What is the total installed generation capacity of Mahindra Susten? Kindly tell us about the key utility scale projects and those in the rooftop segment.
In the utility space, we currently have 350-400 MW installed capacity and an order book of additional 300-400 MW. In the distributed solar space, we have installed close to 8 MW. Distributed solar for us means rooftop solar as well as ground mounted systems, but these are primarily for captive consumption. We are also doing smaller projects in the residential space and petrol pumps, which shows that we are open to all the segments.
Are you also engaged in manufacturing of modules and panels?
No, our core competency lies in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). Thus, we are not engaged in manufacturing.
How is the response from the household segment since installing solar panels encompasses a huge investment for that scale of set up?
In terms of the response from the household sector, the major boost has come from states where net metering has taken off. Otherwise, the upfront capital cost remains a concern. In states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, banks and NBFCs have come forward with loans for setting up solar panels, which is a major reason for the boost. Having said this, unlike the industries, the main challenge in household segment is that people do not have upfront paying capacity. This generates the need for a financing model to be in place. We are working on such models to make solar more lucrative.
Why do you think net metering didn’t pick up in many other states including Delhi?
Punjab and Haryana are picking up really fast and Delhi will follow suit. The renewable purchase obligation (RPO) is going to get stricter with initiatives like compulsory installation of solar panels on rooftop of buildings constructed over 500 square yards area. A 5 KW system costs around Rs 4-5 lakh but the reason why it picked up in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is that the policy is in place and there is ease in getting requisite approvals. This has now started happening in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi as well. While the first step of course is the cost, once the paperwork starts, it is very important to know how long the approval process will take. For net metering, before one starts feeding in excess power into the grid, necessary permission is required to be taken. Nearly 10-12 states have now announced their net metering policy. Now, what remains to be seen is how these states make the process of obtaining approvals simpler and quicker.