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BE Corporation
“Solar can trade up to 50 GW capacity by 2020”
Alternative energy isn't still the norm not just in India, but around the world. And even when we talk about non-fossil fuels, we end up discussing only nuclear power. But Ratul Puri, the scion of the Moser Baer kingdom, is extremely confident that solar will be a major game changer in the sector.
Issue Date - 01/03/2012
B&E: Moser Baer has now become the first Indian solar photovoltaic company to install 100 MW of solar power globally. How has the alternative energy business been performing for the company so far?
Ratul Puri (RP): Certainly, we have generated significant revenues from solar and we see these revenue streams increasing significantly over the next year or two. This alternative source of energy should be able to contribute 20-25% of our top line and an equivalent share of our bottom line by 2015.

B&E: For that kind of revenues to flow in, you must be having some big plans for alternative energy. What are these and how do you plan to achieve them?
RP: For now, it's solar. We are looking at setting up around 300MW of solar capacity by June this year. We have already commissioned around a 100MW of solar capacity on a global basis and are looking at increasing this capacity to 300MW shortly. Our investment plans in solar this year are a little over Rs.4,000 crore, out of which, around Rs.3,500 crore are in India and around Rs.1,500 crore are planned in Europe.

B&E: Are the finances tied up for meeting your massive targets for developing solar power?
RP: For ramping our global solar capacity to 300MW, we are looking to raise both debt and equity in the ratio of 75:25. We have raised close to a billion dollars in equity over the past 12 months. That makes us probably one of the most well-funded solar power developers in India. So, capital infusion is not a challenge.

B&E: Apart from India, which other markets are you looking at to exploit opportunities in an untapped non-fossil fuel market?
RP: Besides India, we are major solar power developers in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. We recently commissioned UK's largest grid connected solar farm. I think our key focus market is the US after Europe. We are already one of the largest solar power developers in Europe.

B&E: Are you looking at other energy sources as well?
RP: Moser Baer is a well-diversified energy producer and as such we are looking at the entire spectrum of energy options. We are into coal thermal power plants and are developing and building almost 4000MW of coal thermal power plants. At the same time, we are also building hydel capacity. We are into coal mining, both in India and outside India, to meet our fuel requirements. India needs a mix of fuels to meet its energy requirement going forward. Coal thermal cannot do all of it, solar cannot do all of it, gas cannot do all of it. We will end up with a basket and I think that there is going to be an increasing focus on renewables because they provide an ideal solution for meeting the challenges in the power sector today - whether it is land acquisition, availability of coal, etc.

B&E: Can solar be the solution when safety issues concerning nuclear energy are at an all time high?
RP: Certainly, I think. You are going to see renewables like solar energy get a significant emphasis with some of the negativism around nuclear energy. However, nuclear is a very efficient energy source and negativism about nuclear energy may not be justifiable.

B&E: What is the potential of solar power in India in your view? What are the opportunities and challenges?
RP: I have a deep belief in solar and the changing energy framework will create and expand solar power capacity in India. I think we will do better in terms of targets and the power ministry will end up trading more capacity than what is being anticipated. Also, globally, the US is the next big market for growth in solar power. I think solar certainly has the opportunity of trading up to 50GW capacity by 2020 and that means it would account for somewhere in the range of around 15% of our installed capacity and 3-4% of our energy generation.


Karan Arora           

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