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Solar case controversy hurts photo-voltaic business in Kerala

According to reports, rising controversy over the solar fraud case has damaged the sales and market of solar photo-voltaic (PV) business in the state, say experts in the field. “Sales of solar PV products in Kerala have dipped by 75% after the controversy. Those planning to install solar-powered inverters have postponed their purchase,” said K N Iyer, MD of Kraftwork Solar Pvt Ltd and VP of Kerala Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs & Promoters Association.

He also feels that the industry would take another year to regain its momentum.

According to Sijo Joseph, CEO of Technopark-based Ronds Innotech Pvt Ltd, even larger projects have been postponed or cancelled. “We got a customer who had almost handed over a cheque but changed his stand as the controversy began. Now we have to finish installing the equipment to get back the project cost of Rs 11 lakh,” he said. However, his sales of residential systems are unaffected as he relies mainly on word-of-mouth publicity.

Prabissh Thomas, MD of UAE-based PTL Solar Fz Llc, opined that awareness among consumers is the key as controversies will be there in any industry. “There will be fly-by-night companies who would make money out of the market potential,” said Thomas who managed to fetch his largest contract despite the controversy.

Marketing malpractices, low-quality components and high-priced solar panels are the other problems that are hurting the industry’s growth.

A Kochi-based firm got out of the business as they found out that there are widespread marketing malpractices. “Many companies hide from their clients that there is energy loss in PV systems. If you set up a 1KW system, it would give you a maximum output of 800W. The maintenance cost of a battery is quite high – it may last for a maximum of 5 years and you have to spend Rs 15,000 – Rs 18,000 on a single battery,” said the owner of the firm on conditions of anonymity.

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