Viz-A-Viz with Saurabh Bhandari, Founder & CEO, SolarMaxx

Q. To begin with can you give our readers a brief overview of SolarMaxx including the vision behind its formation and its current role in the market?

SolarMaxx, established in 2008, is a leading manufacturer and supplier of high efficiency Solar PV Modules suitable for utility scale power plants as well as rooftop solar. SolarMaxx is a proud leader in its regional market of Rajasthan and is rapidly expanding across India.

Solar PV Modules (Saurabh Bhandari)

Saurabh Bhandari, Founder & CEO, SolarMaxx

SolarMaxx believes in manufacturing in the markets we serve. SolarMaxx Solar PV Modules are a renowned quality offering that undergo multiple stages of stringent quality checks and tests during production before being packed for delivery.

Needless to mention our modules are duly tested and approved and hold required IEC and TUV certification from world’s one of the most prestigious certification agencies. SolarMaxx Solar PV modules are also MNRE tested and are an eligible offering for various state and national tenders.

SolarMaxx Solar PV Modules are available in wide range of sizes and wattages. Even though our main focus is to produce high efficiency 325+W modules for utility and rooftop sectors, we can also cater to customised requirement for modules from 40W and above.

While SolarMaxx Solar Panels are a leading quality offering, SolarMaxx EPC services are revered as amongst the best in after-sales and O&M besides being amongst the fastest to deliver rooftop as well as ground mounted projects. Over the past decade we have attained expertise in EPC with in-house design, engineering and procurement capabilities.

Q. SolarMaxx offers a broad range of solar solutions; could you highlight your products for our readers?

A small idea from a milk vendor led to the foundation of this current solar venture, SolarMaxx, in the year 2008.

SolarMaxx indulged in distribution of Solar lamps with an objective to light up the rural India before diversifying into manufacturing of Solar PV Panels, Solar Water Heating and related Solar Energy equipment.

SolarMaxx played a pioneering role by taking Solar to the residential sector in its earlier years when Solar was perceived as a very expensive and rather an experimental commodity.

Having successfully launched residential Solar solutions in the early stages of SolarMaxx, we introduced commercial and institutional solutions. By 2012-13, we were the leading Solar brand in Rajasthan with reasonable presence in neighbouring states.

It was only in late 2014 that we decided to commence manufacturing of Solar PV Modules and set up our manufacturing facility in record time of less than 6 months. Today, SolarMaxx solar modules are amongst the most popular modules in our regional market. Our modules have acquired all required certifications and approvals such as IEC, TUV and MNRE.

Our EPC vertical has completed several small to large rooftop projects, utility scale MW projects and a number of off-grid projects across North India.

Q. What is the unique value proposition of SolarMaxx and what are your key competitive differentiators?

We focus on sourcing of extremely high quality raw material from some of the most renowned brands globally. We operate as a boutique production house with strong focus on quality.

Our relatively smaller size helps us keep our cost overheads low without compromising on the quality of our product. With increased automation in production, we keep our product offering consistent which is very important for our clients that are mostly renowned EPC companies and developers.

Q. What is your strategy in regards to offering best value to customer for the price, compared to similar offerings from competitors?

Solar sector has become extremely competitive in India due to the fact that it has attracted enormous attention from the Govt., investors, entrepreneurs and consumers. We are essentially a manufacturer and then an EPC services provider.

Even though both the verticals operate independently, we do leverage synergies. We use SolarMaxx modules in our EPC projects as we are confident of our own quality and performance. This also ensures that we continuously focus on improving our product output.

Using our own manufactured modules in our projects gives us the comfort of offering long terms product warranties and generation guarantees. This acts as an added advantage to our clients as they receive maximum support at reasonable price point.

Q. How do you envision the future for solar in India and what role do you expect SolarMaxx solar to play in shaping the future of the industry?

Govt. of India has set a solar installation target of 100GW by the year 2022. 40GW out of this 100GW is planned for rooftops. I believe Rooftop Solar is an excellent solution for India’s power problems. Rooftop Solar in India is bound to grow at a high rate especially with increased awareness of the associated benefits.

Businesses and institutions have understood the economics of Solar rooftop and have started to deploy solar panels on their factory sheds and office roofs. Subsidies have helped making rooftop solar attractive to residential users. It is to be seen how they may react once the subsidies are over, but the overall scenario looks exciting.

There are some obvious challenges. DISCOMS are not particularly in favour of implementing or continuing net metering schemes as they directly affect their revenue. RESCO model especially in the private sector is still considered risky.

As a module manufacturer, we are aggressively looking at supplying our modules to EPC companies for rooftop installations. At the same time we are actively looking at expanding our EPC business across India with a strong focus on rooftop installations.

Q. Please tell us about your manufacturing process, sourcing, quality and innovation.

We are progressively taking steps towards maximum automation in our manufacturing process to evade human intervention as much as possible. This has certainly enhanced “quality” yield of our modules. The wastage has reduced while uniformity of output has increased.

This has quite clearly prompted an increase in quality of the product. We focus on efficiency and are producing high wattage panels. We recently introduced half-cut cell panels to increase the output by reducing the cell to module losses. This will certainly lead to reduction of overall project cost of developers and EPCs alike.

With the utilization of certified, excellent class raw material, particularly PID resistant cells, our performance is guaranteed overtime. Reasonable price, performance and prompt delivery are our basic strengths.

We prioritse sourcing of extremely high quality raw material from among the most renowned global brands. Since solar is our main bread and butter and not a side project to other business interests, our production house srtongly focuses on quality. With increased automation in production, we keep our product offering consistent which is very important for our clients that are mostly renowned EPCs,  developers and investors.

Q. What role do you think SolarMaxx can play in emerging trend of EV in India?

As a starter, SolarMaxx solar panels were amongst the very first used to develop a prototype solar car by one of the leading private universities in India.

Electric Vehicles is the future of transportation. Whether it is India or anywhere else in the world, EVs will tremendously help in not only controlling but also reducing carbon emissions.

We already have experience of integration of Li-Ion batteries with solar. One of the most important challenges in the EV segment is to have reliable power at charging stations, some of which may as well be located at remote areas especially on highways. Solar is possibly the best option to power these stations.

Not only is Solar easy to install and maintain, it may in fact prove to be cheaper than to draw transmission infrastructure to these stations. With our experience with Li-Ion batteries, we believe we will be able to answer questions this new emerging sector may raise in the near future.

Q. What do you want the company to accomplish in the next couple of years and how would you define success for SolarMaxx?

SolarMaxx is rapidly expanding its network in India. Considering the current scenario, popularity and increased acceptance of our modules and our own growth in the EPC vertical, we aim to increase our manufacturing capacity threefold within the next one year.

While we remain the leading manufacturer and provider of Solar Modules in our regional market, we are aggressively looking at expanding our EPC footprint in the neighbouring states. We are glad to be empanelled as a leading manufacturer under MNRE’s subsidy program for the residential and the non-profit sectors.

This has not only helped us grow but has also made Solar attractive to sectors where it was earlier found to be unaffordable.

Success for SolarMaxx is when Solar becomes a household commodity rather than a prized possession. We aim to introduce quality products and innovative solutions to make Solar more efficient and affordable.

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