In a vivid viz-a-viz with Guru Inder Mohan Singh, Director & COO, Amplus Solar

GURU INDER MOHAN SINGH

Guru Inder Mohan Singh, Director & COO, Amplus Solar

the industry reactions have varied from congratulatory messages to critiques analyzing the basis and impact of the INR 3 per unit tariff. We find these motivating and helpful in understanding the market“.

Q. Recent bid of Rs 3 per unit to three states,has not gone down well with the industry. Please tell us how you are offering such low tariff and what is your take on the Industry’s reaction?

The tariff of INR 3 per unit is for projects in Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry. In the same program, we have bid ~ INR 5.5 – INR 6 per unit for other states. The difference is based on the subsidy support provided in the program, which is 70% for the former and 30% for the latter states. The MNRE program provides subsidy for promoting rooftop solar for a certain section of customers viz., educational institutions, hospitals and within these, an impetus to special states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh etc.

As regards the industry reactions, these have varied from congratulatory messages to critiques analyzing the basis and impact of the INR 3 per unit tariff. We find these motivating and helpful in understanding the market.

Critiques have compared these rates to the record low tariffs in Middle East and how externalities like “near zero” interest rates in Middle East and subsidy support in India can influence tariffs. We agree with these and have always maintained that extrinsic supports like accelerated depreciation, subsidies and DCR are detrimental for the growth of the solar sector. We have always believed in making our offering inherently competitive and our initial projects are a testimony to this; none of our initial projects had any subsidy support but were competitive and beneficial to the customer, on the back of our engineering capabilities and inhouse EPC. In the extant bid, we could have abstained from participating but if we bid, we had to pass on the benefits to our customers, and that is what it did.

Q. Share us about your “Refer and Earn” program, what kind of revenue your business development partners can make referring educational institutes and hospitals?

Distributed solar needs distributed sales. Our “Refer and Earn” program is inline with this philosophy. Our channel partners comprise of well networked firms and individuals, some of them specializing in specific channels, eg. education, hospitality, automobile, healthcare. The partners introduce us to decision makers at potential clients, and our team takes over to design an attractive and robust solution for the customer. Over time, our partners learn about the energy business and we learn from their varied experiences across industries. This helps us tailor our offerings, both technically and commercially, to the energy needs of our customers.

Our business partners can opt for either upfront referral fees or a percentage of the revenue that we earn across the term of the Power Purchase Agreement with the customer, payable monthly.

Q. In September 2016, Amplus Energy Solutions committed an investment of Rs 90 crore to install and commission 15 rooftop solar power plants for Walmart in India. What has been the progress so far and what are the key challenges that your face?

Till date, we have commissioned 5 sites and the remaining sites shall be commissioned over the next 1 month. It’s been an excellent experience working with Walmart, especially the positive approach from the customer, wherein any issues were proactively resolved, both at the HQ level as well at the individual sites.

Hypermarket projects like Walmart have typical engineering requirements. Walkways and safety lines to ensure that the roof is not damaged due to continuous use are part of our standard product for industrial/PEB roofs. However, hypermarkets have another typicality since the rooftop potential may exceed the peak load of the host facility. When grid outage and low loads overlap, the solar plant cannot synchronize with the DG sets since the cumulative generation from solar and DG may be more than the load. This requires a thorough understanding of the customer’s load profile followed by robust automation that reads the load and then instructs the inverters to back down. Our real challenges have been “outside the campus” eg., net metering. Since the generation from solar can be more than the load, flow into the grid is a daily reality. While net metering regulations have been notified for some time now, the implementation on ground is tardy, to say the least. On the face of it, it is given to understand that it is just the replacement of the utility meter but when you dive into it, existing metering systems get reviewed and we may have to replace the existing metering cubicles, change CTs (since the existing CTs were lower accuracy), add Check-meters and isolators. All this, in addition to significant effort and expenditure, ends up taking 2-3 months.

Q. Shed some light on the achievements of Amplus solar on rooftop solar; both in opex and capex models.

Amplus solar specializes in building rooftop solar power plants for on-building rooftops, car parks, and open spaces within the premises on Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) basis (Opex Model). We do not follow the Capex Model. Some of our recent achievements are:

• Amplus solar has won the first National Excellence Award from Government of India for rooftop project development. The award was presented as part of the first ever National Workshop on Rooftop Solar in India organized by MNRE.

• Amplus solar has built up a portfolio of over 60MW of operational and under-construction solar rooftop projects spread over more than 250 locations in the firm’s first year of operation since raising capital.

• Amplus solar has commissioned India’s largest captive solar project at a manufacturing facility in a timeframe of only 4 months.

• Amplus solar has commissioned a 4 MW ground mounted (in-house) solar PV project for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Bangalore using tracker based technology for higher efficiency, which is the first project at an airport in India using the tracker technology to meet their in-house requirement.

• Amplus solar is solarizing Walmart stores across 5 states in India. The construction for these 15 stores is underway.

Q. What kind of due diligence is done by Amplus Solar on the client before installing solar plant on an opex model?

We have a diverse portfolio of clients including manufacturing organizations across Aerospace & Defence, Automotive, FMCG, Consumer Durables, Pharma, Food processing, etc. as well as commercial establishments like Retail chains, Educational institutes, Hospitals & Healthcare, Office buildings, Malls etc. Since in Opex Model, the operational and financial risk lies with us, we try to make sure that we work with customers that are highly rated leading majors with a sound financial background and credit history.

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