We Pride Ourselves in Holding a 50% Market Share in Residential Retail and KUSUM Markets

Highlights :

As Head of Sales and Marketing at Adani Solar which is among India’s largest integrated solar module manufacturers, Rahul Bhutiani looks after the domestic and international sales and marketing at the reputed firm. In a conversation with Saur Energy International, he speaks about the company’s expansion plans, new products and traces India’s solar trajectory in future.

We Pride Ourselves in Holding a 50% Market Share in Residential Retail and KUSUM Markets

Please provide an insight into your solar journey to our readers.

Rahul Bhutiani, Head, Sales and Marketing, Adani Solar

Rahul Bhutiani, Head, Sales and Marketing, Adani Solar

In 2017, Adani Solar became the first company in the world to start a Greenfield Project of GW scale at Mundra with its platinum-rated manufacturing facility of 1.2 GW of solar PV cells and modules. This setup was enhanced to 1.5 GW in 2019. This facility has been successfully catering primarily to the domestic markets – residential rooftop projects, ground based IPP projects, solar parks, as well as agricultural solar pump projects under the KUSUM scheme. Adani Solar has been a consistent performer not only in terms of volumes in manufacturing, but also in terms of market share – consistently being the largest and the most prominent Indian player against the onslaught of Chinese manufacturers. Adani Solar prides itself in having created a very robust retail distribution network across all states of India that ensures Adani Solar Modules reach every nook and corner. We pride ourselves in holding a 50% market share in residential retail and KUSUM markets. In 2022, Adani Solar expanded its capacity by adding a 2 GW line. With this capacity addition, Adani Solar has brought to India the state-of-the-art, contemporary MonoPERC technology that is capable of delivering high-efficiency modules, thereby making solar projects more viable. With these, Modules Adani Solar is now serving the domestic and international markets very efficiently and effectively. That apart, we are the only Indian manufacturer to be awarded top performer by DNV-GL PVEL Global Reliability Testing for five consecutive years (2018 to 2022).

What are the advanced technologies that have been adopted in your products and processes?

The capacity expansion of 2 GW that has already been achieved is with the latest MonoPERC Technology, which boasts of high-efficiency modules. The manufacturing set-up is flexible and can work with both 182 mm and 210 mm cells, thereby offering modules in the bin range of 535 -660 Wp. We are also setting up the associated cell line, which will be flexible and capable of manufacturing cells of 182 mm and 210 mm.

Interestingly, our MonoPERC lines are also capable of being upgraded to n-type TOPCon technology, further enhancing the efficiency of modules that we can offer to the market.

Additionally, Adani Solar has also set off an expanding capacity by another 2 GW by bringing to India the N-type TOPCon technology. This futuristic technology promises enhanced module efficiencies.

What are your growth and expansion plans for the next couple of years?

Adani Solar will be expanding capacities with the latest technologies. With MonoPERC technology, we have 2 GW of cell and module capacities. We are already underway with an expansion of another 2 GW based on the n-type TOPCon technology. This facility will be operational by mid-2023.

As a vision, Adani Solar intends to have, over the next few years, a fully integrated capacity of 10 GW starting from polysilicon up to modules.

The ancillary eco-system will also be appropriately expanded to support the 10 GW capacity. Once completed, this facility may go on to be the world’s only fully integrated 10 GW solar PV manufacturing capacity with the entire ancillary eco-system co-located.

How do you envision the solar sector evolving over the next few years? How does Adani intend to participate and contribute to this momentum?

We, at Adani Solar, believe that the solar industry in India is poised for an orbital change. The Government, regulators, manufacturers, the developers are working in tandem to ensure India meets its ambitious (but achievable) targets for renewable power. The solar industry is capable of taking India to energy security while helping decarbonize the power generation industry in India. India is currently the third largest market for solar industry behind China and USA, and we will continue to hold our position in near future too. The solar installations in the country are expected to grow exponentially in the next five years

What kind of pricing and technology roadmap do you see coming through in the industry?

The industry has seen an unprecedented price increase since last year owing to the increase in polysilicon prices. With a lot of new polysilicon capacities coming on stream now, it is widely expected that there would be added pressure on prices, and we may soon see a downward trend in prices for the industry. This will augur well and help boost the growth in the industry. In terms of technology, the industry is gravitating towards higher and higher module efficiency. The current favorite, MonoPERC technology will likely rule the roost over the near future. TOPCon and HJT are the technologies that are maturing very fast and will be the technologies that the world and India will work with in times to come.

What kind of growth do you see coming in the residential sector demand?

The Indian Government has been very proactive in creating a very positive environment for the residential rooftop solar market. The schemes announced and implemented and also under implementation are very generous and should ensure good participation by the residential sector. MNRE’s grid[1]connected rooftop solar program is aiming for residential installation of 4 GW and offers a 40% subsidy for the first 3 kW of generation capacity in residential rooftop systems. Estimates suggest that residential rooftop installations are only 17% of total rooftop solar capacity and just 2.9% of the nation’s total solar capacity. Only around 0.5% of independent urban homes have installed rooftop solar which clearly shows the potential for rooftop solar in the residential sector. The major deterrents till now have been consumer inhibition and low awareness about the technical, financial, and operational aspects of installations, and the industry and Government are addressing this appropriately.

What are the cost and raw material challenges for solar modules and solar cells?

China’s share in the entire supply chain – all stages from polysilicon to modules are in excess of 80% and for wafers is as high as 95% plus. Economies of scale, supply chain integration, innovation, and significant government support for the last two decades have made China a formidable force in the solar supply Chain. As a result, India, like most other countries around the world is dependent on Chinese imports (wafers, cells, etc.) for solar module manufacturing. This dependence does not augur well for the industry – always susceptible to disruption in availability and prices. Our government’s intentions through the PLI scheme is clearly to slowly and steadily move away from this dependence on Chinese imports by encouraging the Indian Industry to create a domestic fully integrated supply chain that is capable of effectively meeting the domestic demand.

Adani Solar has expanded its business from manufacturing to retail distribution. What is the company’s strategy for the domestic market?

Adani solar PV modules should be available to every individual customer across the country. In keeping with this objective, Adani Solar has built out a very robust retail distribution network comprising over 20 authorized channel partners, over 50 resellers, and through these partners, a reach of over 2500 integrators across the country. Adani Solar is committed to serving the domestic market wholeheartedly.

Shed some light on Adani’s plans of developing domestic supply chain/backward integration including timeframe, investment etc.

The major setback faced by the Indian solar industry is the supply side constraints like the shortage of polysilicon, and glass, basically, the supply of raw materials required for the manufacture of cells and modules, increase in steel prices, aluminium, copper, silver, shortage of containers, freight spiral. India has no option but backward integrate and build capacity for manufacturing the whole spectrum of Solar PV supply chain domestically to mitigate the risks arising from the supply chain constraints. Adani Solar has ambitious plans for the same. The backward integration at Adani solar will start with starting with 2GW Ingot, 2GW Wafer along with cumulative 4GW cell and 4GW module by January 2024. And by January 2026, we look forward to becoming a 10GW Fully integrated Solar PV manufacturer from Polysilicon to Module. To support this massive upscaling and integration, we shall also develop a comprehensive ecosystem of ancillary units like glass, EVA, backsheet, etc. to reduce our import dependency and ensure a seamless supply of all the key raw materials.

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