Interview with Hartek Group’s Simarpreet Singh: "The biggest challenge confronting the renewable sector is its affordability"

"The biggest challenge confronting the renewable sector is its affordability"

Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Group

With more than more than 300 extra high voltage and high voltage substations executed, the Hartek Group is operational in more than 21 Indian states. The company has been in the power industry for over 30 years and strives to be a key player in the clean energy space. In this interview with Renewable Watch, Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Group talks about the recent highlights for his company and outlook for the country’s renewable energy space.

What is the current portfolio of your organisation?

Hartek Group is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company with a turnover of more than Rs 3 billion. The company is known for its expertise in five different strategic units of the power sector. It includes power systems, transmission and distribution (T&D), power distribution products, rooftop solar solutions, fuel services and value added services. So far, the company has completed more than 300 extra high voltage and high voltage substations that are connected to the grid with more than 4 GW of solar, as well as rooftop solar with capacities of more than 75 MW.

What have been the key highlights for your company in the past one year?

In December 2022, our company executed a 525 KW solar power plant at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This project helped our company to gain massive global recognition. Also, recently we began construction on a 2 MW floating solar power plant in Chandigarh. Besides, we have bagged a 400 kV order from Power Grid Corporation of India, and started an association with German conglomerates.

For the third time in a row, our company has been designated as a great place to work. This year was very significant for us as we celebrated 30 years of service in the power sector. Also, our company was named as one of the top ten most promising EPC contract service providers.

In your opinion, what are the key challenges plaguing India’s renewable energy sector?

India is one of the leading nations in clean energy and has the fourth largest installed renewable energy capacity in the world. However, there are numerous challenges for it to tackle. Due to its growing population and economic growth, India’s energy demand is expected to outpace that of any other country in the coming decades.

Therefore, the biggest challenge confronting the renewable sector is its affordability. Even though the energy itself is available at cheaper rates, the installation is costly and requires lots of space. While a coal-based power plant requires around Rs 40 million per MW, a wind based plant requires an investment of Rs 180 million per MW and for a solar based power plant, it works out to Rs 98 million at a 80 percent capacity utilisation. Trained manpower is another aspect that needs to be managed to overcome challenges in the renewable space.

What will be your three key policy suggestions to the government to solve these challenges?

Recently, our country has demonstrated tremendous political commitment on the policy front, and these must be pursued proactively. One area where initiatives have already been launched is the harvesting of renewable energy on terrains that are neither habitable nor cultivable. Fortunately, we have an abundance of sunlight and hydropower, particularly in mountain terrains which can be used to generate clean energy.

Another area that can be accelerated is the development of adequate infrastructure for electric vehicle adoption. Aside from that, the country should push for cheaper photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing. This can be accomplished by introducing educational programmes on renewable energy in colleges and universities. It is also critical to establish adequate infrastructure for research and development.