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“We are currently executing large scale projects in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra & Uttarakhand states under Open Access and Rooftop models.”

How has the last FY 2018-19 been for your company? Has there been slow down in the growth of solar sector?
The past year has been extremely special for Hinduja Renewables Energy Private Limited (HREPL) given the acquisition of a large Solar portfolio. The Company has grown substantially in terms of its team size and brand significance. We are currently executing large scale projects in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra & Uttarakhand states under Open Access and Rooftop models.
Yes, the Solar sector has seen a slowdown since the last 3 quarters. Introduction of government policies such as Anti-Dumping and SafeGuard duties on imports of solar cells and modules has raised concerns amongst several solar developers and contributed towards this. Another major contribution for slowdown in the sector could also be attributed to the cancellation of auctions by SECI in Gujarat, Maharashtra and UP.

Could you brief us about your upcoming projects in the RE Sector?
HREPL is executing several Open Access projects for high credit rated C&I Clients. These projects would be commissioned by the end of the year. Further, the Company is building a strong pipeline to support its vision of achieving GW level portfolio through both greenfield and brownfield approaches. The Company is also passionately looking to develop and provide EV charging and clean mobility solutions in the near future.

How do you see India’s growth in the Solar sector against the background of ambitious targets set by the Government of India?
Currently India is the third largest market globally. Given the ambitious target of 175GW by 2020 in 2010 which was later revised to 100GW by 2020 in June 2015, India has managed to achieve a sizable portion since the inception of JNNSM in 2010.
Now that the Government is set to perform its second tenure after the recent win in the Elections, some good policies and fresh impetus is expected by the industry from MNRE. Growth of RE sector was always a priority for this government, thus continuation of same leadership will help in achieving the set targets through new approach and experience of the last 5 years.

What do you think about the policies that the government has levied (safeguard duty & Anti Dumping duty)? Is it in sync with the developer’s investment strategy?
The policies levied by the Government have failed to provide a solution to the problems of local manufacturers. Imposing such duties have not only adversely affected the import of solar modules by making them more expensive for the developers, but has also increased the cost of production for local manufacturers. Since most of the solar cells and other major components for producing solar modules by domestic manufacturers has to be imported, the duty and surcharge has further escalated the price of domestic modules.
A Developer’s strategy for Solar plants is always long term as the life of a solar plant is 25 years. The investment is done keeping the current available best technology and the policies which will affect the cost of erecting and operating a solar power plant. Thus, any knee jerk policy changes which affects the capex cost of the project affects the developer in the short term especially if the policy is declared prospectively or with very small advance notice. Ideally any policy affecting the cost of project should be made at least one year in advance so that it can be incorporated in the investment plans of the developer.

Do you think that there is a lack of efficient grid integration and forecasting system in India which affects the productivity of the plants installed? How do you think the same can be improved?
I wouldn’t completely agree to term the current situation as a lack in the grid integration and forecasting. With more renewables adding to the grid, grid integration has become a very critical challenge which needs to be addressed by ensuring very accurate forecasting and scheduling by the developers. Recently many states have brought in strict forecasting and scheduling (FAS) norms to help manage the grid. I feel India will first move to 15 mins FAS system and then later upgrade the same to a 5 mins FAS system. This would help the country achieve stability in the grid. The ongoing progress can be achieved by bringing storage solutions into utility scale plants which can help in effective FAS. The Government is also working towards introducing green energy corridor schemes, which is a prerequisite for large scale grid integration of renewable energy

The Solar industry is presumably upbeat at the political stability at the Centre. What is your take on the renewed investment confidence for the Industry?
Political stability at Centre is good news for the entire business community. A stable Government can always take difficult decisions for the good of industry which are not populist in nature. India’s green energy play is expected to grow substantially with federal policy think tank NITI Aayog projecting increased capacities by 2040 in its new draft energy policy. Government has already started on a 100 days programme to achieve some quick results in various areas affecting the business growth. However, the solar industry is still not fully confident and keenly watching policy announcements by the Government. Announcement of “Rent a Roof” policy by MNRE is a welcome step in this direction to drive Rooftop Solar. Once the framework and modalities are known, the industry can take it forward with fresh investments.

 

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