“The Cabling In Solar Systems Is Designed to Exceed the 25 Year Warranty”, Hemant K Mehta, Elegar Kerpen

“The Cabling In Solar Systems Is Designed to Exceed the 25 Year Warranty”, Hemant K Mehta, Elegar Kerpen Hemant K Mehta, MD of Elegar Kerpen

Pune-based German cable firm Elegar Kerpen has been among the many firms leveraging the solar opportunity for faster growth. The cable maker was in the news recently after completing the acquisition of LEONI Cables Solutions (India) Pvt. Limited, making the German firm among the leading cable manufacturers in the country.  SaurEnergy spoke to Hemant K Mehta, the Managing Director of the firm, on the sector and the renewables opportunity for the firm.

A seasoned professional with more than 25 years of hands-on experience in the industry, the second-generation entrepreneur has  helped Elegar Kerpen build a solid foundation. As the company chairman and MD of Elegar, Mehta is responsible for strategic decision-making.

Tell us about Elegar Kerpen, and the journey so far for the firm in India.

eleger kerpenThe journey of Elegar Kerpen, formerly LEONI Cable Solutions India, has been nothing short of extraordinary since its inception in 2006. Starting as LEONI Cables Solutions (India) Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of a German multinational LEONI AG, has achieved noteworthy milestones, like establishing a state-of-the-art Greenfield plant in 2013.

Today, Elegar Kerpen proudly stands as one of the leading cable manufacturers with a reputation for excellence. Holding prestigious national and international certifications the company has consistently upheld the highest standards in its operations. In 2017, the foresight into the potential of solar energy led the management to secure approval for Solar Cable from TUV, a move that expanded the product offerings and positioned Elegar Kerpen at the forefront of the renewable energy sector.

The year 2022 marked a pivotal moment in history when LEONI AG divested its shareholding in LEONI Cable Solutions India to Ravicab Cables Private Limited. This strategic shift led to our rebranding as Elegar Kerpen in 2023, a name that reflects our commitment to innovation and excellence in the cable manufacturing industry.

Having served various industries and with a global presence, Elegar Kerpen has established itself as a key player in the cable segment. Our journey is a testament to our resilience, adaptability, and unwavering dedication to delivering quality solutions to our clients worldwide.

When did you first see the opportunity specifically in solar? What did you do post your assessment?

In 2017, we at Elegar Kerpen (Formerly LEONI) seized the opportunity in solar when we secured approval for Solar Cable from TUV. Recognizing the potential of renewable energy, we swiftly assessed the landscape and strategically expanded our product offerings. This move wasn’t just about solar cables; it extended to encompass transport solutions, Rolling Stock, and renewable energy solar power cable solutions.

Our foresight and proactive approach allowed us to tap into the surging demand for renewable energy solutions. This strategic pivot showcased Elegar Kerpen’s ability to not only recognize emerging opportunities within the solar ecosystem but also to capitalize on them effectively. It marks a defining moment in our journey, reinforcing our commitment to innovation and staying at the forefront of the evolving energy landscape.

What are the unique requirements if any that cabling for solar and wind projects demands? Is India well placed to service the same domestically?

Cabling for solar and wind projects demands specific requirements due to the nature of renewable energy systems. The cables need to withstand outdoor conditions, UV exposure, and temperature fluctuations. Elegar Kerpen, with its focus on solar cable solutions, ensures compliance with international standards, including EN, IEC, and others. The company’s expertise positions it well to cater to the unique demands of solar and wind projects domestically in India, meeting the stringent quality and performance criteria.

We have seen solar costs at a project level turn very volatile, with a bias towards downward movement over the past decade. Does that place pressure on you to keep up?

The volatility in solar project costs does not necessarily pose a challenge for us or pressure us to tighten our operation. Elegar Kerpen is a premium wire and cable brand with a global market presence across major industries and segments. Our reputation precedes us, so regardless of momentary downward movement, we strive to remain consistent when using high-quality raw materials, advanced technologies, state-of-the-art equipment, and global standard processes. While cost-cutting might seem like a viable option for many manufacturers to keep up with the fluctuating cost, at Elegar Kerpen, compromising on the quality of products is not an option. As one of the industry leaders, we believe that maintaining quality and testing norms is a key part of our commitment to meeting global standards and certifications coupled with its strategic use of E-beam twin-line technology, which has helped us maintain our position as a reliable and quality-conscious cable manufacturer. We believe that compromising the quality of materials, equipment, or technology to lower the cost burden can lead us to pay more towards maintenance.

People generally assume solar projects come with a 25 year life. How does that apply to the cabling in systems?

While solar projects may have a lifespan of 25 years, the cabling in these systems is designed to meet or exceed this longevity. At Elegar Kerpen, our commitment to adhering to global standards and certifications underscores our dedication to providing supreme quality cables that are designed to stand the test of time.

Our focus on high-quality manufacturing practices using premium quality raw materials, coupled with the use of cutting-edge E-beam twin-line technology, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the longevity and top-tier performance of our cables. In addition, we are consistently running tests on our solar cable offerings to evaluate their performance. So far, we have received favorable outcomes suggesting they can function optimally up-to 50 years.

We understand the critical role that cabling plays in the overall functionality and reliability of solar projects, and it’s our mission to deliver products that align seamlessly with the extended lifespan these projects are designed to achieve. Elegar Kerpen stands as a testament to excellence, assuring our clients that our cables are built to endure the rigors of long-term solar energy production.

What is the proportion of a solar project that would be taken up by wires and cabling (In percentage costs)?

In my experience, the proportion of a solar project dedicated to wires and cabling is dynamic and influenced by several factors, including project size and complexity.  Interestingly, a 200 MW solar energy project uses nearly 10,000 km of solar cables.  Now, with the government’s ambitious plan to achieve 500 GW by 2030 , we can only imagine the volume of solar projects and the requirement of solar cables to support them.

While the specific percentage may vary, the importance of incorporating high-quality cables cannot be overstated. The efficiency and reliability of an entire solar system hinge on the integrity of its cabling infrastructure. Although the exact share in project costs may fluctuate, investing in top-notch cables is a strategic decision that pays dividends in the long run. As a pivotal element, high-quality cabling ensures not only the seamless functionality of the solar project but also contributes to its durability and performance over time. It’s an essential investment for the success and sustainability of any solar endeavor.

Do you see installers/EPCs compromising on cable quality to deliver lower-cost projects? What are the risks in that case? What are the most common mistakes you have seen developers make when it comes to cabling?

At Elegar Kerpen, we recognize the potential for installers or EPCs to compromise on cable quality in a bid to cut project costs. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that such compromises come with inherent risks that can significantly impact the performance, safety, and longevity of a solar project.

Lowering the quality of cables may lead to increased maintenance requirements, system failures, and, most importantly, safety hazards. We firmly believe that the foundation of a reliable and efficient solar project lies in the quality of its components, including the cabling.

Common mistakes we’ve observed in the industry involve neglecting adherence to global standards, opting for substandard materials, and overlooking the critical importance of high-quality cabling in the overall system. In our commitment to excellence, Elegar Kerpen advocates for the adherence to industry standards and the use of top-notch materials to ensure the success and safety of solar projects. Cutting corners on quality might seem cost-effective initially, but the long-term consequences can far outweigh the short-term gains.

What is the share of solar supplies in your revenue mix currently? Where do you expect it to go in the coming years? Broader expansion plans at Elegar

Currently, solar supplies constitute 20% of Elegar Kerpen’s revenue mix. The company is committed to the renewable energy sector, focusing on solar and wind power. At present, our solar cable offerings are dominating the Indian market, and the company enjoys an international presence in regions like Asia Pacific, South Africa, Europe, and Australia, when it comes to products designed for other key sectors.

With plans for innovation and market expansion, Elegar Kerpen aims to grow its solar supplies segment globally. We are keen on expanding our solar wires and cable offerings in the international market to strengthen our footing in the global solar energy segment. The company’s broader expansion also includes diversifying into Automotive and Defense, expanding the product line, and increasing team members in India and international markets. The ultimate vision is to become a leading, innovative, and reliable solution provider in data and energy transmission.

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