Home Inspiartional Startup by IIT Grads Helps Indian Houses Run on Zero Electrical energy, Earns Rs 200 Cr

Startup by IIT Grads Helps Indian Houses Run on Zero Electrical energy, Earns Rs 200 Cr

Startup by IIT Grads Helps Indian Houses Run on Zero Electrical energy, Earns Rs 200 Cr


In late 2020, entrepreneurs Neeraj Jain and Nikhil Nahar decided that will confound most entrepreneurs. Regardless of working a Rs 100 crore bootstrapped and worthwhile startup centred on establishing solar energy installations for big firms since 2015, they determined to make, what many felt on the time was, a dangerous pivot in direction of the (B2C) residential photo voltaic section. 

To assist them make that pivot, Neeraj roped in fellow entrepreneur and IIT-Bombay graduate Shreya Mishra, who had prior expertise of working a shopper enterprise.

“Neeraj and Nikhil have been solely 26 and 27 respectively after they based SolarSquare in 2015. In the identical 12 months, I based Flyrobe, a trend rental startup. It was very completely different from the world of photo voltaic power. I offered my startup in 2019, and within the following 12 months, my husband Neeraj satisfied me to affix SolarSquare. He was an engineer with banking expertise however wished to do one thing with deep that means and function. Whereas he had a superb grasp of the photo voltaic market, he wished my experience in constructing shopper companies. That’s how we began experimenting within the residential photo voltaic section, which is extra B2C,” remembers Shreya, co-founder of SolarSquare.

This was going to be a tricky pivot as a result of the economic section could be very completely different. As an organization within the business and industrial section, SolarSquare was establishing large and customised solar energy installations value a number of crores for Fortune 500 corporations. That is not like the residential sector the place they’re coping with particular person owners.

“Neeraj and Nikhil took a really daring name to experiment within the residential photo voltaic section as a result of they understood the huge enterprise alternative it provided at a time when no organised firm within the photo voltaic power area noticed it. They noticed that the residential photo voltaic section appeared like the chance of the longer term. In the event that they have been to decide to this, they needed to focus all their energies on it. That was a significant inflexion level,” she provides, chatting with The Higher India.

The residential photo voltaic section introduced the chance of the longer term as a result of common Indian households have been battling rising electrical energy payments due to rising tariffs and common incidences of maximum climate situations. Rising electrical energy prices in lots of states made it crucial for customers to discover different options. One viable answer for particular person owners and residential societies was to undertake rooftop solar energy installations.

As Shreya explains, “For the residential section, we’ve constructed numerous standardisation in photo voltaic installations that has allowed us to scale. Think about doing tiny photo voltaic installations which are customised to every dwelling! It’s too advanced a course of for a B2C operation. We standardised the whole lot and made prefabricated ready-to-install photo voltaic kits, which get put in in simply six hours. In different phrases, we underwent numerous studying innovation for this section.”

Barely three and half years later, SolarSquare has emerged as a number one residential photo voltaic model in India with a shopper base of greater than 10,000 particular person owners and over 100 residential societies. As Shreya claims, “Lots of serendipity led us right here. Immediately, we’re operational in 16 cities unfold throughout eight states. Over two rounds of funding, we’ve raised about Rs 130 crore and we’ll be doing near Rs 200 crore in revenues on this monetary 12 months.”

Regardless that about 20% of SolarSquare’s enterprise nonetheless lies within the business and industrial photo voltaic section, they’ve pivoted near 80% of their enterprise in direction of the residential section. Within the course of, they’ve additionally doubled in dimension as a enterprise — a big feat.

“Immediately, 80% of our enterprise is within the residential section the place we work with particular person properties (2BHK, 3BHK) and residential societies. RWAs purchase solar energy installations for his or her frequent areas like lifts, water pumps, avenue lights, and many others. Most of the high-rise flats you see in Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru are SolarSquare clients,” she provides.

Zero electricity with solar
The SolarSquare Group

Overcoming doubt

In January 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that the Union Authorities had set a goal of putting in rooftop photo voltaic in a single crore households over the following few months. When SolarSquare determined to pivot to the residential photo voltaic section in late 2020, this main market alternative wasn’t obvious.

“Even households weren’t conscious of the advantages of photo voltaic. Individuals didn’t know the fundamentals. Many individuals confuse rooftop photo voltaic installations with water heaters. They didn’t know you may energy your own home with photo voltaic. There have been numerous myths and misconceptions that wanted to be addressed and consciousness ranges have been very nascent,” explains Shreya.

SolarSquare’s first mandate was to create a model on the again of “instructional advertising and belief.” To that finish, they revealed movies, content material, and blogs, and labored with influencers to create consciousness. They’ve additionally revealed a free house owner’s information to going photo voltaic.

“Earlier than putting in something, we’ll assist a home-owner perceive why photo voltaic is sweet for them and how much photo voltaic set up is sweet for his or her dwelling. We determined that we’d first educate individuals earlier than promoting them something. See, there was rampant mis-selling on this trade. Residential photo voltaic is a fragmented and unorganised market involving numerous native operators who do that as a aspect enterprise. Individuals have been offered second hand or rejected panels as a result of they didn’t know find out how to authenticate guarantee or high quality of merchandise,” explains Shreya.

“Additionally, many have been offered solar energy installations with out after-sales service. In case you are shopping for photo voltaic, shopping for the suitable after-sales service is essential as a result of, with out it, your funding goes down the drain. We needed to educate individuals about this stuff,” provides Shreya.

The following greatest problem for SolarSquare was convincing potential traders that their determination to foray into the residential section made enterprise sense.

“Once we went out to lift funds, potential traders thought that residential photo voltaic is a small market. Most of them have been extra engaged in fintech and e-commerce. They felt that residential photo voltaic was a really brick-and-mortar enterprise the place it’s important to go from one dwelling to a different, educate individuals, shut an order, set up panels at their properties, and preserve them for years. No person understood this market and its potential,” says Neeraj.

Talking to Forbes India in June 2022, Shreya claimed that residential photo voltaic was a ‘$50 billion alternative’ based mostly on her estimates. It was a really daring declare again then given how worldwide market analysis and advisory corporations like Customized Market Insights estimated that your complete Indian photo voltaic power market was value $38 billion in 2022.

“Trying again, I in all probability wildly underestimated the market. With one crore properties probably going photo voltaic within the subsequent three years, this market will in all probability see $25 billion. In a decade, this might very nicely be a $75 billion to $100 billion market,” claims Shreya.

“It’s a novel time in historical past the place you’ll be able to create a shopper model in power. In any other case, power has all the time been the sport of enormous firms and Authorities-owned energy crops. Vitality is now private and personal, and we will create a shopper model round it. Traders took numerous time to construct their understanding of the probabilities on this market,” she provides.

You will get zero electricity bill by going solar
SolarSquare: Serving to owners go photo voltaic

How one can go photo voltaic with SolarSquare?

So, how can a home-owner in India set up solar energy of their properties with SolarSquare? A journey with them begins with registering an inquiry both on their web site or WhatsApp. As soon as clients register a question, SolarSquare units up a ‘free photo voltaic session’.

“Our photo voltaic marketing consultant, a educated knowledgeable, will go to your own home, survey your roof, perceive your electrical energy necessities, research your electrical energy payments, and information you to the suitable photo voltaic answer on your dwelling. They will even clarify how solar energy works, what are the completely different know-how selections accessible, and many others. We seek the advice of the client with the suitable answer for his or her dwelling, reply all their queries, and solely then comes the query of promoting something to them,” claims Neeraj.

Zero electricity bills are possible with solar
Households are first defined the method, price and advantages of going photo voltaic.

Additionally, many customers perceive the advantages of going photo voltaic. No matter cash they put into putting in photo voltaic, they’ll get well their funding in three to 5 years relying on the electrical energy tariff after which get pleasure from 20 to 22 years of free electrical energy. Nonetheless, the preliminary funding of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh to put in a rooftop photo voltaic system is usually troublesome for many middle-class households in Indian cities.

“Throughout this session, we additionally take the patron’s PAN card, verify his mortgage EMI eligibility, and current the EMI schemes we will provide to them. Individuals can go photo voltaic on a six-month zero-cost EMI, 12-month EMI, or 60-month EMI. That makes it an inexpensive proposition. Additionally, in case of 60-month EMI, their preliminary down fee to us will get lined by means of the subsidy given by the Union Authorities,” claims Shreya.

To energy a 2 to 3-BHK dwelling that doesn’t have air conditioners, a shopper will want a 3-kW to 4-kW photo voltaic set up. If such properties have an air conditioner, they could require 5-kW to 6-kW.

“Essentially the most generally offered residential rooftop photo voltaic set up is 3-kW. A photo voltaic package for this power requirement is about Rs 2 lakh, of which the Authorities covers Rs 78,000 as a subsidy (underneath the newest ‘PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana’). The patron finally ends up paying solely about Rs 1.2 lakh,” she explains.

“On this 3-kW system, customers find yourself saving Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 a month in electrical energy payments. In a 12 months, this quantities to roughly Rs 36,000 to Rs 40,000 a 12 months in electrical energy financial savings. In about three to 4 years, you’ll be able to get well all of your preliminary funding. Following this, this photo voltaic set up may give you free electrical energy for the following 20 to 25 years,” she provides.

“For the patron on a five-year EMI, their web funding comes all the way down to zero as a result of their down fee will get lined by the subsidy given by the Union Authorities, and month-to-month EMIs are lined by means of month-to-month electrical energy financial savings achieved after going photo voltaic. In web phrases, the household doesn’t even have to rearrange any substantial sums. We name this the zero funding scheme of photo voltaic, which we educate the patron about throughout a session,” says Neeraj.

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As soon as the household (shopper) decides to e book their providers, the startup attracts up an in depth technical design, takes care of all their Authorities permits, and applies for his or her subsidy. After the patron has authorized the ultimate design, they pay an advance which is roofed by the subsidy, after which, the corporate delivers their ready-to-install photo voltaic package.

“Our ready-to-install package consists of our trademark Wind Professional Mount elevated buildings, that are often known as module-mounted buildings. Measuring about six toes tall, these buildings are the spine of our installations holding up the panels. These buildings are very sturdy, include a 10-year guarantee, zero-rust assure, and certification from IIT-Bombay that even throughout a cyclone with wind speeds of as much as 170 kmph, nothing will occur to the rooftop photo voltaic construction,” she says.

“See, these photo voltaic installations are topic to exterior climate, elevated, and on prime of a roof, and topic to excessive wind pace stress. They need to be sturdy. We set up our photo voltaic package in simply six to seven hours. As soon as put in, the client requires an inspection from their native energy discom. As soon as the positioning is inspected, their last financial institution particulars are uploaded on the Authorities portal and the subsidy comes into their checking account inside simply 30 days,” notes Nikhil.

The Union Authorities just lately launched the Nationwide Portal for Rooftop Photo voltaic on the again of which all of those Authorities subsidies and functions are completed.

“We handle all these functions for the patron. We handle Authorities permits, subsidy functions, EMI functions, inspections, design, procurement, and many others. We’re a full-stacked model that gives end-to-end options for the Indian shopper,” says Shreya.

Following set up comes crucial half — after-sale service. India is a rustic the place roofs are topic to numerous mud and quite a lot of exterior climate situations. These components trigger numerous put on and tear on rooftop photo voltaic panels.

“We provide a five-year complete photo voltaic care plan wherein we handle the whole lot from panel deep cleansing to technical, mechanical, and electrical upkeep. As soon as put in, it’s your roof and photo voltaic power however our duty. As a coverage, we promote a five-year complete photo voltaic care plan so that customers can get pleasure from the advantages of zero-electricity payments 12 months after 12 months. Customers can renew their after-sale care plan with us after these 5 years,” notes Neeraj.

“If you happen to have a look at rooftop photo voltaic techniques as an funding, you’re seeing 20-25% IRR (inner price of return) if it provides you the suitable efficiency. Upkeep is necessary as a result of that’s the way you realise that 20-25% IRR. Each month or three months, a educated SolarSquare technician will come to your own home, do an entire technical verify, electrical upkeep, and mechanical verify, and do a deep cleansing of the photo voltaic panels to make sure any exhausting mud or chicken droppings are eliminated. Following this verify, you will note a spike in energy manufacturing,” claims Shreya.

Achieve zero electricity bills with solar
A residential photo voltaic set up arrange by SolarSquare

Trying to the longer term

One of many greatest challenges shifting ahead for corporations like SolarSquare will probably be managing photo voltaic panels that attain the tip of their lives. These discarded panels are sometimes left strewn round or finally get blended up with home stable waste and find yourself in landfills.

In line with a report by the Worldwide Renewable Vitality Company, “giant quantities of annual (photo voltaic panel) waste are anticipated by the early 2030s” and will contact 78 million tonnes by 2050. Shreya, nonetheless, believes there are methods to increase the lives of those used panels.

“If you happen to preserve your rooftop photo voltaic set up nicely, it will possibly last as long as 30-35 years. So, as soon as a shopper retires their photo voltaic rooftop system, they’ll donate the panels to non-profits working for a worthy trigger. These panels can run for an additional 10 years as a result of they’ve been maintained so nicely. These photo voltaic panels can have a second-hand life too,” she notes.

However she does admit that ventures like SolarSquare must devise complete plans to recycle decommissioned panels. “Since we’re solely a nine-year-old firm, we don’t have any photo voltaic installations which have reached the tip of life. The query of disposal and recycling is necessary. Fortunately, you have already got corporations within the US that may recycle 70% of the parts and supplies used to make photo voltaic panels,” she says.

In India, in the meantime, a group of researchers on the Centre for Sustainable Applied sciences (CST), led by Dr Monto Mani and working out of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, is exploring whether or not previous discarded photo voltaic panels may be upcycled as a constructing materials. With this, they wish to prolong the panels’ helpful life by a number of many years.

Nonetheless, by way of their future as a enterprise, issues look good.

In December 2021, they raised Rs 30 crore of their Seed spherical. Throughout their Collection A spherical in October 2022, they raised Rs 100 crore. “Decrease Carbon, one of many world’s largest local weather tech funds, is our shareholder. It was their first funding in India. We even have Elevation Capital, who’re traders in Swiggy and City Firm, and different notable traders on board,” she says.

Furthermore, in accordance with a November 2023 report by the Council on Vitality, Surroundings and Water (CEEW), greater than 25 crore households in India have the potential to deploy 637 GW of photo voltaic power capability on rooftops. In line with a Occasions of India report on the identical, “Additional, the CEEW report discovered that deploying simply one-third of this whole photo voltaic technical potential may help your complete electrical energy demand of India’s residential sector (~310 TWh).”

For ventures like SolarSquare, the alternatives are large and the longer term appears to be like promising.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat; Photographs courtesy SolarSquare)

Home-owner’s Information to Shopping for Rooftop Photo voltaic by SolarSquare
‘SolarSquare’s co-founders on the $50 billion alternative to deliver solar energy to Indian properties’ by Harichandran Arakali; Revealed on 14 June 2022 courtesy Forbes India
‘India Photo voltaic Vitality Market 2023–2032’; Revealed in Could 2023 courtesy Customized Market Insights
‘India has 637 GW of residential rooftop photo voltaic power potential: CEEW report’ by Hemali Chhapia; Revealed on 17 November 2023 courtesy Occasions of India



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