Startup Story #14: Our only hope is the Sun

Solar power plant

Dependence on renewable energy is picking up day by day as it becomes an environmentally-friendly and economically beneficial option. An energy source that is seen as an alternative to generate electricity in markets all over, is solar energy. One such Pune-based startup has recognised the need and value of solar power plants. Re Green Energy, a company which began in November 2015, generates solar power plants for industrial and commercial units. “Over the last five to seven years the prices of solar power has become less expensive making it more affordable. The market is continuously growing and we saw the potential and took the leap,” says Kushal Shah, co-founder of Re Green Energy.

With a degree in mechanical engineering, a job at Forbes Marshall as a research and development engineer made him take the step into the startup sector. A close family friend acted as a partner in disguise to energise the plan of setting up Re Green Energy. A BBA graduate, Tanveer Bhathal decided to partner with Shah as their aspirations of creating their own mark matched. “We were considering ways to help the environment and starting something of our own. We were looking at waste management and bio mass and zeroed on solar power plants. The government has targeted a 175 Gigawatt of solar power by 2022. There are a lot of favourable policies in place that act as incentives in this sector. Therefore, solar power being one of the most upcoming markets we decided to enter it. Also, my family business is into engineering procurement and construction (EPC) which helped us to get a general sense of how things work,” says the co-founder.

Investraunaut

Re Green Energy which also stands for reuse and renewable, aims to focus on the several benefits solar power plants can provide. According to the founders, industries consume a lot of electricity, which adds to their operational expenditure. This is where the functioning of solar power plants is implemented. “The solar modules constructed, generate power. Then, we connect the power plant to the same source from where the MSEB power is being generated. Priority is given to solar energy and the balance power is taken from the MSEB connection. This helps the industrial and commercial units to reduce their dependency on electricity, reducing costs to a great extent,” explains Shah. The entire process that is undertaken by the company takes upto five months to complete depending on the size of the plant which includes designing, procuring equipment and fulfilling the required government procedures. Solar power plants are designed in two ways conditional to the space available. One is constructed on the roofs of the company which is a space that is hardly utilised, or there is a ground based system which is looked at if there is space constriction.

While setting up the venture, changing the general perception of solar power plants being different from solar water heaters and a costly investment was challenge. “We decided we would not just go to sell our product but educate the client about it as well. Solar power reduces operational costs and increases profits. We now have people who we approached four months back to get the plant fixed,” smiles Bhathal. Shah adds on, “Life of the plant is 25 years, so you will pay back the cost of it in three to four years after which a balance 20 years is free power.” But, the battle doesn’t stop here, certain challenges are ongoing which require a dedicated team. “A lot of research is needed; every state has different policies regarding solar power. Technology is constantly evolving so we always need to be aware. Major challenge is researching the different prices in the market because it’s an upcoming field, therefore major competition,” explains Shah.

The entrepreneurial duo that belong to strong business families could have easily continued doing so instead of “fixing nuts and bolts at our plant.” With zero technical skills they decided practical knowledge is the most effective and began their first plant with a team of two. It was their strive for success and determination to create their own standing that pushed them forward. “With family businesses, everyone thinks you are given everything on a silver platter. This is not given to us, we made it and have to make sure we sustain it,” says Bhathal. Shah resonates his thoughts, “There’s no excitement in doing something that is already done. If everyone sticks to their family business, no new enterprise will grow. I gave up my scholarship for my master’s because I recognised the value in this and felt that we could make it successful. For me I love taking up challenges, you get recognised for something you did yourself. It’s like your baby.”

With a clientele consisting of Volkswagen, Hyundai and industrial units across Maharashtra, Re Green Energy plans on taking on residential homes as well. Pune has proved to the perfect place to begin according to the entrepreneurs’ as “here you have the IT sector, industries and restaurants, the market we cater to is right here.” What is the key to success of their startup is a piece of advice they feel every budding entrepreneur should follow: “Don’t be short sighted. Unless you try you won’t succeed. Also, don’t wait for the right time. When you are in your twenties like us, you can take risks and have nothing to lose. Also, practice is the best teacher a degree is not always necessary.

Zeenat Tinwala

Zeenat Tinwala

She’s our Employee #1 and is often the first to come in and last to leave office. And she’s an accomplished kickboxer. Stay clear! zeenat@pune365.com
Zeenat Tinwala

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