With a portfolio of over 300 MW of contracted and commissioned capacity, Amplus Solar is one of the largest rooftop solar players in the Indian renewable energy space. In fact, it was an early mover in the adoption of the renewable energy service company (RESCO) model.
Incorporated in 2013, Amplus specialises in developing photovoltaic (PV) plants on building rooftops, car parks and open spaces in small premises on a build-own–operate-transfer (BOOT) basis. The company provides end-to-end solutions that include design, engineering, construction, monitoring and maintenance of the PV systems.
Amplus set up its first solar rooftop project on the rooftop of an educational institute in Maharashtra. In tune with the evolving market structure, Amplus Solar participated in Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) auctions in 2016 and won the rights to develop 13.5 MW of rooftop solar capacity. In February 2018, on the sidelines of the Uttar Pradesh Investors’ Summit, the company signed a pact with the state government to set up solar power of 500 MW capacity in the state, requiring an investment worth Rs 22,000 million over the next five years. Meanwhile, it has also signed memorandums of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments to develop 200 MW and 300 MW of solar capacity respectively in the two states.
In 2015, Amplus received an equity investment of $150 million from I Squared Capital that enabled it to implement projects at a faster rate. In addition, the company has set up many of its projects through the debt financing model. Amplus also received a World Bank concessional line of credit through the State Bank of India (SBI) under the “Program for Results Grid-connected rooftop solar”. Reportedly, the World Bank-SBI financing has enabled the company to borrow at an interest of 8.25 per cent, down from the earlier 12 per cent. Recently, it has tied up with Yes Bank for co-financing solar energy projects in the country and announced plans to develop up to 1,000 MW of solar capacity by 2023.
Rooftop solar and SPAAS model
“Amplus provides solar electricity at one of the lowest tariffs by ensuring minimum downtime and maximum generation from its PV plants,” says Ritu Lal, vice-president, business development. The company undertakes activities such as capacity analysis, commercial proposals and site-specific customisation to set up rooftop solar projects. Its client base includes Honda, General Electric, Yamaha, Whirlpool, Walmart, HAL, TVS and ABB, among others. Besides the rooftop projects, Amplus has commissioned a 3.9 MW tracker-based ground-mounted solar PV plant for HAL’s Bengaluru airport.
Amplus follows a “Solar Power as a Service Approach (SPAAS)” business model. The SPAAS model has been designed to protect the company’s clients from techno-financial and commercial risks associated with solar power by offering tariffs at levels much lower than those of the utilities. The developer and the consumer enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) at a predetermined non-negotiable rate, which insulates them from any cost increase in future.
Since the company is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the PV system, the consumer is free of operational risks associated with the solar power plant. Moreover, at the end of the PPA term, the solar plant is transferred to the consumer. This unique approach makes rooftop solar power quite viable for companies and enterprises and has been vital to Amplus’s success.
Amplus plans to branch out into the open access market. It has developed a 42 MW solar power park, in Chitradurga, Karnataka, which will provide power to ABB, Reckitt Benckiser, L&T, IFB and Honda, in the OPEX mode. “The company is also diversifying into setting up ‘solar plus storage’ projects” says Lal. “The cost of rooftop solar, combined with battery-based energy storage system, is rapidly declining and such projects are becoming increasingly financially viable in many locations”, she adds. Amplus has already developed a few of such projects and plans to expand and emerge as a leader in this market.
According to Lal, the company will continue to work with the opex business model and does not plan to enter the engineering, procurement and construction segment in the near future. With an innovative business model and a good performance record, combined with strong financial backing, the company is expected to expand its portfolio considerably over the next few years.