Eastman Auto & Power plans to make a strong hold on the residential rooftop segment and also foray into commercial rooftop segment
Eastman Auto & Power Ltd. (E.A.P.L), is a leading manufacturer, supplier and exporter of all kinds of energy storage, automotive and solar solutions with manufacturing units in India and China. Read below are the edited excerpts from the interaction with Arvinder Bir Singh- Solar Business Head, Eastman Auto & Power Ltd.
Q. To begin with tell our readers more about Eastman Auto & Power Ltd. (E.A.P.L), its operations and the energy storage and solar solutions that it offers?
Eastman Auto & Power limited is acknowledged globally for its innovative approach, quality and excellent services. Established in 2002, EAPL is the leading manufacturer, supplier and exporter of all kinds of energy storage solutions and solar solutions with manufacturing and research units in India. The range of products offered by Eastman is known for its quality, durability and performance. The company provides batteries for vehicles, Inverters & UPS systems applications as well as E-rickshaw and solar solutions.
EAPL also provides the most comprehensive portfolio of customized packages, solutions and services along the solar PV product line for SOHO, Rooftop, Residential and CSR applications. The company offers support and maintenance services across the world help to ensure efficient solar and energy storage installations.
With the determination to stand tall as a global leader in the power industry, Eastman Auto & Power Limited has been working relentlessly to establish a better brighter India for the future generation. At EAPL Manufacturing happens to be our core thrust area and forms the very structure of our operations. The flawless manufacturing facilities coupled with a highly functioning research and development cell ensures that we stand at the forefront of battery and solar services. Eastman Research and Development Cell is the offspring of this respect for the pursuit of a better life through innovation with the aim to propagate a culture of curiosity and innovation.
Q.As a panel manufacturer what are your views on the proposed safeguard duty on imported solar cells and modules? How do you see the safeguard duty affecting the solar sector in India, more particularly on project developers, manufacturers, innovation, R&D, and Make-in-India?
The Central Board of Excise and Customs has sought to reclassify imported solar panels and modules in a category that attracts 7.5% duty and various kinds of cest with the cost of a solar cell, around 30 cents at present, will go up to around 50 cents for Indian developers if 70% safeguard duty is imposed. The cost of solar power will accordingly go up to around Rs 7 per unit.
The market share of imported solar equipment widened to 90% from 86% in this time, while that of domestic manufacturers shrank to 7% from 13% as India’s solar programme expanded dramatically, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting an ambitious target of 100,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022. India’s solar capacity was about 15,600 MW at the end of October.
We think domestic solar industry is faced with a significant loss of potential employment and innovation opportunities with manufacturing units and R&D. This could also act as a roadblock in the Make in India initiative in the power Industry.
Q.In addition to the proposed safeguard duty what are your suggestions to make India a global manufacturing hub for solar products?
India is blessed with ample amount of sunlight so there is a great scope for the solar industry in India.India is in the process to achieve one of the most ambitious solar targets globally of 100 GW by the year 2022. The recent years have been marked by a number of remarkable initiatives from the government such as “Make in India” and ramping up of the solar target. The solar mission can only be successful if the domestic manufacturing sector is also developed. Currently the solar module manufacturing capacity is around 7.5 GW annually and the solar cell manufacturing capacity is around 1.7 GW.Currently 85-90per cent of the solar module installations are from China. Such high volumes of imports lead to a forex outflow of approximately INR 20,000 Crore or USD 3 Billion. If unchecked, this is expected to increase to USD 20 Billion by the year 2025.
Introducing favorable policies for domestic solar manufacturing, driving innovation through R&D support in the sector, focusing on skill development- are few of the many steps that Indian solar industry drastically needs for growth. Incentivizing manufacturing will also make sure that India continues to remain a leader towards fighting climate change post COP21 agreement in Paris. Undoubtedly, Indian market is showing an incredible growth rate, but we are still in infant stage when compared to countries like China and US that already dominate huge parts of the solar product supply chain. Given the huge potential of India, it is important to compete with these countries to claim a larger share of the industry, cashing in on the growing green energy growth and initiate socio-economic reform in the country.
Q.Shed some light on the range of Solar Inverters you manufacture? The key features and differentiating factor?
We have various types of solar solutions i.e. the MPPT , GRID-TIE inverter and the Solar Pulse Width Modulation Technology.
GRID-TIE inverter is an energy system that allows for uninterrupted power flow to the appliances in an organization or home.The Grid-Tie generates electricity that is converted to usable AC electricity and then powers the connected loads through the main supply inlet. In the case of extreme low sunlight condition, the system then runs the load through the main power supply. Hence, it works as a fail-safe method to ensure proper power throughout the day for any connected place. The main feature of the Grid-tie inverter is that during times when solar energy produced by your inverter is not utilized to run the load, it will not let it go waste instead it feeds the power back to the utility grid thus reducing your electricity bills and often leading to additional electricity units in your account that can be used in the next month.
MPPT generates electricity from a solar PV array and then stores it using specially designed solar batteries after regulating the produced electricity through a charge controller which is inbuilt in the MPPT PCU. With the latest innovations in every part of the product, the Eastman MPPT guarantees the best possible services. The system is optimized to gain the maximum possible power from the solar panel system with the highest tracking efficiency of greater than 98%. This is the best choice for residential homes and commercial establishments.
The Eastman PWM range comes with the highest efficiency in its class and provides the ability to generate your own energy while using a low-maintenance, silent and pollution-free method. While solar energy usage is always the first priority, an option of using it as an investor in the absence of solar panels is available. The advanced DSP technology and intelligent mixing feature, to mix grid current with solar in case of an energy shortage, make it an efficient and reliable way to get uninterrupted power for your needs.
Some key features include Intelligent mixing of grid current with solar in case of solar energy shortfall, advanced DSP based technology, built in energy meter, pure Sine wave output, LCD screen for user convenience, intelligent selection models for high/medium/low power cut areas, temperature compensated charging, highest efficiency in its class, remote monitoring and data logging, Advanced MPPT technology with 98% tracking efficiency.
Q.How do you look at the market and key challenges for Energy Storage in India?
Traditionally, in India, energy storage for commercial purposes has been done using lead acid or similar systems, which though have a mature technology, suffers from poor conversion efficiency, higher maintenance, negative environmental impact and shorter life. Thus, more efficient and smart energy storage system which completely or partially eliminates all the above drawbacks of the legacy system needs to be incorporated for better utilization of resources.
Looking into this Eastman has introduced the Gel technology based batteries that have higher efficiency and low maintenance, we aim to develop more such innovative technologies in future.
Q.Going forward what are the technology trends that are likely to be drivers of growth for Solar Inverters? How is EAPL preparing for the new opportunities?
The confluence of powerful trends underway across the nation’s electrical-energy system is driving the need for a drastically different approach to managing the grid system in the 21st century. The trends are the rapid penetration of intermittent renewable resources include distributed wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage.
EAPL is planning to expand its solar solutions portfolio and offer standalone solar products like solar street light etc. We are preparing for new opportunities by aligning ourselves with govt initiatives like reaching the target of 100GW by solar. EAPL plans to make a strong hold on the residential rooftop segment and also foray into commercial rooftop segment.
Q.Shed some light on EAPL’s manufacturing facility and future expansion plan?
Manufacturing forms the backbone of our operations and happens to be the wing brimming with innovations and new possibilities.Manufacturing coupled with an active R & D cell are our core thrust areas and form the very structure of our operations. The facility at our Nahargarh plant is strategically located near major markets to ensure that the produce is well traded and marketed.The suppliers of the raw materials that are required for manufacturing are carefully selected to make our facility logistically efficient. The Nalargargh plant is the leading manufacturing located in India constructed with equipment that delivers over 1 lakh 30 thousand Tubular LA, tubular Gel & E-Rickshaw batteries every month.In future, we plan to expand are manufacturing facility and increase our production from 1.3 lakh batteries per month to 2.5 lakh batteries per month by the year 2020.
Q.What are the opportunities for growth from the export markets that EAPL is looking at? What are the geographies that are likely to contribute to future growth?
Opportunities of growth will be:
- Energy storage segment
- Solar solutions
- Home UPS& inverter segment
Geographies for future growth:
- North America
- South America
- European continent
- African continent
Q. What role to you envisions EAPL to play in the solar sector in India and how do you see EAPL contributing to the 100GW target set by the GoI?
To be the leading in residential rooftop market segment and moving forward we want to penetrate into the commercial market segment for the manufacturing and supplying of state of the art solar products such as solar PV modules, solar outdoor lighting, solar grid tie PV inverter, solar off grid power conditioning units, power packs and focus our strengths to contribute towards the 100GW target set by the GoI.