These women-powered solar startups see sunny days in Kerala

Representational Image: Photo: AlyoshinE/Shutterstock

Kochi: Solar power companies based out of Kerala are seeing sunny days in the southern state where adoption of the renewable energy has been picking up momentum steadily. 

While industry major Adani Solar, the solar PV manufacturing division of the Adani Group, has announced its expansion into Kerala, smaller players and startups are also eyeing their share in the fast-growing Kerala market.

Hyderabad-based Freyr Energy and Delhi-based Zircle, both helmed by two women, are among the startups which have set a clear target for Kerala where higher awareness rate makes it easier for companies to find a foothold. 

The state’s combined installed capacity of solar power plants had crossed 1,000 megawatts (MW) earlier this year. The current state budget has meanwhile set the target of meeting 50% of the state’s energy requirements from renewable energy by 2027. Rooftop solar units make the major chunk of the capacity, followed by terrestrial units. Rooftop solar panels have been installed in 1,70,015 houses in the state as part of the Kerala State Electricity Board's solar project.

Freyr Energy is planning to ‘solarise’ 2,000 homes in Kerala by the end of this year. The company’s target is any home and business owners with rooftop access and minimum monthly electricity bill of Rs 2,000, according to its co-founder Radhika Choudary. The company is also focussing on commercial and industrial plants, especially in the MSME sector.

Radhika Choudary, co-founder, Freyr Energy. Photo: Special arrangement

Freyr is set to open its first shop in Kerala in a few months. The company has digitised the entire customer journey from exploring to owning a solar system through their proprietary Freyr Energy App. 

Freyr Energy recently secured an equity investment of Rs 58 crore.

“The adoption today is difficult because the upfront cost is high. In order to address this issue, we provide instant financing with zero cost EMI to our customers. Kerala already has a higher awareness rate about solar energy compared to many other states. Of the more than one crore households in the state, only less than 2 lakh have installed solar panels now. That makes the state a huge market,” Choudary, who heads sales and marketing at Freyr, said. She stressed on the after sale services her company offers.

Selna Saji, founder and CEO, Zircle. Photo: Special arrangement

Zircle, founded by Thodupuzha native Selna Saji, meanwhile, is focussing on simplifying the transition to clean energy for residential customers in the country. 

Zircle has come up with a curated marketplace that offers consumers access to trusted solar vendors along with rendering the right solutions. 

Expanding into markets like Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra, the startup forms strategic partnerships with leading solar companies and community organisations to enhance its offerings. The company's expansion plans now extend to Kerala, implementing tailored solutions to address the unique challenges of the customers in the state. The company has onboarded more than 15 leading solar companies across Kerala.

“There are many companies offering rooftop solar power solutions. However, the customers are often confused. We offer a comprehensive solution right from installation to lifelong service. Zircle was launched based on the inputs received from interactions with people from different cities in the country," Saji, who did her master’s in renewable energy before taking the startup plunge said.

Incubated at AIC-Sangam Innovation Foundation, supported by Sangam Ventures and NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission, this innovative startup has successfully closed a VC funding round with 100x. 

The companies are buoyed by the announcement of the 'PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana' which aims to provide free electricity up to 300 units monthly to one crore households across the nation. The scheme is expected to bring down the solar installation charges drastically.

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