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UPS makers look up to the Sun for growth

According to reports, makers of power back-up devices are now pushing solar -powered variants with a promise to lower electricity bills and tide over sales that have remained sluggish sales after a timely monsoon and subsequent drop in load-shedding schedules.

Various states are in the process of finalising an incentive policy for households using roof-top solar panels, a boon for the manufacturers. Also stepping up the green drive are proposals to allow power generated by households to be sold on the grid.

Market leader Luminous currently generates 10% of its revenue from solar products. It will now double its manufacturing capacity for solar inverters (back-up devices), batteries and home lighting lanterns. Other UPS (uninterrupted power systems) makers Su-kam Power Systems will make 2.5 lakh more units (from the present 1.8 lakh units capacity) and Exide Industries plans to introduce new range of tubular batteries to improve efficiency. “The company is targeting a revenue of over Rs 350 crore almost 3.5 times more than that in last fiscal,” a Su-kam executive said.

India’s household power back-up market is estimated at Rs 6,000 crore per annum and thrives on erratic power supply in most cities. Back-up appliances work on batteries that need heavy charging power to function during the blackouts, a deterrent for buyers.

But with electricity generation and distribution improving slowly and more and more communities buying power generator sets, UPS makers are now luring consumers with a power-saver promise. Companies say use of solar devices can cut power bills by 35%.

In Delhi, the electricity regulatory authority is seeking approval allowing cash incentive on surplus power to be supplied to grid from small roof top panels. A similar proposal seeking barter of power with grid instead of capital subsidy is awaiting approval from the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission mooted by the Union Territories. An official of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission said that two-way electric meters to measure surplus power and allow additional solar power on grid are needed to be put in place.

A study conducted by Su-kam in Gurgaon at 35- odd houses fitted with a low-priced 850 VA solar UPS showed 30-35% drop in electricity bills of consumers. A UPS of 850 VA could run fans, lights and computers for up to six hours once fully charged.

Its general manager, sales, Dhananjay Sharma, says cost of buying the system could be recovered in two years. The company recently acquired two industrial units at Baddi to enhance production of solar products. The company is planning a range of rooftop products in capacities from 250 VA to 500 KVA to cater to small households and institutions.

Manish Pant, MD of Luminous Technologies, a subsidiary of Schneider Electric, expects the solar product market to multiply post implementation of the incentive policy for household roof top solar projects.

Use of Solar power devices will help round the year sales of household UPS products that are otherwise restricted to summer and monsoon months. “The solar based UPS has widened the market by bringing sales throughout the year,” an executive of Exide Industries that offers largest range of batteries said.

Exide that recorded suppressed demand in home UPS battery sales is witnessing a rise in battery sales for solar applications. The company has launched new range of tubular batteries to tap the trend in the solar UPS market.

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