Viz-A-Viz with Sunil Rathi, Director | Waaree Energies

Waaree is coming up with a manufacturing facility of 1.2 GW by March 2018

sunil rathi waaree energies

Sunil Rathi | Director | Waaree Energies

Waaree Energies Ltd, an integrated solar power solutions company, is committed to make solar energy affordable and accessible to all. The company plays a major role in manufacturing and supplies solar photovoltaic modules and provides engineering, procurement and construction solutions for the setting up of solar power plants.

It has launched more than 200 Waaree stores so far and is planning to launch more than 1000 such centres across the country in coming years. Sunil Rathi, Director, Waaree Energies, in conversation with Aaqib Javeed, Saur Energy Journalist, spoke at length about the company expansion plans and introduction of new technologies and innovative products and solutions in the solar sector.

Q. You have been in the Indian market for more than three decades. What makes Waaree Energies a unique provider of solar systems?

Rated as India’s Tier 1 panel manufacturers by Bloomberg for 3 years consecutively, Waaree Energies Ltd. is one of India’s most diversified and fastest growing solar energy solutions companies. It is part of the conglomerate of Waaree Group, which was established in 1989, and is India’s premier multi-diverse technology group, having its forte in varied verticals like Solar Energy, Industrial Valves, Petroleum Equipment, and Process Control Instrumentation.

Waaree Energies has India’s largest solar PV module manufacturing capacity, of 550 MW, and is ranked the No.1 Indian Solar Panel Manufacturer by the Bridge to India Report. Additionally, the module manufacturing capacity is also set to be scaled to 1.2 Gigawatt in 2018.

We are present across the solar value chain, providing EPC Solutions and Solar Modules for Grid-Connected Solar Farms, Rooftop Solar, Solar Water Pumps, Project Development, RESCO Model, and Floating Structure Services, and also offer our services as an independent power producer across the globe.

With a large distribution network spread across the country and a global presence in 68 countries, Waaree’s area of operations is rapidly expanding. Moreover, our unique franchise (retail) model is the first of its kind in the country, having the potential to generate thousands of jobs in the solar sector, and hence, is helping create a sustainable ecosystem for emerging India.

Q. What technological advances has Waaree Energies recently been focusing on, and what drives the company to bring innovation in the solar industry?

We, at Waaree Energies, aim to strive for continuous improvement in the quality, reach, and dependability of our products and services. A continuous effort in this regard will make India a ‘pro-solar’ nation, and in the process, reduce the dependence on conventional energy sources, such as coal. As a glowing example of this commitment, we are one of the few companies with a considerable presence in the Agri-Feeder Solar Plants, Solar Water Pumps, and various specialty solar products and services.

The three central pillars of our commitment are innovation, through consistent introduction of new technologies and innovative products and solutions, quality, possessing all the relevant certifications for domestic and international markets, and a consistent customer-centric approach, ably evidenced by a strong customer base of respected industrial houses/companies, in India and abroad.

Q. Being one of the leaders in the solar sector, how do you see the current trends? Do you think they are disruptive?

In India, the Renewable Energy infrastructure has entered into its golden phase, with a generation capacity enhancement in 2016-17 of 15.3 GW, vis-à-vis 11 GW for conventional power, and an RE installed capacity which has already crossed the 50 GW milestone. These milestones – heartening that they are – also underline our belief that infrastructure in the manufacturing and evacuation segments needs to match steps with the aggressive capacity installation. Taking the solar sector as an example, more than 85% of the solar modules were completely imported for the capacity enhancement of 5.5 GW in 2016-17.

We also look at the readiness of the Green Energy Corridor to ensure the integration of the solar and wind capacities, without curtailment issues. This is a good opportunity to develop the infrastructure for the manufacturing of renewable equipment, and grid infrastructure for rooftops, in our country.

With the advancement of technology and the introduction of the remote monitoring system, operation and maintenance has become easy and convenient. With remote control monitoring, manual monitoring can be avoided, lowering the operations and maintenance costs. Also, for coastal areas, rust resistance panels are highly beneficial in the long run.

Q. What is your take on the Union Budget 2018, introduced by Arun Jaitley, as far as the solar sector is concerned?

The Union Budget this year was extremely balanced, and has restored our belief in the Government for ensuring the continued growth of the Indian manufacturing sector. This, coupled with the provisions for boosting solar presence in the country, has helped chart an expedited growth trajectory for the Renewable Energy sector. This has made the sector highly favourable for domestic manufacturers, and we are looking forward to playing a role in helping the country move towards a sustainable future of renewable energy security. With the Smart City initiative embracing rooftop solar power, we at Waaree Energies are ready to deliver.

Additionally, with the elimination of the customs duty on solar tempered glass, manufacturing solar panels will now become relatively cheaper. Being a leading energy company, we are also looking forward to helping the Government fulfil its ambitious goal of providing free electricity to 4 crore rural households, and creating more employment opportunities for the Indian manufacturing sector.

Q. What is the future of Waaree Energies in the PV industry? How much growth do you see in India over the next five to ten years?

We are committed to making solar energy affordable and accessible to all, and have launched more than 200 Waaree stores across geographies. These stores have been established with the aim of educating people about solar power and helping them take advantage of solar products. These centres shall not only make solar solutions available to people, but also be the service centres for their solar products.

We plan on launching more than 1000 such centres, so as to make solar power accessible across the length and breadth of the country. Waaree is coming up with a manufacturing facility of 1.2 GW by March 2018, to cater to the ever-increasing demand for quality solar modules. The launch of a patented structure design for the swift installation of solar panels on rooftops, with minimum components, shall help ease the time consuming and cumbersome process of rooftop solar power plant installation.

We have already launched one of the most innovative technologies in solar modules – the Merlin Solar Module. Merlin modules have several unique strengths of their own, such as their flexibility and rugged nature, among others. It is a technology, which, besides mitigating hot spots or micro cracks, also generates more power, and provides an application advantage. There are many more exciting innovations currently underway, which shall be revealed in the days to come.

Q. Anything that we haven’t talked about that you think is important for our readers to know?

In India, Renewable energy has huge potential and demand, as we are an extremely power hungry country. However, there is a major deficit between the demand and supply; so we definitely need power, irrespective of the source it comes from. Thus, our vision is to provide high quality and cost-effective sustainable energy solutions across all the markets.

This will help us reduce our carbon footprint, while paving the way for sustainable energy, and as a result, improving the quality of the present and future human life. Even today, in certain villages and rural areas, medical stores don’t stock medicines requiring refrigeration, because of the costs involved. Electricity has now become the basic need of humans, being almost as important as air or water. Solar energy, being a form of green energy available freely to us, helps us in not only reducing our carbon footprint, but also controlling global warming.

Thus, for a country like India, solar energy seems to be the best solution for its growing energy needs, making electricity available to even the remotest corner of the country. Electricity for all will not only help fulfil the basic necessity of mankind, but also fuel the economic growth of our country. We at Waaree are equipped to play a major role in manufacturing and supplying modules, and participating in EPC tenders, as well as providing third-party EPC services for utility-scale projects.

We will continue to strengthen our presence in the rooftop segment as well, and participate as developers/investors in solar power projects, on a case-to-case basis. As part of our commitment towards the 100 GW target, we have introduced a floating solar solution, to facilitate the efficient use of water-body surfaces for solar capacity deployment.

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