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How to start a successful Solar Energy Business in India [2020]

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and if you are looking for the business opportunity in this industry.


Here are seven proven steps to start solar energy business in India. I use eject these eight steps to start of my own Solar Startup named Pay-Per-Watt.


Starting a solar energy business in India require lots of efforts and determination. Just remember, be flexible. Before jumping on each step let’s learn about current situation of solar industry in India


Solar Industry in India


The initial target of solar power plant capacity in India, by 2022 was 40 GW (or 40,000 MW) which was achieved four years ahead of schedule.


As of 30th of June 2020, the total installed capacity of solar power plant in India is 35,122 MW and the targeted solar capacity by 2022, is 100GW (100,000 MW) which includes 40GW of rooftop solar.


Hence, there is 250,000 crore Rs worth of business available in Indian solar industry and these are governments targets only. The actual Indian solar market could be 6 laakh crore.


Solar industry could be divided into two parts one as Utility scale solar power plant and the other is rooftop solar power plant.


Utility scale solar Industry: There is no official definition of utility scale solar plant. Most of the solar industrialist refers large scale solar power plants which generate enough power to cause a noticeable change in the operation of state electricity boards.


Now take an example

A 10 kW solar power plant in residential area can’t make any significant change in the grid operation but and 500 KW or above size of solar power plant can.


On the other hand in industrial area 1 MW (1000kW) of solar power plant can’t make any noticeable change in the operation of grid operation.


But a 100MW or above size of solar plant in any possible way make noticeable change in the operation of grid operation.


Also Utility scale solar power plant can be ground mounted or rooftop mounted.


Rooftop solar Industry: As the named suggested, rooftop solar industry is related to the solar power plant mounted on the rooftop. It could be of industrial rooftop or residential rooftop.


For industrial rooftop, plant size could be in between 100kW to 3 MW (3000kW) whereas for residential rooftop same could be in between 200 Watt to 500 kW.

Before starting jumping on each steps, here are few things need to be considered before starting solar business.

What to consider when starting a solar energy business in India?


Starting a solar energy business in India can be a fascinating idea for anyone. But not every start their solar dream and not everyone succeed in their solar dream.


Starting a solar energy business required numbers of skills and each skill have their own learning curve. Some skill takes more time than other to be master in them.


Here are the six things to consider before starting a solar energy business in India.

  • Discover your Solar Business model.

  • How is solar Business in your state?

  • Startup Cost

  • How much capital do you have and how much finance you will require?

  • Who are your competitors?

  • Is solar business profitable?

Discover your Solar Business model.


Discovering you solar business model is also the first step of starting solar business, you will find the same you keep reading this article or skip to our in depth article on Solar business models in India.


How is solar Business in your state?


Easy of doing solar business in different states isn’t same as it look. Refer below pictures shows you the list of top states in easy of doing business for both utility scale solar and rooftop solar

Source : Bridge to India


Source : Bridge to India


For utility scale projects, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan are ranked as the top three states on overall ‘ease of doing business.While Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Haryana are ranked at the bottom.


In rooftop solar, the top three states are Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, while the bottom three states are Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.


Source : Bridge to India


Startup Cost


You can found the Startup Cost of solar business in India via our article on solar business model in India.


Is solar business profitable in India?


Yes it is profitable, but how much you can make is depends upon how much you understand the solar industry. The best part of the solar business is that you can start on small scale and spread your business empire as per your rate of learning. You can start with small investing solar business model and scale it up by developing other solar business models too.


How much capital do you have and how much finance you will require?


Only you discover this by yourself, so brace yourself and follows these three steps


First: Estimate how much money do you have?

Second: Choose your solar business model.

Third: If the most suitable solar business model to you is above your savings. Then raise your budget by finance.

Who are your competitors?


You can list out the same by using Google. For example, if you are living in Nagpur and your solar business model is Solar EPC than go to Google and search for keywords like “solar epc companies in Nagpur” and you will find most of your competitors.


It also helps you to understand how many competitors are there in your state by clicking on Google map.


Without further discussion, here are


8 steps to start your successful solar business in India.


Step#1: Discover your business model


Starting a solar company of any field (EPC, OEM or I&C etc) for Utility scale solar power plants required huge upfront money with years of industry experience.


But if you are looking for a small or medium size business setup in solar industry, rooftop solar industry will be the best option for you. It required low upfront cost and less technical experience.


For a perfect business plan, first you need to choose business model as per your financial budget, working experience and technical knowledge. Some business models required higher investment with basic technical knowledge and some required higher technical knowledge and work experience but low on investment.


Here is 13 and more solar business model out of which you can choose the best one fit to you.


Business Models required high investment and basic technical knowledge

Model#1: Solar Inverter Distribution ship

Model#2: Solar panel distribution ships

Model#3: Solar Street light supplier


Business Models required Medium investment and amateur’s technical knowledge

Model#4: Solar O&M

Model#5: Solar BOS supplier

Model#6: Solar ACDB & JB supplier

Model#7: Solar cable supplier


Business Models required low investment and high technical knowledge

Model#8: Solar Designer

Model#9: Solar Consultant


Business Models required low investment and basic technical knowledge

Model#10: Solar Lead generation


Business Models required Medium investment and high technical knowledge

Model#11: Solar EPC

Model#12: Solar structure supplier

Model#13: Solar I&C


Curious about the investment and technical knowledge required for each business model? Click here to learn more about each business model with investment required and market research.


All these business models are related to each other you can start with one (or more) as per funds availability to you and explore others to expand your business.


You can start a solar I&C company and then expand your company as solar EPC.

Step#2: Start Basic learning


It doesn’t matter which solar business model you choose, you will required basic technical knowledge of solar power plant. And it will require time depends upon the solar business model you choose.


Even after spending days on the study of solar power plant. You will learn lots of things through your journey as a solar industrialist.


Remember learning is the key of development for any business. If you limit yourself with limited amount of knowledge, the possibility of business failures will be high in a long run.


If you keep learning, you can easily explore other solar business model to expand your business.


Step#3: Market Research


In this step, you need to gather information about how the solar business in India, who is the target buyers, is and what is the future of solar industry in India.


Market research will tell you, what your possible customers want and are they conducting their own research about the product or the services provided by similar companies.


Also Market research helps you to understand the factors that influencing the decisions of possible client to convert and buy?


Without market research it’s not possible to understand your possible clients. You might have a general idea about the progress and future of solar industry but you have to understand the in-depth situation of the industry.


All these may looks too much for you, but don’t worry we have done some market research for you. Are you curious about future of solar business in India?


Step#5: Branding


Branding is basically a marketing practice in which you will create your company name and a logo that can be easily identified. Branding is one of the factors which can influence the decisions of possible client to convert into a buyer.


Branding is helps you to generate future business, it increase business value by giving you and your company a unique identity in the industry.


It doesn’t matter which solar business model you chose, branding is a must have identity. Even if you are taking dealership for any solar product, branding is required to separate you from other distributors.


Branding of your solar company will help you in so many ways:

  • It helps to generate new customers

  • It helps in creating market value

  • It helps to standing out from competition and

  • It also support in marketing.

Branding required different elements. For example branding can achieve by following elements.

  • Company name : there are some website (like nameplix ) which helps you to find a good company name.

  • Mission/ purpose/ values/ promise of your company: You don’t need to mention these entire things in your company profile. Do want you can do in smallest possible time.

  • Logo: You can either hire a logo designer or you can also do that by yourself. You can design logo even on power point just like I do for this website.

  • Website: Website helps you create a brand value and if you spend some time on your company website it can give you lots of business too. There are lots of platform from which you can make your website. Wix is the platform that I use to make this website it’s easy and fast. Making website on Wix will save lots my time and money (15,000rs web developer). Go and check the price of Wix by yourself.

Branding is must required step in starting solar or any other business but spending too much time and money on branding may end up in delay, which will be convert into regrets.


Once you started your business you can change the logo or even the company name. Re-branding will take time but if is necessary you can do it any time.


Step#6: Legal Work


Once you are done with branding for your company. You will legal works to do. Legal works includes registration of your name and Bank account for the business.


Registration: Before starting solar business in India, you will require the registrations of your company, to legalize your business in India. You can resistor your company as LLP.


Bank account for the business: You may have a personal bank account but you have to open a separate bank account for your business. It will help to avoid any confusion between your personal banking transitions and business banking transitions.


Step#7: Preparing a Team


You will require a team to execute projects, to generate leads, for meetings and billing etc. The education qualification of team members is depends upon the solar business model you choose.


If you required technical team you can contact your local solar training institutes like surya mitra, skill India or engineering colleges. LinkedIn is also a good platform, from where you can recruit a team. Lots of skilled peoples have their profile on LinkedIn.


Type team you required is also depends upon you skills and education qualification. If you have good technical knowledge you can recruits team with low technical skill but you will required person with high marketing skill.


Similarly, if your marketing and sale skills are high you will require person with high technical knowledge.


It is always a good idea to prepare your team by recruiting them rather than having numbers business partners. And I am saying this by my own experience.


Now there is one question remain, how many team members with what set of skills are required in each solar business model? Go and check yourself.


Step#8: Marketing


The purpose of marketing is simple it is sets of activities that required to promote your solar business. Marketing includes advertising, selling and delivering product to consumers or other solar companies.


The process of marketing can be classified into four ‘P’- Product, price, place and promotion, these steps of marketing process is also known as “Marketing Mix”.


Before discussing each ‘P’, of Marketing Mix you should choose the solar business model. It will help you to understand each element of marketing mix. Now let’s talk about each ‘P’ of Marketing Mix.


Product: Each solar business model has different product and service for example you choose Solar I&C as your solar business model, you will provide service of installation and commissioning of solar power plant to other solar EPC company.


So go and check each solar business model and discover your product or service.


Price: After you discover your product, you need to pursuit the discovery of the price of your product or service. In solar industry price of product and service vary from place to place but variation isn’t much.


Always try to avoid the middle man and discover price of your product or service by yourself. It will help to get more out of your work done.


Place: First you have product than you discover the price now you will required the place from which you will distribute your product or delivered your service.


For Example, if you are selling a product (like solar inverter, solar panels etc) then you will require place like a warehouse or a store. If you choose service providing solar business model like designing or I&C you can run your business from your home or small office.


But you will require a place/store to store tools require in some solar business model.


Promotion: Promotion is the fourth and the last ‘P’ of marketing. It includes all activities to make the product or service known possible clients or companies like advertising, selling, sales promotion, public relation, direct marketing and sponsorship.


Type promotion required to promote your business is again depends upon the type of solar business model you choose. For example if you choose to be a solar EPC player your clients will be the end user of solar power plant.


And that will require a strong digital marketing tactics whereas in solar I&C you will strong technical and in hand practice for the installation and commissioning of solar power plant.

In solar EPC business, the best time of promotion is first two months of summer, when people gets high electricity bills. Same season is also applicable on rest of the solar business models because if solar EPC companies get more work, other solar business models also get more work.


But the approach of promotion for each business model is different.

For example in Solar I&C, you will work for Solar EPC companies and in distribution ship of solar goods you will deliver solar goods to either Solar I&C or Solar EPC companies.


Where as in Solar O&M, your client could be either Solar EPC or End user of solar power plant.


Here are the 7 steps that I take for My Solar startup

Step#1: How I discover my solar business model

Back in 2015, when the solar startups are new things in Indian industry and government gives 30% subsidy on any capacity of solar power plant. With one of college friend, I start my first solar company. The business model we choose was solar EPC.


Back in 2015, we had 5 years of industry experience. Our technical knowledge was good enough for the solar business. We run the company for next 4 years, but after series of disputes. I decided to leave the company and start my separate solar business.


After all these years of good and bad experience, I decided to start Pay-per-watt as a solar consultancy firm. In last three years I learned so many things, like how to generate web organic traffic from Google search. This is basically free traffic to my website.


And how to convert, this free website traffic into successful buyers.


Step#2: Basic learning

I have bachelor of degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and five years (at 2015) of industrial experience. It was piece of cake for me to understand the technology behind solar energy.


I didn’t have any experience and basic knowledge on digital marketing. So put lots of efforts to understand the same. This helps me to reach my goals.


Step#3: Market Research

For my market research, I visit solar expo every year. Meet new people at expo as well as on social media platforms (like facebook and linkedin) learn from their experience.

Best way of market research is to ask directly asks from the peoples.


Step#5: Branding

In solar industry most of the items you brought like panels, inverter or whole solar power plant comes in the rate of per watt.


So I named my startup as Pay-per-Watt. This is a good name for a solar company in my opinion.

What will be the name of your solar company? Leave a comment below. If I find your company name interested I will personally guide you in your solar startup.

Step#6: Legal Work

I register my company as Pay-per-watt LLC.


Step#7: My Team

I have team of three permanent people (one engineer and two diploma holders) and I hire two or three freelancers time to time. All of my team members I choose are the people I meet during my first solar startup.


Step#8: Marketing


Four ‘P’ of marketing for my solar business are:


Product: The product I choose is consultancy services and lead generation to other solar EPC companies. Also a device called Zero Export device or Export limiter.


Price: during my first solar startup, it takes some time for me to understand, how to get the best price of different solar items and services. But I learn few tricks to get maximum and minimum market price for any solar item.


Place: in the age of digital world, you can start your business from any place. But be careful while choosing the right place for the marketing of your product. I choose Delhi, UP and Haryana as my marketing place because all these three places are good for solar business also Delhi is my home place.


Promotion:

Most of my promotion works solar business is done by me. I made website for my solar business on my own without any basic study on web designing. Wix make it easy for me to start by solar business, its super easy and affordable too.


Go and check, pricing of developing website on Wix. Also check the free templates they have.


Every month I create some content for my website in the form of article. I make blogs to resolve the problems of those who are seeking solar business opportunity and those who are looking for export limiter solutions for their solar power plant.


I choose my topics for blogging very carefully, which brings free traffic for my website from.


Google search result. And with right strategies my business is growing every month.


Also every month I spend some money on FACEBOOK marketing, which again ends in the growth of my solar business.

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