Jakson interview: Government should enforce solar REC mechanism to promote growth

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Greentech Lead India: Lack of infrastructure, delay in policy implementation and reluctance of financial institutions like banks to provide project financing are the biggest challenges facing the solar industry in India today, said Sundeep Gupta, joint managing director, Jakson Power Solutions, a solar energy provider in India, to Greentech Lead.

Lack of Government support for acquiring land and delays in its conversion for industrial use, right of way issues for transmission lines, grid expansion not being able to keep pace with the requirements of the upcoming plants are some of the infrastructure related bottlenecks which are adversely affecting the solar power plants.

Gupta suggested that government needs to enforce solar REC mechanism promoted by it. To promote Solar Thermal further, the government needs to allow use of alternate fuels to run the boilers and turbines when sunlight is not available. This shall allow optimum utilization of boilers, turbines and alternators thereby reducing cost of energy from solar thermal power plants.

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates were meant to be an important vehicle in the scheme of things for rapid growth of solar energy. However lax enforcement of the targets is causing trepidations in the minds of developers putting up and planning to put up power plants under REC scheme, Gupta said.

Solar Power plants require high capital and as such need financing at low rates of interest. Banks are reluctant to provide project financing to developers and are insisting on balance sheet financing.

According to Gupta, solar industry in India cannot stand its own till solar power achieves grid parity. Government should continue providing incentives to the industry.

Solar implementation in India is also impacted by lack of awareness among customers. “Lack of technical knowledge and “go-with-the-cheapest” attitude are the major hurdles while dealing with the customers. Very few customers realize that they need to create an asset which has to perform consistently over a time period of 25 years. Hence due weightage has to be given to quality, technology and timely completion. I am sure as the industry matures things will improve and consolidation will happen,” Gupta added.

Indian solar manufacturers are also facing serious threat from Chinese companies. Their economies of scale, vertically integrated solar plant models and government support help these companies flourish and as a result, they are growing as a major threat to Indian solar makers.

Jakson currently serves the markets of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The company recently commissioned two 10 MW solar IPP projects at BAP, Jodhpur District in Rajasthan.

The 20-MW solar power plant in Rajasthan has been set up with an investment of Rs 200 crore under government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) policy Phase 1 Batch 2.

Gupta said the company is planning to expand other parts of India, as well as emerging solar markets like Africa and the Middle East as and when techno-commercial feasible opportunities come up.

As part of the R&D efforts, Jakson in partnership with Schneider, has developed ‘Solar Inverter Sub-station’, a compact containerized factory wired and tested inverter, transformer and switchgear unit for MW size power plants. This plug and play product has helped developers drastically reduce their installation time at site which has resulted in lower production costs. The product has received an overwhelming response from the industry forcing the company to expand its production facilities to meet the demands. The company is developing very innovative plug and play solar products which will be commercially launched in April 2013.

Gupta believes that over a period of time quality will prevail and the company will reap the benefits of the same when there is a shake up in the EPC market and only quality players are left in the fray.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

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