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Big-ticket infra projects must embrace renewable energy, says Varun Gupta, Chief Investment Officer and Head of Corporate Development, SAEL

Big-ticket infra projects must embrace renewable energy, says Varun Gupta, Chief Investment Officer and Head of Corporate Development, SAEL

We aim to keep growing at a steady pace by becoming self-sufficient and achieving economies of scale, says Varun Gupta, Chief Investment Officer and Head of Corporate Development, SAEL

Your views on the ability of renewable power sources in transitioning India from a power-pinched nation to a self-reliant sustainable economy
India's journey towards self-reliance involves not only achieving power sufficiency but also addressing the electricity deficit in many villages. Introducing Solar Rooftop Projects aligns with the government's initiative to install 1 crore solar rooftop projects for households. SAEL, with a committed RE capacity of 3.2 GW, plans to grow at a rate of 2-2.5 GW per year. We also have an operational Module Assembly Line of 300 MW, commissioning another of 2GW in the next few months. To become a self-reliant sustainable economy, it's crucial to promote RE projects for baseload power as well, our WTE projects are a perfect fitment for achieving it, with PLFs higher than 85%, and multi benefits to the rural economy.

Where do you see your organisation placed in the India's renewable energy sector?
SAEL's trajectory has been manifold, and we plan to invest INR 15,000 crores in the renewable energy sector by FY25, establishing an annual capacity of 2-2.5 GW towards a 10 GW goal in the next 4 years. Fully aligned with the country’s goal of achieving 500 GW of RE by 2030, we aim to keep growing at a steady pace by becoming self-sufficient and achieving economies of scale.

Give us a brief understanding of the technologies driving the sector today?
In our committed solar power projects, we'll use Top-Con Bi Facial Modules and Trackers to significantly increase generation. The technology in our Waste-to-Energy projects, sourced from BWE Denmark, enhances generation capacity manifold compared to Indian boilers. We believe in thorough research before investing heavily in new technologies and remain open to exploring future viable options.

How successful is India so far in achieving its dream of emerging as a Net Zero Carbon emitting nation?
India aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. This challenging goal requires timely auction of new projects by the Government and DICOMS. Self-sufficiency plays a significant role, and we're developing a 2 GW Module Assembly Line to be fully operational by Q1 FY25. Solar and wind energy alone cannot meet this goal alone; hence, the Government must promote other forms of renewable energy, including Waste-To-Energy Projects and Energy Storage Solutions.

What are the hurdles faced by stakeholders like you in the sector? Any suggestive measures to tackle the same
As a growing Renewable Energy Company, we overcome challenges such as decreasing tariffs and the need for higher investments. We've increased operational efficiency and are on the path to self-reliance by producing our own modules. Availability of evacuation and acquisition of land are becoming serious impediments in acceleration of capacities. Developed solar and wind parks could be one solution to this issue.

Tell us about the commercial potential of Renewable energy in a tropical nation like India? Is it fully realised yet?
The commercial potential of the Renewable Energy Sector in India is yet to be fully realized. However, both the government and private developers are working towards removal of hurdles and India is likely to tap full potential of renewable energy in the coming years and decades.

What makes your products/services get an upper hand from your counterparts in the segment?
The opportunity is so huge that it provides equal opportunity to all players. SAEL is using best in class technology which assist it in efficient operations and backed by big funds and DFIs, the ability to execute projects faster is a key differentiator for SAEL.

Today even big-ticket infra projects like ports, airports, urban planning, etc, have embraced renewable power resources. How do you rate the opportunities from such big-ticket infra projects?
To achieve India's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, big-ticket infra projects must embrace renewable energy. Opportunities for Private Renewable Power Companies are vast, but risks must be carefully studied. We focus on steadily increasing our portfolio for long-term cash flows, exploring opportunities aligned with our goals.

As a stakeholder, is the availability of components still an operational glitch? As an organization, what is your approach on the same?
To combat the risk of component availability, we have an operational Module Assembly capacity of 300 MW in Punjab, commissioning another 2GW in Rajasthan soon. Strong relationships with suppliers ensure a steady supply of components and services for commissioning and operations of our Renewable Projects.

Going ahead, where do you see India's RE sector? What will be your growth strategy?
Going ahead, we see the RE capacity in India increasing steadily to reach 500 GW by 2030. Diversification of RE sources is anticipated, with a focus on round-the-clock energy and energy storage solutions. SAEL aims to grow at a steady pace, reaching a portfolio of 10 GW or more by FY 2027. Expanding into end-to-end cell-to-module manufacturing is part of our growth strategy, along with attracting global investors through best-in-class ESG practices.


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