The Indian government is taking various steps to reduce imports in the solar power space and promote domestic manufacturing of solar cells and modules. This has provided a much-needed boost to domestic manufacturers, many of whom have previously struggled owing to stiff competition from their foreign counterparts. One such Indian manufacturer is RenewSys that is focusing on massively expanding its production base in the country. In this interview, Avinash Hiranandani, Global CEO and Managing Director, RenewSys discusses the key innovations at his company and his future plans for the organisation.
What is the current portfolio of your organisation?
RenewSys is the one of the first movers in India in integrated manufacturing of solar PV modules (1.75 GW) and its key components including encapsulants (3 GW), backsheets (4 GW), and PV cells (130 MW). Headquartered in Mumbai, it is one of India’s leading solar PV manufacturers with three world-class manufacturing facilities at Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Patalganga.
RenewSys is the ‘renewable energy’ arm of the ENPEE Group, an international conglomerate established in 1961 by Mr. N. P. Kirpalani. The group has grown into a $300 million plus transnational conglomerate with an array of market-leading businesses. The ENPEE Group directly employs more than 4,000 individuals and provides indirect employment to several thousand more.
RenewSys has supplied over 20 GW of encapsulants and backsheets and over 1.6 GW of PV modules through our global network. We have offices across India, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, UAE, representatives in the USA, Mexico, Europe, and an evolving distributor network.
RenewSys has invested extensively in setting up dedicated R&D facilities at our manufacturing plants. Our R&D facility at Hyderabad is home to seven environmental chambers that test PV modules for resilience and reliability in extreme climactic conditions. These accelerated tests help us ensure the module’s uninterrupted performance for its 25-year lifetime. The tests conducted include damp heat, thermal cycling, and UV exposure among others. Other tests conducted here include hail impact test, backsheet cut susceptibility test, etc. This facility is also a hub for innovation with several firsts to its credit including India’s first 5BB and 6BB Cells, bifacial glass – backsheet module, and 500 Wp module.
RenewSys Hyderabad is also home to our range of DCR modules, proudly made in India, for India! We also manufacture PV cells here, at a modern, completely automated, clean-room facility.
At Bengaluru, we have set up India’s only NABL-approved lab dedicated and capable of testing encapuslants, backsheets, and their raw material. This independently run facility provides crucial inputs on the performance of these key module components. Additionally, our Bengaluru facility has been at the forefront of research activities to enhance the performance and reliability of these crucial components, and a launch pad for innovations like India’s first UL certified POE, first transparent backsheet (qualified with a super ultra-violet test), and India’s first and only backsheet patent.
Our Patalganga facility is home to a range of high-output modules in 120, 144, and 156 cell formats in glass-backsheet and glass-glass formats for use in rooftop solar plants, utility-scale solar installations, floating solar plants, or building integrated PV systems, etc., and are part of the new wave of high-output PV systems across the country.
What have been the key highlights for your company in the past year?
RenewSys has emerged as the leading supplier of encapsulants and backsheets in India with over 20 GW of the same being supplied worldwide. Our transparent backsheet is gaining market share swiftly due to its qualification with the super ultra violet test. On the other hand, manufacturers of glass-glass PV modules are happy with the performance of our UL-certified POE that combines the best of standard POE and TPO encapsulants to give an unmatched output across parameters.
We also launched an Ultra Fast+ encapsulant this year, called U+ in short. This product is available in both EVA and POE formats and cures 2-3 minutes faster per module lamination cycle. This has proven itself to be the fastest curing encapsulant in the market and has a wide processing window, thus delivering increased productivity of 10-20 per cent at the lamination stage of module manufacturing. This breakthrough formulation is backed by the RenewSys CONSERV range’s legacy, quality, and durability.
On the PV module front, RenewSys stands tall as one of the selected few companies with an ALMM listing for our large format modules – both mono facial and bifacial.
Quickly ramping up our capacities has helped us serve the increased demand after Basis Customs Duty has taken effect.
In your opinion, what are the key challenges plaguing India’s renewable energy sector? What will be your three key policy suggestions to the government to solve these challenges?
We stand with the Indian Government’s Make in India policy and vision for a renewable energy-powered future.
We would like to thank the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for their support and guidance and RenewSys is committed to further increasing our manufacturing capacities manifold for PV modules, encapsulants, and backsheets, in line with the national vision.
In fact, an Indian innovation – RenewSys’ Transparent Backsheet, which is helping PV module manufacturers meet the demand for high output bifacial solar modules, has also picked up very well. One of the key challenges seen in the last six months was low demand for PV modules which led to many manufacturers running their lines at less than 50 per cent capacities. However, demand is picking up now and we are sure that the second half of this Financial year will be better. DCR i.e. solar PV modules with “Made In India” solar PV cells continues to remain a key business area for RenewSys. As we continue to run a state-of-the-art PV cell manufacturing facility at RenewSys Hyderabad. This business, however, was at a standstill owing to covid for the past two years. Hence, we request that the Government to extend this policy for the next two years as well.
What are the short-term and long-term plans of your organisation in this space?
In the short term, we see our encapsulants and backsheets business continue to grow, even as we expand our manufacturing capacity to 11 GW from the current 3 GW. Our range of products has gained a foothold worldwide and we remain India’s largest manufacturer of these components.
On the solar PV modules front, our modules have been performing well in the field, earning us repeat customers and this business will also continue to grow. RenewSys large format modules are also picking up in volumes as the demand for bifacial modules grows steadily.
In the long-term we will continue to evaluate newer cell technologies and the availability of raw materials to support the next cell technology that emerges. We are also evaluating these technologies so we can increase our cell production capacities to match our growing module manufacturing capacities. Our module manufacturing capacity will also be ramped up from the existing 1.5 GW to nearly 3.5 GW.