EQ In Exclusive Conversation With Mr. Manish Singhal, Co-Founder – TerraNxt Pvt Ltd Ex – Director Solar PV Portfolio, ACWA Power
Digital Platform for Solar PV – Reducing Growing Soft Costs of PV Business
Q1. What is your New Venture About?
Ans: TerraNxt is creating a Digital Platform which will significantly reduce the fast growing Soft Costs* in Solar PV Business. Over last 3 decades, industry was focused in developing technologies that helps in reduction of cost of Solar Modules, Inverters and Racking system while there was minimal focus on adoption of technologies that helps reduce the Soft Costs.
Q2. What are Soft Costs and why they are a concern area?
Ans: Soft Costs are all those costs involved in delivery of Solar PV Project which are associated with human being. E.g Customer Acquisition Costs, Design Costs, Risk Analysis and Proposal Preparation Costs, Project Management Costs, Cost of Delays and other in-efficiencies, Cost of O&M, etc. Due to shortage of talent in the industry and annual increments to beat inflation, these costs have been growing steadily. They used to be in the range of 10% to 18% around a decade back, and are now in the range of 15 to 30% (depending upon the size of the PV Plant). For the Net Zero goals to materialize, a sharp focus on continuous cost reduction of PV is imperative and TerraNxtis doing its bit in this direction
Q3: How is this idea born and who else is part of this?
Ans: Like any other start-up, this was also started as an idea 2 years back at a coffee house where 4 friends were discussing to do something by leveraging their respective skills. My other co-founders – Rupesh Kumar, Krishanu Acharya and Amit Kumar were already a full time entrepreneurs in the area of Satellites, Geo-Spatial Analytics and Digital Technology Development and were convinced that Solar PV is the next big opportunity. I was mentoring them by giving ideas and what are the needs of the industry and pain areas and what kind of solution will be needed by the industry. I was lucky to get a brief stint as Digital Transformation Leader at ACWA Power where I saw huge possibilities of Digital Technologies making a strong impact on Solar PV Sector. And one fine day, I decided to join my friends full time to lead this venture. It was a tough decision (leaving a high paying job at one of the best companies) but I was well supported by my family in allowing me to pursue my passion.
Q4. Can you tell us a bit more about what TerraNxt will bring out soon? In layman’s term
Ans: TerraNXt will be launching its first product (PVNxt) in FY2024 which will:
A. Reduce the Costs of Visits to Customer Roof to ZERO
B. Will significantly enable SMEs/MSMEs involved in Solar Roof Top PV Business by reducing their costs of doing business and increase response to customers
C. Will enable DIY for Roof Top PV Customers (for less than 100 KWp size)
D. Will help optimize the design of Utility PV Plants by providing best tilt-pitch combination within minutes
E. Will generate LOD 300 level 3D Layout of Utility Scale PV plants in minutes (fully Geo-located components) for Digital Twinning and use in 6D BIM Project Management
F. Will Generate Detailed BoQ of Utility Scale Plant (Level 3)
G. Will provide complete risk analysis of any terrain incl associated cut-fill volumes and layout challenges within hours. Something that Developers/EPC need during large bids
Q5: Which markets are you focusing?
Ans: Our platform is being built entirely on Cloud and can be accessed by any customer worldwide. We shall be initially focused on Asian Markets (incl Middle East) and will have different business models suiting to the needs of each target country.
Q6. Who are your competitors in this space? And how are you going to deal with them?
Ans: We have few big players from European and USA region who have done a good amount of work in this field. Some of the noteworthy players are – Aurora Solar, TerraBase Energy, PV Case, Enpal. We believe that PVNxt will provide lot many value pools to customers and at a descent detail which these platforms are still lacking and that our teams rich experience in Solar PV EPC (with focus on details) will be leveraged to its full extent.
Q7. Are there any Investors on-board?
Ans: We are currently boot-strapped and incubated at FITT IIT Delhi and Wadhwani Foundation. Hoping to get an investor very soon!!