Babu Jain, managing director and founder of NavSemi, says India is a mature market for grid backup systems, and solar energy is becoming an attractive alternative to diesel power. India has a huge installed base of inverters and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) hooked up to diesel generators due to the notoriously unreliable state of of the country's electricity grid.
‘Outage in cities is frequent, if not long,’ Jain says. ‘You would be surprised if the diesel did not turn on.’
In the countryside, by contrast, electricity service is itself infrequent and of short duration. This set of conditions, combined with favorable solar coverage, makes India a natural candidate for PV systems, Jain says.
‘Most industrial operations and many homes have diesel as backup power,’ he says. ‘Solar can be an alternative energy source for nearly all of these.’
Moreover, Jain says, the price per kilowatt-hour for PV is very competitive with fossil sources. Solar developer REC has noted that solar power systems for ‘self consumption’ is financially attractive in India due to power shortages, high electric rates and the cost of diesel fuel.
NavSemi's main product is its Solar Management Unit, which attaches as a retrofit to an existing inverter or UPS system, enabling them to function with a solar PV array. The company also produces charge controllers, PV power optimizers and its own bi-directional inverter.
Alpha says it acquired NavSemi both as a complement to its existing Outback Power solar energy storage business and to pursue opportunities in the Indian market. Jain says he will remain as managing director of the company, which will also keep its name and brand. The companies did not disclose the value of the transaction.