Exclusive Interview with Simarpreet Singh, Founder-Director of Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd and Hartek India Pvt Ltd

Mr Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Group
Mr Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Group

Exclusive Interview with Mr.Simarpreet Singh, Founder-Director of Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd and Hartek India Pvt Ltd

Simarpreet Singh is a young and dynamic entrepreneur who is pursuing the adoption of ingenious power solutions with a passionate zeal. Driven by a resolve to contribute significantly to the Indian power sector value chain, Simarpreet Singh, the Founder-Director of Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd, the Hartek Group’s rooftop solar vertical, and Hartek India Pvt Ltd, the manufacturing business of the Group, has led from the front to turn the Hartek Group into one of India’s fastest growing conglomerates and chart its growth story in the manufacturing and rooftop solar domains.

1) From an electrical trading house to a diversified conglomerate with business interests across the power sector value chain, the Hartek Group has come a long way since its inception three decades ago. What is the secret behind your success?

Ans: We started off as an electrical trading company, which in due course established itself as a market leader in one-stop solutions to all high-tension equipment requirements of power and related industries. After putting the company on a firm footing, we peaked at the right time in 2007 when power sector reforms had opened up the T&D space for private companies by setting up our EPC division.

A few years later when the emphasis shifted to power generation from sources of clean energy, we started focusing on solar grid connectivity and also set up a separate rooftop solar division. So, timing our business operations with market requirements has played a crucial role in defining our success. Over the past three decades, our passion for the power sector has been growing with each passing year. The very thought of connecting thousands of households to the grid in a country where 300 million people are still without electricity keeps us going.

 

2) How does the Hartek Group on the whole derive strength from a diversified portfolio?

Ans: Our diversified portfolio is one of our biggest strengths, but what has really clicked for us is our focused approach and integrated business model. The Hartek Group operates through five strategic business units—Power Systems, Rooftop Solar, Power Distribution Products, Fuel Services and Value Added Services—but transmission and distribution (T&D) continues to remain at the heart of all our businesses. We knew all along that we were cut out for big substation projects. After establishing our business on a firm footing, we ventured into the EPC business of substations and transmission lines in 2007. Two year later, we formed our Value Added Services business unit to provide service back-up support to our clients. Building up on the collaborative model of doing business through licence agreements with global industry giants, we tied up with Schneider Electric in manufacturing high-voltage electrical panels and other power distribution products. This initiative gave rise to Hartek India Pvt Ltd, an alliance partner of Schneider Electric, in 2012.

While people view the Hartek Group as a diversified one with five business units, we see it as one core business model going for forward and backward integration to add value for the end consumer. Since supply chain holds the key for every project, our move to go for backward integration by manufacturing the equipment used in substation EPC has indeed been a game changer for us. This backward integration model has enabled the company to integrate backwards into manufacturing and assemble its own products under Brand Hartek, which also cater to the requirements of industries, utilities and independent power producers. The economies of scale of this manufacturing business have been immense for Hartek Power and its EPC portfolio with appreciable improvement in supply chain and considerable reduction in costs. Building on these efforts, we embarked on Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd, our separate rooftop solar division, four years ago.

3) Of late, solar has been a major thrust area for you. What is the growth outlook for solar industry in India?

Ans: While renewable energy consultancy firm Bridge to India has slashed the projections for rooftop solar capacity additions to 10.8 GW for 2021 from 13.2 GW, things are steadily returning to normal with restoration of supply chains, revival of pent up demand and more availability of labour. Some experts predict a strong rebound of rooftop solar installations on account of these factors in a month or two. This comeback will largely be driven by the increase in demand for rooftop solar installations from commercial and industrial consumers, a trend which was visible in the last quarter of 2020 and is only likely to catch up in coming months.

Bogged down by the financial constraints faced by them during the lockdown days, consumers of the commercial and industrial categories have now come to realise that going solar is the best way to cut down operational electricity costs and get respite from the high retail tariffs. No wonder, commercial and industrial consumers accounted for 95 per cent of the new rooftop solar installations in 2020, and 2021 is not likely to be any different. Most of this demand is likely to come from the agro, pharma, education and healthcare sectors. Many of the commercial and industrial consumers who have already installed rooftop solar plants are expected to go for capacity expansion of their solar facilities with rooftop solar emerging as the cheapest source of electricity.

 

4) How do you plan to meet the challenges and cash in on the opportunities the fast-growing solar market in India presents?

Ans: As a T&D infrastructure player specialising in connecting electricity to the grid, we have provided grid connectivity to more than 2 GW of solar power for leading independent power producers (IPPs). In line with the government’s plans and policies, we are now targeting larger projects and solar parks to build on the momentum. Growing at a phenomenal pace, the market is witnessing a huge influx of investment in solar power. Following a simple strategy to make the most of these opportunities, we have renewed our focus on setting new benchmarks in in-house design, engineering, uncompromising quality standards and timely completion of projects.

The government’s thrust on rooftop solar also presents a plethora of opportunities, particularly in the commercial and industrial categories, which we are currently targeting. Among India’s leading rooftop solar installers with an installed capacity of more than 40-MW, we are looking to add immense value to the country’s clean energy ecosystem with our innovative solutions. The residential category will prove to be a big game changer when the government puts effective net metering policies in place and makes rooftop solar plants mandatory for new buildings. All set to tap these opportunities, we have already introduced small-scale solar solutions in the form of customised plug-and-play kits with a unique remote sensing technology, which promise to go a long way in giving a push to rooftop solar installations in the residential domain.

 

5) The T&D segment in India is in for a massive transformation. What changes do you foresee in the T&D industry in the near future?

Ans: The T&D segment in India is estimated to witness a planned investment of $75 billion in the next five years. With the stage set for the country to gradually shift from high-voltage to extra high-voltage (765 KV and above) transmission lines, transmission projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore are expected to come up for bidding in the next couple of years. There is so much potential in the T&D industry and the public sector which is simply waiting to be tapped. With 14,000 circuit km of inter-state transmission system projects under construction, the Indian power sector is in for unprecedented growth, and private enterprises are poised to play a key role in achieving it. The Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) and Railways are ready to roll out T&D projects in a big way. Though a shot in the arm for the country’s T&D infrastructure, it will not be enough. A lot of ground remains to be covered. Ideally, every rupee spent on generation should be met with a matching amount on transmission. But in comparison to generation, India spends only one-fourth on transmission. While our installed power generation capacity has grown substantially, the growth in transmission capacity leaves a lot to be desired.

 

6) Besides your expertise in connecting solar power to the grid, you have added immense value to the T&D value chain by executing more than 200 high-voltage and extra high-voltage substations. How do you intend to build on it?

Ans: The government’s special thrust on building grid infrastructure through private participation is bringing a plethora of business opportunities for companies like Hartek Power. The flagship company of the Hartek Group, Hartek Power is gearing up to match industry requirements by capitalising on its expertise of executing extra high-voltage substations and transmission lines. It has already bagged prestigious substation projects from public sector undertakings like the PGCIL, state PSUs like the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC), state utilities like the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd, Uttar Haryana Bijlli Vitran Nigam Ltd and Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Ltd, independent power producers and industries.

A leader in smart grid solutions, SCADA and automation technologies, the company is well poised to meet the requirements of the industry in years to come. We will be targeting the extra high voltage class in a big way, for which we are heavily investing in design and engineering and integrating latest technologies to be ahead of the game.

 

7) Where do you see the Hartek Group five years from now? What is your roadmap for the future?

Ans: We are firming up our foothold by working on innovative small-scale solar solutions like solar trees and solar fencing to capitalise on emerging trends. We will also be focusing on energy storage solutions and charging stations infrastructure to build a truly sustainable ecosystem for future generations. Digital substations equipped with SCADA and other automation devices, smart grid technologies, extra high voltage transmission lines, gas-insulated substations and biogas plants will be our other focus areas. Sustainability being at the core of our strategies, we will continue to invest in sustainable technologies.

All fired up about adoption of renewable energy and sustainable power infrastructure, we envision the Hartek Group among the Fortune 500 companies—a global leader in EPC of power systems, rooftop solar and manufacturing—as we plan to go global through strategic tie-ups with overseas companies. Our ultimate aim is to work towards connecting every household with reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity.

About Neel Achary 18964 Articles
Neel Achary is the editor of Business News This Week. He has been covering all the business stories, economy, and corporate stories.