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In Exclusive Talk With Mr. Hitesh Doshi, Chairman & MD, Waaree Group

In Exclusive Talk With Mr. Hitesh Doshi, Chairman & MD, Waaree Group

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1. Please describe in brief about your company, directors, promoters, investors, its vision & mission?

WAAREE Energies Ltd is the flagship company of Waaree Group, founded in 1989 with headquarters in Mumbai, India. It is India’s one of the largest solar PV module manufacturing capacity of 500 MW’S at its plant in near Surat, Gujrat. Waaree Energies is amongst the top players in India in providing EPC services, Project development, rooftop solutions, and solar water pumps and also as an Independent Power Producer. Waaree has its presence in over 20 locations nationally and 68 countries internationally

With a vision to provide high quality and cost-effective solutions across areas of operations in emerging as well as developed markets while leveraging on the goodwill and experience of the group and Management expertise, we are committed for continuous improvement in the quality of our products & services.

Plz get the key management details along with their Pic from the below mentioned link.

+ http://www.waaree.com/key-management

2. What is the size of your company in terms of manufacturing capacities, growth chart, future expansion plans.

We started out with a 30 MW module manufacturing line in 2007, which has grown to a module manufacturing capacity of 500 MW, which we are in the process of upgrading to 1.2 GW within FY 2017-18.

3. What are your plans for India, your view on the GOI target of 100GW Solar Power by 2022?

We, as part of the Indian Solar Industry, believe in and are fully committed to the Government of India target of 100 GW Solar Power by 2022. We plan to participate in this in our various roles – manufacture and supply modules, participate in EPC tenders as well as provide third party EPC services for utility scale projects, continue and strengthen our presence in the rooftop segment  as well as on case-to-case basis participate as developers/investors in solar power projects. As part of our commitment towards the 100 GW target, we have introduced floating solar solution, to enable efficient use of the water-body surface for solar capacity deployment.

Our manufacturing capacity roadmap has been planned to grow lock-step with the overall market with capacity upgradation to 1.2 GW within a year.

4. What’s your commitment towards the solar sector in India?

We, as Waaree Group, have been involved in the solar sector from its inception having started in 2007 with a 30 MW module line, and at 500 MW operational lines as of now having upgraded as per the need of the time. We plan further expansion and looking at a module manufacturing capacity of 1.2 GW within this Finayear.

In addition, we are a leading EPC service provider with more than 300 MW of executed projects, as well as leading provider of module mounting structures.

As part of commitment and involvement in the solar sector in India, we have introduced innovative solutions such as floating solar as well as flexible module technology, in association with technology partners with proven expertise.

The Waaree group takes its position as an industry leader as a solemn responsibility to work towards the overall benefit of the industry. Readiness of skilled manpower is one of the important enablers for the ambitious growth targets of solar industry. We have taken proactive steps taken through association and tie-ups with local institutes of learning as well as under Skill India initiative.

5. What is your target/expectation of module supply in 2017-18?

Keeping in line with the growth potential in solar industry and Waaree’s continuing position as the leading Indian solar module manufacturer, we expect to supply modules upwards of 1 GW in FY 2017-18.

6. Kindly highlight your strengths and USP which gives your company a distinct advantage as compared to your competitors?

The strength of Waaree Group lies in its upstream and downstream integration – hence ability to offer solar solutions through a veritable one-stop shop. With industry accepted and awarded pole position in module manufacturing, we bring continual innovation, with robust flexible modules the latest addition to our offering. As one of the leading names in EPC, we bring our experience of over 300 MW of executed projects to deliver projects with the right quality at the right time at the right price. With varied solutions in BoS, be it inverters, module mounting structures, tracker solutions or floating solutions, we are.

7. Present some noteworthy projects, case studies of solar plants built using your solar modules?

A few noteworthy projects built using our solar modules are NTPC 50 MW Project in Andhra Pradesh (Executed by Sterling & Wilson), AAI 15 MW (Executed by Sterling & Wilson), Azure 100 MW, GAIL 5 MW and many more.

8. What are the top 5 markets for your company in the past, present and future?

The top markets for our company has been India, Europe, North America, South America and MENA region. We look towards the emerging African market with interest as well.

9. Please share information of some new orders in hand?

Keeping in line with our expectation of crossing 1 GW of module supply this financial year, we have entered FY 2017-18 with 200 MW of module order pipeline.

10. What will be the cost, technology trends in solar pv modules?

The technology shift expected would be towards higher efficiency with 21% efficiency the new norm. We foresee module technology to move towards Zero White Space (“ZWS”), Bifacial Modules, increasing share of mono-crystalline modules and PERC/PERT technologies. Glass-to-glass modules with longer module life and stability is another technology that would increase in share. The trends towards modules with more number of busbars would continue with multi Bus-Bar modules expected to be the new norm.

Instead of commenting on cost trends, we would like to state that in the solar PV modules space, value rather than pure cost should be and will be what is considered in the Indian solar market’s continuing efforts towards lower LCOE, having moved beyond the grid parity paradigm.

11. Solar Trade Wars : What is Your View ?

There has been predatory pricing and dumping of solar equipment (below the domestic market price). While many solar markets have countered this with anti-dumping duties, the Indian market remains open to it, with the lowest MSP of modules offered by certain overseas manufacturers in India, compared to any other territory, including their own domestic market. Indian Government had adopted Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) tendering to counter this. Unfortunately this was perceived and labeled by WTO as “preferential treatment”, thus limiting DCR tenders to Government projects alone.

With the domestic market of the overseas manufacturer’s resorting to dumping is itself closed to Indian manufacturer’s through high duties, and preferential market creation is curtailed by WTO, the avenues open to address these issues are two-fold: firstly, introduce government incentive scheme for domestic module manufacturer – thus enabling more competitive pricing by Indian companies, and secondly introduce restrictions on importing of solar modules from countries known to be engaging in predatory pricing.

12. As a module manufacturer provided 25 years warranties….is it backed up by warranties by cell manufacturer, materials manufacturers ?

As a module manufacturer we provide 25 year warranties. We do not get back-to-back warranties by cell/materials manufacturer. We ensure adherence to the quality expected from us, through rigorous quality control and in-house testing both for inwards material as well as for finished products. We follow the strictest production guidelines and the best International Industry Standards and Practices with all major national & international certifications.

13. Comment on the warranty claim rate, rejections, replacements etc…

We would like to give full credit to our factory team with their rigorous quality control and adherence to world-class standards, that we have a clean slate when it comes to warranty claims, rejections and/or replacements.

14. As a manufacturer, kindly share your plans to foray as developer or equity investor in solar pv power projects.?

Waaree Group has already made significant forays as developer/equity investor in solar PV power projects, with projects developed in joint venture with a leading PSU, with projects won under competitive bidding and developed in Andhra Pradesh.

We keep a close watch on and are fully engaged in the current and upcoming tenders and will participate – on case to case basis – directly or through consortium route. We believe our expertise, as solar module manufacturer as well as a leading EPC service provider, would stand us in good stead in this competitive environment.

15. The recent aggressive bidding by various developers keeping Solar Tariffs in the price range of Rs.3.3-4.34 per kWh in various Solar Tender. What’s your view on the viability, Costs & timeline pressures, Resource Challenges (Materials, ManPower, Execution, Grid Connection, Land Possession) etc…

The recent aggressive bidding in Solar Tenders have breached the grid parity target set by the Indian solar industry.

The challenge in front of the solar industry as a whole is the successful execution of these projects and development of quality assets to service these PPA’s. The successful bidders would definitely have done the pre-bid due diligence and cost projections based on the industry trends, but a relook would be advisable at each stage till actual COD, to ensure the viability of the projects.

An important piece of the development puzzle is readiness of land & evacuation in solar parks in line with the project timelines. This needs the coordination by and between the Solar Park Implementation Agencies and the Transmission Utilities, with support from the state Government. The next piece is the optimization of capital cost – modules, BoS and EPC – without any adverse effect on the quality of assets. We believe the Indian solar market has matured to such level that this can be achieved through collaborative discussions and use of combined purchasing power.

16. How has RUMS Bid changed the dynamics for Solar Projects in India. What are the challenges, threats and new opportunities you see emerging now?

The RUMS bid and the subsequent solar park bids have changed the dynamics of solar projects, by moving beyond the grid parity paradigm, with solar tariffs in line or lower than the projected APPC tariffs expected at the time the PPA’s go-live.

The storm cloud along with this silver lining is the perceived threat to signed/allocated solar PPA’s with higher tariffs. This is something that the regulators and the Discoms have to address to avoid any adverse effect on the investor confidence in solar India. There have been reports of winners of certain earlier bid processes being asked for further discount on the discovered tariff on the basis of the low tariffs reached in RUMS and other subsequent bids.

On a positive sidenote, an interesting opportunity that has arisen from solving the grid parity problem, is the spotlight shifting to “socket parity” problem for the off-grid and rooftop market. We look towards this segment for the next big headline that propels interest in solar from an industry topic to common man discussion.

17. What has delayed the new upcoming tenders by NTPC/SECI and what are the learning’s and take aways from RUMS Bids?

Many reasons have been assigned to the delay/reduction in speed of allocation of Solar India.

Though GST applicability and the non pass-through of increase due to the same in PPA tariffs may be an important reason, we believe the reduced ready inventory of plug-n-play ready solar parks and Discom readiness to sign and adhere to PPA’s is a more pressing reason.

Any analysis of the solar bidding/auction results would make it clear that higher developer confidence hence higher aggression and consequently lower tariffs have been possible where the land and evacuation risks have been suitably mitigated through well designed solar park mechanisms. With the ready inventory of solar parks close to being completely allocated, the Government has taken steps in the right direction by doubling of solar park targets to 40 GW by 2020, as well as increased importance to involvement of private entrepreneurs for solar park development.

Discom readiness to sign and adhere to PPA tariffs discovered through the bidding process is an important factor. With the inevitably decreasing tariffs in bid processes due to aggression fuelled by lack of near term visibility of bankable tenders, there have been instances where Discoms/offtakers are discussing further discounts on tariffs reached through competitive bidding especially in non solar park tenders. This is an alarming trend which may affect the market sentiments adversely.

18. What are the expectations from Government / NTPC / SECI / RUMS Team?

We, as part of the Indian Solar Industry, in our roles as equipment manufacturer, EPC service provider and developer, expect continued support from Government Policy and the various Government agencies.

From the Government on policy level we expect:

  • Demand Assurance – Clarity on DCR and Make-In-India Module based tenders to have assured domestic demand for manufacturing industry

From the tender issuing and management bodies such as SECI and NTPC we expect

  • Visibility of Tenders – Tender Calendar for the next 3-5 years – tender dates and scheduled commissioning dates not clustered but spread across to ensure optimal use of production and execution capability

From the solar park facilitation bodies such as RUMS team, we expect:

  • Visibility of timelines for readiness of land and evacuation arrangements for solar parks

With the target for solar parks doubled to 40 GW, we look forward to clear calendars of solar park readiness and tender release. High resolution and correct survey information on the land as well as availability of irradiation data through on-ground weather stations put in place as soon as possible will enable suitable planning hence costing by the developer and EPC communities.

19. Are the developers betting on Modules Prices or Interest Rates ?

In keeping with the aggression and competition in the solar tenders, the tariff bids are based on forward looking modules prices as well as interest rates.  The developer community has been making increasingly aggressive projections on the capital costs, especially module costs. As these are based on reduction of cost projections without any direct reference to forward costs of silicon, wafers, cells or modules, there is considerable risks involved. We are sure that the developer bidding is done with complete due-diligence of industry trends as well as post-win action to achieve the projected costs, we look at the current allocated capacity pipeline with involvement and concern as industry participants and partners.

20. Pre-Bid Tie up : Would you suggest prebid tie up ?

Given the aggressive bidding being seen and required in Indian solar market, we believe pre-bid tie-up at both module supply as well as EPC level should not just be seen as prudent practice by the developer community but made a credential requirement by the tender management agencies. This would ensure there is minimum abandonment of prestigious projects, and the aggression is suitably tempered with ability and commitment by the various stake-holders.

21. Roof Top Solar : What is your plans for Roof Top Solar Market, Government Target of 40GW rooftop solar by 2022 (Please comment) , Various Models such as RESCO/BOOT/PPA/EPC etc…Opportunities & Challenges, Policies & Regulations etc…

Rooftop solar has finally moved from kW scale to MW scale. We are highly committed to our efforts in this segment, where value based competition will flourish rather than purely financial engineering fueled aggression. With more than 40 MW of rooftop projects we are working in all the flavors of rooftop solar be it pureplay EPC, BOOT Model, RESCO model or the more innovative structures being discussed.

We expect this segment to further heat up.
Hitherto, this has been an Unorganized sector, with no central repository of opportunities unlike MW scale ground mounted segment, other than tenders coming from SECI, CEL and NVVNL. This creates an opportunity for coordinators and intermediaries: Local team provides leads and services & National level EPC teams bring expertise and financial strength.

Most states have come out with conducive rooftop solar policies, but the industry still encounters roadblocks in terms of maximum capacity allowed for grid interactive systems and speed of regulatory approvals.

Gross metering, thus monetization of large roofs for those consumers who have low or seasonal consumption patterns is the next big change the industry awaits.

 

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network

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