering, open access, connectivity, etc.) are significant obstacles. A clear and well-defined roadmap in these aspects is crucial from both developers’ and consumers’ perspectives. By addressing these challenges proactively, we can enhance the efficiency of project execution and contribute to the overall success of our initiatives.