Price War Not Desirable for Any Industry: An interview with Sungrow’s Sunil Badesra

Demand for string inverters growing along with rooftop solar installations


In India, there are over 30 inverter suppliers, which means there’s healthy competition in the market. Over the past two years (2017 and 2018), the top four inverter suppliers in India have maintained and consolidated their respective positions.

In July 2018, Sungrow, a global inverter, and energy storage system (ESS) solutions supplier for renewables, inaugurated its solar inverter manufacturing unit in Bangalore. This is Sungrow’s first manufacturing facility located outside of China.

The facility of 3 GW capacity is spread over an area of three acres. The construction of the facility took approximately six months and an investment of up to ₹360 million (~$5.25 million). At the facility, 1 GW was slated for string inverters, and central inverters were to comprise the other 2 GW.

Given the brisk pace of growth of the renewable energy sector, especially solar photovoltaic (PV), Mercom spoke to Sungrow, one of the leading suppliers of solar inverters in India.

Echoing the uncertainties in the sector, Sunil Badesra, who is leading the Business division at Sungrow India, said, “Healthy competition is good, but a price war is not desirable for any industry.”

Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:

Have you felt significant changes in the Indian market in the past two quarters? Please elaborate on them.

Several tenders have been floated in the past two quarters, and the results of some of them are out whereas there have been significant extensions for some of the tenders. The overall process seems to have slowed down a bit, perhaps due to the national election. We are expecting this will gather speed again after the new government is sworn in.

The MNRE has come up with draft series guidelines for BIS certification of solar inverters of capacity up to 150 kW and this a welcome step. We hope to get the final guidelines soon.

Have you seen an increase in demand for string inverters as the pace of rooftop solar installations has gained momentum?

As rooftop solar installations have been steadily growing with more adoption by C&I customers in India, we have seen more than 100% year-over-year growth for our string inverter orders in the year 2018 and are expecting similar growth this year.

Who are some of the prominent clients you are working with?

We have been working very closely with all the major and top developers in the Indian solar market, and we have already supplied our products to them for their previous projects. We continuously engage with all our customers to support them to achieve higher yield, reduced O&M cost, better returns, and create long-term sustained value for their projects.

What do you think of the battery energy storage market in India?

There has been a significant amount of talk on energy storage tenders since the last couple of years, but we are yet to see any major tender with battery energy storage system is finalized. A few tenders have been announced with significant storage capacity (GWh scale) by some states and SECI. However, the allowed storage in these tenders are technology agnostic and not specific to BESS even though it has several advantages over other technologies and has a proven track record along with better commercial viability.

Any comment on your market visibility plans for the coming quarters?

We are the frontrunner in the solar inverter market with continuous innovation and superior customer experience. We are bringing upgraded and newer inverter models with higher capacity, better efficiency, and enhanced protection. We have recently launched our SG250HX (250 kW string Inverter), the highest rated string inverter in the solar market to date at the Inter Solar Munich.

Who are your closest competitors in India, and what are your plans for consolidating your position in the market?

We have maintained a healthy market share (18%+) in India for the last two years while retaining our leadership position. We look forward to keeping up this momentum with our newer product portfolio, superior service, and as a reliable partner.  We are here to stay, and we will continue to offer high-quality products and better service with our widespread network and consequently maximizing the value for our customers. Healthy competition is good, but a price war is not desirable for any industry.

Inverter suppliers in the country have been experiencing ongoing uncertainties in the solar market with the rest of the domestic renewable industry. In an interview with Mercom last year, Sunil Badesra of Sungrow echoed these sentiments of the industry on the current market ambiguities and emphasized the need to innovate to take this sector to the next level.

According to the India Solar Market Leaderboard 2019 report, Sungrow was the second largest inverter supplier in 2018 with a growth rate of 105%.