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CLEANMAX

SOLAR SAVINGS FROM DAY ONE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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INTERVIEW: CLEANMAX

SOLAR SAVINGS FROM DAY ONE

CLEANMAX ROOFTOP SOLAR PLANT, ACADEMIC CITY, DUBAI

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CLEANMAX ROOFTOP SOLAR PLANT, DANUBE, DUBAI

Sustainable Business Magazine speaks with Sushant Arora, Co-founder and CEO (MENA) at CleanMax, about incentivizing renewable energy generation, regional differences in solar projects, and the changing energy needs of large corporations. By Ciara Jack In 2010, CleanMax founder Kuldeep Jain saw a window of opportunity to encourage multinationals to not only use clean energy, but also allay their fears surrounding longerterm, green investments. Today, Indian-headquartered renewable energy company CleanMax’s solutions apply straightforward incentives when it comes to appealing to investors: Low fuss, minimal risk, and a hands-off approach to maintenance. Sushant Arora, came in as a co-founder during those early years. He explains: “We saw a lot of corporations at the time – especially the very large multinational corporations with lofty aspirations - wanting to go up to 100% renewable in their energy buying, but unable to achieve even a fraction of this in reality.” Historically, solar energy has required a persuasive argument to get it into the hands of buyers. “If you’re large manufacturing or logistics company for example, you would have maybe a 3 or 5 year – at most – payback for your capital investments,” says Mr. Arora. “Whereas renewable energy investments are typically much longer: 10 to 12 years. It’s actually very capital intensive, especially when you compare it to other investments that these companies make.”

By offering a straightforward, low-risk product, CleanMax have accumulated 600 megawatts’ worth of operational projects. “We are one of the largest developer of commercial or industrial solar assets in Asia,” says Mr. Arora. “And in India we can very proudly say that no-one else has nearly the same volume of projects deployed compared to us.” HARNESSING DOUBT Rather than evading unappealing questions about long-term investments, CleanMax embraces them. Their approach was to take the pressure off the businesses. “We’ll achieve it in a way that we invest and not you, and we’ll do it so that the completely outsourced expertise belongs to us,” explains Mr. Arora. CleanMax don’t expect their buyers to recruit a separate team to manage their tech, which is all supplied in-house. “The skills set for how to run a solar power plant and how to maintain one, is new and continues to be an evolving skills set, which is not terribly commonplace,” says Mr. Arora. “Renewable energy was terribly new when we started, and even now is significantly newer than most other established industries. SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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INTERVIEW: CLEANMAX CLEANMAX FARM, SEDAM, INDIA, 145 MW

From 2010-14, we quickly became India’s number one rooftop solar developer. We had something like 20-25% market share, and we were only in India at the time.” ENTERING THE MIDDLE EAST Prior to their move into the United Arab Emirates (UAE), CleanMax were still an India-based company, but in 2017 funding put the wind in their sails. “We got the World Bank, whose investment arm is the International Finance Corporation; they came in as an investor,” says Mr.Arora. “We also got Warburg Pincus, which is a big American private equity company, and they came in during our first large expansion.” That aided CleanMax’s expansion into the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The key difference between the Middle East market and India is the business environment surrounding solar installations. “In India, we tend to do a lot of large private CLEANMAX ROOFTOP SOLAR PLANT, INDIAN ACADEMY, DUBAI

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CLEANMAX ROOFTOP SOLAR PLANT, DANUBE, DUBAI

solar parks, which is a little different in so far as a the solar park is not on your premises but it’s in a rural part of the state, basically on barren land,” says Mr.Arora. “These can be very large, 100 megawatts or so, and then we use the distribution companies to get solar electricity from there to the urban areas.” In the UAE, meanwhile private infrastructure projects aren’t particularly common. Large-scale power, road and highway, and water projects tend to be government-backed, which means CleanMax projects in the region tend to be rooftop installations. “Given that a lot of the Middle East is desert, which is extremely hot for six months of the year, and there’s a lot of large mall complexes, which tend to be fully air-conditioned, fully closed boxes, with massive roofs, this region is a good target for solar,” explains Mr.Sushant. FAVORABLE CLIMATE The climate in the Middle East means that, during the summer, air conditioning bills ramp up. A solar installation can significantly reduce the resulting energy bill. Meanwhile, a car park full of scorching concrete and dazzling windscreens is also an opportunity for ingenuity. “We set up car parking canopies and we cover it with solar panels,” says Mr.Arora. “So you get a solar carport, because everyone wants the cars to stay cooler, and the heat island effect of the open car park reduces. Now that a lot of people

CLEANMAX FARM, DINDIGUL, INDIA, 30 MW


“YOU DON’T INVEST ANY CAPITAL, BUT YOU START SEEING SAVINGS FROM DAY ONE”

have electric cars, we’re able to use the solar power from the parking canopy and plug in directly to the chargers into the electric vehicle parked underneath, all without using power from the grid.” As well as working with large commercial users, CleanMax recently worked with an educational provider in Dubai, installing solar panels at the Indian Academy Dubai. “The educators are extremely happy, because they now have something on their rooftop they can actually take their

students to,” says Mr. Arora. “Their lab receives live data from our remote plant, so they can run experiments off the data we’re giving them. This means students can understand how power is generated and at what times of day there’s more and less power, as well as its seasonality.” WIN-WIN PROPOSITION “A lot of these corporations have realized that, in the long term, they can’t afford to use unsustainable practices and have to

bring down their own emissions,” says Mr. Arora. “This is being implemented at the board level across all Fortune 500 companies. In the past, if you wanted to have a lower electricity bill, you would invest in energy-efficient lighting and bring down the energy bill. Today, though, we own the solar power plant on your roof and then we sell you power from it, which will be cheaper than the grid electricity price today. You don’t invest any capital, but you start seeing savings from day one.” c SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd., 4th Floor, The International, 16 Maharshi Karve Road, New Marine Lines Cross Road No.1, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020 T. +91 22 6252 0000 www.cleanmax.com

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Profile for Sustainable Business Magazine

SOLAR SAVINGS FROM DAY ONE - Cleanmax  

Sustainable Business Magazine speaks with Sushant Arora, Co-founder and CEO (MENA) at CleanMax, about incentivizing renewable energy generat...

SOLAR SAVINGS FROM DAY ONE - Cleanmax  

Sustainable Business Magazine speaks with Sushant Arora, Co-founder and CEO (MENA) at CleanMax, about incentivizing renewable energy generat...

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