The country’s ambitious renewable energy targets have opened up new avenues, driving many companies to foray into the sector. A case in point is Indian consumer electronics major Micromax Energy Limited, which has entered the country’s solar energy space under the brand name Microlyte. The company provides solutions for energy generation, savings and storage.
Micromax Energy Limited produces multi-crystalline solar modules ranging from 3 W to 315 W. These modules adhere to global specifications and can be used in a wide range of residential, commercial and industrial solar power plants. In addition, the company provides energy storage solutions such as solar home uninterrupted power supply systems and inverter batteries. It also manufactures lithium-ion batteries.
The recently launched Hybrid Plus solar energy solution is suited to Indian conditions and works both in the presence and absence of a grid connection. It is a completely grid-independent solar energy solution that provides free power backup. It is designed for homes, offices and commercial set-ups, giving a power output of 5-250 kW. The solar energy solution is aimed at addressing the issues of poor power quality and frequent outages.
The company has launched another product called “Smart ESS”, which aims to leverage the cheaper energy supplied at night (typically from 10 pm to 5 am) to reduce the total cost of energy to the consumer. The Smart ESS solution also removes the need for provisions for peak-load demand conditions as the peak surges can be supplied internally leading to reduced cost for the consumer. The energy storage solution can be connected to solar-based power generation as well. The solution is primarily targeted at small commercial establishments, banks, cold storages and small industries with energy billings of Rs 0.2 million-Rs 0.3 million per month. Mukesh Gupta, co-founder and managing director, Micromax Energy Limited, believes that cost savings will be around 32-33 per cent of the total amount spent on conventional energy without the provision of solar panels, and even more with the inclusion of solar panels in the set-up.
Currently, Micromax Energy Limited has three factories, located in Rudrapur, Hyderabad and Bhiwadi. At its Rudrapur facility, the company undertakes the production of inverters at a capacity of 10,000 units per month. The lead acid batteries for its older products are also indigenously produced. However, the company outsources the production of solar panels for its energy solutions, and has no plans of manufacturing these in the near term.
Micromax is also the first Indian company that produces lithium-ion batteries. This has put Micromax in a unique position to lead and drive the uptake of the technology in India, which has hitherto been restricted due to a price ratio of 4:1, when compared to lead-acid batteries. The company remains optimistic on improving this ratio and is positive that it can deliver lithium-ion batteries at 2.5 times the cost of its lead-acid counterparts, which can be further reduced to 1.5 times within a year of launch.
While the company does not have a dedicated operations and maintenance team, it intends to use its existing nationwide network of distributors and dealers. To this end, its personnel are being trained to provide maintenance as and when required and become competent to install small-scale solutions.
While Gupta is positive about the sector, he is also slightly cautious and believes that the government should contribute a lot more. He says, “The government is not developing backward integration systems and is not promoting industries that can contribute to the advancement of the sector. It should establish communication with companies to facilitate the same rather than talking on the surface without palpable development plans to back it up.”
The way forward
Going forward, Micromax will be head-to-head with both the incumbents as well as newer players, given the low entry barriers in the segment. While the company has struck the right chord by providing a one-stop energy solution, the lack of a dedicated in-house maintenance team weakens the proposition to some extent. This may not be a deal-breaker if the company can assure and demonstrate quality and speedy maintenance in its early projects. Micromax is currently well positioned to fill the technology gaps in the market and find a niche for itself.