DR. Kinjal Jani, Managing Director, Kanoda Energy Systems

Dr. Kinjal Jani thank you for your time, please share with our readers aboutKanoda Energy, projects and achievements in India?

Thank you Santanu. As of today, Kanoda is one of India’s fastest growing solar EPC Company. Not long ago in 2004, Kanoda was just an incubation project by Research Scholars at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. Today, we provide comprehensive EPC and O&M provider of Solar PV Systems, both rooftop and ground-mount, from kW to MW scale. Along the way, we have established our strong presence in specialized fields of solar advisory, product design, and technology validation. The decade long presence helped to create one of the core philosophies of Kanoda, which was to progress as a knowledge-driven organization. Clearly, the approach has translated into our high performing plants across the country. This gives us the highest degree of customer satisfaction in the market across India and that is a fine achievement.

You have been in the Indian market for more than a decade now. What makes Kanoda Energy a unique provider of solar solutions?

The focus on quality is always there. Our teams work day in day out to translate their work to reality. We design our structure. We manufacture it. A lot of thought, a lot of brainstorming goes during the design stage of the project. We use best products available in the market, subject to customer/ project requirement. Our execution team is one of the finest. Quality execution has becomes Kanoda’s forte. This way we make sure our quality is maintained throughout in all the projects. The step-by-step process oriented approach has delivered results for us. I think simplicity is the lost trait in today’s market and at Kanoda, we are simply doing it, each day.

Please share about Kanoda Energy’s total cumulative capacity installed as on date and are you facing any kind operational challenges from these solar projects?

As of today, we have installed over 2 MW of solar PV systems under Net Metering. The operation of the plants are not always what you expect them to be. The most common hindrance to generation is not cleaning the system regularly. A decade in this industry gives you a perspective on the mindset of clients. We are active in spreading awareness and educating our clients about their solar system and how to best take good care of it. But not every client has the time or energy to do that. We thus provide them with hassle free, on-time O&M service. Our monitoring solution helps us to schedule maintenance as and when needed.

What are your views on the current scenario of India’s solar sector?

Indian solar industry has dominated in the past few years. Four-five years back, you would need to go into the market and first educate people on what climate change is, what Solar is! Today that’s not the case. People actively discuss solar and look forward to it as a real solution for their problems. Government has been instrumental in this. Policies have enabled companies like Kanoda to chase their dreams. A lot of credit also goes to the thousands of salesmen of Indian solar industry. Yes, there are lot of solution providers in the market. Some would say the market has cluttered. But once you see the pattern, this seems natural. Players who focus on excellence has always survived.

Can you shed some light on the reasons why rooftop solar is still out in the cold and how do you see the future of rooftop solar in the country?

Rooftop solar has seen its fair share of challenges in India. There have been a lot of experiments in this sector and many of these have failed to deliver. This created resistance in the market too. But today, the market has reached a certain level of self-awareness and is willing to install solar. Subsidies might be a key factor in some States on in residential sector to propel this willingness. With at par solar prices and ever rising crude oil prices, solar will only attract more traction.

The logistical and legal issues associated with installing solar PV on roofs are complex. This is particularly true when owners rent their roofs to solar providers. If not clearly defined by contract, conflict can result over safety provisions, lost income when the panels are removed during roof work, or liability in the event of theft, vandalism or damage. What criteria are followed to avoid these logistical and legal issues and how is the loss covered by the developer?

Legal issues will always be complex, no denying that. But that’s where solution providers like Kanoda are put best in use. We take it as our responsibility that our clients reap the benefits of their investment. At Kanoda, it’s a practice to sow transparency into the projects.

What are the current and potential challenges that EPC players are facing in India?

There’s a lot of talk about not enough dependable investors in the market. Many investors are accused of defaulting in midway of the projects. But when you look deeper into the problem, you find that, investors are pulling out as a wiser ‘bigger picture’ solution then to just save their money. A project dropped temporarily is better than a project done badly. Investors understand this, essentially because returns are tied with the quality of project execution. At Kanoda, the focus on quality has played a pivotal role; we are proud of it, our investors are glad of it.

Did the India solar sector already reached its low in tariffs or is there any further scope Or will there be reverse trend in solar tariffs?

We are at the dawn of yet another technological revolution. Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) are few terms you’ll come across every day on internet. The potential in these have been realized due to immense research around the globe. The advances in research are just as important as market forces in driving the economic parameters. Now, for quite some time, market forces has driven down the solar prices. For the next few years to come, advances in research will play important role in stabilizing the tariffs even lower. Currently, Indian market can use some stability around tariffs.

Recently you have installed 83 kW solar rooftop plant at Raj Bhawan, Jammu in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Share with our readers the kind of due-diligence was done before installation and the major challenges faced?

A lot of challenges in this project. President of India was supposed to visit Raj Bhawan in due time and we were asked to deliver the project before a certain date. Starting from the survey, to design, procurement and then execution, everything was done in just seven days. The main challenge was not just time but also the delicacy and sophistication involved. It’s Governor’s house, so you have to respect time restrictions and any other restrictions that may come with it. But we were lucky to have the support of JAKEDA at all times with us. The administration at Raj Bhawan was also very supportive. Our strong ties with Nodal Agencies across India have made a lot of projects easier in the most difficult times.

What is your opinion on the anti-dumping and safeguard duties? Will this really slow down solar installation?

Indian solar manufacturers have struggled to match prices with their Chinese counterparts. Creating a level playing field and bringing fairness to the system in not wrong. Indian government is trying to do that while not letting that effect on solar tariffs. This is noble but tricky to achieve. At this point, Indian solar manufacturers and EPC players need to come together on the same page and think of the Indian solar industry from a long term sustainable point of view.

(This Interview was originally published in May issue of Climate Samurai)