Solar Universe India is an innovative solar engineering company that designs, prototypes, manufactures and commissions the best that sun’s energy has to offer. Here’s an interview with the company’s Director Shubhaang Gupta and Sales Head Sanjeev Lamba.
Mr. Shubhaang, could you take us through the journey of Solar Universe India?
Shubhaang: Success Impex Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 1995 whereas Solar Universe India was added as a brand to the group in 2003 to be recognised as a one stop shop for all solar PV requirements in India.
We were the first company in India back then to set up a retail showroom for solar products in one of the most prime locations in Central Delhi due to its close proximity to the railway station thus ensuring maximum footfall of people hailing from Rural India. The need of the hour at that time was to first educate the Indian masses about the benefits and potential of solar energy before one could think about profit making.
Our first rooftop solar system was commissioned in 2012 in Janak Puri, New Delhi at a time when net metering and grid tie solar systems were unheard of. Our first solar pump installation was also our largest installation so far at 30HP in the dry mountains of Hadramout in Yemen.
Today, we have managed to be present in 24 states in India and 23 countries across the globe reaching out to almost 200,000 people directly or indirectly with our solar products and services.
Clocking a Y-o-Y growth of more than 20 per cent in the last 4 years, we are now one of the most reputed solar companies in India.
This year we received an MNRE grading of SP1B, a feat that we share with only 8 other companies in India out of 551 MNRE approved vendors which symbolises highest solar performance and moderate financial strength.
Where do you position yourself in the Indian market?
Shubhaang: It is a proud feeling to be a part of the elite group of less than 2 per cent of the MNRE approved companies in India who have achieved so much in such a volatile and not so niche market. Solar module prices have dropped by 80 per cent since we commenced operations.
We were and still consider ourselves to be the only solar company in India to have the widest range of solar products and solutions to offer under one roof that too with a retail showroom space.
We introduced solar solutions on online platform back in 2012 and still own a 60 per cent market share in online sales of all kind of consumer solar products.
In 2016, we helped a bunch of engineering students from Jodhpur, Rajasthan to develop a solar powered car with a BLDC motor of 1,500 W driven by lithium ion batteries and flexible solar panels.
As of today, we have been mandated by the State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) in 5 states – New Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, J&K and Maharashtra to offer subsidy for rooftop solar installations to the tune of 15MW in the residential, institutional and social segment up till June 2018.
Another notable achievement would be the innovations we have undertaken in the rooftop solar domain with auto tracking structures and auto washing systems for solar panels thus increasing the overall energy generation from a solar plant by up to 25 per cent.
Even without the above innovations, through the technological advancements that we have managed to achieve – we guarantee 15 per cent more energy from any standard solar rooftop installation.
Mr Lamba, could you brief us about your offerings?
Lamba: Solar Universe India is one of the world’s most innovative solar engineering companies that designs, prototypes, manufactures and commissions the best that sun’s energy has to offer. Our prime business in the field of installation of on-grid and off-grid solar plants across India is supported by our strong dealer network across the Indian subcontinent and various international locations. We also provide a wide-range of other solar powered products such as solar garden lights, solar lanterns, solar all-in-one street lights, solar submersible water pumps, solar water heaters etc.
What makes your company unique?
Lamba: Tapping into the renewable energy sector in India while introducing solar energy as an alternative resource has not been an easy task! Our uniqueness lies in the fact that we work closely with startups, incubators and accelerators in the form of customers as well as our partners that have a green bug and ample enthusiasm, in them to develop new, advanced and sustainable solar applications.
Our company gives paramount importance to quality over quantity. The scale of purchase or the background of our customer, no matter how big or small, never changes our vision for delivering the best in quality and performance. We would like to further strengthen Channel Partners line and Dealer Network to expand our reach.
As the solar tariff is becoming increasingly competitive, is it somehow impacting your business?
Lamba: Ours is an offbeat business offering, yet an upcoming one! Considering the growing sustainability of the solar powered equipment and their increased acceptability amongst the masses, the government has indeed promoted this endeavour. Although the solar tariff has been on the decline currently, it is not impacting our business adversely as the government is promoting green energy by giving various kinds of benefits to different consumers such as education, residential, hospitals and charitable institutions. With declining tariffs, the attractiveness towards going solar is increasing which is positive for our business.
Our company’s empanelment with various central and state governments helps us offer upfront subsidy on rooftop installations currently in the states of New Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, J&K and Maharashtra. We will soon be adding Rajasthan, Goa, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Assam to this list of states.
We have also successfully bagged the contracts for “SolaRising” various government offices in Assam, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Through our R&D and innovation efforts, we deliver upto 15 per cent more solar power from our rooftop installations than the standard norms set by MNRE. We try to maximise the ROI for our customers by delivering more energy from their solar assets.
We are trying to contribute to a cause and our efforts are towards reaching out to the masses to make them aware and comfortable with the use of solar energy, the greenest and the most silent source of energy.
Mr. Shubhaang, what does the future hold for your company?
Shubhaang: Our goal is to be able to own a market share of 4 per cent of the 100 GW solar target set by the Government of India and we believe the sun is looking up to us. We would also like to be the “To Go” company for all new patrons wanting to go solar.
A solar garden light that we sold in 2005, prompted one of our customers in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh to contact us in 2016 when they decided to solarise their residence cum farm and go completely off grid. We hope to replicate this for all our customers who purchased our solar products in our early years.
We would also like to enter the “Lease a Solar Roof” segment and offer solar energy at pre-determined prices for up to 25 years to roof owners.
Taking cue from the initiatives being undertaken by Elon Musk for the EV segment, we would also like to set up EV charging stations powered by solar energy for which a big push from the Indian government is quintessential.
Our current tie-ups with our investors and suppliers do put us in a position to reach the Rs 1 billion mark by 2019.
Shubhaang Gupta, Director, Solar Universe India
Sales Head ,
Solar Universe India