"The industry has contributed its fair share for bringing the solar tariffs down and making renewable energy competitive as a mainstream power"

In conversation with Mr. Girish Gelli Director, Mytrah Energy India Pvt Ltd

Let’s start with the developments at your organisation in the last one year.

It has been an exciting year for the solar business at Mytrah. Having signed PPAs with Punjab, Telangana and Karnataka for about 420mw, we developed solar-specific capabilities within the organization over the last year. Full fledged abilitities covering Bidding, Land acquisition, Design & Engineering, Funding, Procurement and Project Execution are now in place, we even developed our own Solar Tracker. Today we are amongst the few companies in the country that does projects from A to Z without having to depend on external resources.

As a developer, what key challenges do you face today?

Recruiting skilled solar resources has been difficult; it is a nascent industry yet growing rapidly hence depth and breadth of experience is hard to come by at all levels of the organization. Land acquisition in solar is always challenging and also presents a risk since vast quantities of land need to be acquired within a short time frame. Looking forward declining tariffs is also a challenge.

As the assets become older, will aggressive bidding today become a pain point for the industry a few years down the line?

The industry has contributed its fair share for bringing the solar tariffs down and making renewable energy competitive as a mainstream power. This has meant having to do value engineering. However value engineering in a few cases has turned into cutting corners which will undoubtedly reduce the reliability of the project over time. In such cases reduction in Capex will have to be compensated by increased maintenance, higher Opex and short-term equipment replacement which defeats the purpose of reduced Capex. Cost optimization is a necessity, however bringing the specifications or quality down beyond a point will have undesirable consequences over the long operating life of the projects.

Which states do you believe will lead and see maximum solar energy investments this year?

Some of the traditionally pro-solar states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will continue to see significant growth in their solar capacities this year.

Further, as the benefits of solar are becoming apparent to everyone, and as the Centre starts insisting on states to meet their RPO obligations we expect more states will join the solar bandwagon. Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and J&K are amongst many states that will add solar capacities.

What are the milestones you wish to achieve by the end of this fiscal?

We intend to execute our projects in a timely manner, and we will have 500mw of operating solar assets before the end of this year. We would also like to add 300mw to our projects pipeline, increase our rooftop portfolio, commence B2B projects and go overseas.

What is your view on the proposed GST rates and impact on the Solar Business?

The Government has proposed a tax rate of 5% for Solar Systems which shows the seriousness and strong impetus for the growth of renewable energy. However components of the Solar Systems include significant quantities of Steel, Cables, Inverters, Transformers etc which are to be taxed at 18% - 28% which is not in line with the intention to support the renewable energy growth. We do hope the GST council comes up with a clarification or a mechanism to support the intended tax rate of 5%. This is especially important for projects currently under development.



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