Plan To Add More Floating Solar Projects: Simarpreet Singh, CEO, Hartek Solar

Highlights :

  • Simarpreet Singh is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hartek Solar, an Indian EPC Company. The company recently bagged a tender for a 22 MW floating solar project in Himachal Pradesh. In an interview with Manish Kumar at Saur Energy, Singh spoke about Hartek’s journey and future plans. Excerpts from the interview: 
Plan To Add More Floating Solar Projects: Simarpreet Singh, CEO, Hartek Solar Simarpreet Singh started Hartek Solar in 2015.

SaurEnergy: In the last 32 years, the Hartek group witnessed the virtual revolution of the solar sector. How has it changed your approach to the market and the growth?

Singh: When we started the solar business, the situation differed from the current scenario. Many consumers were reluctant to go for solar rooftops; there was a shortage of subsidies for the end users. There was a serious lack of awareness then. Even the cost of renewable products was on the higher side. There was also lack of trained workers with the expertise to work in the sector. We worked hard first to create awareness. 

Simarpreet Singh started Hartek Solar in 2015.

Simarpreet Singh started Hartek Solar in 2015.

I still remember visiting colleges and public events to create awareness on sustainability and the need to shift to clean energy. It took some time, but we were able to create our niche. Governments and corporates are now pushing hard for solar power and committing to net-zero targets. With our legacy and expertise, we can play a vital role in this energy transition spree of India. 

SaurEnergy: When did you decide to venture into the solar EPC business?

Singh: Like any other ordinary Punjabi boy, I also wanted to go to Canada until 2011 but was still determining my career plans. I met former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2011, which was a turning moment for me. In my short discussion with him, he talked about the role of youths in nation development, sustainability issues, and others. This episode encouraged me to remain in the country and serve it to the best of my capacities. In 2012, I joined the Hartek group, and in 2015, I started Hartek Solar to carry forward work toward expanding solar energy.

I had seen many local industrialists setting up industries in bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai, which was nothing but the internal migration of the best people, minds, and opportunities from Punjab to other bigger cities. I avoided following the trend and setting up a base in Mohali. Starting from our base in Mohali, Hartek now has a presence in around 18 Indian states in different corners of the country. 

SaurEnergy: The 22 MW floating solar project at Nangal Pond underwent over 20 rounds of failure to find a bidder. What are the challenges keeping everyone off there?

Singh: Floating solar is a different game together. In rooftop solar, the developer needs expertise only on structures on the roof. However, in the case of floating, one also needs knowledge and infrastructure to counter the impact of hydrodynamics. It requires robust engineering and design interventions and investments in those accordingly. During our talks with the top industry honchos, one thing has become evident that in the floating solar sector; we would often have lesser bids. Only serious players who can make investments and have the required skills to undertake such projects could suffice. 

Last year we also did a 2 MW of floating solar project at Chandigarh, which helped us to boost our confidence. I have been studying floating solar projects in Southeast Asia and their increased popularity since 2021. With vast swatches of water bodies, there is ample space for the growth of floating solar. We are now planning to add more capacities of floating solar. 

SaurEnergy: Why do you see more adoption of rooftop solar in states like Gujarat, Karnataka, and others while the adoption is slower in other north Indian states?

Singh: Some states like Gujarat and others are thriving on solar energy and rooftop solar because of higher solar radiation, which allows them to produce and use more power from the installed solar panels. Thus they get better cost benefits than other parts where the radiation is a bit less. 

Moreover, the density of factories in such areas is also higher, which has an added advantage. However, in many other northern states, the spree of solar rooftops is increasing. As we have businesses in many northern states like Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, and Jammu, we can see an increase in adoption. 

SaurEnergy: Are you more focused on the residential or the Commerce and Industries (C&I) segment?

Singh: We started with more thrust on the residential segment. But it has its own issues. It included the issues related to subsidies, net metering, and others. Initially, we also tried to solarise the rural areas too with some community projects. Now we moved into the C&I segment. Around 90 percent of our solar rooftop works are confined to the C&I segment. 

SaurEnergy: What are the latest clean energy technologies that excite you?

Singh: We developers are always open to new ideas and technologies. The EPC players take the latest products and technologies to the end consumers. We have seen good growth of Green Hydrogen in the world. There are also increased technological advancements in solar panels. There is also increased work on battery storage systems. 

SaurEnergy: What are your future plans now?

Singh: We are the only company in India that deals with 400V LTE connections, megawatt-scale solar plant projects, substation projects, and rooftop projects. It is the only firm in India that does all these works. These have become possible with our solid backward integration and our lateral growth. We plan to first bolster our existing segments where we work. With time, you may see our presence with more diversity in the power sector. 

SaurEnergy: How India can boost EV charging stations run on solar energy.

Singh: There is good growth in the Electric Vehicle (EV) segment and augmenting its charging infrastructure. A lot of utilities are taking an interest in it. The government had been extending good policy support for its growth. Rather than any new policy tweak in the sector, it is more important to keep the existing schemes consistent for a more extended period and let the solar developers expand their work. 

SaurEnergy: As a solar EPC, how are you sourcing business today? Is the rooftop segment set to see a marketing push?

Singh: Solar business works on a Business-To-Business model. Here we become our influencers, and our work speaks. We installed a solar rooftop for Bollywood actor Sonu Sood some time back. He later talked about our work and the solar industry. Singer Sukhbeer also talked about solar energy. He even started calling me ‘Solar Singh’ and many people have known me as Solar Singh since then. So publicity of solar energy from the icons helps spread the technology’s message. In the coming days, with more icons marketing solar products and technology, there will be more awareness up to household levels which can magnify the adoption of solar technology. 

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