SmartTrak in advanced talks to raise $25 million
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SmartTrak Solar Systems Pvt. Ltd, a maker of solar trackers and inverters, is in advanced talks to raise $25 million in the next three months from a US-based private equity investor, its top executive said.
This would be the firm’s first external round of funding which could help it enter newer markets such as Africa and West Asia.
Right now, India generates around 3,000 MW of solar power, which is expected to go up to 100,000 MW with an investment of $100 billion by 2022. About 10% of the total solar power project cost goes towards installing trackers.
Trackers are devices that enhance the ability of a power unit to tap sunlight by automating the movement of panels from east to west. The firm says its tracking systems produce 38% more energy than fixed systems.
“Deploying trackers, which turn the panels towards the sun, is a question of cost versus benefits. The lesser the moving parts, the lesser the maintenance. But some companies do deploy trackers for higher output, while others pilot and test their feasibility. Trackers need maintenance for as long as the project runs, say 25 years,” said Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, a New Delhi-based analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
With rapidly falling solar costs, the cost of trackers needs to keep pace to remain viable, especially for large-scale projects where space is not a constraint. “Trackers could, however, remain relevant for rooftop projects where space is limited and the focus is on maximizing electricity output, even at a slightly higher cost,” Agrawal said.
SunEdison, Inc. has installed single axis solar trackers in its 50 MW plant at Madhya Pradesh recently. Solar trackers are two in kind: single axis which move in one direction and dual axis which move in two directions.
SmartTrak, which entered the market in 2011, has so far installed 50 MW of tracking systems and has 120 MW under execution. “The talks with the PE investor are in advanced stages and we have also signed some agreements. But it should take three months to finalize all the details of the deal. The funds will be used to enter new markets and develop products,” said Bhagawan Reddy Gnanapa, chief executive of SmartTrak Solar.
With research support of four engineers from Birla Institute of Technology Pilani and International Institute of Information Technology, the company on Tuesday said it has developed a residential solar inverter for Rs.8,000. The inverter can take care of electrical needs between 300W and 1000W. A tubelight, a fan and a computer together consume around 300W.
The firm has also developed an app by which users can track power consumption. Among other firms, it competes with US-based NEXTracker and Pune’s Scorpius Trackers.
“In the next 3-4 months, we would also come up with storage products, such that the energy could be stored and integrated with existing products. By March next year we will also enter the home automation segment where customers can track all their power usage,” Reddy said.