“We Are Targeting To Achieve Installation Of 10+ GW Quantum by 2030”, Naresh Mansukhani, Juniper Green Energy

Highlights :

Naresh Mansukhani, CEO at Juniper Green Energy talks about the firms plans as part of the AT Group, post the $350 million funding in September this year.  

“We Are Targeting To Achieve Installation Of 10+ GW Quantum by 2030”, Naresh Mansukhani, Juniper Green Energy Naresh Mansukhani, Chief Executive Officer at Juniper Green Energy

Juniper Green Energy has been in the news for all the right reasons in the recent past, as the firm led by its founder and CEO Naresh Mansukhani, closed a major $350m deal with the AT Capital group and Vitol in September this year. Now part of the AT group, Juniper Green Energy, based out of Delhi NCR, commenced operations in October 2018.
It presently has an operational portfolio of about 800 MW with an under-construction capacity of 435 MW and a development pipeline of more than 3 GW of solar, wind and hybrid project.

Naresh, before starting the Juniper Green Energy platform, had started the solar division in Orange Renewable as a CEO,  building some of the best-performing assets in the industry. SaurEnergy caught up with the busy CEO for a quick Q&A.


Congratulations on the fund raise. How are we placed with respect to your existing project pipeline and future plans now?

Currently we have a quantum of 435 MW (Solar + Wind) that is under construction and more than 1 GW (Solar + Wind + Hybrid) at LOA stage. In addition to this we have a robust pipeline of more than 2.5 GW (Solar + Wind + Hybrid) in the next couple of years.

Between utility scale, C&I and rooftop solar, what would be your focus segment going ahead?

Majorly Utility Scale and to some extent C&I.

In the renewable market that is emerging today, versus the one that existed say, pre-pandemic, what are the biggest positive changes you see currently? Where could we benefit from more changes at a policy level?

The Government of India has taken up an ambitious task of pushing the adoption of renewable energy to 500 GW by 2030. Out of this quantum of 500 GW, 280+ GW is the target for Solar integration alone.

The Government has launched 2 production linked incentive programs (PLIs). PLI1 (₹4500Cr.) and PLI2 (₹19000Cr.) to boost domestic manufacturing of PV modules. Till now, most of the installations have been in the Utility scale and have the majority of the market share. Roof-top installations have been languid in spite of incentives from the government. In this scenario, the C&I sector has gained significant momentum, post pandemic. The Government (MNRE) has given a mandate for importing modules with ALMM approvals. BCD and CESS have also been introduced in the market by MOF since 2021.

The challenges of PV modules pre pandemic have been mitigated with the adoption of Mono PERC, high power, high efficient modules compared to the Poly ALBSF low power, low efficiency module. This has also impacted the cost of installation (BOS – Balance of Installation) in the powerplant.

In the recent Approvals List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) rules published by the MNRE set 19% as the minimum efficiency for the module to be listed. The minimum efficiency of the module used in the utility/grid-scale power projects is set to 20%; and 19.5% for rooftop & solar pumping and 19% for street lighting.

In addition to the above, MNRE has recently announced ALMM reforms to ramp up domestic solar module manufacturing with a waiver in application fee by 80 per cent and up to 70 per cent reduction in inspection fee.

In the recent module price-drop, mono-PERC modules are closing the price gap with Polycrystalline modules at a much faster rate.

How do you see the current slump in module prices impacting projects in India, both under construction and those to be built.

The current decline in module prices presents a significant boon for our renewable energy projects in India. The reduced cost of solar modules directly translates into a more favourable economic landscape for both ongoing construction projects and those in the planning stages. For projects under construction, the lowered module prices contribute to overall cost optimization, potentially improving the financial metrics and profitability of these ventures.

Moreover, the reduced module costs can act as a catalyst for accelerating the completion of ongoing projects, as the financial feasibility becomes more attractive. This, in turn, can contribute to an increased capacity for renewable energy generation, aligning with India’s ambitious renewable energy targets.

For future projects, the slump in module prices offers a strategic advantage in project planning and budgeting. Lower module costs enhance the competitiveness of upcoming developments, making them more financially viable from the outset. This scenario encourages further investments in renewable energy infrastructure, promoting sustainability and aligning with India’s commitment to expanding its clean energy portfolio.

In essence, the current downturn in module prices serves as a positive impetus for our renewable energy endeavours in India, fostering a conducive environment for both ongoing and future projects for its energy security.

Despite the enhanced solar targets leading up to 2030, we have seen India is struggling to cross the 15-16 GW levels for annual installations. What will it take to get close to the 25-30GW of annual additions we need in your view?

Achieving the ambitious solar targets set for 2030 in India, such as reaching 25-30 GW of annual installations, requires a multifaceted approach addressing key challenges and leveraging opportunities within the renewable energy sector.

Firstly, streamlining regulatory processes and ensuring policy stability is crucial. The government could provide a clear and consistent policy framework, addressing issues related to land acquisition, grid connectivity, and approvals. This stability instils investor confidence, attracting both domestic and foreign investments vital for scaling up solar installations.

Investments in research and development are imperative to enhance technological efficiency and reduce costs. Continued innovation can lead to breakthroughs in solar technology, making it more affordable and accessible. Collaboration between the government, research institutions, and the private sector can drive advancements in solar energy, contributing to achieving higher installation targets.

Infrastructure development, particularly in grid expansion and modernization, is paramount. A robust and efficient grid system ensures seamless integration of solar power into the existing energy infrastructure. Smart grid technologies and energy storage solutions can address intermittency issues associated with renewable sources, making solar energy a more reliable contributor to the energy mix.

Financial mechanisms, such as innovative financing models and incentives, play a pivotal role. The government can explore mechanisms like tax incentives, subsidies, and low-interest loans to make solar projects more financially viable for developers. Public-private partnerships can also be leveraged to share risks and attract private investment.

Engaging with local communities and addressing socio-economic considerations is essential. Clear communication about the benefits of solar projects, along with inclusive policies that involve local communities, can mitigate resistance and facilitate smoother project implementation.

Lastly, international collaboration can provide valuable insights and resources. Learning from global best practices and collaborating on research, development, and project implementation can accelerate India’s progress towards its solar targets.

In summary, achieving the 25-30 GW annual solar installation target by 2030 in India necessitates a comprehensive strategy encompassing policy stability, technological innovation, infrastructure development, financial support, community engagement, and international collaboration. A concerted effort across these fronts will position India to realize its ambitious renewable energy goals.

What is your own best-case scenario for Juniper Green Energy by 2030? Do you see a major change in the future mix of your projects, in terms of more hybrid, hybrid+BESS etc?

We are targeting to achieve a installation of 10+ GW quantum by 2030. We have had considerable experience in installations of standalone Solar & Wind projects. We have recently won the bid for Wind+Solar hybrid and also hybrid+BESS project

We have seen some leading developers reinvest themselves as ‘decarbonisation’ firms, offering a slew of services besides renewable energy. How do you see that evolving?

The transformation of leading developers into ‘decarbonization’ firms, expanding their services beyond renewable energy, reflects a strategic response to the broader challenges and opportunities within the sustainability landscape. This evolution is likely to continue and deepen, driven by several key factors.

Firstly, the global focus on decarbonization has expanded beyond electricity generation to encompass various sectors such as transportation, industry, and buildings. Developers recognize the need for a holistic approach to address carbon emissions comprehensively. By diversifying their services, these firms can play a pivotal role in providing integrated solutions that go beyond renewable energy projects.

As technology advances, there is a growing synergy between renewable energy and other decarbonization technologies. Leading developers are capitalizing on this convergence by integrating energy storage, smart grid solutions, and electric vehicle infrastructure into their offerings. This broader portfolio allows them to address the challenges associated with intermittent renewable energy generation and contribute to the electrification of various sectors.

Moreover, the shift towards sustainable practices has created opportunities for developers to engage in energy efficiency projects, sustainable design, and even carbon offset initiatives. By offering a comprehensive suite of decarbonization services, these firms position themselves as one-stop solutions for businesses and governments looking to achieve their sustainability goals.

The evolving regulatory landscape also plays a crucial role. Governments worldwide are implementing stringent carbon reduction targets and regulations, creating a market demand for comprehensive decarbonization services. Developers, by diversifying their offerings, can align with and capitalize on these regulatory trends.

Collaboration and partnerships are likely to be a key feature of this evolution. Developers may engage with technology providers, energy service companies, and other stakeholders to deliver end-to-end solutions that address the entire spectrum of decarbonization challenges.

When will solar repowering, and recycling of solar panels become a serious issue in India in your view? How can we prepare for its policy wise?

Solar repowering and recycling will likely become serious issues in India as the initial wave of solar installations approaches the end of their lifecycle, potentially within the next 10 to 15 years. To prepare for this, robust policy frameworks need to be established promptly.

Policy measures should mandate developers to plan for the end-of-life phase during project design, encouraging the use of recyclable materials and sustainable manufacturing practices. The creation of a standardized and incentivized solar recycling infrastructure, possibly through extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, can ensure responsible disposal and recycling.

Furthermore, the government should establish guidelines for repowering projects, incentivizing the upgrade of aging solar installations with more efficient technologies. Financial mechanisms, such as subsidies or tax incentives, could encourage repowering initiatives, ensuring the longevity and optimal performance of solar assets.

Collaboration between government bodies, industry stakeholders, and research institutions is vital to develop comprehensive policies that address environmental concerns, promote circular economies, and drive innovation in solar technology. By proactively integrating these considerations into existing and future policies, India can navigate the impending challenges of solar repowering and recycling, fostering a sustainable and responsible solar energy ecosystem.

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