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

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

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


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

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

This was going to be a tricky pivot as a result of the economic phase may be very completely different. As an organization within the business and industrial phase, SolarSquare was organising large and customised solar energy installations value a couple of crores for Fortune 500 firms. 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 phase as a result of they understood the large enterprise alternative it provided at a time when no organised firm within the photo voltaic power house noticed it. They noticed that the residential photo voltaic phase regarded like the chance of the longer term. In the event that they had 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 phase offered the chance of the longer term as a result of common Indian households had been fighting rising electrical energy payments because of growing tariffs and common incidences of utmost climate situations. Rising electrical energy prices in lots of states made it crucial for shoppers to discover various options. One viable resolution for particular person owners and residential societies was to undertake rooftop solar energy installations.

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

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, “A whole lot of serendipity led us right here. Immediately, we’re operational in 16 cities unfold throughout eight states. Over two rounds of funding, we now have raised about Rs 130 crore and we’ll be doing near Rs 200 crore in revenues on this monetary 12 months.”

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

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

Zero electricity with solar
The SolarSquare Crew

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 subsequent few months. When SolarSquare determined to pivot to the residential photo voltaic phase in late 2020, this main market alternative wasn’t obvious.

“Even households weren’t conscious of the advantages of photo voltaic. Folks didn’t know the fundamentals. Many individuals confuse rooftop photo voltaic installations with water heaters. They didn’t know you might energy your house with photo voltaic. There have been quite a lot of myths and misconceptions that wanted to be addressed and consciousness ranges had been very nascent,” explains Shreya.

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

“Earlier than putting in something, we are going to assist a home-owner perceive why photo voltaic is nice for them and what sort of photo voltaic set up is nice for his or her dwelling. We determined that we might first educate folks earlier than promoting them something. See, there was rampant mis-selling on this trade. Residential photo voltaic is a fragmented and unorganised market involving quite a lot of native operators who do that as a aspect enterprise. Folks had been bought second hand or rejected panels as a result of they didn’t know how one can authenticate guarantee or high quality of merchandise,” explains Shreya.

“Additionally, many had been bought solar energy installations with out after-sales service. In case you are shopping for photo voltaic, shopping for the best after-sales service is essential as a result of, with out it, your funding goes down the drain. We needed to educate folks about these items,” provides Shreya.

The subsequent largest problem for SolarSquare was convincing potential traders that their determination to foray into the residential phase made enterprise sense.

“Once we went out to lift funds, potential traders thought that residential photo voltaic is a small market. Most of them had 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 a must to go from one dwelling to a different, educate folks, shut an order, set up panels at their houses, and keep 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’ primarily based on her estimates. It was a really daring declare again then given how worldwide market analysis and advisory firms like Customized Market Insights estimated that your entire Indian photo voltaic power market was value $38 billion in 2022.

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

“It’s a singular time in historical past the place you possibly can create a shopper model in power. In any other case, power has at all times been the sport of huge companies and Authorities-owned energy vegetation. Power is now private and personal, and we are able to create a shopper model round it. Buyers took quite a lot of 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 you can go photo voltaic with SolarSquare?

So, how can a home-owner in India set up solar energy of their houses 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 skilled knowledgeable, will go to your house, survey your roof, perceive your electrical energy necessities, research your electrical energy payments, and information you to the best photo voltaic resolution on your dwelling. They can even clarify how solar energy works, what are the completely different know-how decisions out there, and so on. We seek the advice of the client with the best resolution 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 shoppers 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 take pleasure in 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 tough for many middle-class households in Indian cities.

“Throughout this session, we additionally take the buyer’s PAN card, test his mortgage EMI eligibility, and current the EMI schemes we are able to supply to them. Folks can go photo voltaic on a six-month zero-cost EMI, 12-month EMI, or 60-month EMI. That makes it an reasonably priced proposition. Additionally, in case of 60-month EMI, their preliminary down cost to us will get lined by 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 houses have an air conditioner, they might require 5-kW to 6-kW.

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

“On this 3-kW system, shoppers 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 possibly can get well all of your preliminary funding. Following this, this photo voltaic set up may give you free electrical energy for the subsequent 20 to 25 years,” she provides.

“For the buyer on a five-year EMI, their web funding comes all the way down to zero as a result of their down cost will get lined by the subsidy given by the Union Authorities, and month-to-month EMIs are lined by 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 buyer 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 buyer has accredited the ultimate design, they pay an advance which is roofed by the subsidy, after which, the corporate delivers their ready-to-install photo voltaic equipment.

“Our ready-to-install equipment consists of our trademark Wind Professional Mount elevated constructions, that are also referred to as module-mounted constructions. Measuring about six toes tall, these constructions are the spine of our installations holding up the panels. These constructions 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 high of a roof, and topic to excessive wind velocity strain. They should be sturdy. We set up our photo voltaic equipment 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 location is inspected, their closing 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 accomplished.

“We deal with all these functions for the buyer. We deal with Authorities permits, subsidy functions, EMI functions, inspections, design, procurement, and so on. We’re a full-stacked model that gives end-to-end options for the Indian shopper,” says Shreya.

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

“We provide a five-year complete photo voltaic care plan through which we deal with all the things 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 accountability. As a coverage, we promote a five-year complete photo voltaic care plan so that buyers can take pleasure in the advantages of zero-electricity payments 12 months after 12 months. Shoppers can renew their after-sale care plan with us after these 5 years,” notes Neeraj.

“In case you have a look at rooftop photo voltaic methods as an funding, you’re seeing 20-25% IRR (inner charge of return) if it offers you the best efficiency. Upkeep is essential as a result of that’s the way you realise that 20-25% IRR. Each month or three months, a skilled SolarSquare technician will come to your house, do a whole technical test, electrical upkeep, and mechanical test, and do a deep cleansing of the photo voltaic panels to make sure any arduous mud or chicken droppings are eliminated. Following this test, you will notice 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 largest challenges shifting ahead for firms like SolarSquare shall be managing photo voltaic panels that attain the tip of their lives. These discarded panels are sometimes left strewn round or ultimately get combined up with home strong waste and find yourself in landfills.

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

“In case you keep your rooftop photo voltaic set up effectively, it might probably 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 one more 10 years as a result of they’ve been maintained so effectively. These photo voltaic panels can have a second-hand life too,” she notes.

However she does admit that ventures like SolarSquare should 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 essential. Fortunately, you have already got firms 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 workforce 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 outdated discarded photo voltaic panels will be upcycled as a constructing materials. With this, they wish to prolong the panels’ helpful life by a couple of a long time.

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 line with a November 2023 report by the Council on Power, Atmosphere 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 Instances of India report on the identical, “Additional, the CEEW report discovered that deploying simply one-third of this whole photo voltaic technical potential might help your entire electrical energy demand of India’s residential sector (~310 TWh).”

For ventures like SolarSquare, the alternatives are large and the longer term seems to be 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 carry solar energy to Indian houses’ by Harichandran Arakali; Revealed on 14 June 2022 courtesy Forbes India
‘India Photo voltaic Power Market 2023–2032’; Revealed in Might 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 Instances of India



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