Solar Semiconductor’s Hari Surapaneni on why solar is good for India!

November 6, 2009

Hari Surapaneni, founder, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, Solar Semiconductor, is among the speakers at the Solarcon India 2009 event in Hyderabad next week. It was a pleasure to chat up with him recently.

Hari Surapaneni, founder, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, Solar Semiconductor.

Hari Surapaneni, founder, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, Solar Semiconductor.

Solar Semiconductor is a well known systems integration company specializing in promoting, designing, building and maintaining solar PV power plants in the US and rest of the world.

Solar/PV market drivers in India
According to Surapaneni the current market drivers for solar photovoltaics in India include:

* Rising energy demand: Electricity consumption in India is projected to rise from 660 kWh per capita currently to over 2000 kWh by 2032 along with economic growth.

* Energy security for sustainable economic growth: To reduce reliance on fossil fuel for sustainable economic growth. This will help reduce risk on depending on a few nations for supply of fossil fuels and reduce the export bill for the country.

* Significant power deficit situation: India is still a power deficit country with average power shortage of ~9 percent and peak power shortage of ~15 percent.

* Government goals to supply electricity to all.

On potential of thermal and CIGS solar
Surapaneni believes there is a case for thermal solar. He said: “Solar thermal technology does have a potential in India. With today’s prices of PV and continued reduction of the same coupled with lower operating expenses of PV, the penetration of solar thermal becomes a challenge in India.”

There has been some talk about CIGS (Copper indium gallium (di) selenide) solar. Does this technology have potential in the Indian context?

Surapaneni added: “CIGS is a very promising technology as it provides higher panel efficiency with low cost. However, it is still not a proven technology at commercial scale and some time off from commercialization.”

And what about BIPV?
On the same note, it’d be interesting to get his thoughts on the potential for BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) in the Indian context.

According to Surapaneni, building integrated PV and roof integrated PV (solar tiles, etc.) are primarily urban applications.

“Rapid development in cities (high rises/apartment complexes/office buildings), coupled with high solar irradiation of 4-7 kwh per day, per square meter and 300 sunny days annually, BIPV has significant theoretical potential.

“These building currently have polluting diesel back-ups. However, to realize this potential, specific government encouragement through incentives and mandates is necessary.”

India advantage
In the global context, consolidation in solar cell manufacturing to control oversupply has been happening.

Surapaneni said that in the current scenario — where the global capacity is approximately 1.5x to 2x times the demand — there is bound to be consolidation among the solar cell manufacturers, including potential mergers and acquisitions.

“This is however is a dynamic phenomenon and as grid parity is achieved in developed markets, and with a turnaround in global economy, demand can potentially outpace the consolidated supply also.

“Regardless of the dynamics of the market place, India offers significant opportunity. India can offer highest quality products at the lowest cost. Solar Semiconductor has already demonstrated this capability/value proposition and has benefited consequently in this demand constrained (over supply) environment.”


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