Viz-A-Viz with Saurabh Srivastava, President – Marketing & Product Strategy, Eastman Auto and Power Limited

Q. What are the initiatives Eastman Auto & Power has taken in contributing towards India’s clean and green energy initiative?

Saurabh Srivastava Eastman Auto & Power

Saurabh Srivastava, President – Marketing & Product Strategy, Eastman Auto and Power Limited

We, at Eastman Auto and Power Limited, are committed to encouraging clean and green energy adoption. In this regard, we have developed batteries for e-rickshaws which play an instrumental role in reducing carbon footprint. We offer the widest portfolio of solar products from 1KW to 100 KW which is an eco-friendly alternative to the conventional source of power. Our another flagship product, tubular gel batteries are maintenance-free and reduce the generation of fumes. The company also envisions encouraging entrepreneurship in the solar segment by creating a pool of ‘solarpreneurs’ who would be instrumental in taking solar to every household. We are very proud to be a partner in our Government mission to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Q. You have been in the Indian market for nearly two decades. What makes Eastman Auto a unique provider of batteries?

Eastman Auto and Power Limited is a technology- driven company which believes in the continual improvement in technology. Innovation is also our USP. Our flagship product tubular gel batteries are made of fumed silica mixed with an electrolyte which prolongs their lifespan, as opposed to conventional gel batteries made of silica mixed with electrolyte. Besides being equipped with stateof-the-art technology, our products are maintenance -free and are available at an affordable cost.

Q. Being one of the leaders in the battery industry, what technological advances have Eastman Auto recently been focusing on and what drives the company to bring innovation in the solar industry?

The Indian subcontinent is characterized by a variety of climate. Hence, it is important to have a continuous focus towards upgrading the technology to make it suitable for all terrain conditions. At Eastman Auto and Power Limited, our focus has been on introducing tubular gel batteries which have been developed indigenously with our in-house R&D facilities. These tubular gel batteries made of fumed silica mixed with electrolyte have a longer life and can withstand a range of temperature conditions.

Q. How suitable are the regulatory framework and market structure for energy storage business in India?

Energy storage is the dominant trend these days. Fortunately, the government is taking a slew of initiatives to encourage energy storage. Till now, we did not have a regulatory framework. The upcoming Energy Storage Mission will overcome the lacunae. The NITI Aayog has proposed a three-pronged solution for promoting battery manufacturing in the country by offering include land grants for direct awarding of land free of charge or at the highly discounted cost to companies to develop manufacturing capacity. Sales and use tax exemptions, or tax credits per job created and lowering the number of permits required or making them available through just one or two “clearing house” agencies by lowering bureaucratic hurdles have also been proposed. Such initiatives will go a long way in providing a fillip to energy storage.

Q. In the present scenario, what are the roadblocks that domestic solar industry is facing in the absence of anti-dumping and safeguard duty on solar imports? And what do you expect from the government on this issue?

Though the government has undertaken numerous initiatives to provide a fillip to the solar segment, there are certain grievances that need to be urgently addressed. Though the subsidies are available, the process of availing them is tedious and cumbersome since it needs clearances from multiple departments. The process should be made centralized and hassle-free for consumers. Moreover, the subsidies should be provided on the generation rather than installation of solar power. A lot more needs to be done regarding the generation of awareness on solar energy. Another challenge is lack of availability of skilled manpower. Further, we need more investment in R&D to bring it at par with international standards.

Q. How you reckon the solar sector to grow in next 5 years and what will be the key trends that support in shaping the industry?

The solar sector has achieved a remarkable growth in the past few years. Indian solar installations registered a record 123 percent growth to reach 9.6 GW in 2017, which was more than double the 4.3 GW installed in 2016. Energy storage will be the key trend in the forthcoming years. Energy storage has immense potential in India including aiding in renewable integration providing grid support services, supporting C&I segment and creation of big role in the facilitation of early adoption of electric vehicles. However, India needs a robust framework to transform itself into a hub of energy storage solutions. Another dominant trend will be e-mobility. Taking into account the pollution woes, e-mobility has the potential to reduce the carbon’s footprint.

Q. In near future, what will be Eastman Auto’s expansion agenda for the solar sector?

Eastman Auto and Power Limited targets capturing the residential solar rooftop segment and becoming the top e-mobility battery provider and supplier.

The company also envisions encouraging entrepreneurship in the solar segment by creating a pool of ‘solarpreneurs’ who would be instrumental in taking solar to every household. Our aim is to solarize the major segment of the residential, commercial and educational sector like colleges, offices, petrol pumps & factories. Offering a large portfolio of technically advanced solar products like off grid, on-grid and hybrid systems. We are coming up with ESS (energy storage solutions) technology which is an integrated solar solution and in the long run will be an alternate for D.G sets.

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