Most Impactful Interviews with Clean Energy Industry Leaders in 2021
Mercom's interviews with industry leaders focused on companies' plans and their perspectives on India's cleantech industry
December 29, 2022
Experts across the clean energy spectrum have shared their insights, plans, and opinions with Mercom’s news team on critical issues and opportunities in the industry.
From scaling solar manufacturing to increasing investments, policy expectations to industry challenges, from business plans to ecosystem growth, here’s a look back at the most interesting conversations from the past 12 months.
Jackson to Scale-Up its Module Manufacturing Facility to 1 GW by 2022
Jakson Group, an engineering, procurement, and construction company, shifted from fossil fuel power to renewable energy resources about a decade ago. The company is an independent power producer and manufacturer of solar modules. Mercom spoke to Sameer Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director of Jakson Group, to discuss the company’s plans and his perspective on India’s solar industry and the policy regime.
Gupta said that the company was scaling up its solar module manufacturing capacity to 600 MW. There were firm plans to increase it to 1 GW before integrating back into the manufacturing of solar cells. On India’s target to have 300 GW of solar capacity by 2030, he said India would need an investment of more than $500 billion in this sector.
PIXON is in the Process of Expanding its Solar Module Production Line
PIXON Green Energy is a Gujarat-based solar module manufacturing company. The company also provides engineering, procurement, and construction solutions. Juhi Marwadi, Director of PIXON Green Energy, discussed the company’s plans and targets and the present state of the domestic manufacturing sector with Mercom.
Marwadi said the production-linked incentive (PLI) program had helped Indian companies to scale production. PIXON, which has a modern turnkey module production facility of 400 MW with raw materials sourced from Europe, planned to expand it to 1 GW. It was also accelerating work on the production line of EVA film (800 MW).
BluSmart Plans to Expand its EV Fleet to Six Cities in India
BluSmart, an electric ride-hailing platform, provides all-electric sedan cabs to its consumers. It manages a fleet of electric cars driven by onboarded driver-partners from its EV Hubs across Delhi, Indira Gandhi International Airport, and Gurgaon.
Anmol Singh Jaggi, Co-founder of BluSmart, elaborated the company’s plans and targets and his views on the EV industry and existing policies.
Jaggi said the company had received $25 million in funding, which would be used to strengthen the fleet, open new super EV charging hubs at strategic locations, and expand the area of operation. In the next five years, BluSmart plans to expand to the country’s top six cities.
Solar Project Cost to Increase by 24% with Basic Customs Duty on Modules
Azure Power, an independent solar power producer, is targeting an operational solar capacity between 2,750 MW and 2,955 MW, excluding the rooftop portfolio, by March 31, 2022.
Ranjit Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of Azure Power, talked about the company’s plans and his perspective on the solar industry and existing policies.
Gupta said developers faced multiple issues like raw material shortage, supply chain disruptions, sharp price rise, renegotiations of supply contracts, high human resources cost, and increased overheads. Restrictions during the pandemic had caused delays to projects. The imposition of basic customs duty (BCD) on solar cells and modules from April 2022 would increase solar tariffs because of a rise in overall project costs. The 40% BCD on solar modules is expected to increase the capital cost by 23-24% as modules account for approximately 55% of the capital cost.
Kakatiya Energy Systems to Play Bigger Role in Smart City Projects
Hyderabad-based Kakatiya Energy Systems Private Limited is at the forefront of developing patented sensing technology for outdoor lighting automation. The company specializes in manufacturing lighting controls using advanced and innovative patented technologies that offer energy conservation.
P R Lakshmana Rao, CEO, Kakatiya Energy, in conversation with Mercom, spoke about the company’s energy-efficient lighting products and plans for the future.
Discussing the company’s five-year plans, P R Lakshmana Rao, CEO of Kakatiya Energy, said, “We wish to play an increasingly prominent role in offering services to many upcoming smart city projects. We intend to expand our footprint in international markets. We also launched individual light-emitting diode (LED) lamp dimming control, popularly known in the lighting industry circles as ILM with remote connectivity.”
Hero Electric Plans to Manufacture 300,000 E-Scooters Every Year
Hero Electric, an Indian electric scooter manufacturer, raised ₹2.2 billion (~$29.5 million) as the first part of its Series B funding to expand its production capacity.
Mercom spoke to Naveen Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Electric, to understand the company’s plans and targets and his perspective on the EV industry and existing policies.
The EV industry saw 94.16% growth in EV demand in the past year. Increasing traction and restructuring EV policies helped the sector drive more attention towards the segment. Munjal said, “Our goal is to amplify our manufacturing capacity to 300,000 annually, build both online and offline distribution, and invest in research and development for our next-generation vehicles. We are also targeting 1 million units for the coming years. In the next four years, the company is also looking to garner 35% of its total sales from business-to-business (B2B) sales.”
Demand for Rooftop Solar Substantially Higher Than the Pre-Covid Times
Tata Power has been the leading rooftop solar installer in India. The company emerged as the top rooftop solar installer in the first half (1H) of 2021, according to Mercom’s India Solar Market Leaderboard 1H 2021, accounting for 17% of the total rooftop installations in the country.
Ravinder Singh, Chief – Solar Rooftop Business, Tata Power, discussed the company’s plans with Mercom and his thoughts on the existing policies related to the solar sector.
Singh said the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely affected the solar sector. “However, we saw early signs of revival and are getting the sense that there is a lot of pent-up demand in the market. Our current order book and pipeline are significantly greater than what it was even before the advent of the pandemic last year. Over the next five years, we expect the rooftop solar market to more than triple in size from its current installed base,” he said.
Vikram Solar to Manufacture Mono and Bifacial Modules at its New 1.3 GW Facility
Vikram Solar, one of India’s top 10 suppliers of solar modules, inaugurated a solar photovoltaic module manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu to increase its module manufacturing capacity.
Gyanesh Chaudhary, Managing Director of Vikram Solar, spoke about the company’s plans and his thoughts on the existing policies related to the solar sector.
Chaudhary said, “The company’s 1.3 GW manufacturing facility is producing mono and bi-facial solar modules with M6 solar cells and mono passivated emitter and rear contact technology. The facility has forward compatibility with upcoming technologies such as M12 cell modules, high-efficiency bi-facial, and smart modules. We also plan to expand the capacity to 3 GW of an integrated module, cell, and wafer in the next five years.”
Startups Expand Their Footprints in India’s EV Market
Ultraviolette Automotive, a Bengaluru-based EV startup, aims to provide a high-tech, power-packed, and power-efficient alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) two-wheelers in the premium category.
In a conversation with Mercom, Narayan Subramaniam, Founder and CEO of Ultraviolette Automotive, said the fragmented Indian EV market has several active local players due to high growth and affordable workforce. Although established players in the market are introducing new models, startups have taken the lead in this market and expanding their presence by raising funds from investors and tapping into new and unexplored cities. “By 2025-26, Ultraviolette is looking to be a dominant player in the electric mobility segment. The company is developing in-house battery technologies and working on the other parts of EVs, including vehicle architecture and their scalability to different segments and platforms.”
The Time for Backward Integration in Solar Manufacturing Sector Has Come
Panasonic Life Solutions India, an electric equipment manufacturer, also produces solar modules and solar inverters and provides solar EPC services.
Mercom Interviewed Amit Barve, Business Unit- Head, Solar at Panasonic Life Solutions India, to discuss the company’s plans in the solar space and his thoughts on the current policy environment.
Barve said, “The company plans to increase its solar module production level in India. The company also intends to expand into business-to-consumer channels, apart from the traditional equipment manufacturer channels. On the product side, aside from HIT modules, we also introduced polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar modules in the Indian market. We plan to expand our distribution network across the country and are in the process of adding multiple solar-based products to augment strength to our channels.”
There is a Lot of Pent-Up Demand for Rooftop Solar
MYSUN, a Noida-based rooftop solar company, provides solar services in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, and Noida across residential, industrial, and commercial categories. It also operates in multiple states in North, Central, and Western India.
Mercom spoke to Gagan Vermani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MYSUN, to understand the sector’s expectations in 2021. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Vermani said, “There is a lot of pent-up demand for rooftop solar as many customers deferred their solarization plans due to the pandemic last year. We are already witnessing a sudden surge in order booking and client inquires this year. Currently, most of this demand comes from large commercial and industrial consumers, but as the year progresses, and with robust signs of an economic recovery already in sight, we expect even greater demand from the small-medium enterprise segment too.”
Harsh Shukla is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.