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An Interview with Pranesh Chaudhary: On the Rise in Demand for Solar Panels and Solar Energy in India During the Pandemic

Founder and CEO, Transfin.
Jun 29, 2020 10:06 AM 4 min read
Editorial

We catch up with Pranesh Chaudhary, Founder and CEO of ZunRoof, a leading residential solar rooftop and home IOT company, on how COVID is inducing an accelerated push towards residential solar.

 

Mr. Chaudhary sees the surge in home electricity bills with millions working from home as a key driver encouraging more households to adopt solar.

 

He emphasises the valuable role played by government subsidies and net-metering within a consumer’s buying cycle but finds the lack of a single window approval process much wanting.

 

While most people believe only groceries, pharmaceuticals and telecom should expect growth in these times, electricity...is often ignored.

 

Q. How do you think the pandemic impacts the retail solar energy sector?

Wider economic ramifications aside, are there any policy and industry trends that you are keenly looking at and expect to help the industry come out of the pandemic?

Mr. Chaudhary:

As a data-driven, rational, and optimistic person – I see this as an opportunity for the residential solar sector.

Solar rooftop sales usually peak in summertime at an industry-wide level with electricity bills beginning to hurt customers.

Now when a majority of homeowners are working-from-home, electricity bills are expected to be double or higher (with home air conditioners being ON through the day). This hypothesis is verified by Google Trends, which shows the search term ‘solar panel’ shoot up the roof in last 2 weeks, over the past 5 years.

 

Pranesh Chaudhary, Founder and CEO, ZunRoof

 

 

Q. Let’s jump right into ZunRoof! You guys have been doing a lot of work on rooftop solar. Can you briefly explain ZunRoof’s business model? Is it largely a B2C play?

Mr. Chaudhary:

ZunRoof is India’s leading residential solar rooftop company with over 4,000+ solar rooftops installed in 75+ cities across 12 states. We install solar rooftops for homeowners, helping them save over 90% in electricity bills, while also giving them a taste of our home Internet of Things (IoT) products. Yes, it is a B2C play.

 

Q. PM Modi is calling for a rooftop-solar-powered city in every Indian state. Solar PV manufacturing has also been named as a potential “Champion” sector by the government.

How important a role will government and policymakers continue to play in lifting the entire ecosystem around solar energy?

Mr. Chaudhary:

For residential solar rooftops, subsidy and net-metering has played an especially important role till date in the consumer buying cycle, both of which are government instruments.

The biggest challenge has been the lack of single window approval for these instruments, which in turn contributes significant delays in delivering a project and hampers customer experience.

 

Q. Do you think we will see any dramatic shifts in consumer behavior from an energy consumption standpoint?

Mr. Chaudhary:

With work from home being a mandate for most companies, the electricity bill of consumers is bound to double. Solar rooftop is the best alternative available to consumers as it will result in sizeable savings on their electricity bills.

At the same time consumers want social distancing while availing any service, including solar. Hence, we have been prompt in shifting to video calls for solar site assessments at ZunRoof.

 

Q. You have increasingly stepped up your presence on the IoT front i.e. The idea of having “smart devices” where multiple devices communicate and interact with one another?

How do you think about this segment as a growth driver?

Mr. Chaudhary:

As ZunRoof, we solve two issues – Demand and Supply of electricity. While the solar rooftop vertical takes care of demand, zunpulse - our home automation division takes care of the supply side.

Wi-Fi enabled zunpulse smart devices make every home smart by controlling different appliances with just one tap on our App.

This will save any unwanted wastage of electricity for homeowners, giving them the comfort and convenience they always wanted and enable social distancing at homes through contactless processes.

 

Q. Finally, a word for the investor community? There has been a lot of chatter on renewables and there are bunch of startups and bigger companies doing work in this area.

What are your views on solar as an investment opportunity?

Mr. Chaudhary:

While most of the people believe only groceries, pharmaceuticals and telecom should expect growth in these times, electricity - the fourth necessity after food, clothing & shelter, is often ignored.

A solar rooftop saves you money while you work from home, while you have had a salary cut and even while you lose your job or business for a few months. These savings would otherwise have to go out through your pocket since there is a limit to which you can cut down on the electricity usage.

Investors definitely are not among these majority thinkers. But they would have known this even before reading my views.

FIN.

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