We would like to contribute to the success of “Make in India” and the growth of solar in India: Sunil Badesra

Its 3 GW manufacturing plant in India is the only one outside China for Sungrow. 2 years later, the investment has been vindicated, with the plant serving the domestic as well as export market successfully. We caught up with Sunil Badesra, Business Head, Sungrow India on the story so far.

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Tell us about the Sungrow journey so far in India.

Sungrow was one of the earliest global firms to sense the future potential of Indian solar market. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility near Bengaluru, with a capacity of 3GW per annum was a backing of this insight. The facility spread across 130,000 sqft area can produce 2GW central inverters and 1GW string inverters annually. Our India manufacturing unit now employs more than 75 people. So far, we have supplied more than 3.5GW of PV inverters to India and global market while exports having higher share. After 6 years in the India market today, we sell our products through both Direct Sales and Distributors Network to cater to every consumer segment.

Q. We understand this is the only overseas production facility for Sungrow outside China. How did you pick India for the same? What are the future plans for expansion if any, or product mix from the plant?

Sunil Badesra, Business Head, Sungrow India

Sunil Badesra, Business Head, Sungrow India

Undoubtedly, India is one of the big solar markets in the world today. Back in 2014, India had also set a clear and ambitious road map for solar capacity addition which made it one of the most attractive solar markets. Sungrow as an industry leader and staying ahead of the curve, took a long-term view of Indian market strategically. Looking at the market potential in India and its geographical advantage to export to other regions, it became a natural choice to set up the factory in India. We have built a strong foundation here and as the market grows further, we are open to explore further expansion in plant capacity.

Q. How has having a production base in India helped Sungrow with its sales, customer acceptance and service quality?

In today’s globalized market, if any company invests in domestic manufacturing, then it reflects the company’s long-term plans. Local manufacturing has helped us to reduce the lead time with better forecasting and production planning, and thereby serving our customers timely and efficiently.

Q. Has Sungrow found it easy to find quality manpower for the plant? How much does the firm have to invest in training?

We acknowledge that developing pool of quality and skilled manpower is always a challenge. It is a foundation for technical innovation & one of the most essential factor in retaining competitiveness in the market and we were fortunate to set this at early stage. We are organizing internal trainings and skill competition programs at regular intervals to improve their skills and make them more efficient and versatile to handle the required job. Not only do such trainings help our employees deliver better on their routine jobs, but it will also support their future career prospects.

Q. Can you give some instances of engagement with the local community for Sungrow? In the region around your factory, or otherwise in India?

Our employees at Sungrow India come from all over the country. So we celebrate all local festivals, birthdays, anniversaries together in Sungrow India as a closely knit family. We also organize an annual family get together to increase our bonding and emotional engagements. We are glad to share that we have minimum attrition rate in last two years since the India factory was set up, as we have created a good learning atmosphere for our employees. We are actively into various CSR activities like organizing free seminars for school / college students, tree plantations etc. to fulfil our commitments as a socially responsible organization.

Q. What is the present product portfolio being made at the factory? Do you have a breakup of the components in terms of domestic sourcing versus imports from China?

We are manufacturing both string and central inverters here in our India factory. We are presently using local components as available in India which meet our quality requirements. The entire supply chain of power electronic components and materials are still at a very nascent stage and evolving in India for the PV inverters. We will increase the local components as the supplier’s base increases and the supply chain becomes robust in due course of time.

Q. How has 2019 been for Sungrow globally? A brief on the company’s future plans.

2019 was a very good year for Sungrow as we achieved 25.4% year on-year increase of our revenue to $1.864 billion. At the end of 2019, we also became the first company in the industry to achieve the record of accumulative installations surpassing 100GW, equivalent to generating about 129,000 GWh of clean electricity per year and eliminating 103 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Sungrow has a very clear and elaborate strategy to be the leader in the Power Conversion Technology. In line with its mission “Clean power for all”, Sungrow will continue to explore the other avenues in the clean energy sector and invest in future technologies to create competitive product portfolio and comprehensive global service.

Q. Does Sungrow see the rooftop segment expanding faster in India? Do the domestic content requirements for rooftop subsidies help the firm sell more in India?

Rooftop market segment is expanding faster in India with more and more awareness and adoption by the C&I segment. We have also achieved 100% year-on-year growth of our sales for string inverters over last two years consecutively. The subsidy in the Indian rooftop market is mainly driven by the category of the end user and not by domestic content.

Rooftop solar has a tremendous potential to add the capacities in India and scale up. It is right time for the govt to encourage the locally manufactured products to be used for these rooftop solar projects in India. With our local manufacturing unit in India, we would like to contribute to the success of “Make in India” and the growth of solar in India.

Q. Inverters, despite being the ‘brains’ of the solar plant today, take up only 6-8 percent of total costs. Do you see that changing anytime? How do you see the future trend of inverters?”

Inverter is the core of the entire system and acts as a bridge between PV components and grid. Inverters have significant impact on project design, BoS optimization, annual yield and hence are key to sustained ROI. Sungrow being the technology leader, we are working on various innovations to upgrade the inverter technology for better integration with the grid network and smoother optimization of entire system solution. As the solar project sizes are growing bigger and being set up across climatic areas and difficult terrains, the quality of the products, thermally efficient designs for both extreme hot and cold climate, adherence to the stringent requirements for grid stability and seamless integration of large scale battery storages will become more and more critical requirements for inverters.

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