1 March 2012


‘We believe that the Indian PV market has a huge potential’

Ikaros Solar, headquartered in Schoten, is one of Belgium's top companies operating in the photovoltaic market. The company provides photovoltaic solutions for companies and individuals. They have installed over 1,300  private photovoltaic systems and supplied installations to companies including IKEA, Carrefour and Philips.

1. What is your vision for global PV market development and what do you expect the MW demand to be in 2012? How do you expect this to grow in 2013-2015?
Energy supply is a challenge and is becoming more so every minute. Producing fossil fuels is far from easy and nuclear energy with its irresponsible short- and long-term threats is not the solution either. The fact is that our approach to consuming energy needs to become responsible. We all need to take responsibility to avoid massive problems with energy consumption. There is no better way to do this than to invest in renewable energy. Until now, the PV market has been driven by incentives, which are currently on the decrease in Europe, the dominant market of recent years. With strong price decreases in PV technology in recent years and increased electricity prices across Europe, PV markets are approaching grid parity. So far, the European PV market has been dominating the industry. We believe that henceforth other markets throughout the world will catch up. More specifically, we believe that the American and Asian markets will become very important in the near future. MW demand is difficult to predict, but we expect growth in the global market of around 10% in 2012, after which an annual growth rate of 20-25% should become feasible again.

2. What is your vision regarding the Indian PV market? What are your expectations in terms of MWs of new installed PV power in 2012? And how can India be positioned amongst the top markets of the world the coming years?
We believe that the Indian PV market has a huge potential due to:
-    Economy: India today is the world’s fourth largest economy. Its economy has grown steadily over the last 30 years, averaging 7% annually since 2000. It has become a USD one trillion economy that promises to grow to USD 5 trillion by 2020.
-    Electricity demand: Electricity demand is growing at 8% annually, similar to the growth of the economy. According to some articles, there is a 92 GW electricity demand over the next 10 years. India has a power generation capacity of about 170k MW of which only about 8 – 10% is generated through renewable sources.
-    Potential: The country has an estimated renewable energy potential of around 85 GW from commercially exploitable sources: wind: 45 GW, small hydro: 15 GW and biomass/bioenergy: 25 GW. Last, but definitely not least: India has the potential to generate 35 MW per sq/km using solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy. The Government of India and its state governments have created a major initiative called ‘The National Solar Mission’. One of the main features of the Mission is, for example, to make India a global leader in solar energy and the mission envisages an installed solar generation capacity of 20 GW by 2022. This could in fact be much larger due to private initiatives that will no longer need state aid.

3. What is your current position in the Indian market? Do you already have some experience in India?
Currently we do not yet have any references in India. Nevertheless, we are looking for a valuable local partner with whom to collaborate. With this partner, we would like to realize 20-100 MW installations within the next two years.

4. What do you want to achieve in the Indian market in the coming two years? Would you be looking for specific partners? Are you focusing on specific market segments?
Our ambition is to become one of the important players in the Indian market by joining forces with a complementary local partner. We strongly believe that our knowhow and experience in EPC and O&M combined with the strengths of a qualitative local player will lead to a fruitful collaboration. Our focus will be on what we do best: design, construction and maintenance of industrial and utility scale PV plants.

5. Financing is a crucial and challenging issue in India. Would you be able to help?
As we have established our own investment fund, we have a network of leading banks. For sure, we will use this network in order to achieve our goals and realise PV projects together with our local partner in India. We have good connections with European development agencies.

6.  What do you currently see or expect to see as the major threats or thresholds for the Indian PV market development?
The first threat we see is accessibility to the grid, and the second the administrative procedures. There appears to be a lack of coordination between the government ministries, states and sub-sectors, and the regulatory issues such as time delays, the complexity involved in authorising projects and the lack of monitoring of legal and financial disclosures.

7. Let’s look into the crystal ball... What will the Indian PV market look like in 2015 compared to other markets in the world? Where do you expect the biggest growth and business opportunities: PV power plants, commercial applications or residential/diesel replacement?
For the next few years, we expect that PV power plants and the commercial applications together will represent 80% of the PV market in India. The governmental market will remain important up until the full realisation of the electricity market.
Solar power will be important for India, enabling it to provide local power and hence further strengthen its economic basis. This development will go hand-in-hand with that of other Sunbelt countries throughout the world. We expect that by 2015 India will have gone some way towards achieving a reasonable Wp/capita PV realisation.

8. Suppose you were in the year 2015. Looking back, what, in your opinion, will have been the surprise in the PV business during the coming years – something that we did not foresee?
PV will be proven the most reliable and cost-efficient renewable energy technology, compared with fossil fuel and other renewable energy technologies.

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