Trackers have shown that they are reliable unlike previous view that they are new technology: Siddharth Charkha, HCT Sun

Highlights :

US-owned Mumbai-based solar tracker firm, HCT Sun, in partnership with Israel’s SolarGik, provides SMEs with smart PV tracker solutions. The firm supports more than 60 active self-owned projects servicing customers such as Big Basket, Zomato, Mahindra Logistics, and many other SMEs.

Siddharth Charkha, CBO, HCT Sun, sheds light on the firm’s presence in India and the trends that will take over the tracker market…

Trackers have shown that they are reliable unlike previous view that they are new technology: Siddharth Charkha, HCT Sun Siddharth Charkha, CBO, HCT Sun

Tell us about your firm.

HCT Sun is an India-based, US-owned company. We are primarily in the OPEX (operating expense) business in India, catering especially to SMEs which no one else generally caters to. We employ high-performance components to increase the performance of the projects in the country. Besides, we have partnered with SolarGik, an Israel-based company. We are launching very innovative trackers with them in India. We manufacture trackers in India and export them globally. We have expanded to ten countries. In India, we are targeting these trackers for non-traditional terrains.

Why the SME sector?

We believe that SMEs are generally not targeted by the big corporations because of their credit-worthiness but they are still a very integral part of the manufacturing eco-system. They are a part of any manufacturing setup as a vendor. So, I think for them also, because they are quite energy-intensive, it is very important for them to reduce their energy bills as well.

Tell us about your international presence.

Internationally, we are working with SolarGik to export trackers in North America, Europe, Middle Asia, South Africa and India. In India, we have launched three products. One of them is the ground tracker, which is a versatile tracker with a very short table length and works up to very high slopes of 30 degrees.

More and more developers are facing challenges of finding the perfect land- it is not rectangular, not flat and there are many patches in between where you cannot have panels. So, this tracker unlike, the traditional trackers, increases the power density.

Second is our rooftop tracker, which is the lightest tracker in the market. We can work it on the rooftop as well. We have installed these trackers on RCC roofs and metal roofs.

The third system is agri-PV and as you are aware ‘agri-PV’ is the new talk of the town, because of how we can maximise the dual usage of land. India has both a growing population and a growing economy and land has competing demands. Because this tracker is very light, we can raise its height by 5-6 meters and grow crops grown underneath. With this cutting-edge algorithm and the software that SolarGik has, we can incorporate the agri-PV growth and also optimize the power generation.

From the various segments in solar trackers, which one has been the biggest hit in the market for you in the Indian market?

For rooftop, we are the only ones in the market. We should see a lot of traction as it is recently launched. But in terms of the tracker market, the tracker has really grown by leaps and bounds in the last 1.5 to 2 years in India. All the big Tier-1 companies have huge capacities already booked for themselves and we are getting pipeline for ourselves as well. So, we see a very big traction for ground trackers and for rooftop trackers as well. We think agri-PV will also see a lot of traction in a few months down the line because of the strong policy push that the government will bring in.

What are your capacities in these segments?

For trackers, we are currently at 1 gigawatt capacity. We can easily go up to 3 gigawatts per year in the next couple of years. The same goes for rooftops and agri-PV.

Do you think that there has been a resurgence in the market for solar trackers?

More and more technology-oriented companies are looking at trackers because if you look at the drive cycle of the project for 25 years, you still want your plant to perform at the optimum levels as fewer have done the line. Secondly, in terms of the generation profile that the grid wants and typically even for the C&I customers ahead, they have their power demands constant throughout the day. A tracker gives you a very flat profile of generation as compared to fixed tilt system. Trackers have shown that they are very reliable, unlike the previous perspective that the tracker is a new technology, which has also matured. So, more and more people are getting warmed up to trackers now and we see a very good optic in tracker usage.

Combining bifacial modules with trackers seems to be the trend these days. How does that impact costs?

There is not much of a price difference between a normal module and a bifacial. Especially when used with the tracker, the benefit of bifacial increases by leaps and bounds. So, I think more and more people are looking at bifacial as a technology. For rooftops, because people do not have the option of tracker everywhere, it doesn’t make sense to go for bifacial. But with tracker being launched in the rooftop market, and even in agri-PV because you have such high height, I think bifacial would be the way to go in the near future.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

We have a lot of projects that are still in the pipeline. But we are exploring multiple projects where we are in a very mature stage of discussions across India, South of India, Gujrat and other states of India.

Gujarat is leading the solar market. What are the trends prevailing in the state with reference to the tracker market?

if we speak about Gujrat, NTPC is leading the way ahead. NTPC is coming up with major tenders for the Khavda Renewable Energy Park and all these tenders have a tracker as the main component. So, I think with the push coming from NTPC, which is quite ahead in terms of technology adoption, I think Gujarat is a hotspot where you can see a significant tracker adoption, which we already see from their tenders.

What are your ambitions heading into the future?

We expect that in the next couple of years, we will be at least 500 megawatts a year. and after that, we expect to have gigawatt capacity.

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