EQ in Exclusive Conversation With Mr. Umakant Shende, Vice President & Country Head- India from Cleantech Solar
Q1. Tell us about Cleantech Solar. What is the company’s portfolio size and what are your plans for the future?
Cleantech Solar is leading provider of renewable energy to corporations in India and Southeast Asia. The company finances, builds, owns and operates on-site & open access solar projects under the PPA model. Headquartered in Singapore, Cleantech Solar has a 600 MW+ portfolio spread over 300 sites, consisting of on-site and off-site solutions for its customers.
Cleantech Solar helps over 125 MNCs and local corporates meet their sustainability goals, offering them a unique combination of:
- Shared values ensuring long-term partnership
- Leading technical expertise with a strong focus on delivering safe and high-quality projects
- Experienced local teams in all markets to ensure compliance and smooth execution
- State of the art control room delivering optimized performance in real time
Through the challenging times of the pandemic, we have continued to provide best-in-class service to our customers, and it has been heartening to see the robustness and resilience of demand for clean energy from them. Cleantech Solar is well capitalized and backed by top institutional investors and lenders across the region. We continue to deliver the best value to our customers in meeting their carbon reduction goals whilst achieving maximum savings on power costs.
Q2. What steps can be taken for India to reach closer to its goal of 40GW Rooftop Solar by 2022?
India has set an ambitious target for rooftop solar and while we are still far from the target, consolidated efforts from all stakeholders will certainly help boost the uptake of solar power substantially. On varying policies across states regarding rooftop solar projects, policy makers must strive towards greater clarity vis-à-visthe requirements of net metering, net billing, behind the meter and gross metering for the Commercial and Industrial (C & I) segment.
Further, the option of behind the meter for captive rooftop solar projects should be with the consumer. I firmly believe that rooftop / distributed solar is good for the grid and consumers in the long term. Rooftop solar enables consumers to convert unused roof assets into green electricity-generating power plants. The consumers are then able to utilize electricity that is generated on-site, thereby diminishing losses due to transmission and distribution. Thus, not only is rooftop solar beneficial for the environment, it also reduces grid stress during peak hours and results in major cost savings for the offtakers.
Solar industry investments have also been unfavorably impacted due to the lack of solar-friendly policies and their inconsistencies. Policy implementation must be easy, clear, and stable without frequent changes. We are looking forward to the implementation of the “One Solar, One India, One Solar Policy”.
Abrupt changes or discontinuation of policies like net metering or imposing surcharges have a negative impact on industry sentiment. A unified effort on the part of all state and central agencies responsible for the implementation of renewable energy programs, along with the state distribution companies, will go a long way in reaching a common consensus and finalizing targets in line with Government of India’s renewable energy targets.
Q3. Which states have the most potential for C & I renewable energy uptake?
Presently, most of Cleantech Solar’s projects are spread across Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. We look forward to the regulatory changes required in Haryana, which will pave the way towards the realization of its full renewable energy potential. We look forward to adding many more projects across the various states.
Furthermore, owing to the increase in demand for renewable energy from the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) consumers in states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana, we are optimistic that they will be close contenders in the near future.
Q4. What effect will BCD implementation have on the market?
Levying 40% BCD on solar modules from 1 April 2022 will certainly contribute to an increase in the cost of renewable energy in the Indian market. The impact of this rise in price will be in the range of Rs 0.25 to 0.40 per kWh. The Government of India’s objective of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” was to encourage indigenous manufacturing of cells and modules, which will further result in creation of jobs in the sector. We have apprised our customers of this impending matter and we expect an increase in corporate renewable energy procurement till April 2022 due to this.
Q5. Are you planning to add any new services, business models or technologies to your portfolio?
Certainly. In our quest to provide the best-in-class solutions to our partners, we continually evaluate and pilot-test new solutions that emerge. Some examples of our efforts are as follows:
- Group-captive model: Since CEA 2003, the group captive structure has been a great enabler in the Indian market, and we have successfully deployed over 300MW+ under this structure for our clients in India
- High-efficiency modules: We only use the highest-rated Tier-1 modules in our assets and have already deployed the newest of these kinds in the market — Mono PERC, bifacials, etc.
- Storage: The next natural step would be to look at storage potential at our on-site and off-site assets to optimize use of the solar power generated.