SenseHawk was founded in 2018 by Swarup Mavanoor and Rahul Sankhe, former employees of Sun Edison, who saw the potential of digitalisation in the solar industry. The founders believed that digitalisation was vastly lacking in the solar and overall renewable energy space, and they sought to bridge this gap through SenseHawk.
While there is a service element to SenseHawk’s operations, its key goal is to build software that helps improve productivity through the digitalisation of renew-able energy plant processes to eventually improve asset performance and asset lifetime. Moreover, the software platform supports the entire life cycle of a renewable energy asset across development, construction and operation.
Developers can use SenseHawk’s solutions for a range of purposes, starting from pre-construction application of terrain analytics to monitoring during construction, and monitoring solar plant health through thermography during operations. The software platform has multiple interlinked applications including drone data analytics, task management, document management, digital forms and mobile apps to support ease of data collection on site. The USP of the SenseHawk platform is the GIS backbone, which enables all applications to operate on the layout of the solar plant overlaid on a GIS layer. These solutions are currently used for solar power as well as interconnection and transmission lines.
The company’s head office is in California, with a development centre in Bengaluru and an office in Abu Dhabi. India is an important market for the company as it has large IPPs as its customers, particularly in the solar domain. In India, the SenseHawk platform has primarily been used for large utility-scale projects. In the US, Japan, Europe, etc., the software is also used for rooftop solar and commercial and industrial projects. The Indian projects for which the SenseHawk platform has been used range from 10 MW to 700+ MW.
So far, SenseHawk has secured two rounds of funding. The first round was in September 2018 when the company raised $2 million from SAIF Partners (now called Elevation Capital) to expand its business and accelerate product development. Two years on, SenseHawk secured another round of funding, raising $5.1 million in fresh capital in its extended Series A funding round. The second round was led by Alpha Wave Incubation, while SAIF Partners participated in the follow-on investments.
Challenges and opportunities
Setting up and operating a solar plant poses several challenges for asset developers, installers and owners. For one, there is a considerable quantum of data that is generated through quality, maintenance and safety processes across the plant life cycle, much of which is still stored manually in files and excel sheets. There is thus an opportunity to enable the creation of a single source of high quality asset data, which can improve productivity while enhancing asset performance. The software enables a technician to quickly locate an issue in a large project with geotagged alarms and issues, and use a task management workflow tool to resolve the issue. The technician can also visualise the entire plant layout on a Google Maps-like interface, and access drawings and critical documents easily from the app with a few clicks. This eliminates the need to use paper and pen on the site. Further, it enables more efficient communication with team members.
With the growing size of solar installations, SenseHawk’s platform enables digitalisation of processes that are currently still largely manual in nature. With easy ability to integrate with other software applications, the SenseHawk platform ensures the creation of a single source of truth for all asset data. In other words, for any player to be able to sustain the low tariffs that have been discovered through auctions, there is a need to adopt automation to derive productivity benefits and maximise returns from the assets.
Hence, a level of automation and digital workflows is created through a combination of applications enabling ease of management of a solar site through a single mobile app. SenseHawk’s app is currently at the beta testing stage and has already been adopted by several customers in the US and Europe. Having a single app allows the developer to manage all site-related activities and processes and get access and visibility to everything taking place on the project site. This is one of the key value propositions of the company.
SenseHawk intends to both deepen and broaden its footprint across markets and customer bases. From an Indian perspective, the aim is to drive adoption of the new software applications that will be released in the coming months. India is still a relatively new market for digital solutions, which may be a challenge initially. However, with manpower-related problems being witnessed in various solar power projects and the increasing volumes of data, adoption of such app-based software is expected to accelerate in the years ahead.