Sanjeev Aggarwal, Managing Director & CEO, Amplus.
How do you see rooftop panning out in the next five years, esp. domestic rooftop projects?
As per MNRE, the market potential for solar rooftop (distributed) plants in India is ~124 GW and GoI has set up an ambitious target of installing 40 GW of rooftop (distributed) solar by 2022. But the installed capacity has only crossed the 1 GW mark till date. Further according to a latest BNEF report, the off-grid/decentralised solar market is poised to soar and will require ~$50 billion of investment to meet the 40 GW target. Rooftop solar has already become the fastest-growing renewable power sub-segment in India's clean energy market, growing three-fold from 72 MW per year to 227 MW per year since 2013. Till date, majority of the rooftop solar installations are for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers that have higher landed cost of power.
Residential tariffs/customers in India are still being subsidised by these C&I customers. Since, power in India is still a politically driven and regulated market, the tariffs for residential customers (basically the vote bank) will never be too high. So, till the time decentralised (rooftop) solar systems are not at par or below residential tariffs, solar system deployment for the domestic system would be at a slow pace.
What are the challenges that have to be ironed out?
The solar industry comprises of two parts - large scale grid connected plants and distributed (rooftop) projects. Although the technology for both is the same, the challenges faced thereof are slightly different. Large scale solar have problems in strengthening of grid infrastructure for power evacuation, land availability, sound financial health of SEBs and availability of project financing etc.
On the other hand, distributed (rooftop) solar is naturally insulated against market related risks (including land acquisition, SEB health and evacuation capacity). In fact, despite relatively higher capital costs, rooftop solar systems are a cheaper source of power vis-a-vis grid power for C&I users, making it an economically viable alternative for these power consumers. But distributed (rooftop) solar has its share of issues and challenges such as effective net metering policy by states, grid infrastructure to accommodate banking, enforcement of RPOs, REC benefits and waiver of duties and levies on these projects.
If GoI assumes the role of a facilitator, can we achieve higher installations in next 5 years?
GoI has always been progressive, dynamic and led the shift in India's energy mix. The introduction of the ambitious program of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 and subsequent measures thereafter to promote its implementation prove that GoI is thoughtful and enterprising. The solar sector in particular has made huge strides and achieved tremendous progress by reaching a cumulative installed capacity of 12.5 GW (as of March 2017; source: ET) in seven years since the NSM. Now, in order to harness solar to its maximum capacity, the sector needs to move away from the government umbrella and become market driven. Since the sector is regulated, some sort of government support would be required in terms of strengthening the regulatory backbone, grid infra for power evacuation and banking, improved financial health of SEBs (UDAY scheme), and phasing out of subsidies, etc. Sustained and effective measures will help large scale deployment and make it competitive and self-sustainable.
How much of a challenge do varying state policies pose and which states are doing it right?
Although solar power in India has seen a rapid increase in capacity installations in the last few years, the capacity additions have been largely concentrated in a few states that have taken the initiatives.
The five states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Gujarat host more than two-thirds of the total solar capacity with the former three being fresh entrants from last year allocations. Initially, Gujarat and Rajasthan were the front runners in terms of highest installed capacity, but in the last year or so, the southern states have taken a lead owing to implementation of their ambitious solar policies. The progressive government departments, favourable regulatory environment, consumer friendly policies and ease of doing business make these states an attractive investment destination for a large volume of upcoming solar projects and are setting benchmarks for other states to follow suit.
What is your strategy for capitalising on the existing potential?
Amplus provides distributed energy solutions focusing both on demand side and supply side interventions offered as a services business model (solar power as a service), de-risking clients of techno-financial and commercial risks, delivering long-term savings by providing end-to-end solutions, catalysing absorption of state-of-the-art technologies and thus contributing towards sustainability and climate change mitigation. Our plan is to accelerate deployment of both on-site and off-site solar energy systems across India, and keeping in sync with changing technology trends and market dynamics for a rapid and sustained growth such as considering storage solutions and creating a strong presence in systems monitoring and analytics. Amplus is fairly capitalised, competitive and ambitious to become a leader in the country’s distributed (solar) energy space.
What growth have you witnessed in the last 2 years? What is your market share?
Amplus has a significant pipeline of projects across India. With a cumulative capacity of more than 105 MW, we are one of the leading companies in distributed (solar) energy generation in India. Since its inception approx. two years ago, the company has seen an exceptional growth rate of 350 per cent from a capacity of 350 kW in 2014 to 105,000 kW in 2016 - in such a short span of time. We cater to a diverse portfolio of more than 70 top rated customers across manufacturing organisations, aerospace & defence, automotive, FMCG, consumer durables, pharma, foods etc. and commercial establishments like educational institutes, hospitals & healthcare, office buildings, and malls, etc.
How much projects you’ve commissioned in India (commercial, residential)?
Amplus provides bespoke distributed (solar) energy solutions to industrial and institutional customers. Across India, our current installed capacity is more than 40 MW and cumulative capacity is over 105 MW. We focus on consumers with significant power consumption and high landed cost of power be it commercial institutions, an industrial consumer or a residential agglomeration to help them lower their energy costs and have greater control on power supply. Currently, Amplus is developing ~400 kW of solar rooftop on residential complexes for a real estate major in Gurgaon and the plan is to gradually reach out to more residential customers in the near future.
- JOCELYN FERNANDES