The recent World Bank funding will give a boost to solar rooftop sector: Sanjeev Aggarwal, CEO, Amplus Solar
Gurugram-based solar rooftop company Amplus Solar was in news recently for bagging a part of Rs 400 crore World Banking financing for setting up rooftop solar plants of 100 Mw capacity. The company has a current portfolio of 107 Mw projects and now wants to foray into energy storage segment, Founder & CEO of Amplus Solar Sanjeev Aggarwal tells Anisha Dutta in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts..
To what extent the World Bank sanctioned loan will help enhancing solar rooftop capacity in India?
The World Bank financing, routed through State Bank of India, will act as a significant catalyst for the growth of the rooftop sector. This is the first time dedicated institutional financing has been made available for this segment where lenders are truly able to understand and appreciate the growth potential of this segment and evaluate the business risks associated here vis-a-vis utility scale projects. We have got more than 50 per cent sanctioned limit in this first round of financing of 100 MW by SBI.
What is the Operational Expenditure (OPEX) business model that you follow and how does it work?
Since we are in the distributed energy space, we work more with commercial industrial customers. In terms of this segment, we have a different business model. We work on a Build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode and use the OPEX route where the customer does not pay upfront. So, the technology risk is gone, people do not have to worry about operation and maintenance aspects and do not have to invest their money upfront.
Do you think there is sufficient funding available in the sector?
Banks have sufficient funding now. The State Bank has funding from World Bank, ADB has given around $500 million dollar, there is funding from KfW and many more. However, the challenge remains in dissemination of funds. The banks providing the fund are struggling with the handling of smaller projects. They want to utilize the same framework for funding smaller projects like the bigger solar projects which is not possible. We are working with the bankers to streamline some of these things.
You had taken over Sun Edison’s solar business last year. How is it shaping up?
It is going well. Sun Edison had good clients. After taking over, we are able to focus much more on the operation and maintenance of the plants. Since this was a very small part of Sun Edison’s overall business, the focus on O&M was not that much earlier. We are focusing more into technology and trying to figure out what is the best way to use those plants so that we are able to improve the performance of these plants.
Are you planning to foray into energy storage business?
We are working on our first solar energy storage plant which is at a toll plaza on NH-24. It will be commissioned soon. It is a small plant of around 80 KW capacity which is enough for a toll plaza. It is our investment and a private concessionaire Cube highways is buying the energy storage solution. Power availability remains quite sporadic at toll plazas since they are normally in remote locations and power lines do not reach there. With solar storage, it becomes a good solution. We are working on this first project as a proof of concept following which, it can be replicated across the country. Storage technology is something that has to happen. We need to look at applications which can be developed along with solar energy.