In Recent times, UpsInverterInfo has emerged as an online journal for power backup products and Solar products in India.
We have been posting Reviews and Price-guides for popular inverter models, solar products and tubular batteries in India.
Now, it’s time to meet the legends in Renewable Energy Industry in India.
Ravi mouli (UpsInverterInfo.Com) in conversation with Kunwer Sachdeva about his journey from being ‘Inverter Man of India’ to becoming ‘Solar Man of India’.
We had an interesting discussion about inverters, batteries, UPS and Solar in India.
1. ‘About Solar Revolution In India’
UPS Inverter Info Team: In last 10 years power backup industry in India has taken a big leap, now-a-days Home Ups is one of the ‘must have gadget’ even in a lower middle class family. This is something like mobile phone revolution in the last decade.
It seems like now Su-kam is showing more interest on Renewable energy, particularly solar energy. Shall we expect a solar revolution in next 10 years? Like All homes powered fully or partially with energy efficient solar panels? What’s your take on this?
Kunwer Sachdeva: Yes, I absolutely see a solar revolution happening in India within the next 5 years and by 10 years our market may even reach a saturation point.
I would even go on to say that this ‘Solar Revolution’ in India would be as big as the ‘Mobile Phone Revolution’. It will be bigger than any other country in the world.
After all in a country that has a population of more than 1 billion, anything that gets popular becomes a revolution for the world to watch.
[pullquote]Demand for solar products has increased by 30% percent in just one year! Soon it may even surpass the sales of our normal inverter, UPS and batteries. [/pullquote]We have seen that more and more people are going for our solar inverter, Brainy, especially when they are purchasing inverter for the first time.
People are getting so aware that they know solar inverters are a step ahead than ordinary inverters.
Existing companies and others who have just started to enter the solar market in India are coming up with innovative technologies which may reduce the cost of solar even further so we can expect many Indian houses and businesses going solar.
Another thing that I would like to add is that many areas in India have not been electrified till date. Residents of such places have never experienced electricity from main grid supply. Off-grid solar can be of major help here.
For example, recently Su-Kam installed DC Solar Home Lighting Systems in 40,000 households of villages in Uttar Pradesh. Grid supply in those areas is either absolutely missing or is very unreliable but now that they have DC home lighting system they can run fans, lights, charge their mobile phones, listen to radio – they are enjoying 24×7 power. The fans and lights run on DC so are more efficient than their ordinary counterparts. No need to waste energy by converting DC into AC!
2. Kunwer Sachdev’s comment on Square Wave Inverters in Indian Market
UPS Inverter Info Team: People in power backup industry are calling you as ‘The Inverter Man of India’, being an innovative personality in this industry , what do you think about other competitors still manufacturing and selling square wave inverters in the mainstream market? Is it a healthy move or a setback for the Industry?
Kunwer Sachdeva: I would not like to comment on the business model of others. I can only speak for Su-Kam. At Su-Kam we have started an online initiative to spread awareness about energy efficiency and solar.
You can visit our blog – blog.su-kam.com and you will see that one of the blog clearly tells why sine wave inverters are better than square wave.
Our job is to provide right information to the customers so that they can make good decisions but rest is up to them.
3. Kunwer Sachdeva on ‘Replacing Lead acid battery with Tesla’s lithium-ion battery ‘
UPS Inverter Info Team: Tesla, an American energy storage company has recently introduced lithium-ion battery pack for storing solar energy and the company claims that it minimizes the usage of fossil fuels in power generation.
For Indian Conditions, is there any chance to replace the lead acid batteries with lithium ion batteries for home UPS systems and off grid solar energy systems?
Kunwer Sachdev: As you know, I am an avid supporter of technology and innovations and it is great that Tesla has launched lithium-ion battery pack for storing solar energy . However, I have a few doubts about the much- touted advantages of Lithiom-Ion batteries over Lead Acid Batteries especially for India.
[pullquote]Lithium-ion technology is quite new – it started about 5 years ago. We are yet to see it stand the test of time and its performance in varied conditions.[/pullquote] If you claim that it will last 10 years longer as compared to LA batteries then I would ask – have you seen it completing 10 years? Your answer would be ‘no’ – hope you see my point. Let us wait for another 10 years to see if its advantages outweigh the cons and limitations associated with it.
Cons or disadvantages of Lithium-ion batteries
UPS Inverter Info Team: What do you mean when you say cons or disadvantages of Lithium-ion batteries?
Kunwer Sachdeva: Lithium-ion batteries can not be recycled efficiently which is very bad for the environment. In fact in many countries of the developed world Government is making strict regulations wherein only one mobile phone battery is allowed per phone. They are finding it difficult to dispose Lithium-Ion batteries.
[pullquote]Till date no cost-efficient method has come up for recycling Lithium-ion batteries. Buying a new one is cheaper than the recycled one. [/pullquote]Most of the worn-out lithium-ion batteries make way into landfills which is terrible for the environment.
Another problem is that lithium-ion batteries are highly sensitive and react with moisture – there is a greater risk of it catching fire or bursting. It makes you wonder what will happen if such accidents take place in future.
Highly developed safety features need to be developed for preventing blasts and ensuring safe usage of these batteries.
Isn’t it ironical if we go solar for saving the environment and end up harming it more by using batteries which can’t be recycled?
On the other hand, LA batteries are fully recyclable. There are many facilities where each and every component of the battery is recycled. There are proper rules and regulations which govern the process and most important thing is that battery manufacturers are well aware of this.
However I would like to make it clear that I am not being a pessimist here by criticizing this new technology – I am a man of reason! It is possible that in near future we come up with recycling methods for Lithium-ion and these batteries indeed prove to be better than traditional batteries. But till that happens I will remain wary of using them.
4. Will Solar Reduce the Usage of Fossil fuels in Electricity Generation?
UPS Inverter Info Team: Do you think, it is possible for fast growing countries like India to minimize the usage of fossil fuels in electricity generation, how good is that for our economy? Do you think solar has that much scope to replace the conventional power generation methods?
Kunwer Sachdev: My dream is to see every Indian houses running on solar.
[pullquote]It is right to say that solar will help reduce India’s dependence on coal for electricity but we can’t totally do away with coal – especially at this point when Indian economy is growing by leaps and bounds.[/pullquote]
Solar can very well supplement and augment our electricity production. As more houses and businesses go solar the reliance on coal will come down automatically but it can’t be done away with.
People have become smarter and realized that the price of electricity which comes from the grid is increasing by 10% every year. Businesses are forced to pay higher prices as commercial rates are levied on them. On the other hand price of solar is coming down so rapidly that in most cases you can recover the cost of solar power system within just two years!
Let me give you an example – usually petrol pumps in India rely on Diesel Gensets for power backup. A 10 KVA genset consumes 1.5 litres of diesel per hour! They are also 5 times more expensive than installing solar on-grid or off-grid systems
Su-Kam has solarized many petrol pumps in India. The pump owners have been able to recover the cost within first year.
You can clearly see how it is helping the environment.
5. Kunwer Sachdev Slams Solar Subsidies in India
UPS Inverters Info Team: With more than 20% market share, Sukam is the leading player in Residential solar market.
[pullquote]A report says, In India, only 12 % of the existing solar installations are subsidized by MNRE.
When it comes to Residential solar installation, the very first question people ask to the solar dealer is ‘How much I can get as a subsidy from government for solar installation’[/pullquote]
Despite of all delays and confusions about subsidy availability, how Sukam manages to achieve this position.
What’s your take on energy subsidy in this segment? Should a normal user look for subsidy when he decides to go solar?
Kunwer Sachdeva: We captured the Indian solar market with biggest share because of our excellent team of engineers, researchers, and service network, and not because of subsidy. Su-Kam is one of the only two companies in India who can satisfy the needs of India’s residential solar market.
We have a varied range of solar products (starting from 80W up to 5MW ) for homes and businesses. We also have an India-wide service network due to which people trust us.
[pullquote]There are many small fly-by-night operators in India’s market but few key players.[/pullquote] When you are spending money in installing solar for your house why would you go for cheap foreign companies? People choose a company which can be relied on for giving after-sales care.
We are 100% Made in India so we truly understand the nature of issues which may come up during or after solar installations.
My answer to your question about subsidies is that subsidies can only be a roadblock in the growth of solar sector in India. Even the Government has realized this as they are now being very strict with what qualifies for subsidies.
Subsidy only creates more paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles for the customer, solar power company and even for the Government agencies involved.
[pullquote]Instead of encouraging subsidies, Government can help lower the cost of solar products such as panels, solar charge controllers, and solar inverter by reducing taxes on these products.[/pullquote] The customers should also think about the savings that they will make with solar installations or even earn money if they go for grid-tie systems (in states where net-metering policy is in place) rather than thinking about subsidy on solar.
The rule is simple: If solar industry in India should grow then subsidies must go!
6. Touch Screen Inverters – Android & Iphone App to monitor Performance?
UPS Inverter Info Team: We heard that Su-kam has a government approved large R&D facility. Could you please share us about the ongoing projects in your R&D and upcoming product launches?
There are rumors out there in the market, that Su-Kam is developing a next generation UPS with Touch screen and modern user interface.
Do you have any plan to develop an android and Iphone app to connect with home UPS?
Like, customizing the charge current settings, power saving mode and monitor the input voltage level and load on inverter?
Kunwer Sachdev:At Su-Kam we believe that research and innovation is our strength. Our focus on coming up with new technologies makes us the market leader in India.
[pullquote]Our R&D (a team of 60 experts, scientists and talented engineers) has created India’s first touch-screen MPPT based Solar Power Conditioning Unit (PCU). It is wifi enabled can be monitored from anywhere in the world.[/pullquote]
Another innovation that we will soon roll out is Electroscopy – India’s first device tells you about the the internal functions of an electrical equipment. It can be used to compare two inverters for their DC/AC waveform, switch-over time, harmonics and efficiency – things which are important but can’t be seen otherwise.
Not only inverters, this device can compare efficiency of any two electric appliances such as blenders, refrigerators etc. Until now anyone could fool you by saying that their product is efficient but now you can ask them for proof by using this.
I invite you to see this product and review it on your blog.
We are also introducing DC Solar Lighting System for offices. This system comes with LED lights and fans which are way more efficient and cheap than their AC counterparts.
This product is quite sough-after in small towns and villages where people are fed up for long power cuts but now it is gaining popularity in offices.
Yes, we have already made an mobile app to monitor power savings and we will release it very soon.
Our focus is to make green energy technovations!
UPSInverterInfo Team: Thank you very much for taking out the time to talk to us.
I will surely take up that offer of checking out electroscopy and reviewing it on my blog.