Hiren Pravin Shah is the Executive Director & CEO of Replus Engitech.
Cnb: What is RePlus Engitech? Can you share its background?
Hiren Pravin Shah: RePlus Engitech started almost three years ago, in August 2019, with the thought process to cater to the domestic needs of energy that would have a social impact. It should also be sustainable, smart, secure, and shareable. Initially, the grid was using fossil fuels, so there was a need for renewable sources. And the answer was storage, this was the first step, and I thought that storage is inevitable because there is a need for making the grid green. Secondly, also from the consumer side, people won’t adapt or change to electric vehicles. The TCO calculations for every vehicle were a game changer because the cost of how we use mobility will also change going forward. And that will be a driving force. Because once the components and products are manufactured locally, they will take off exponentially. So, with these two things in my mind, RePlus Engitech was conceptualised.
Cnb: Could you shed light on a few successful projects undertaken by RePlus Engitech?
HPS: Initially, we developed microgrids for projects on islands, resorts, etc with commercial industrial applications. One such example is Big Basket, which has refrigerated warehouses for its perishable goods. We made a microgrid for them, replacing their dependency on diesel generators with a solar rooftop. Another special project we undertook was the Modhera Sun Temple project which was completed in August 2021, where we established India’s first solar power that provided electricity to an entire village. Then we collaborated with Power Corporation Limited, funded by the central government along with multiple stakeholders. Here, we built a solar farm with 7-Mwh, with the agenda to generate and accumulate electricity, and then store it in RePlus Engitech’s 19.2-MWh storage system. At the end of the day, the stored power in the battery is used to light up the entire village, while the excess power is either retained in the battery or transferred back to the grid, depending on the requirement. After a successful inaugural year, the project received positive responses from the Centre as well as the village.
The system is controlled through a micro-grid controller incorporating demand-response so that demand can be matched to available supply in the safest and most optimised manner.
Cnb: How has the shortage of electronic chips and other components affected your business?
HPS: Definitely, there is a shortage, critically of two components- steel and semiconductor. We’ve secured strategic partnerships with global manufacturers and since our demand is considerably small, these companies easily cater to our requirements. On the semiconductor side, we have signed strategic deals with multiple players in this space, with components supplied from Southeast Asia markets. Although the market is saturated now, we expect it to pick pace soon.
In the grid-edge ecosystem, Replus can guide utilities in their digital transformation, offering consulting, expertise in distributed energy resources (DER), micro-grids, and battery energy storage, and complete automation solutions.
Cnb: Any plans to set up a production facility for Battery Storage systems and Advanced Cell Chemistry in India?
HPS: Having our own manufacturing facility is something we really want to explore, and our first unit will be operational by 2023. We will also have our own Battery Storage System (BSS) as well, but currently, it is being sourced from overseas markets. At present, India doesn’t produce its own electronic components needed for automobiles and so is exported. Of course, work has commenced on establishing a supply chain here, but there’s no timeline. Having said that, we have a very strong association with American, Taiwanese, and Japanese chipset manufacturers giving us access to the latest developments. Secondly, we don’t foresee getting into cell manufacturing at this moment. But once we cross a certain threshold, then definitely we will seriously look at the advanced cell chemistry.
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