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Bengaluru-based Espee Solar manufactures and exports solar photovoltaic systems and solar modules, and imports cells and wafers that go into these modules. In another six years, India will have sufficient manufacturing capacity in the country, says N Sesha Prasanna, Managing Director of Espee Solaar Pvt. Ltd, while talking about the sector's outlook. Excerpts of the interview...
What is your outlook for the Indian solar sector?
Renewable energy, especially solar, is going to be one of the leading sources of energy. Along with water and air, it is going to be the thrust area for all future developments. Already, the adoption of solar is increasing with each passing day. The fact that the government has thrown its weight behind the sector has also helped in a big way. Methodical steps such as the announcement of "One Nation, One Grid", use of solar pumps, and a continued push to modernise interstate transmission system infrastructure will go a long way. Further, with the latest push around the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan or self-reliant India campaign in terms of manufacturing for solar products with the continuation of safeguard duty should help to some extent.
With the push to aatmanirbharta (self-reliance), by when do you anticipate India achieving self-sufficiency in terms of manufacturing?
Today many companies are looking at setting up cell lines. As of now, we have not heard of wafer production in India. However, with the push to aatmanirbharta, manufacturing, especially the value-added ones, will pick up speed. Right now, you have to remember that we have not yet fully come out of the pandemic. My estimate is that we will require a timeline of six to eight years, to achieve the government's objective.
Categories within the sector such as rooftop solar are seeing an increased uptake, especially as organisations are becoming more aligned to the Environment Sustainability Governance (ESG) goals. Your comment!
Distributed generation is the answer for cutting down on transmission & distribution (T&D) losses. Already, many corporations are opting for solar power for their day-to-day needs. From an economic point of view, solar rates at around Rs 2.74 per kW/hr is lesser than conventional energy. Then the question is of sustained availability of power, considering that power sources such as solar and wind can be intermittent. Battery technologies are advancing and soon the cost of these will become attractive for utility-scale use. Hence rooftop systems need to be encouraged rather than big power projects.
From a policy point of view, what areas should the government focus more on?
So far, the government has taken many positive steps to encourage the sector. From protecting domestic sector manufacturers, by introducing safeguard duty to outlining a vision of 175GW in renewable energy targets by 2022, the government has been at the forefront. Now the time has come to remove subsidies as it is a deterrent to growth, and encourage smaller businesses by giving technical knowhow. This will help small businesses to move up the value chain, and think differently. Right now, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are facing a tremendous amount of stress from financial, project execution or even selling of products as their customers are struggling. By giving MSMEs technical knowhow, the government can also reduce unemployment. Considering the fact that the government has maintained that this is a job generation sector, this approach will help.
-NEYOOR B. SHARMA