“We become a friend by offering a One-stop Solution…”

Over the last five decades, Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. (PLSIND), formerly know as Anchor Electricals, has been manufacturing electrical products of outstanding quality.Today, it has a big contribution in the solar power segment too. In an exclusive e-interview with the editorial team of Electrical India, Amit Barve, Business Unit- Head of Solar at PLSIND, focuses on their activities related to the solar industry. Excerpts…

What’s your take on the vast opportunities in the field of solar energy in India?

The GDP growth of a country has a direct correlation with electricity consumption. As we start coming out of the pandemic situation, we would see consumption of electricity jumping back to original levels and would keep increasing in years to come. With no major addition happening in generation capacity of conventional (non-renewable sources) power onus would be more on renewable sources to maximise capacity addition. Last year, Solar power was the biggest contributor to capacity addition of power generation.Being omnipresent source of energy, easier and faster to install solar energy would contribute maximum to generation mix in the future as well. By now the total installed capacity of solar energy has reached 40 GW and we are marching ahead towards an ambitious target of 100 GW in coming years.

What’s your action in this regard?

As India sprints towards achieving its target of installing renewable energy, PLSIND is working continuously to help build a better future with clean energy solutions for our partners. Solar business has been an integral part of PLSIND since the year 2015. We initially started our Solar business in India for the distribution of imported solar modules (HIT). Over a period, we started building our capability related to system business to deliver full turnkey solutions for setting up solar power projects. Till date, we have worked with multiple high-profile customers in India – and have already completed the installation of over 65 MWp.

On the product side over and above HIT modules, we also introduced Poly as well as MONO solar modules to the Indian market followed up recently by even launching the “Make in India” offering and in DCR variant too. Going forward, we are expanding our distribution network across the country and in process of adding multiple solar-based products to augment strength to our channels. With the successful launch of ‘Made in India’ solar modules contributing to the ‘Atmanirbhar’ initiative of the Government of India, we added another feather to our cap by starting exports of these solar modules to European countries – and soon would add ASEAN countries to our list of exports.

PLSIND strongly believes in sustainability as one of its core philosophies.We have been installing quality rooftop solar plants at our various manufacturing units in India over and above our business in Solar Energy space.

Are you offering a complete EPC solution for the solar industry?

At PLSIND, we constantly thrive towards helping our partners adopt solar energy smoothly. Onset even though our business is of producing high-quality solar components and providing world-class EPC services, we usually aim to deliver beyond the same.  We start involvement with our partners right from the very initial days and help them in making initial feasibility study, site surveys followed by suggesting business models to adopt. Further, we continue handholding of our customers by doing engineering, procurement, and installation services and even operation and maintenance, if required.

In short, we become a friend by offering ‘One-stop Solution’for our partners in their journey of adopting solar energy solutions.

How do you distinguish yourself from others as far as your offered solar solutions are concerned?

We are the only international solar component manufacturing company involved in the EPC business having its firm base in India. We bring in unique advantages to our customers, which are also big differentiators from others in bundling of high-quality products with best-in-class EPC services. We become one point of contact for the customer and take total ownership for the performance of solar solutions/systems built by us.

We are a 100 years old company with more than 50 years of presence in India and more than 40 years of legacy in the solar business and more than 65 MWp installed in India. This unique blend of Japanese quality but well adapted for Indian conditions makes our pratners comfortable in working with us. Moreover, our strong financials with centenary credentials instills further confidence in our partners in the sustainability of our organisation to help them in many years to come.

What kind of investment are you planning to make in the solar business?

In the solar business, we would continue to expand our business in two broad areas: Firstly, expand our footprint in offering solutions to C&I customers for behind-the-meter projects and add the possibility of offering locally made high-class solar modules over and above our imported offerings.

Secondly, we would continue building on product business by expanding the range of solar modules from Poly to Mono PERC and high wattage options thru half-cut Mono Cells. We are also expanding our product line beyond modules to other solar products like String Inverters, Street lights, and DIY Residential kits. All these products would be launched with Panasonic assured quality as well as services.

What kind of partnership are you planning to forge with the OEMs?

We believe there is enough market potential in India for all stakeholders to coexist and sustain. Keeping this as a philosophy, we have already tied up with local solar module manufacturing companies post detailed evaluation of their production capabilities, followed by manufacturing processes, and quality systems. This is a big win-win situation for both of us as we get access to local manufacturing capacity for the supply of solar modules “Made in India”. While our OEM gets a big opportunity to implement Japanese quality systems and get access to a huge knowledge base that we have acquired, legacy of last 44 years in the solar sector.

We would continue to nurture this partnership in the coming years to deliver the best of class quality at an optimal price to our Indian customers.

How will you provide flexible maintenance services and the price structures for the customers?

PLSIND has been a preferred Operation & Maintenance service provider for all the EPC projects that we have executed in India. We have always given the flexibility to our customers on the type of services required and extent of services required like keeping our dedicated manpower on-site – even if a project is of small size just to ensure that actual operation of the project is done by our resource on regular basis to a scaled-down version of services, which is like providing only quarterly visits for evaluating the health of the system. The choice of level of services required have been worked out in close coordination with customer requirement, their own capabilities and desired outcome of the investment made by them. This flexible offering is always welcomed by our partners in their journey of solarisation.

How are you exactly contributing to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission?

At PLSIND, staying committed to self-reliance in the energy sector, we started evaluating a strategy towards “Made in India” solar products in the last financial year. We completed our process of evaluating potential as well as fine-tuning our strategy related to the launch. Due to an ongoing pandemic situation, our product launches got delayed, however, we started delivering our local-made Solar Modules from May’20 onwards to our partners in India. With the launch of locally made solar modules, the response from our channels was overwhelming – and we were able to multiply our volumes four times this year. We see very strong traction for these modules with our ever-growing pipeline and demand. Currently, we are offering Poly with DCR and non-DCR variant along with MONO PERC full cell modules to our Indian customers. Soon we would be introducing higher wattage MONO PERC modules using half cut cells.

Are you planning to export your solar energy harnessing components?

PLSIND’s plan for global exports largely revolves around the OEM strategy and on leveraging our relationship with partners for delivering high-quality and reliable products to different markets. With this flexible approach, we would continue to serve our customers globally with local support. We have started with selected countries for exports of our ‘Made in India’ products, however, over the coming days we would keep expanding our footprint globally.

What is your message to the Indian potential customers of solar plants?

The first message that we would like to give to our potential partners or prospects would be that they should adopt solar energy at the earliest as an alternative source of energy. Currently, cost of power generation by solar is the cheapest – also government policies are conducive for investment in solar energy, so rather than waiting for any further cost reduction, they should adopt solarisation on top priority. The expected life of solar power plants is for 25 years and the most critical component of this plant is solar modules, onset while making investment decisions do not make any compromise on makes of solar modules. Invest with reliable brands who can sustain life of solar modules – and would be in a position to support in case of need.

Currently, as the industry is booming, we see flooding of new service providers joining the bandwagon. But even though the industry is growing, it’s very cost-competitive, and we’re working on wafer  thin margings. So, it’s not easier for new entrants or non serious players to remain viable in this fast  paced highly volatile sector. Hence, it would be wiser to believe and put trust with companies who have a strong background, knowledge, experience, and most importantly strong balance sheets to support this business in future.

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