Change policies to up the deployment of solar energy

Written by Monalisa Sen | Updated: Nov 26 2012, 10:26am hrs
Hard-hit by adverse market conditions in Europe and USA, Chinese solar companies are keen to bring investments into solar projects in emerging markets like India. ReneSola, one of Chinas leading photovoltaic makers, sees huge potential for solar investments in the country. It also intends to use India as a manufacturing hub for producing solar modules, for supplying not only to the Indian market, but also to the neighbouring countries. Stephen Huang, president, Asia Pacific region of ReneSola tells Monalisa Sen about his companys plans for the Indian market, its key initiatives and investments. Excerpts:

Why is solar power important for India Globally, how has the market evolved

India has huge solar energy potential with ample sunshine throughout the entire year. A recent survey projected that an estimated solar energy potential India has is around 500 GW and that the solar power for India in next 20 years will be playing an important role and will be able to meet 5-7% of the total energy requirements by 2021- 2022. Keeping in mind the fact that in India millions of people need affordable electricity, and businesses and other institutions are looking to the government to ensure reliable electricity in rapidly growing cities throughout the country, solar power is highly significant.

Globally India is considered as one of the leading markets in solar and renewable energy. Over the years, the country has evolved as a promising market creating a conducive ecosystem for incubating commercially viable technologies. With an increasing energy requirement, the shift towards solar power is likely to become more pronounced.

How do foreign investors see clean technology start-ups emerging from the country Are they keen to invest in them

The emergence of clean technology start-ups in India are considered as a positive development that will enable to provide superior performance at lower costs, while reducing negative ecological impacts thereby mending the productive and responsible use of natural resources. Foreign investors see immense potential in them and are willing to invest more and more.

Tell us something about ReneSola.

ReneSola is a leading global photovoltaic manufacturer with almost 17 subsidiaries and their own production bases distributed in Zhejiang Jiashan, Jiangsu Wuxi and Sichuan Meishan. ReneSola specialises in the R&D and manufacturing of polysilicon, silicon wafer and solar modules and are one of the few large solar conglomerates with vertically integrated operations from virgin poly-silicon to photovoltaic systems in the global photovoltaic industry. Leveraging its proprietary technologies, economies of scale and technical expertise, ReneSola adopts a vertically integrated business model to provide customers with high-quality products with stable price without getting influenced by the fluctuating supply market.

How important is the India market for ReneSola in terms of business

ReneSola views India as a pivotal market for solar energy. The government is propelling the demand for solar products which is expected to grow in the coming years. With this solar PV market expanding, we are also looking at more global markets and India is one among them. Indias GDP growth is good and the country has huge potential for solar investments. Besides, the Indian government has announced subsidies for customers, and it is propelling the demand for solar products.

What are your business plans to enhance ReneSolas presence in India

ReneSola has recently announced its expansion to India market where the solar wafer maker is focusing on couple of localisation requirements. The company will expand its PV module production footprint outside China for the first time, to localise production of 250 MW in India over the next two years. ReneSola will attach much importance on Indias growing PV market and is seeking strategic local partners to enable faster growth.

At ReneSola, they believe that traditional PV sales and trading platforms cannot satisfy local demand, and so it intends to establish roots there, ideally joining forces with the India PV industry to provide customised energy solutions. In order to import its world-leading technology to India and get the most out of Indias local management and talent resources, ReneSola is dedicated to providing localised and customised products and services to the Indian market.

What are the future trends and challenges that you see in the solar market

The future of solar market in India is bright and has immense potential with multiple states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra etc vouching for clean technologies. Besides, 45% of the population in rural areas does not have electricity access and therefore the demand for solar products has been constantly rising. Products like solar street lighting systems, home lighting systems, power plants, solar cookers, solar pumps and solar water heating systems are the most popular applications in India. Moreover, India is considered as the most sought after destination to invest in solar market for both local as well global players.

In terms of the challenges facing the solar industry, the improvement and perfection of the state grid will be a big challenge. As the cost for using solar PV power continues to drop, it is already very competitive to use this renewable energy as a power generation method. However, the instability of power supply because the natural sunshine output timing is a challenge for the grid. This is why the introduction of a smart grid and energy storage will be a big step for solar PV powers development. Besides, there is a meticulous gap seen between demand and supply in India when it comes to solar energy where the electricity generation is largely dependent on coal and other non-renewable sources.

Also, solar projects are capital intensive and a lack of financial infrastructure is another major challenge that the Indian solar industry is currently witnessing.

What measures, according to you, are needed to promote clean technologies in India What should the government do to accelerate the development of solar power market

The Indian government has long recognised the immense potential of solar technology in meeting the countrys energy demand. According to the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission (JNNSM), the target is for 20 GW of capacity to be installed by 2022, making India one of the most promising and fastest growing solar markets in the world. The government should formulate significant change in the renewable policies so as to accelerate the deployment of solar energy. Since government is required more in the initial days, the government should support the solar makers in the initial stages of development that includes support for infrastructure and establishment. Moreover, the Indian government should also facilitate adoption of clean technologies by industry in the small and medium sector, through regulatory and fiscal measures, as well as standards setting.

What will be your strategy going forward for the India market

ReneSola plans to contribute towards converting India as the hub of its solar manufacturing in the Southeast Asia. The company will immediately target the Western, Eastern and Southern states of India with its innovative solar PV products and move to other markets subsequently. It plans to tap the untapped solar power with their new and innovative products and technologies.