Customer Solutions Model makes us stand out

24th Oct 17,  

At Waaree, we treat customers as our partners. We believe in working towards providing solutions that they have been looking for and not just giving them our product, Hitesh Doshi, Chairman & Managing Director, Waaree Group, tells EnergyNext

Waaree is a renowned name in the solar sector. How has the journey been so far?

It has been a learning experience since we took up the cause for promoting solar power in 2007. We got a great deal of insight into the solar energy sector from the US, Japanese and the European market models. This gave us an impetus to position ourselves better in the Indian market. We started our operations as an export-oriented company. It was only after 2010 that we started focusing on the Indian market. It has been an enriching journey so far and we have learnt along the way that a lot of players look at the solar power sector as a short-term business venture. But, the companies that are here for a long haul, say for next 50 or 100 years, they will be the ultimate winners. This has been the biggest takeaway for us.

What are your core strengths that make you stand out from other players?

What makes Waaree stand out from the rest of the players is its ‘customer solutions model’. We treat customers as our partners. We believe in being closer to the customer as much as possible, and work towards providing solutions that they have been looking for. We don’t just offer them the product; we make sure that they get what they want. Waaree’s approach towards doing business is different. We don’t rush into closing the deal and getting the order. We believe in having a long-term relationship with our customers.

When it comes to manufacturing, we strive to bring new technology every time. Q We try to improve our supply chain to reduce delivery time and facilitate quick delivery of the product to the end customer. We also focus on adding more and more test and quality check equipment to our production line to make sure that the product works efficiently. Because of all these checks and balances, our performance speaks for the company. One of the very first MW plant, the 2.2 MW plant in Germany that we built in 2009, is still performing well. It has been eight years and counting, we are still very satisfied with its performance.

Waaree Energies has joined hands with US-based Merlin Solar for incorporating ‘Merlin’ technology. Tell us more about this path-breaking technology.

Let me explain this technology with an example. In India, even if you come up with the best model, it develops cracks when you try to transport it from the factory to the site due to the conditions of roads here. Once it develops the micro crack, it goes to the hot spot and 4-5 years later the performance deteriorates. At Waaree, we got the opportunity to replace modules for certain locations where the hot spot and micro cracks were developed. We have been striving to bring a technology in India to find a solution to this problem. Then we started looking into what more can we offer. With Merlin, we are able to lower the cost of structure as well as lower the cost of ownership. We have been able to offer flexible modules that can be used in multiple applications. So this technology improves the efficiency and lowers the cost of installation of solar modules. It transforms solar modules into less expensive, higher power generating panels. The modules are lighter, produce more power, and are more rugged and durable. And of course no micro cracks and hot spot anymore .Trust me, there is no substitute to this technology in market.

What are your views on the GST?

GST is a positive step for the country. If we talk about the solar sector, GST gives freedom from many taxes. However, the problem for module manufacturers like us is that we will be requiring much more working capital now as the tax on the equipment or raw material which we are buying is higher than the finished products. As a model manufacturer in India, we have a tough competition from China. When we import, we just pay the 5 percent of GST and no other taxes. But if we manufacture in India, we have to shell out up to 18 % GST and heavy import duty on raw materials. Hence, I would say that GST has added to the woes of the Indian module manufacturers. For EPC also there is no clarity and the entire business is virtually on hold .Yes, it is a good initiative for the country as a whole and we hope the government will come up a solution soon.

As a promoter of ‘Make in India’, do u think we can match the Chinese prices in the near future?

Let us understand first what determines Chinese prices. Their entire price structure is like an ecosystem. They have the luxury of government incentives, export incentives, more dollars coming into their country and they have more employment opportunities. So their supply chain is so strong that the logistics arrangements are bound to be strong along with finance cost and the availability of finance. Hence, prices there are not only determined by the manufacturers, but they are entirely managed by the supply chain and eco system.

Today, if I want to buy 10 tonnes of good quality aluminium dully anodoised, I cannot buy it from India. The quality of anodising is a big challenge here. If I want to export from India, it takes three to seven days while China takes less than 24 hours. We need to look into the entire eco system. Going back to the cost structure, if Chinese companies want to make poly silicon, they will put the poly silicon plant next to the hydropower plant where the cost of power in China is below Rs 2. As a manufacturer, without the total ecosystem and the government support, it will always be difficult to bring the product cost on par with that of China.

India has set a target to achieve 100 GW of solar power by 2022. What would be your contribution?

We will definitely work towards increasing our market share. We will be starting a new facility by December which will give us additional 1.2 GW modules. We are all working towards achieving the capacity of 2 GW modules before March, next year.

What according to you are the challenges of the solar power sector?

While talking about the power sector, if discoms have money and they are making good profit then solar power will reach all. Some sections of people think it is their birth right to get free electricity or not pay market price for the power they use. I would like to request the government to give subsidy to people in cash so that they maintain the habit of paying bills. And the electricity supply of those people who are not paying their bills for a long time should be cut. Sometimes, privatisation of discoms may also help.