VIZ-A-VIZ with S.K Mahajan, Director, IB Solar

VIZ-A-VIZ with S.K Mahajan, Director, IB Solar
S.K Mahajan

S.K Mahajan | Director | IB Solar

Q. Kindly slate on the journey of the company so far.

The business was founded in 1992 with a mere capital of Rs. 2000; my father was a retired government officer then.

I have 16 years of experience with corporate industry before starting business under the name Integrated Marketing, which became Integrated Batteries India Pvt. Ltd. in 2004. It is one of the biggest importers of Panasonic Batteries. The journey of 25 years has been very challenging altogether.

Integrated Marketing is proud to have sold –first UPS of International giants- APC (now Schneider) , Siemens Germany and Autometers Alliance. Integrated marketing (later Integrated Batteries) became brand name in software industry, MNC and hospitals for supplying batteries for UPS system. To remain with development we started importing solar modules from China in 2010, however there were issues with the quality of the solar panels, so in 2014 we decided to manufacture Solar panels in our Noida Facility with the brand name: IB Solar under government of India’s Make in India initiative. My two sons Abhinav and Aviral are also helping me to run this business.

In year 2008 Abhinav Mahajan joined Integrated; he holds an MBA degree from Australia and has worked with companies like DnB, Roy Morgan Research. He joined with the passion to flourish and make the Integrated brand synonymous with the most reliable source of energy provider on National / International level. He looks after promotional / marketing operations of the company. Aviral Mahajan joined Integrated in 2014 after pursuing M.S. from University of New York. He has worked with Companies like- HCL Technologies, Birlasoft, IEEE and has given the company new direction and vision with his technical expertise. He looks after manufacturing activities of the company.

Integrated Batteries is also a member in Management committee of ASSOCHAM – a knowledge chamber of India for a decade now. I am very optimistic to reach a turnover of Rs. 100 crores very shortly.

Q. As an EPC, what has been your experience in adapting the technology and Balance of Systems for projects in India? What are the challenges you have faced?

We are primarily an Indian born company. So we did not have to adapt ourselves to the Indian technology, being a 25years old company in the Power sector we enjoy excellent relations with not only our cus-tomers but our suppliers as well. When we diversified to Solar in year 2012 we got phenomenal support from our customers who have guided us in different projects and given us opportunity to be able to serve them with good quality products offered by us.

Q. What has been the performance of your plants in India so far? Have they met your expectations?

Yes, the plant performance have exceeded our expectations and of our clients also. All of them are working on IB make solar panels, we use high efficiency solar cells encapsulated with other A-grade raw materials. Our panels are the key to our Solar plant performance backed by our strong technical design team who contribute to the overall performance of the systems.

Q. Solar modules prices are dropping globally? Where do you see the price stability coming in? How is IB Solar reacting to this in terms of technology and price?

The prices will be dictated by the market anyway judged by the demand and supply forces and economies of scale, as on today we believe in being very competitive as compared to our competitors with excellent quality trusted by our customers for many years. This is the most crucial time in the Solar industry where Govt. is putting in their best efforts to achieve their ambitious target of achieving 100GW by 2022, so we believe there is plenty of work for all the players. But as a manufacturer we should be responsible to not drop the prices to that level where either their survival comes at stake out there is compromise on quality.

As consumers we should make sure that we promote Make in India products and for small savings should not consume Chinese cheap products who are mostly playing with Indian consumers. Our strategy for this year is to be in the position to offer clients a single source solution with product and plant performance guarantees. Furthermore, we intend to offer operation and maintenance services via our Delhi office. This package will provide our customers and their financiers with the required trust to work with IB SOLAR as one of the leading PV solution providers.

Q. How has falling modules prices affected the EPC Business in positive and negative manner. As Industry is expecting further drop in module price, what impact is it likely to have on the solar industry and your business.

Solar market is highly price-sensitive. Our Company has always offered optimal engineering solutions to our customers with quality products/services and maintained best price levels. We do not believe in cutting price levels at the cost of quality.

The gradual reduction in module prices has enabled to push solar towards grid parity levels and when that is happening the industry is bound to grow at a very high rate. This will be a win win situation for Solar manufacturers. Our growth will also be linked to the industry and we will look to achieve higher quality installations.

Q. What are the module price deve-lopments that you expect in the months ahead in India? What is IB SOLAR’s strategy for the market?

The prices are going to be stable in the coming months as cell prices are very much stable, we are going to observe how GST is going to affect the module prices. Our strategy is to expand ourselves to 100MW level in the times to come and widening our horizons beyond U.P., Punjab, Haryana, H.P., Uttarakhand where we hold good market share.

Q. How does IB Solar see the progress of on-ground implementation and policies for solar power plants in India?

The real game changer in the Indian Solar industry took place in 2015 with our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s, 100 GW by 2022 solar target announcement.

Incentives, easy land allotment, financing, and subsidy options/policies came to support the target. It was a game changer for the industry, and brought new opportunities for manufacturers like us. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi took another decisive action, launching Make in India campaign. It brought more investment, job opportunities, and a platform for technology up gradation in the solar industry.

Q. Most of the Indian solar module manufacturers are under pressure due to the emergence of Chinese mod-ule makers in both Asia and Europe. Chinese companies are plunging their module prices substantially in order to gain market share, especially India. How do you see this situation progressing from here? Are customers jittery while choosing Chinese modules or utilities?

As mentioned before Indian manufacturers has proposed in several MNRE meetings to impose anti dumping duty on Chinese imports in similar ways US and EU has done with China. But unfortunately that didn’t happen. Chinese companies are not only taking big share of the market but forcing us to drop the prices to the rock bottom levels. The price expectation in general market has come down to low levels because of Chinese companies dumping their panels and exploiting the psyche of Indian customers. The quality conscious customers will never use Chinese products for their critical projects, however as we all know Indian market is very price sensitive.

In order to help Make in India mission of Govt. we propose Govt. to give subsidy to panel manufacturers than actual user. This would make panel manufacturer compete with China and avoid consumption of Chinese panels.

Q. How do you see the growth of cell manufacturing in India?

As per reports 40% of the Indian solar cell manufacturers have shut down with industry utilization at only 21% the industry has suffered due to sudden and sharp price declines due to global over-supply and lack of a level playing field. The growth of Indian cell manufacturing in India will be totally dependent on Govt. support to promote DCR content in projects, provide massive loans, tax holidays, subsidized utility services, easy access to land and technology Support as happening in other countries.

Q. With growing interests over storage and micro grids; off-grid, rooftop PV solutions are set to mark new goals? Hence, when do you think this segment of the market will take off?

Solar off-grid market is where a grid po-wer connection is available but supply is often limited or there are frequent power outages. In rural areas, many communities and households are without access to the grid, or with only limited grid access, have been relying on diesel generators. As the price of diesel increases, off-grid electricity generation is becoming more attractive, even without subsidies or Feed-in Tariffs.

For remote village electrification where there is no power at all the dependence on MNRE’s programs through schemes or capital subsidies is very high. MNRe provides financial assistance for Off-grid products such as- Solar street lights, Solar home lights, Solar Lanterns.

Q. Are there any data / information available on the installations using IB Solar’s solar products? What is the distribution model for IB Solar’s off-grid solar products?

We are distributing our products through Channel sales mode in our dense network spread across Northern States namely – U.P., Punjab, U.K., H.P., Haryana and expanding our reach to new territories such as – Jharkhand, Rajasthan.

Q. How is IB Solar assisting client with services post-sales?

We have got good sales and service team who are continuously engaged with our distributors and dealers in assisting them with spreading awareness about Solar technology, its advantages and post inst-allation workings.

Q. What are the expected technology progress/changes the industry can expect from IB Solar in the near future?

As a responsible and one of the leading manufacturers, IB Solar realises the need to constantly innovate and come up with disruptive offerings to meet the demands of an ever- growing and energy starved market.

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