Low cost Chinese modules are a major threat: K Rajagopalan, Head, Solar Business, Anchor


Tell us more about the business of Panasonic Solar.
Panasonic has over four decades of experience in developing high-efficiency Solar PV- Technology and its development. It introduced its high efficiency Solar PV Panel “Hetero Junction Intrinsic Thinlayer - HIT” in India two years ago through its 100% owned group company M/s Anchor Electricals Private Limited (Anchor). Panasonic manufactures very high efficiency solar cells under its trademark technology “HIT” in the USA, Japan and Malaysia. With over 5 GW of HIT Solar Modules manufactured and sold worldwide, it is a natural strategy for Anchor to venture to the promising and high potential Indian market. The experience and technology back-up to position itself as a strong value-creator in the energy-intensive Indian market has provided the management to venture into the solar sector. The company has been awarded the accolade of Rooftop Solar Technology Innovator of the year at the Indian Rooftop Solar Congress 2017. Dr. Ashwini Kumar MD Solar Energy Corporation presented this award. This is the third consecutive year that Anchor has bagged this award showcasing its technical capabilities in the said segment.

Anchor’s Solar Business currently offers Premium High Efficiency “HIT” Solar PV Modules, Solar Power Generation Package including the Engineering, Project Managmeent, Installation and Operation Maintenance services. The unique focus is on space efficiency, higher energy-generation in limited space, high performance ratio, lowest degradation, high temperature resistance and highest quality beyond the industry standards.

What kind of market does Panasonic see for HIT modules in India?
Anchor’s solar business targets the entire Indian socio-economic spectrum for its value added services and technology offerings. For the HIT Modules in particular, it will focus on commercial and industrial captive power generation space on rooftops, as a total solar solutions provider. In the near future, it will address the large utility sector, decentralized rural, energy storage as well as residential sector with its solar products and solutions.

What is the company’s current revenue and what kind of growth and market share does it project for itself going ahead?
Anchor operates in the niche high efficiency solar rooftop market space in India. Today Anchor occupies over 35% market share in this area with over 15 MW deployed and operating in various locations throughout the country. This focused approach in the high efficiency area will continue to bring more success to the company and maintain a sustainable business model.

Where in India are your solar modules produced? Do you plan to set up more factories considering the growing buzz regarding solar?
Panasonic HIT Solar PV Modules are manufactured in USA, Japan and Malaysia. We already have a capacity of 900 MW and is scalable to 1GW in these units that are vertically integrated facilities manufacturing the complete Solar PV Module. We may look at setting up assembly line for the Solar PV Modules in India based on demand of the HIT technology and modules in the near future. So far 5GW of HIT Panels are being used worldwide.

What kind of capital expenditure does Panasonic solar plan for the company in 2017-18? What was it for FY17?
Panasonic has invested in developing this business, create a EPC vertical and has successfully executed more than 21 projects in India. Our target is not based on the capital deployed, but more on value created through this business for the company, it’s stakeholders and our esteemed customers. We wish to achieve a 100 MW level of high efficiency project deployment in this country by our 100th Year 2018-19.

Is there still a threat to the Indian market from the low cost Chinese solar modules? What kind of pricing does Panasonic see for solar modules going ahead?
Yes, the low cost Chinese modules will be a major threat presently to all manufacturers in the world and will remain the same in the near future. While the module technology is taking new strides year-on-year, I feel that India needs to set stringent guidelines at least in terms of panel technologies for its major infrastructure projects. One has to also look at optimizing the space utilization due to the fast urbanization our country is witnessing. These technologies are deployed for 25 years of lifetime and it we do not optimize our space and energy generation, it will remain inefficient throughout the lifetime.

Do you think India is well equipped and can achieve the 100 GW solar capacity target by 2022?
India has a tremendous Solar Potential. There are indeed strong chances that it would achieve the 100 GW target by 2022. The concern is not about the targets here, I feel we lack a holistic and sustainable approach towards our infrastructure projects. Striking a balance between cost and quality is a major issue today. With the regulatory support, it can be worked out.

Though India plans to add 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022, do you think there is a dearth of transmission capacity, especially for renewables?
Yes, this is a valid question, as we are adding RE power (especially Solar) in remote high irradiance zones like Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh and other good locations, the transmission capacity and quality is still under development. Govt. of India – Ministry of Power is also taking lots of measures to deploy more capital in these areas to develop and built these large transmission corridors to evacuate the power. But the challenge is Solar is best suited for decentralized power generation, it we are not able to stabilize the distribution network at 11kV and below, and give RE power the 100% priority status, we will continue to lose the benefit of RE power plant investments and the power generation. Also grid stability issues need to be studied and storage capacities should be built adequately to have a smoother operation of the large grid.