Self Sustaining Off Grid Options In Remote Areas Can Lead To Technological As Well As Social Changes

Ashutosh Verma, Founder at Exalta India, a startup focused on the sustainability space has seen the market evolve from solar powered devices to a demand for EV’s today. It’s a market where his firm has tried to offer a product for each need. We spoke to him about his firm, and plans for the future.

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Q. Tell us about your journey with Exalta India, from startup to today.

Established at Agra in 2009, Exalta India was founded with an initial investment of Rs 8 lakh. During the initial years, getting investors was a fruitless attempt. From manufacturing ten solar ACs in the initial years, we scaled our manufacturing in 2015 to produce 300-500 solar ACs a month. As well as started exporting to foreign countries like Oman, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Dubai and many more.

Ashutosh Verma, Founder of Exalta India

Ashutosh Verma, Founder of Exalta India

Our expertise and experience in solar technology and project development helps us fully understand, analyze and meet the needs of our clients over the years. We have converted infrastructures like hospitals, factories, government establishments, water pump plants, mining corporations etc successfully into 100% clean energy. Our new innovative products range has expanded over the years from just Solar Air Conditioner to Solar Refrigerator, Deep Freezer, Inverter, Geyser, Induction Chulha, Oxygen concentrators, agricultural products etc.

People across the globe still want access to the luxuries life has to offer, so we came up with a solution, which causes less damage to the environment and even gives back to the environment. Exalta means persistence and reliability in a world like ours.

Solar Air Conditioner

Q. You have highlighted your work with villages using off-grid solar. How much of a role can off-grid play in your view in India?

The limited reach of India’s centralized electrification model can be controlled and improved through more localized off-grid solar-powered solutions that can access consumers located in the remotest locations too. For tier 1 and tier 2 cities usually power backup is in blocks but in tier 3 and tier 4 where there are recurrent power cuts only off-grid system can be successful. For India’s unreliable central grid electricity system, off-grid solar products are a formidable option that can provide access to basic electricity supply. Many poor households cannot afford to pay for a connection or monthly minimum tariffs. Electricity distribution companies in most states impose hours of power cuts every day to their limitations. Thus self sustaining off grid options and electricity in remote areas can lead to technological as well as social changes.

off-grid solar products

Exalta India offers a range of solar-powered products and solutions to everyday life. From solar-powered lights to battery operated e-bikes and e-rickshaws our team can develop products to help those who do not have access to the government’s electricity grid by designing and curating solar-powered products for their needs.

Q. Will the drop in storage costs increase uptake for off-grid renewable setups? What would be your most optimistic projection here?

Recently the energy market has experienced an increase in interest from companies and people who want to transition towards electricity generated from renewable, sustainable sources.

The dependency of renewable energy on the sun and wind lead to variable and often irregular output, which creates an imbalance between the energy generated and consumer demand in the short as well as the medium term. Energy storage has helped to resolve this, with the demand for storage solutions rising in parallel with the demand for renewable energy generation sources. Like in case of a good quality Lead Acid battery, the cost is naturally to increase in contrast to on grid because of the maintenance and 28%tax

exalta solar product

Hence, the drop in storage costs would encourage more companies to invest in an off-grid setup since it would impact and lower their expenses for the shift.

Q. Why the shift to EV’s?

Electric bikes are not produced the same way as fuel-powered bikes. Their fuel expenses are relatively negligible, and they are more suitable for the environment, making them the ideal mode of travelling during intercity transport. For us it’s another electric product only and in line with of our goal of producing clean energy products reducing carbon emissions in the world whether it’s solar products or EV’s.

Q. Do you believe the PLI schemes, FAME have done their job when it comes to EV adoption? Why/ Why not?

Yes it helped to a great extent as “FAME” was started with the principal focus of promoting and sustaining the Indian automobile industry to evolve and produce eco-friendly, hybrid and electric vehicles. It has encouraged more companies and manufacturers to redirect their finances and shift their power requirements toward green energy resources. The government further aided the shift by offering tax benefits and other aids to those companies that took the plunge to shift towards sustainable energy sources.

Q. In 2 wheeler EV’s, with large legacy players like Bajaj Auto, Hero Motors etc finally moving in, and Ola Electric with its own million scooters per annum numbers, where does that leave smaller manufacturers? How will they survive? 

electric scootersInitiatives like “FAME” and other government incentives have encouraged the smaller manufactures to invest to their full capacity in the EV industry but it is inevitable for some small manufacturer to vanish unless they don’t try doing things differently. Manufacturing and maintenance cost in EV’s for a big company is always cheaper than to a smaller manufacturer. Big players can also manufacture everything in one place but small manufacturers always have a dependency for importing important parts for quality but it increases their cost and import itself is not encouraged in India. Only companies who are focusing on innovation are likely to survive.

Q. Do you see more innovative business and ownership models emerging in EV’s? Where do you stand on proprietary batteries versus swapping?

The EV industry is still growing and evolving at a fast pace. With the progress in technology and advancement in machine building, the EV industry will see a lot more innovation and growth. Every organization in the industry is now looking for the best solution to their raw material sourcing issues and costs and you can expect to see a range of solutions for every problem that currently exists in the EV manufacturing industry.

While the primary issue with proprietary batteries is sourcing the material needed to build them, the entire EV industry in India is looking for alternate solutions but our batteries are far different and advanced from the market. Swapping batteries work better than recharging stations for long-distance journeys in a country as vast as India but it is not that simple. Batteries are expensive, bulky and need maintenance. A network of swappable battery packs sitting around will be stored, charged up and maintained, leading to waste of resources, while amplifying the carbon footprints to colossal levels. In the end these costs will be indirectly imposed on consumers only. However, the government’s potential initiatives on building self-charging lanes for EV’s across the country can solve this issue for long term.

Q. With your renewable energy experience, do you see a future for renewables to power EV charging stations at national highways, for instance? 

The Indian Government has targeted 2030, by which electric vehicle’s share goes beyond 30 and is working towards making the country more EV ready. The government is working on building charging stations in intracity as well as across highways in the country. EV charging lanes are already a reality in European cities and the Indian government too already has plans to start building them across select cities in India.

Q. What are the key consumer segments Exalta India focuses on? 

Initially, I would say the key consumer segment would be the middle-class segment. They are the ones who think twice before turning the AC on or using a geyser. Our solar powered range of household products and an EV range of bikes and vehicles help them save money in the long term.

But with more people opting to shift towards eco-friendly lifestyles our products can help everyone transition towards a sustainable life without giving up on their luxuries.

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