The Indian 3.5 million m2 installed solar thermal industry today has a new voice and a platform. In a landmark development, players who control over 75% of the market have come together to float Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) a pan-Indian not-for-profit body to not only to expand solar water heating usage but promote applications beyond that as well. STFI was formally launched today in the presence of key representatives of Delhi media by key functionaries of the newly floated association.
The association will be headquartered out of Delhi comprising of leading Solar Thermal Manufacturers. K Subramanya, CEO, TATA-BP Solar would be the Chairman and Hemant Revankar, Managing Director, Bipin Engineers would be the Vice-Chairman and Jaideep Malaviya, an industry veteran with two decades of experience will steer the federation as its full time President. Senior executives of major players in the industry will play an active role in STFI in various capacities.
The key trigger which galvanized the industry to come together is the recently unveiled Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which has set a target of 20 million m2 by the year 2022 which has opened up the market besides creating challenges that need to be addressed in a cohesive and coherent manner by the entire industry.
Primary on the agenda of STFI is evolving an appropriate policy framework and user-friendly financing mechanism to make this target realizable by working in close coordination with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Urban Development. Another important focus would be to enhance the competitiveness of the Indian solar thermal industry through continuous investment in R&D besides market awareness/development. Another priority would be to take the focus beyond solar water heating in terms of solar thermal applications to expand the market scope and horizons for constituent players.
One of the immediate action items of STFI would be to develop trained talent pool which is proficient in installation and maintenance through a launch of a common industry-accepted Certification program on a pan-India basis. A first of its kind certification program the initiative will address a key issue hindering end user confidence and allow trouble free usage for 25 years which is the typical life of a solar water heater installation. To this end and also to achieve the priorities stated above, STFI will partner and closely work with associations and institutes (of relevance) that are regional, national and international.
In his remarks, K Subramanya, Chairman, said," India receives the second highest solar radiation (annually 1800 hrs) after California in USA which makes it apt for near universal usage of solar water heating application pan India. The National solar mission is a step towards ensuring that and most of us in the industry felt the time is ripe for some concerted action to expand the solar water heating space besides exploring applications beyond water heating as well. Having a voice and a platform is crucial to leverage this once in a lifetime opportunity."
Elaborating on the need of the hour, Hemant Revankar, Vice-chairman, STFI, said, "There are two key priorities before us today. One is creating awareness among the common man on the benefits of Solar Water Heaters (SWH) as an affordable, long lasting and easy to install and maintain option which will lead to increased penetration of the application leading to industry’s growth.
The other is to look at applications which convert the abundant reservoir of natural sunlight into energy that can in turn considerably reduce the burden of electricity demand in peak hours and improve the poor load shedding situation in India. Cost effective technology and working together are the only ways these two can happen."
Explaining the context, Jaideep Malaviya, President, STFI, said," Without industry consensus evolution of a comprehensive and robust policy framework that enables and supports the ambitious target set in National Solar Mission and making the financing mechanism even more user friendly, would simply be not possible or feasible. Increasing awareness and the Indian government’s National Solar Mission will drive this space to greater heights and STFI will be part of and fuel this growth besides making it possible. We are happy to have had overwhelming industry support right at inception and look forward to more members coming forward to join STFI."
Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) is a not-for-profit pan-Indian association comprising of leading Solar Thermal manufactures (largely being Solar Water Heater (SWH) manufacturers registered under the Societies Registration Act (1860). It has 14 Charter members who are SWH manufacturers that control nearly 75% of the market. The major objectives of STFI would be in the larger interest in the industry and the country to develop and promote solar thermal utilization in India and help realize the National Solar Mission target of 20 million m2 by 2022. The business realization arising out of this target be US$ 200 billion.
STFI will also work towards policy development, awareness creation, training and capacity building. It will be a single voice representing the Solar Thermal industry in India and plans to have an annual event at par with the European and American events.