While solar EPC will grow in proportion to the growth of solar industry, the government can set the tone for the robust growth of solar EPC business b...
While solar EPC will grow in proportion to the growth of solar industry, the government can set the tone for the robust growth of solar EPC business by enforcing guidelines pertaining to quality of equipment and world-class project management techniques. After all, these power plants have to run for a good 25 years.
Solar EPC has proved to be a game changer for you over the past couple of years? What challenges did you face as an emerging solar EPC player and how did you prevail over them?
Yes, solar EPC peaked for us at the right time. We were quick to latch on to the opportunities that the National Solar Mission brought. Competing with well-established players, we faced our share of challenges, but we overcame them all by focusing on our core strengths—world-class quality and timely execution. What also worked in our favour was our prior experience as an EPC company specialising in high-voltage class. Associated with the power sector for 25 years, we had executed over 100 projects when we entered solar EPC in 2012-13. Since we also manufacture power distribution equipments, we can manage our supply chain well to meet deadlines.
How is handling solar EPC projects different from executing other substations? Does connecting solar power to the grid require any special expertise?
Solar projects have tighter deadlines with a lot of emphasis on design. It takes four-five months to execute a solar project as against 18-24 months that a conventional power plant takes. So there is always that deadline pressure, which calls for an eye for detail and coordinated teamwork to avoid last-minute glitches that can delay a project. When it comes to solar EPC projects, matching speed with quality is a real challenge. Synchronising substations of solar projects spread over a huge area also requires special expertise.
With a staggering 373% increase in order book as compared to last year, Hartek Power is making a mark as one of India’s fastest growing solar EPC companies. How did you manage this turnaround?
We have simply cashed in on India’s solar overdrive to match our growth with that of the industry. But more than just numbers, what matters to us is delivering what we commit. Having secured several projects from key developers, we have connected 258 MW of solar power to the grid. Focusing on high-growth southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, we have set a 500-MW target for 2016-17, which we will comfortably achieve with 460-MW projects already in our kitty. While we have expanded our operations to new geographies like Jharkhand, we have also strengthened our hold in states like Punjab.
The solar EPC industry has grown by leaps and bounds? What measures do you suggest to ensure its robust and steady growth?
While solar EPC will grow in proportion to the growth of solar industry, the government can set the tone for the robust growth of solar EPC business by enforcing guidelines pertaining to quality of equipment and world-class project management techniques. After all, these power plants have to run for a good 25 years. Like in the case of solar panels, we also expect costs of other equipments to go down.
The diversified portfolio of Hartek Group suggests that you are not the one to keep all your eggs in one basket. Which thrust areas are you focusing on to steer your growth in the long term?
Hartek Group derives its strength from its diversified portfolio, which includes five business units—Power Systems, Rooftop Solar, Power Distribution Products, Fuel Services and Value Added Services. Independent power producers comprise 40% of our business, and this number is bound to go up the way the power sector is growing. Besides stamping our excellence in the high-voltage and extra-high voltage class, we will also concentrate on backward integration to add more value to the T&D value chain. Rooftop solar and consultancy services are among our other focus areas.
You have created immense value in the T&D value chain by executing more than 150 high-voltage and extra high-voltage substations and transmission lines. How do you plan to take it forward?
In touch with state electricity boards and Power Grid Corporation of India, we are going all out to target utilities. We will also invest heavily in operation and maintenance. In fact, we have launched a fully equipped grid testing van which promptly reaches the site in case of breakdown. We feel that firms focusing on both products and services will go far.
Are you also working on sustainable and smart grid power solutions?
Absolutely. Sustainability depends on integration of smart technologies that enhance efficiency. We have been integrating technologies like Substation Automation System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, a smart technology that enables you to monitor the grid from any remote place.
You have also forayed into the rooftop solar segment, having installed 13.5-MW projects so far. But the real growth is yet to come. Are you geared up for it?
Rooftop solar is where the real volumes lie. We recently forayed into this segment and have installed more than 13-MW rooftop projects in commercial and industrial categories, which we are targeting as of now. Credited with installing Chandigarh’s first rooftop project in commercial category, we are also firming up plans to go residential. In the long term, we will strive to create an edge in rooftop solar by focusing on operation and maintenance.
Tactical tie-ups with some leading multinationals have been a key component of your business growth strategy. Please elaborate.
We have entered into significant collaborations and licence agreements with leading industry giants. In fact, we are Schneider’s biggest channel partners in India in high-voltage power distribution equipments and technology integration. We are also the third largest facilitators of Reliance furnace oil in India, and have strong integrated bonds with suppliers like Siemens, Havells and Mehru. We will build on these collaborations to put Hartek Power on a trajectory of high growth.
You have transformed an electrical trading house into a diversified conglomerate with business interests across the power sector value chain in power systems, rooftop solar, power distribution products and fuel services. Please share your success story and your road map for the future.
The real key to our success has been building a great team which, over the years, has transformed a marketing company of industrial high-tension products into a leading electrical trading house. We have helped the company carve a niche for itself on account of a high-quality product basket, strong client base and adoption of latest technology. We have helped the company retain a prestigious clientele through a people-centric approach rather than a profit-driven one. We also plan to go global and become a listed company in the long run.