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Dr. Giorgio Cellere, Head of Product Management, Baccini Cell Systems

07 Oct 2016

In an attempt to keep Infraline Energys’ readers abreast with the key issues and challenges engulfing the sector, Infraline Energy tries to bring forth the opinion of key personnel whose decisions and opinion play a vital role in shaping the sector. Please find below excerpts from the interview that Infraline Energy conducted :

The situation on ground continues to be challenging. The lack of demand from the industries and losses of electricity boards and distribution companies are affecting the overall performance of the power sector. The NPAs of the listed banks in the country at over 4 trillion has led to significant reduction in sectoral lending to power and infrastructure sector. Despite current weaknesses, the long term potential of the Indian power sector still remains intact. The government has taken some strong long term measures to inspire confidence in the sector. Initiatives like UDAY, Power for All, Integrated Power Distribution Scheme etc. if implemented well, will definitely reap results. These are long term reforms and it will be sometime before the situation improves.

The ‘Make in India’ programme will be completing two years this month. What is your assessment of this initiative? How can it help solar industry to grow into a global manufacturing hub?

The ‘Make in India’ initiative has renewed impetus in the solar sector and this has been received positively by industry stakeholders and renewable energy advocates. The solar downstream market is expected to see strong growth, which will enable opportunities in PV manufacturing as well as in operating large plants, in rooftop systems and in off the grid generation. We believe this is going to create a lot of jobs and can foster innovation and added value creation. The 100GW by 2022 target is challenging – but definitely achievable if we look at the sharp increase between 2015 and 2016. Another important aspect is linked to the economies of scale; it is impossible to manufacture PV systems in a cost efficient way without proper scale. We are definitely seeing a focus on large-scale manufacturing by talking with all our customers in India.

Do you feel the falling solar tariffs in India are sustainable given the financial challenges? There has been a global glut in PV module manufacturing, especially in China. What kind of impact on price corrections has it had in the market?

The Indian solar energy sector is in the middle of unprecedented growth, fed by rapidly declining tariffs, improved technology and a global oversupply of photovoltaic panels and other material, mainly in China. Although a smaller market than the United States, China or Japan, India is expanding the fastest among major nations. One clear effect in the last few months has been a sharp decline of prices for wafers, cells and modules. While this leads to some concerns for the manufacturers, it also helps the final market to grow faster.

While solar sector in India has grown rapidly in recent times, growth in rooftop solar has been slow. What, according to you, are the reasons for the same? What can be done to improve growth in rooftop segment?

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is keen to set up solar park projects with a cumulative capacity of 20,000 MW, in addition to the already launched program of 20,000 MW in 2014. There has been slow progress of rooftop solar projects as it is mainly being implemented by institutions like government offices, schools and colleges. To kick start the mainstream adoption of rooftop solar in residential homes, there is a need to create massive awareness and pull in the home user segment. This has to be backed with appropriate programs to have a skilled deployment force and management of user experience. Conceive schemes like the Charanka Solar Park in Gujarat envisages supporting the states in setting up solar parks at various locations in the country, with a view to create the required infrastructure for the solar power projects.

What are some best practices from high-tech ecosystems that India can emulate?

Most people in the industry are fond of saying that the solar economy is all about cost per watt. This means that on one side prices are sharply declining year over year, and on the other side efficiencies are going up, with power delivered by modules steadily increasing by 5-10W per year. We call this effect the “efficiency clock”. While these two directions hold true, we think there is a third one emerging, which we could summarize as “getting the lowest Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE)”. Getting there means aspects such as energy harvesting capability; power stability and reliability must be taken into account.

Please share your company’s presence in the renewable energy space, along with growth plans.

Applied Materials is a leading supplier of tools for incoming wafer inspection and for metallization of advanced c-Si cells. We serve all major solar cell and module manufacturers worldwide, and support all technologies from standard, cost-effective p-multi to the most advanced IBC projects.

What is the relevance of Applied Materials Baccini for the solar industry? What is its applicability in India?

We are supplying metallization and test and sort technologies to virtually all major solar cell and module manufacturers worldwide. Due to the use of precious materials and single-wafer handling, metallization is the most expensive and perhaps the most critical step to achieve the high conversion efficiencies required by today’s market. That’s why we invented technologies such as Fine Line Double Print™, which is becoming the standard for advanced cells metallization. Also, every technology improvement has implications on metallization, so there is a high degree of customization needed in order to satisfy different customer requirements. That’s what led us to be the supplier of choice for the most advanced projects – for standard p-multi to PERC, PERT/PERL, heterojunction and IBC.

What technologies can India use to expand its solar power programme?

Solar is one of the best options to address India’s growing energy needs. Other regions of the world have developed superior technologies and worked on a host of innovations in solar manufacturing. India can start from where others have already arrived, and leverage this to grow faster.

What are the challenges facing renewable energy sector today?

India has one of the most diversified power sectors in the world with sources of power generation varying from conventional sources to viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar and agricultural and domestic waste. Electricity demand in the country has increased rapidly and is expected to rise further in the years to come. In order to meet the increasing demand for electricity in the country, a massive addition to the installed generating capacity is required. The ambitious green corridor project, an alternative transmission network for renewable energy, has been revised and re-revised since 2013. Lack of transmission could leave renewable projects at the same crossroads where conventional projects are - no takers and a congested grid.

Infraline Energy would like to thank the contributor for his/her valuable time and opinion shared on the topic.