Auctions Designed in Innovative Ways Can Help Achieve Specific Country Goals: Sukhwinder Pal Singh

One of the main trends to procure renewables-based electricity at the lowest price -while fulfilling other objectives- is the use of auctions. Auctions designed in innovative ways can help to achieve specific country goals, beyond solely procuring electricity at the lowest price. These goals might include ensuring greater participation of communities or other new and small players, and maximising the socio-economic benefits of renewables, believes Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Director – Energy, Ingeteam Power Technology India Pvt Ltd, Indian arm of Spanish electrical conversion and turbine control equipment supplier Ingeteam. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Singh shared his views on various topics including company’s product offerings, importance of investment in R&D, latest technology, policy etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s March 2020 edition:

Q. Tell our readers in brief about Ingeteam and its various product offerings for the green energy sector, especially in India. Major milestones.

Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Director – Energy, Ingeteam Power Technology India

Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Director – Energy, Ingeteam Power Technology India

Ingeteam is an international corporation headquartered in Spain, with state of the art own technology on rotating machines, power electronics and automation and control systems. We are present in 22 countries and new markets with 4,000 employees around the world.

We at Ingeteam had a successful year in the renewable energy sector not only in India but globally also. Our success was driven by our range of high quality products and services which helped us to have strong presence globally. Particularly for India we are proud that we were able to ship 1 GW of wind converters from our manufacturing unit in Chennai and for solar had strong references in string inverters apart from large battery storage project that would be commissioned in 2020 with Ingeteam Storage central inverters. With the new product launches in 2020 we see good opportunities for us.

Q. Shed some light on the company’s R&D infrastructure along with the yearly investment in it.

R&D is the backbone of Ingeteam’s business activity, in which more than 5 percent of the company’s turnover is invested annually and more than 500 persons are working in the R&D dept. Our people are key to our success. Ingeteam is always developing products that are at the same time more robust, more reliable, with a greater power density, with the latest communication and control features and with more advanced grid support functionalities in order to meet the increasingly demanding international regulations. Ingeteam applies these R&D improvements in all the products that it designs and manufactures for the different market segments: utility scale wind, utility scale PV, residential PV, commercial and industrial PV, utility scale energy storage systems and residential hybrid systems.

Q. What is Ingeteam’s market USP as compared to the close peers? Name a few major clients.

Ingeteam is a global supplier that provides a very wide range of products and services for different sectors: string and central PV inverters, wind converters, energy storage battery inverters, MV solutions, wind and hydro generators, O&M services, etc. We have been into RE sector for more than 30 years. We offer a comprehensive range of proven and reliable electrical equipment, fully integrated solutions. This is a key differentiator that is valued by our customers for two reasons:

i). Most of our competitors cannot offer such a wide scope of supply.

ii). Our presence in so many different industrial sectors gives our customers a greater confidence in our brand, as we are a more bankable company that will not leave them behind.

Q. Few months back Ingeteam crossed 1 GW production milestone at its India manufacturing facility for wind converters. Shed more light on this facility in terms of technology, production, employment generation etc.

We established our new cutting-edge Indian facility in autumn of 2018 in the vicinity of Chennai to satisfy the demand for wind power converters and control cabinets from both local and international OEMs. In response to positive trends in both the domestic and global markets, the 3,500 m² production facility was recently expanded by about 50 percent to reach 4,900 m². Similarly, we have tripled the staff headcount to reach 82 employees, and introduced three additional products to its local production range in the past year.

Agility is at the core of our production strategy. Our Chennai wind facility has been built on a modular design, which allows us to rapidly ramp production up or down according to ever-changing market conditions. This flexibility plays a big role in ensuring that our production centre remains both highly efficient and cost-effective. In 2018, Ingeteam’ s technology was deployed on 15 percent of the newly added wind capacity in India and reached 1 GW of production output within the first year of operations. For 2020, the company expects to experience steady sales growth, with major gains in all key markets.

Q. What are the latest changes in the inverter technology side? Do you find the Indian market receptive to the latest tech?

The main technology trend that we see in the PV inverter business is the development of 1500V PV inverters with a greater power output. Thus, PV inverters with a greater power density, at both string inverter level and central inverter level. At central inverter level, we are seen liquid-cooled developments that can provide a greater amount of power thanks to the greater cooling capacity of the liquid coolant. At string inverter level we also see larger inverters that achieve several hundreds of kilowatts.

Q. As most of the players say that Indian market is quiet competitive in terms of prices, how do you deal with it?

Definitely India is a price sensitive market so we need to keep working on the technology to help meet the expectations of our valued clients by helping reducing on the overall BOS with our products, solutions and services. Competition is normal in any sector. It is true that price pressure in the solar power sector is a key factor, but it is also true that and thanks to that, the solar PV technology is now the most competitive energy generation technology in many countries, and it will probably become the most competitive technology all over the world in the coming years. This means that the global market will grow and the opportunities for all the manufacturers will be many. We are committed to innovation and
development of full in-house technology & continue to remain flexible. Our engineering teams can provide clients with flexible solutions tailored to meet their project needs.

Q. Do you have any future investment or expansion plans in next three to five years for India?

Indian market has been consistent for the last few years and we see that trend to continue in the years to come. Though there are challenges to meet the targets set by the Govt. in order to achieve 100 GW but still enough scope for the renewable energy players to be sustainable for long term in India.

That is the reason why we see a lot of companies investing in manufacturing in India looking at the long term, including Ingeteam. We will continue to invest in India and build on our already established network of manufacturing, sales and services to provide our clients with the latest technology products and services meeting not only the Indian standards, but also global ones.

Q. What are your suggestions for the Indian policy makers in order to provide further boost to the market?

One of the main trends to procure renewables-based electricity at the lowest price -while fulfilling other objectives- is the use of auctions. Auctions designed in innovative ways can help to achieve specific country goals, beyond solely procuring electricity at the lowest price. These goals might include ensuring greater participation of communities or other new and small players, and maximising the socio-economic benefits of renewables.

Q. As electric vehicles market in India is likely to witness boom, what are your plans to tap this market?

The EV market is dependent on the incentives being provided by the government and also on the technology and innovations. While there is no dearth of government incentives in India, the lack of adequate infrastructure and unaffordable price of EVs are a big challenge. Though we feel the market may take further 1-2 years to reach to its potential we at Ingeteam are already geared up for the EV Solutions as despite the Indian automotive market experiencing a decline in FY2019, the electric vehicle market is expected to keep growing in the coming years.

With the B6 norms becoming applicable from April 2020, the electric vehicles will become more price competitive thus accelerating the electric vehicle sales in the country. Since 2011, we have been present in the E-Mobility Sector, with the development and supply of AC and DC charging stations to our customers under the INGEREV® trademark, with the FUSION, RAPID 50, GARAGE and GARAGE Basic, CITY Duo and CITY Ground models. The increasing deployment of electric vehicles in all areas of mobility, for both business and private use, requires charging stations that are adapted to meet all possible needs.

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Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.