Solar technology will synergise the power back-up business
Luminous Power Technologies, traditionally known for its power back-up systems, is now focusing more on residential rooftop solutions business. The company, now a unit of Schneider Electric, also provides other electrical offerings such as fans, LED lighting, switches and wires. Sachin Bhalla, senior vice-president, marketing, shared the company’s vision on this business segment. Excerpts from an interview with FE’s Anupam Chatterjee.
How has the company’s solar journey been so far?
We have been in the solar business for about a decade. Our journey began with us offering small solar systems and we have come a long way since then, with large 50 KW solar systems being included our product portfolio. The solar business now comprise 10% of the company’s revenue. This segment grew 70% to Rs 350 crore in calendar year 2018.
Do you think power back-up systems are getting redundant with improving power supply quality?
On the contrary, power back-up has become a basic necessity now. Gone are the days when people made compromises and accepted power-cuts as a general way of life. Nowadays, and rightfully so, even 30 minutes of loadsheddings are difficult to tolerate.
How do you plan to utilise the power back-up business in the solar vertical?
We are planning to tie up our existing power back-up business with solar technology. People now have a variety of options to choose how they want to utilise the sun rays that fall on their terraces. One can use it as back-up storage, or to supplement it with grid power. If you are not at home and your solar system is generating power under the sun, there are also options of selling that unused electricity back to the grid, if net-metering facility is allowed in the customer’s area.
How effective can solar systems be?
On a good day, a one kilo-watt (kw) system may produce 4-5 units of electricity. Each kw requires about 100 square feet of shadow-free space. The ballpark cost comes to around `50-55/watt, subject to location and solar irradiance of course.
What are the main challenges now in solar rooftop?
The process of procuring a net-metering connection is still way too complex. The timeline warranted to get the approval from the authorities demotivate lots of potential subscribers. There is no single-window clearance and one needs multiple approvals from the discoms to set up a net metered connection. The whole process can take up about 3-6 months. I think the policy environment in this area is evolving pretty fast and this would help in making the process much simple.
What steps are you taking to ramp up the solar business?
Keeping in mind the growing sensitisation of solar technologies among the people, we are putting in more money in the ‘Solar by Luminous’ business. We are expanding our teams in this vertical and also increasing our television ad-spend, especially during cricket matches, to increase our visibility. We are training our focus on the residential rooftop segment right now.