How this Jaipur-based solar energy startup clocked an average revenue of Rs 300 Cr in the past three years
Heavy use of fossil-fuel-based electricity comes at a heavy cost on the environment. It leads to increased emission of carbon dioxide which disturbs the ecosystem and drives climate change. In fact, PM Narendra Modi stated 40 percent of India’s electricity will be generated by non-fossil fuel based sources like solar and wind energy by 2030.
Hence, after completing BTech in computer science from Rajasthan Technical University, it only seemed apt for Nidhi Gupta to join her brother’s year-old solar startup, Rays Experts, founded in 2011.
The duo has made significant strides in the last eight years. With its headquarters in Jaipur, Rajasthan and an office in Singapore, Ray Experts has clocked an average revenue of Rs 300 crore in the last three financial years. The startup also owns seven solar parks worth Rs 60 crore and is handling assets worth Rs 2,500 crore at the moment.
India is the world’s third largest solar market in 2019, according to India Solar Market Leaderboard 2020, a report published by clean energy communications and consulting firm Mercom Communications. The Jaipur-based startup is part of 7.3 GW of solar energy capacity India added in 2019.
A number of turnkey solutions
An engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company, it provides turnkey solutions, starting from site assessment to designing the plant, getting legal permission and approvals, construction and frequent inspection of the progress, vendor selection, and maintenance, among other services.
Operating on dual models of B2B and B2C, Rays Experts caters to both residential and industrial clients. It also designs large scale photovoltaic systems (PV) of solar parks and utility scale facilities that can inject solar energy back to the grid as well.
Having commissioned plants of 500 MW in the B2B market so far, it counts the likes of Paramount, Le Meridian, JW Marriott among its clients. The startup has built rooftop solar energy for more than 10,000 houses in Rajasthan and Delhi.
With a starting installation price for 1 KW of solar panels at Rs 40,000, Nidhi says the average requirement for a household is 3 KW which amounts to a one-time installation price of Rs 1,50,000. After installation, the entrepreneur says the electricity bill would reduce significantly.
“If a family’s monthly electricity bill usually amounts between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000, installing the solar energy would reduce it to Rs 500 to Rs 600,” she explains.
The customer does not completely get rid of grid electricity but will be changed from a unidirectional metre to bidirectional so that excess solar energy can be imported for later use.
“If the requirement is only for two units and I am generating 10 units, the remaining 8 units will be stored in the grid and this makes a huge difference to the monthly bill,” she adds.
This also becomes hugely beneficial to most Indian households where the pattern, Nidhi says, is heavy use of electricity in the evening and night and low consumption during the day.
The startup saw increased interest in their residential rooftop solar energy installation as most households look to save on their electricity bills. It has catered to more than 500 families since March. On the other hand, most industrial projects have come to a halt after COVID-19 broke out in India.
Starting up came with its own set of challenges. On her second day at the company, she recalls visiting a problematic site for a solar project and resolving the case with several visits to the court and police station. A young girl taking on the energy industry did not sit well with many vendors and clients in Jaipur.
She says, “The mindset at the time was very conservative. A girl visiting the local panchayat or the police station was looked down upon. Additionally, I was a fresh graduate and the daughter of a retired officer with no background in business.”
The entrepreneur learnt early that the only solution was to keep going and believe in herself. With five members in the core team and over 150 employees, Ray Experts claims to have 70 percent of women employees among its staff.
“Although women face huge challenges, I also see more women leading in the solar industry with an impressive body of work today,” she adds.
Moving forward, she hopes to commission over 1000 MW by March 2021 and has projects of more than 250 MW in the pipeline. Spelling her vision, Nidhi says, “In the next five years, we are aiming for 3000 MW and want every household in India to have its own solar plant.”
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan