Meet the man who made it to the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list for his solar startup
We are all aware of the numerous benefits of solar energy. It is clean, reliable, and a renewable source of energy. It does not pollute the environment by releasing harmful gases like carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide.
Today, India is harnessing the unlimited power of the sun at a very fast pace. The country's installed capacity stands at a staggering 31.696 GW as of October 31, 2019. While commercial and industrial buildings are utilising most of this energy, households account for only nine percent of the total rooftop solar capacity, according to Bridge to India, a renewable energy consultancy firm.
In order to encourage people to adopt solar energy, Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd was started in 2017 by Simarpreet Singh. The Chandigarh-based company aims to offer small-scale solar solutions, and is fostering a culture of community-driven clean energy through its customised residential rooftop solar kits.
The company has built the product in such a way that it allows people to monitor the energy generated and at the same time calls for minimal maintenance cost.
Simarpreet and his team of 30 have already installed more than 300 solar kits across residences in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh over the last two years.
“Solar energy is the only form of power that is unrestricted and almost evenly distributed to everyone. If harnessed effectively as an alternative to other fossil fuels, it can help save trees and reduce carbon footprint as well. This was the idea behind establishing Hartek Solar. We wanted to provide the best way for every single individual to use solar energy,” Simarpreet Singh tells SocialStory.
How it all started?
Simarpreet established Hartek Solar as part of the power conglomerate Hartek Group. His father, Hartek Singh, a first-generation entrepreneur, ventured into the power sector by starting an electrical trading company way back in 1991. Over the years, he gradually expanded the operations and set up Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) divisions with an aim to set up electrical grids and substations.
After completing his MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, Simarpreet took up an Executive Education Programme in Finance from London School of Business. The idea of setting up a venture struck him when he was working with Hartek Power as a Project Manager.
“As part of my work, I went to visit a site in Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh. We had to inspect an agricultural land which was being viewed as a potential spot for setting up a substation. However, I could not help but notice that many houses in the area did not have electricity. That was when the thought of promoting solar energy among households sprang in my head. The very idea of building sustainable infrastructure on every rooftop in the country fascinated me and I decided to make the first move,” says Simarpreet.
Instead of restricting himself to his family business, the 29-year-old mustered the courage to incorporate Hartek Solar in 2017. He procured the seed investment and initial funds from Hartek Group’s internal accruals, and is now in talks with angel investors and strategic partners to garner financial resources.
Promoting clean energy
After spending a year doing research about how solar energy can be taken to the residential segment, Simarpreet and his team launched customised plug-and-play rooftop solar kits in May 2018. Before marketing the product, they organised an awareness drive highlighting the importance of using sustainable energy forms in public places like gurudwaras, local community halls, and temples.
The design of Hartek’s solar kits was such that they are compact and easy to install. The kit acts as a packaged solution that includes all the necessary components – right from solar panels, to earthing cables, and invertors. Besides, they are customised according to the rooftop of the house.
“The solar kits are made-to-order depending on factors like the size of the terrace as well as the shadow areas on the rooftop. A group of engineers and designers inspect the rooftop of the house and undertake a shadow analysis using our in house software to determine the position of the panels and the type of roof (RCC, tin, or shed) that will be best suitable to harness maximum solar energy,” explains Simarpreet.
After the analysis, Hartek Solar procures all the components required for the solar kits from multiple vendors, and packages, stores them in its warehouse cum office space. Once the product is ready, it is directly shipped to the residence, and a team of engineers go and install the panels along with other items. This in turn fulfills the company’s goal of providing a one-stop solution for households to use solar energy.
The design, engineering, supply, installation, commissioning, and servicing is taken care of to ensure that every house owner has access to sustainable energy infrastructure at a price ranging from Rs 35,000 to 55,000.
Another feature that stands out in Hartek Solar’s offering is the remote sensing technology to monitor the generation and savings of solar energy.
“Every inverter is embedded with a data logger, which needs to be synced to the consumer’s WiFi or SIM card. Once that is done, all they have to do is download the Hartek Solar app and log in by setting a username and password. The remote sensing technology we have developed enables individuals to check the amount of solar energy generated and saved as well as keeps track of maintenance on a real time basis. The app is available both on Android and iOS,” says Simarpreet.
A step towards sustainable future
Manjit Singh Saran, a resident of Sector 10 in Chandigarh, opted for Hartek’s rooftop solar kit a few months ago and is happy to be a part of this clean energy drive.
“After opting for Hartek’s solar, inflated electricity bills is no longer a concern. The company takes care of all the needs ranging from cleaning and operation to maintenance. Motivated by my experience, many of my neighbours have also become a part of the clean energy initiative by going for these kits. Considering the bad state of the environment today, the use of renewable energy is the need of the hour, and Hartek definitely resonates with this,” he says.
At a time when people are combating the ill effects of climate change and pollution, using clean energy offers a respite. Simarpreet is focused on promoting this through their product. He was even featured in the coveted Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list of achievers for his innovative small-scale solar solutions.
“We are working towards scaling our efforts to promote clean energy in every nook and corner of India. The goal is to help every individual offset their carbon footprint by using solar energy. Once we reach economies of scale, we are even planning to offer our services to people residing in rural areas at a reduced price,” says Simarpreet.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)