Rituparna Kakati | 07 Nov, 2017
The Indian solar energy market is rising at lightning fast speed, but lack of standardization, a disorganized market and lack of customer awareness are major challenges facing the industry, said Ajay Singh, Founder & President of Nimray-Solar, in an exclusive interview with SME Times.
Excerpts of the interview...
Brief us about Indian Solar Energy market. What are the challenges of Indian Solar market?
Ajay Singh: In Just 90 minutes, enough sunlight strikes the earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year. While solar energy is abundant, it represents a tiny fraction of the world's current energy mix. 300 days of sun and still 24X7 electricity is a dream for many. Earth has been receiving trillions of units of energy every day from morning to evening but we've never been able to use it.
Indian solar energy market is very vast and rising at lightning fast speed, India's solar market expected to grow by 90% in 2017. Solar power in India is a growing industry. As of November 2017, the country's solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 12.29 GW.
India quadrupled its solar-generation capacity from 2,650 MW on 26 May 2014 to 12,289 MW on 31 March 2017. The country added 3.01 GW of solar capacity in 2015-2016 and 5.525 GW in 2016-2017, the highest of any year, with the average current price of solar electricity dropping to 18% below the average price of its coal-fired counterpart.
Challenges of Indian Solar market: Challenges of Indian solar energy market are also unique as our country. We have a large audience to be served but Despite 30% subsidy directly from the government(MNRE), people still hesitate to buy solar power. It's still seen as "Alternate energy" not as "clean energy of the future"
The single answer to all the questions above is standardization. Lack of awareness creates confusion when it comes to going Solar. There is no single place where people can go and buy. Different solar EPC companies offer a different price for the same component. There is definite reason for potential customers to be sceptical. The rooftop sector is extremely disorganized and there needs to be a platform for standardizing it.
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the 2015 COP21 climate conference in Paris: "The world must turn to (the) sun to power our future. As the developing world lifts billions of people into prosperity, our hope for a sustainable planet rests on a bold, global initiative."
India's initiative of 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 is an ambitious target.
Tell us about your company Nimray Solar and its business model.
Ajay Singh: I was always an admirer of futuristic technologies, during my stay in Dubai I realize what can be done with the right technology and government active involvement into it. The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7 per cent of Dubai's energy from clean energy sources by 2020. It will increase this target to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.
All the Metro city resident pay around 7-8 Rs/unit to electricity company and in case of power cuts 15-18 Rs/unit for DG sets. All this made me think to make use of Solar power in a way so that user becomes the producer (I call them prosumers). Instead of buying energy from grid how about if we produce enough energy for ourselves and sell rest of the energy back to the grid. Not many people are aware, but this technology is already in place (called net metering). My idea of starting Nimray Solar was plain and simple to make India independent from power cuts.
Business model of Nimray:
Nimray Solar is the First Decentralized Electricity Network Based on Solar Energy and Blockchain. Nimray Solar is the India's first company to make use of crypto-currency to pay for your Solar energy uses. As a result, user need not pay anything at all in long run instead they get paid by energy company for their electricity production. Nimray works as a centralized platform to address all your Solar power requirement from analyzing your exact requirement to installing Solar panel and getting your plant registered and approved for net metering (Sell electricity). Our proprietary algorithm predict your exact energy uses and saving in future, roughly your system recovers its cost in 3yeras and works for 25 years (with warranty).
How many people actually use solar energy in India? How good is Indian weather to generate solar energy throughout the year?
Ans. Many people are using Solar power in India, awareness created by our Prime minister's initiative played an impactful role on adopting Solar power. NGO's like Greenpeace India did a tremendous job by making a Solar power bus using Solar energy only.
Solar power in India is a fast-developing industry. As of September, 2017 the country's solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 16.20 GW. India quadrupled its solar-generation capacity from 2,650 MW on 26 May 2014 to 12,289 MW on 31 March 2017. The country added 3.01 GW of solar capacity in 2015-2016 and 5.525 GW in 2016-2017, the highest of any year, with the average current price of solar electricity dropping to 18% below the average price of its coal-fired counterpart.
Earth has been receiving trillions of units of energy every day from morning to evening but we've never been able to use it, India is not an exception for that. We have 300 days of clear Sun each year and nearly a quarter of the population -- or more than 300 million people -- still don't have access to electricity. That leaves a void and an exciting opportunity to solve this energy crisis with the help of the Sun.
Nimray Solar will shape the future of Solar energy and how people use and produce Solar power globally.
Why should Indian households and businesses start using solar energy? Can you list the benefits of using solar energy?
Ajay Singh: India is suffering from frequent power cuts, even cities like Delhi, Mumbai & Gurgaon are no exceptions. Modern lifestyle relies on energy even a 30 min power cut can stop our life. Household uses power for each and everything 24x7x365.
Throughout the world electricity bills are increasing faster than inflation, putting financial strain on businesses and consumers. Going Solar not just saves you from power cuts it also reduces your carbon foot print by 95%. When business go Solar they save huge cost of running an office building, Nimray Solar's vison in next three to four years is to make every building a powerhouse. They don't need to rely on the grid energy. And for home users they don't need to pay any bill of using energy instead they get paid for what they make extra and fed to grid.
Besides cost savings, what is compelling about shifting to solar energy?
Ajay Singh: Going off the main grid means less coal-based power consumption, which then means less use of coal. Coal is one of the leading sources of air pollution in India, hence switching to solar energy will improve your city's air quality. Less pollution related problems and we can give our children's fresh air to breath.
Please share the details of your previous ventures/achievements with us and how did you think to enter into solar energy sector?
Ajay Singh: I shifted from Fashion to technology, Yes! I started International designers mining platform GorgeousForever.com 8 Years back with designers from India, USA, UAE & UK mainly. Idea was to globalize Indian craftsmanship to all over the world.
I was also a part of Atomistic Technologies which was Cyber security company in India with American company Code-Blue. Worked in India and Dubai for same.
I was Selected entrepreneur for Alpha Start-up in Web Summit's Surge event in Bangalore Feb 2016. Successfully Exhibited as Alpha Start-up in Bangalore Feb- 2016
Selected entrepreneur for Web Summit in Lisbon Nov-2016.
Selected entrepreneur for level-II incubation by iCreate- International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology- Ahmedabad- India.
Selected entrepreneur by Astro-Labs Dubai (Only Google partner Tech-Hub in Dubai) to increase foot prints in Middle East & North Africa.
I have worked on vast range of projects from Cyber security to creating International ecommerce portal.
As I said I was always open for new ideas and my thinking is not Linear thinking. I am always trying to find new problems and best possible solutions for those problems.
Energy crisis is a big problem in India & Some of the countries worldwide, we have abundance of energy right above our head (the Sun) but we always rely on under our feet (coal, gas). I am a big fan of Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla. They are the true visionary to see that world can be power up with Solar with no pollution at all.
What are the common myths associated with solar energy in India and how do you combat those myths?
Ajay Singh: India is a cost first country, In India people check price before quality. The biggest myth is that Solar is going to cost you huge and in today's scenario Solar is 85% cheaper in cost and 50% more energy efficient in comparison to 2010. Now to power up a small house will cost less than a new iPhone X. Second myth is that air conditioner can't run on Solar power, we can run invertor ACs on Solar power also mixer, fridge, washing machine or you name any appliance you can use Solar for. No monthly costs are involved in solar power, only one-time cost are involved with installing solar energy with Nimray Solar and you are free for 25 years.
To overcome the lack of knowledge we organize interactive meetings at RWAs where people can visit us and see all appliances running on Solar completely off the grid.
Do you think solar energy can become the primary source of energy?
Ajay Singh: Yes, definitely by the year 2025 Solar power will be the only primary source of energy all over the world. Tesla already introduced Solar tiles so even while making a house it includes modules to power up itself, Electric Cars will be on roads by 2020 as normal cars, the demand of energy will increase, and fuel prices will hike. As a result, Solar will be the most lucrative and clean option for power up your smart house and electric cars.
What kind of support is needed from the government to increase the awareness and use of solar energy in India?
Ajay Singh: I am really happy to see Government's active participation in Solar energy, Prime minister Modi's push to use Solar energy is really a boost for Indian Solar companies. Government should support private companies trying to change the how India uses Solar energy for that a national Solar policy should be in place. Now every state has its own policy and net metering is not available for all over India. Some states are more inclined towards Solar energy and some are far behind. A universal Solar policy will really help to shape up this unstructured environment for the best.
What are Nimray Solar's big goals for 2018?
Ajay Singh: Nimray Solar's prime goal is to change how India uses Solar energy and pays for it. We will be introducing our own Bitcoin wallet where user can buy or sell Solar energy with crypto/Digital currency and earn from it for the next 20-25 years.
We want India to be independent from power cuts forever and power up small rural areas with Sunshine. Visit us at: www.nimray.com