Anchor Electricals (A Panasonic Group Company), who has adopted go-slow strategy, is optimistic about utilisation of HIT modules in the industrial and commercial captive segment. Krishnan Rajagopalan, Head - Solar Business, opines that utility scale projects and special applications will slowly see HIT module usage
India is not known to use Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin (HIT) layer solar cells, which is a new technology. What makes you introduce this product in India?
HIT Modules have a high purity mono cryrstalline cell and thin film vapour deposition on top and bottom, which is a unique feature. This provides efficiency and also resistance to tough environments. India is a tropical country with high temperatures, cold climate and rains-HIT modules can perform better in all three conditions. These can resist harsh environment pollution, like salt mist, ammonia or corrosive atmosphere, making it most suitable for such climates and environment. Besides, with space costs in urban India sky rocketing, there is need to use space efficiently.
Will the company manufacture these products in India?
We are studying the market and yes, there is an ongoing discussion within the organisation to look at manufacturing in India, but the timing is yet to be decided. We will be able to share numbers once a concrete plan is in place.
How financial viable is it to induct HIT panels in Indian solar projects?
India has always been a quality manufacturing hub. Currently, these modules are expensive and Indian tariffs do not support them to the extent of large scale volume deployment. But in few years, our prices will rationalise and we can look at viability in manufacturing. But today, in the rooftop captive and industrial markets, customers have already visualised the success and better cash flows in long term from HIT modules. So, we are strongly positioning our technology in this rooftop market space.
What was the outcome of your survey regarding the adaptability for your product in the Indian market?
Yes, we did a study through a project called ´Yuva Surya - The Young Sun´. This was a live project where we went to end customers directly, consultants, EPC contractors and developers and studied the usage of these technologies. We found that at the time, the modules had a niche market entry. But, after we introduced and had success in large scale rooftop projects, today many customers, developers and system integrators approach us for this module. We are able to convert this adaption to business quite successfully. Today, our deployment in the market is slowly increasing and we feel that we will steadily touch high capacities in the coming years.
What are the strategies to make consumers aware of this product?
We have been constantly involved in direct end client interactions. We have given regular advertisements in print media, participated in media conferences where we have had recognitions. Customers have shown keen interest and we have had repeat orders. We are not appointing distributors/system integrators in every state (north, west, south) to promote this technology, but have given newspaper adds, are utilising social media networks etc.
You have few HIT projects in the country, why the ´go-slow´ strategy?
Yes as the prices are higher, customer adaption takes time.
But today, we are proud to have completed more than 10-12 large projects by ourselves, with end to end solutions (EPC), with long term O&M commitments. And all of these customers have given us repeat orders.
New customers are adapting this technology in large roof top projects. At the same time, the recent failures and bankruptcy cases in the large scale utility projects, and many projects not able to achieve financial closures are going to settle down. The market will see consolidation and technology will come into play. We are continuing to improve our efficiency and keep ourselves ahead of the market. When the tariff will also increase, high efficiency systems will increase its market share automatically.
What is the technical compatibility of your products in enhancing energy?
Solar Resource is measured in terms of kWhr/M2/day, but all the estimations and calculations are based on kWp. The efficiency of solar system is how you are able to maximise energy production within the given area where the resource is falling-which is what HIT modules do. We increase the power density in limited space and produce average around 35-40 per cent more power within the given space. Also HIT modules are hybrid solar cells, a unique Hetero Junction Cell, which sandwiches a very high purity (11 nine pure) mono crystalline silicon cell between ultra thin vapour deposition of amorphous silica. This provides the lowest negative temperature co-efficiency of -0.29 per cent/deg, which means, HIT modules can resist high temperature most efficiently than any other modules; + Low luminance sensitivity, which means HIT modules can produce power in all light conditions. Even at as low as < 50 W/m2 irradiance, voltage output of HIT modules are stable, which otherwise shows the inverters wake up and track voltage output early in the morning and sleeps late in the evening. This gives extra hours of generation. All these combinations are providing long term benefits to customers. Nevertheless, the reliability of HIT modules are superior and proven for over 25-30 years in the field with >4.5 GW of modules deployed so far.
Which projects are deriving demand?
We are very optimistic about our progress and the market adaption of our technology. We are a wholistic player with module technology, EPC, O&M and high end remote monitoring solutions for PV plants. We feel, in future, HIT modules will have a larger utilisation in the industrial and commercial captive segment (which itself is estimated to be 40 GW), and slowly utility scale projects and special applications like corrosive atmosphere, high altitude projects (defense), floating solar projects, oil and gas (off-shore) where space and environment conditions are different will see HIT modules usage.
Does the industry give good RoI?
HIT modules are more suitable for customers who look at energy securitisation and long term returns. HIT modules may provide equity returns around one or two years later than lower capital investments, but in long term (where solar projects are invested for 25 years) HIT modules provide much higher cash flows in terms of savings from energy costs.
The industry is still not completely aware of these modules. Once they understand the benefits, they will quickly start adapting these technologies.