Interview: IBC Solar on adapting and succeeding in the Indian solar market
Mr. Jan-Marc Raitz, Director Commercial Department PV-Projects at IBC SOLAR AG discusses the necessity for adaptation in India. On the scope for further successful growth, Mr. Raitz has the following views:
- It is vital to establish a local presence and strengthen EPC capabilities
- There is a bright future for MW scale rooftop solar projects
- Contract manufacturing partnership with Indian manufacturers allow involvement in projects with local content requirement without any compromise on quality
BTI: Is there a market for turnkey solar solutions in India? What is IBC SOLAR’s strategy for the market?
JR: We are already considering today the Indian PV solar market, beside our German core market, as one of the strongest international markets with a substantial growth for the coming years. We have successfully executed large scale photovoltaic power plants last year under the National Solar Mission Migration Scheme. With these we have proven our competitiveness under demanding market conditions. We intend to continue on this road and strengthen our EPC capabilities by opening our own office in the city of Mumbai within summer 2012. This will give us more flexibility and control over the so-called local content such as civil works, substructures and erection services. Following that, we intend to develop our own MW scale rooftop projects for which we foresee a bright future in the Indian PV market. Such projects shall be fully developed, pre-financed and built under an EPC regime by us before we finally sell them to interested investors, who are seeking projects on a balance sheet financing approach only.
BTI: What has been the performance of your plants in India so far? Have they met your expectations?
JR: Yes, the plants’ performances have exceeded our expectations and the expectations of our clients. Our PV installations are among the top performing plants within all of India with a performance ratio by far above 80%. Additionally, all installations were grid connected in time so that our clients were not facing the danger of losing their initial tariff. Compact and proven design has been one of the key success factors for the overall performance of the systems. All this could be achieved without any compromise on our IBC quality standards and philosophy.
BTI: What has been your experience in adapting the technology and Balance of Systems for projects in India? What are the challenges you have faced?
JR: It was necessary to adapt ourselves to the Indian market environment and to be willing to learn also from our Indian partners and customers, who have kindly guided us on these first projects within the India PV market. It would not have been wise to simply stick to our German approach on project execution. The openness of our partners, customers and our team to learn from each other has been one of the driving success factors. During the final installation phases we were required to send a high number of highly qualified engineers and site managers to India to guarantee that the systems were set-up in a proper manner and then finally guarantee our quality.
BTI: What are the EPC and module price developments that you expect in the months ahead in India?
JR: The prices will be dictated by the market anyway, but as of today we believe in being competitive with a system price of around EUR 1.3/Wp on a turnkey basis for large scale installations. We will be in the position to offer clients a single source solution with product and plant performance guarantees. In addition, these will be backed by first-class bank guarantees. As a result, we expect to be successful in India. Furthermore, we intend to offer operation and maintenance services via our Mumbai offices. This package will provide our customers and their financiers with the required trust to work with IBC SOLAR as one of the leading PV solution providers. Importantly, we have also engaged an Indian cell and module manufacturer for supplying us with IBC crystalline modules that are going to be manufactured in accordance with our specifications and under our quality regime. This partner will undertake contract manufacturing for us. This will help us to be active in projects with local content requirement without any compromise on plant our product quality.
BTI: How important are off-grid, rooftop PV solutions for India? When do you think this segment of the market will take off?
JR: This market segment is still in its early stages, but can already be regarded as the next growth segment. Large scale rooftop installations are especially attractive to us. Nevertheless, such projects will be a bit more complicated in development and execution. Here we believe we will already have the key answers in hand due to our long-lasting experience abroad in this field. Off-grid solutions on a kit basis will also become a standard the next years. Here it will be important to build a good distribution network for being close to the final customer.
View BRIDGE TO INDIA’s insight into the Opportunities and Challenges in India’s Rooftop Solar Energy segment.