In Conversation with Mr. Venugopalan CM Head - Energy Division, Bosch Ltd
1) What are the current and potential challenges fronting on solar EPC sector in India these days?
When you look at EPC, understanding the right requirements of the customer is one challenge.
On one hand, you have the rooftop plants and on the other hand, you have large, ground mounted, utility scale plants. Then, there is something in between which is the specific requirement of the capital consumers.
The important thing is to really understand the customer requirement and then come out with the right engineered solution- and in order to cater to these requirements, Bosch offers optimally customized solutions to meet the customers energy requirements which is the need of the hour today. Another challenge is to obtain efficient funding. So according to me, these2 are the challenges fronting on solar EPC sector in India.
2) Rooftop has been a growing segment. Do you see more business from the off-grid market in India over the next 5 years?
Rooftop-yes; whether it is off-grid, I would differ and say that growth would be more on grid connected rooftop solar plants. When you say off grid, then it is also a little storage connected to that. This could be a system for a very small capacity and hence not very economical.
I definitely see a future where people will extensively be using rooftops to generate power for self-use and also to evacuate to the grid through a net metering concept. That’s going to be the big change we can anticipate in the near future.
3) What are some of the other challenges the Solar EPC sector faces today?
In the previous related question I talked about understanding the engineering challenges. See, building a project for an airport is a different ball game altogether. One has to understand the entire aspects of the aviation industry, airports and the challenges in the airport’s premises to build up a project. So that is an engineering challenge. What is most important is right engineered project and extreme focus on safety, quality and ease of maintenance. These are the main aspects an EPC should focus on and address in the coming years.
4) Do you expect to see the aggressive bidding again by the developers or have the tariffs bottomed out for the present?
If you look at the basic material cost and if you look at the conversion charges from material to the panel, there is a limit of how much lower it can go. So, yes you could still see a little bit of tariff reduction but it will definitely stabilize over a period of time. There is a limit beyond which it cannot happen.
5) Anything you would like to share with the readers?
We started our business in 2014 as Bosch Energy and Building Solutions and from there we have been consistently focusing on highly quality oriented engineered projects specifically meeting the customer requirements and giving them a very unique optimum solution. Our projects are the benchmark projects like the project we built up for Cochin airport making it the first airport in the world that is completely grid free and working on solar. This calls for a clear focus on quality, safety and the project management processes. This is where we are focused and we will continue to play a major role in this case for enterprise customers. With sustainability being Bosch’s long term strategy, we are completely ready, rather looking forward to play a major role in India’s journey in renewable energy efficiency, reduced emissions and so on and so forth. We are the biggest player in automotive space and we came out with the best of the emission systems which brings down the emission to the lowest. We are coming out with that mind-set. We are an engineering company so our projects are highly engineered and we have further expanded our portfolio to energy efficiency projects.
Looking at these aspects, Bosch will play a major role in the enterprise segment. Although we are headquartered in south India, North India is a focus area for us. We are working very closely with the customers in clusters like Faridabad and Ludhiana where there are a lot of commercial industries. Bosch is providing them customised rooftop solar PV solutions. Our aim is to be the energy partner to our clients and provide them with a complete solution.