The Radiation Of Development: Solar Electricity Coverage
The Solar Panels on the roofs of NIT’s buildings are a recent observation. The thousands of solar panels over the NIT buildings mark the progress the Institute is undertaking. But, the real powerhouse behind this scientific wonder is Estinno Energy Co., based in TIIR building NIT Rourkela, founded and, owned by Anurag Mishra and, Mrityunjay Sharma, graduates from our Institute.Team Monday Morning managed to get an appointment with very dynamic and, busy soul, Mrutyunjay Sharma known as Jay Sharma, for a talk on the ongoing solar panel installation project and, Estinno Energy.
Team MM: What was the idea behind your start-up?
Jay Sharma: Estinno Energy had its birth when we were in our sophomore year. It started with the idea for Vortex, the world's smallest washing machine. It served the purpose of solving a problem which each and every hosteller faces, the Herculean task of washing clothes. Vortex is so small, that you can have it in your bag and use it in your room pretty easily. And thus we are mentioned in the Limca Book Of Records, stating Vortex to be the world's smallest washing machine. We were inexperienced and naive back then, and couldn’t push Vortex to a major production. This was the major reason of us shifting to products that would be easier to manufacture and market and it happened to be LEDs, as at that point LED products were comparatively new and had market controlling potential. At present, Estinno Energy is working with luminaries and solar panels.
Team MM: What was your thought process during the start?
Jay Sharma: The idea of the startup was of three friends, one of who eventually dropped out. Vortex was the brainchild of my friend, Kirti Sai Shukla who was in Entrepreneurship Cell of NIT Rourkela. He had a knack for solving problems and, like taking initiatives, as a result of which he started with his idea but was stuck with the electronics aspects which were when he came to me. I was getting my B. Tech degree, but I wasn't particularly inclined towards getting a job. With the startup, one has the freedom of implementing one’s ideas if one is capable of it, and the director back then, Prof. Sunil Sarangi was very much enthusiastic with regards to promoting entrepreneurship.
Team MM: Who were the founding members, and current post holders in the company?
Jay Sharma: Anurag Mishra, Kirti Sai Shukla and, I were the founding members of Estinno Energy. Anurag Mishra and, I am the current two post holders. We independently own the company.
Team MM: What is your vision or, aim to accomplish in the solar panel project at NITR and beyond?
Jay Sharma: The aim of the Solar Panel project was to start with the installations in Odisha because this region has been backward in progress. Solar Panel Installation can change the view of people towards the usage of more efficient and, pollution-free energy. We want to bring the installations to par with the scenario of other places that I have visited, such as that in the states of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
Team MM: How did you approach the Institute authority for installing the panels? What were the challenges faced by you?
Jay Sharma: People are not aware of the Net Metering System. It says that
if one has solar installations on one’s rooftops and one utilizes a part of the total energy produced, he/she can sell the rest of the unused power to the government and gain a significant reduction in his/her electricity bill.
The order for the Solar Panel installations on the NIT campus was floated back in the year 2013-14 but has only come to its execution now. We did not approach the Institute authority for the order. We applied for it when the order was floated and received the tender.
The main challenge for this project was the loss of vision with the onset of a new tenure. During the proposal days of this project, the finances for NIT Rourkela were pretty strong. The funding was then drastically reduced, the focus being shifted from projects to academics. It took a considerable effort and time to sync the decisions being made for this project. After receiving the tender, we have worked on this project to bring it to success. With a quotation of about 50 lakhs, we have installed solar panels for nearly 400kW worth of power.
Since the example of such an extensive project, we have started the installation of solar panels at the schools around. Installation for 50kW was done at DAV School, Basanti Nagar and it was inaugurated this January.
Team MM: What are the sources of your fundings, and investments?
Jay Sharma: After the policy of demonetization, we have had no investors. Ours is a standard business owned by two people. Our funding source includes essentially the loans from the bank and the profits that we incur from our projects.
Team MM: How many employees have been hired for this project? And, what's their salary and, work scenario?
Jay Sharma: We have a full-time employee strength of around 45. About 30 to 35 of them work at the offices and, manufacturing area while the others are deployed to the field. Their salaries differ according to their qualification. Currently, we are not hiring any graduates from NIT, since presently we require more of experience rather than the educational qualifications. We have the main office here in Rourkela as our factory is based in TIIR Building, and our branches are in Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, and Kolkata.
Team MM: How reliable is your product? Will it be affected by climatic extremities of Rourkela?
Jay Sharma: The extremity of the Rourkela climate does challenge the reliability of the product. Solar panels differ in qualities and what we have installed are of the standard quality. There is a 25 year warranty period, which also includes the yearly depreciation of power. The only requirements of solar panels are radiation, be it visible or of any other wavelength in the bandwidth. But it is sensitive to a particular wavelength, which is generally that of yellow. A temperature above that of 42-degree celsius decreases the efficiency of the solar panels, as the electrons possess too much energy are run around in different directions generating noise. Therefore, extreme weathers like being subjected to too strong sunlight affect the glass and cells in the panels.
A period of 5-7 years gives the customers the cost return of the project and, they will definitely gain considerable benefits, considering the per unit rate of electricity keeps increasing day by day. It is most favourable for institutions like NIT, if one looks at the academic area where these installations have been provided, and schools that mostly operate during the day and hence, mostly consume power then. These installations are normally without battery as battery power systems are harder to maintain. Panels do not require much maintenance and thus the installations are perfect for places with daytime power requirement.
Team MM: Is there a rivalry among companies in the market? What is your mantra to be on the advantage?
Jay Sharma: Solar Project is an entirely new field of business in our country. Although the concept is new, the competition is very high in the market. There are companies from Gujarat that give a very tough competition in the market. Our marketing policy to tackle down this problem is based on adding new features like selling back of extra power generated to the Government. These features can lead the buyers towards us, and similarly, new features will be added with growing competition to make an impact in the market.
Team MM: What are the future goals of Estinno Energy? How do you think of achieving them?
Jay Sharma: Estinno Energy is an ESC (Electronic Semi-Conductor) Manufacturing Company. Solar Panel Project is a part of our journey. We being a product based company, are currently focusing on the solar panel development products. Apart from it, our next venture will probably a step into the Automobile Industry, through the introduction of E-Bikes. The work for this venture has already been started, and within 5-7 years, hopefully, Estinno Energy will be known to all regionally.
Team MM: How's the start-up culture of NITR? What are the loopholes in the current system?
Jay Sharma: The Start-Up Culture has improved a lot. There is still the lack of exposure of students to the real-life problems. There is a bit lack of the ability of the Institute to ensure students get the factory experience and, real work-teaching balance.
Team MM: What will be your word to the readers?
The students must be sharpening their problem-solving skills as, a result of which it can boost the current start-up culture of NITR to a whole different level. Curiosity and, knowledge should go hand-in-hand for the students, opportunities must be grabbed in order to succeed. There is a whole lot of struggles in starting a new company, but if one believes it, it is totally achievable.
Team Monday Morning expresses a feeling of pride on behalf of NITR junta, for transforming the Institute to a Solar Powered Campus, which can set an example to be followed by other Institutes and, organizations, thereby, helping in making the world a better place. Team Monday Morning also wishes Mrutyunjay Sharma and, Estinno Energy for accomplishing their targets and, goals.