Fourth Partner Energy is one of the emerging rooftop-focussed players in India. Incorporated in 2010 in Hyderabad, the company has delivered around 16 MW of solar rooftop installations so far across 700 locations in the country, with another 20 MW of solar projects in the pipeline.
The company has undertaken various types of rooftop projects with different sets of challenges and experiences. A look at some of the key projects developed by Fourth Partner…
- The company set up a 90 kWp rooftop system on the SCOPE Complex building in New Delhi. The project execution was fairly challenging as the building did not have a defined roof. A 3 metre roof was therefore created out of purlins and rafters and the solar panels were mounted on them. To facilitate operations and maintenance (O&M), a walkway was constructed for cleaning purposes. The project was commissioned in March 2016.
- Fourth Partner also built a 150 kWp rooftop project for Honeywell International on its office building in Gurgaon. The project, which was commissioned in October 2015 for captive use, was installed on a plain cement concrete roof, which has less load-bearing capacity than a normal reinforced cement concrete roof. Installing the popularly used heavy steel-based mounting structures was thus challenging. To overcome this, Fourth Partner designed a special aluminium structure, keeping in mind the load-bearing capacity of the roof, to install the solar panels. Special care was taken to design it aerodynamically so as to resist heavy wind speeds of 180-200 km per hour in the area. To further enhance the plant performance, the modules were mounted at an angle of 5 degrees, which helped in increasing power generation.
- The company set up a 226.3 kWp solar plant on the Nestle Research and Development Centre building in Haryana in November 2016. The building has a Kalzip roof, which makes the installation of solar panels a challenge. To build a structure that is non-penetrative, special Kalzip clamps were used on Kalzip sheds and the solar panels were mounted on those clamps.
Addressing users’ financing concerns
Project finance has been an area of concern in the solar industry. Fourth Partner is a strong contender in this realm, with competitive prices and a dual business model. The company offers both opex and capex models of project development to its clients. Under the capex model, it takes on the initial cost of installation, while in the opex model, it takes care of the operational costs and is not engaged in the initial capital deployment. In fact, Fourth Partner was amongst the first set of companies to have offered the opex model of project development for rooftop projects in India. It set up its first opex model-based project in 2012 by signing a 15-year power purchase agreement with EY.
Focus on project maintenance
Installing a solar rooftop project has become relatively easy, except in cases where customisation is required. Typically, a 100 kWp solar power plant can be completed in six to eight weeks from the receipt of the confirmed order and site clearance. However, what matters for ensuring optimal plant performance is the O&M. This is amongst the key services offered by Fourth Partner. The company also engages in remote monitoring of plants.
In sum, the project development experience of Fourth Partner Energy highlights that financing and after-sales services are two key concerns of customers for adopting solar power systems. Addressing these concerns would help industry players tap the growing opportunities in the solar rooftop space.
Based on a presentation by Rupam Gautam, Manager, Business Development, Fourth Partner Energy