In Conversation with Mr. Amresh Mahajan as AVP – Technology, ACME Solar
1. How important is the selection of right modules for the solar projects?
A solar panel is like heart of a Solar Power plant. Weaker the heart, lesser the life span and problems throughout the time a person lives. Same goes for a Power plant with a weak module. To select a right module, it is required to have a bill of material which can withstand harsh Indian environmental conditions, stable manufacturing process, robust mechanical strength, lower thermal coefficient and lesser measurement uncertainty. These days Tier 1 or Non Tier 1 has become a buzzword but in my view, a fairly ordinary module can be manufactured by a so called Tier 1 manufacturer and vice versa. We focus more on the design aspect and the process control part rather than getting influenced by the name of the manufacturers.
2. What are the recent technology trends seen in Solar module market?
It’s the technological advancement which has taken the module wattage from 180w to 300w for a 60 cell module in 6 ~ 8 years. Whether it's small changes like graduation to 5 Bus bar from 2 bus bars or 156.25mm cells or bigger changes like PERC cells, N type Mono cells, bifacial cells, Glass to Glass modules, each and every change has resulted in increased in efficiency of solar cells/modules. Infact it’s the technology which has brought down the costs to a level where it can be compared with the other conventional energy resources. Lot of work is happening in Nano technology, smart modules, cells with no bus bars and lab scale efficiencies levels have scaled the heights which are very encouraging from future standpoint. But still lot needs to be done from reliability standpoint. The existing standards are very basic and qualification criteria’s do not warranty the intended life span especially for Indian conditions. With prices going down lot of inferior Bill of material have also seen the daylight in the name of optimization and test protocols are not smart enough to detect them. Lot of work need to be done in this field particularly.
3. How Should Developers Select Their Module Partners?
I recommend a 3 step formula. (a) Don’t get bogged down by big names (b) Insist on Bill of material that suit your requirements (c) Be vigilant during the manufacturing process
4. Solar technology is evolving with time. Is there anything that you are looking forward to happen in the next few years? How do you think the Industry would shape up in near future?
For sure it's not going to stop here, there are lot of innovations which will evolve over a period of time and probably will take the efficiencies to a level, we hesitate to talk about now. However, in years to come, I see greater revolution in Solar is waiting to come from outside and not inside. As Solar is a complementary source of energy and not alternate source of energy, the development of storage media is going to play a big role in future. Once batteries are ready to take over the mantle of solar plants in night with minimal effect to environment, the conventional sources of power generation will find very difficult to survive.
5. Anything else you would like to add for our readers.
I think by this time, everyone knows that solar power is there to stay and is going to solve lot on energy problems in India and across the world. The big names in Indian also need to share responsibility and start investing in facilities that makes it more reliable, acceptable and compatible to our environmental conditions. We, at ACME are fully aware about our responsibilities and have set up a state of the art Solar lab to study the module behaviour in Indian conditions and will be happy to contribute in whatever way we can to develop a product that fits Indian conditions perfectly. Infact ACME is the first developer to take a lead in this aspect and since we will own our farms for the lifetime, we want the technology to be highly reliable in addition to being highly efficient.