India: Traditional EPC players yet to make a mark


Larsen & Toubro’s Engineering and Construction division (L&T-ECC ) and Moser Baer Clean Energy Ltd. (MBCEL) are the leading EPC players in the Indian market.

MBCEL, a division of Moser Baer Projects, is dedicated to developing wind and solar power plants on a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis. The company has established itself as an international developer and power producer with projects in Europe, the U.S. and India. It is expected to commission close to 200 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic projects in the western Indian state of Gujarat by early 2012.

Being an Indian company present in the industry for more than four years has allowed it to understand the market in its early stages and successfully tackle many of the project execution challenges that would be difficult for international companies. Its 30 MW photovoltaic plant, commissioned in October 2011 in Gujarat is one of the very few projects to be commissioned in the state and the largest to be commissioned in India so far.

L&T-ECC is the most reputed infrastructure EPC Company in India. It has partnered with the Japan-based Sharp Group for turnkey EPC services for megawatt scale photovoltaic plants. This is in line with its strategy to expand its infrastructure EPC prowess into the solar sector. L&T-ECC has EPC contracts for about 100 MW of photovoltaic projects under India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) and the Gujarat Solar Policy.

Other Indian infrastructure companies entering the photovoltaic industry as EPC players include SOMA Enterprises and Megha Engineering India Ltd. (MEIL). Infrastructure companies including Lanco Infratech Ltd., GMR Infra Ltd., Torrent Power, Coastal Projects Ltd. and JSW Ltd. are coordinating the EPC work for the photovoltaic plants developed by them.

In most cases, these companies hand over their Balance-of-System (BoS) contracts to electrical solution companies after individually procuring modules and inverters. Some of the most preferred electrical solution providers for photovoltaic plants in India comprise ABB Solar, AREWA T&D and Bonfiglioli.

ABB Solar, Schneider Electric and AEG Power Solutions, each have project pipelines of about 30 MW or more. ABB Solar also undertakes complete EPC contracts for photovoltaic plants. Usually, the modules for these plants are procured by the developer itself and ABB Solar supplies its in-house inverters. A similar EPC model is also followed by Schneider Electric and AEG Power Solutions, which also have in-house inverter supplies.

Tata BP Solar, one of the oldest module manufacturers in India, has moved downstream as an EPC player in a very strategic way. Most of its projects are supplied with modules manufactured in-house. With contracts for most of the projects under the Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plant (RPSSGP) scheme of the NSM and more than 35 MW worth of photovoltaic projects under the NSM and the Gujarat Solar policy, the company now has a considerable share of the EPC market in India.

Tata BP Solar is also a channel partner under the off-grid scheme of the NSM. Other Indian module manufacturers have also stepped in as EPC players to create more demand for their modules, but are yet to find success.

Companies such as Juwi India, Belectric India, Solar Semiconductors, Solarsis and Staten Solar are EPC companies that focus on photovoltaic system design and integration. Juwi India is only now beginning to emerge in the Indian industry with a pipeline of less than 20 MW. The others have pipelines of less than 10 MW. Such companies directly procure plant equipment from different vendors based on their specific plant design and desired performance. They provide high quality, turnkey solutions for the complete plant.

Indian developers, on the other hand, look to cut down on EPC costs by routing supplies through different procurement channels. As a result, they are not keen on giving contracts to traditional EPC players that essentially offer a higher price due to their business model. Juwi, Belectric, AIC Projects and SunEdison are the only such players executing megawatt scale projects in India.

Mohit Anand is a senior consultant for Bridge to India, a strategic consulting company founded in 2008 and based in New Delhi, India as well as Hamburg and Munich in Germany. Bridge to India’s expertise lies in assisting international clients to engage the Indian market in the fields of sustainability strategies and renewable energies, especially solar energy. Bridge to India offers services in three fields: market intelligence, project development and strategic consulting.