Ino-Solar Energy’s Founder-Director and CEO, Unmesh Jagtap along with Bipin Shah is on a mission. “To enlighten lives of every Indian by providing clean and safe energy at affordable cost and MAKE IN INDIA green and environment-friendly technology and products.”
With a Mechanical Engineering Degree, Unmesh did his Master’s in the USA as a Research Assistant under the guidance of one of the renowned Researchers in Solar Energy, Dr Yogi Goswami, in the University of Florida’s Solar Energy and Energy Conservation Laboratory.
“I was fortunate that I got an opportunity to do my Master’s way back in 1995. I did my research in USA’s first Solar Energy Research Centre established by Dr Goswami. He has more than 25 Patents and is a well-known Scientist in the field of Solar Energy and Energy Storage.”
Unmesh has expertise in the Manufacturing of Solar PV Modules and as a System Integrator for designing and implementing various projects in Solar PV Power Plants, Solar Water Heaters, Domestic Wind Turbines, Wind and Solar Hybrid Systems, and Energy Conservation Solutions. Have completed assignments like setting up a PV Module Manufacturing Plant, EPC of Solar PV Plants from 1 KW to 1000 KW, and Consultancy for Solar PV and CSP Plants.
“I maintained my contact with all my professors and friends. Through Dr Goswami, I got introduced to Bipin Shah who then became the Founder Director of Ino-Solar beside me.”
Bipin is also in the USA and worked extensively as an Advisor for the US Department of Energy and a renowned Expert in Building Energy Efficiency with vast Project experience all over the world along with USE DOE, World Bank, and UN. This network of highly qualified and respected individuals helped us get the Partners for various technologies.
“With all this background we decided to start Business SBUs in the field of Sustainable Energy Solutions, Renewable Energy, and Energy Conservation.”
Ino-Solar was incorporated in 2015 while Sonnenschein Engineering and Infra LLP was formed in 2020 for the development of patented Reflective Paints in India with the partnership of US partners.
“The Engineering was our Family Business started by my Father. We converted the old Engineering Business to updated technologies and with 3D Design integration in 2020.”
Unmesh has also been working as a Board Member for LUXRA India which is a subsidiary of LUXRA Group, Germany, and engaged in Solar Modules Manufacturing and Projects. The group is installing a 250 MW capacity Solar Module Production Plant in India.
Unmesh’s interview with CIOLOOK INDIA is given herein.
What you have enjoyed most about starting Ino-Solar?
Being from a highly technical and research background, I appreciate the fact that the current Business Lines allow me to engage in all areas such as technology, research, development, manufacturing, and management.
In addition, I am able to apply the education I received at the University of Florida in the field of Renewable Energy for the country by developing more and more solutions in Solar Energy and Energy Conservation.
Finally, it gives me personal pride that I created completely new businesses in completely different sectors than our family business
Please, brief us about Ino-Solar, its USPs, and your position as one of the best eco-friendly and sustainable companies.
The Ino-Group of Companies is a company that believes in ‘Excellence through Innovation.’ We specialize in Engineering Design and Manufacturing, Solar Power, Energy Saving Projects and Products, and Specialty Paint and Coatings.
The Group is promoted by technocrats with extensive experience in the Engineering and Energy sectors in India and around the world, with technology support from companies based in the United States, India, and South Africa that have conducted numerous research programmes in the Energy and Engineering sectors and successfully commissioned projects that have illuminated the homes of thousands of low-income people around the world while also helping the environment through energy savings.
Our objectives are to carry on the business of manufacturing, engineering, designing, consulting, repairing, developing, fabricating, assembling, production, sales, trading, distribution, marketing, and servicing of solar-based products such as Solar Home Kits and appliances, Solar Lights, Solar Power packs, and Solar Water Pumps in India and abroad; and electronics products such as power saving transformers, capacitor banks, waste to energy appliances, prefabricated efficient house; energy optimization equipment’s, smart remote monitoring and controlling systems.
Our goal is to provide a comprehensive 360-degree solution to any customer in all of these areas by measuring, analyzing, and comprehending the exact Energy requirement and usage. The solutions should be technologically advanced and affordable to all sectors based on their financial capacity and give them optimum ROI on any investments done.
Apart from India, we work on a Global Basis and already established exports and projects in countries like the USA, Colombia, South Africa, Ivory Coast Island, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Nigeria.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As business owners, our primary responsibility is to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including our employees, clients, and society.
Along with business, any entrepreneur has a social responsibility to educate society, clients, and the general public about technology, challenges in energy conservation, and future developments in the technical and business worlds that will ultimately affect the lives of the common man.
Tell us more about Ino-Solar’s offerings and what aspects make it stand out in the cutthroat competition.
Solar Project Development, EPC, and Infrastructure Projects on CAPX and OPEX mode for mainly industrial and Corporate Clients.
Developing and manufacturing Solar Module Mounting Structures with LUXRA Solar, Germany.
Manufacturing of Reflective Cool Paints in JV with Millenium Solutions, USA. The product is certified by ‘Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), USA’ and is now being exported to Africa, Mexico, Colombia, and Bangladesh from India.
Our Paint has been approved and used by almost all participants in Million Cool Roofs Challenge going over the Globe which is a joint Project by Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP) in collaboration with the Global Cool Cities Alliance, Sustainable Energy for All, and Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre and supported by the World Resources Institute.
SEIL has been selected by World Banks IFC (International Finance Corporation) Tech Emerge Program as an ‘Innovator’ for our passive cooling solutions like Cool Paints. SEIL will be collaborating with various Adopters from South America and Nigeria to conduct Pilot Projects and implementation of our solutions in countries like Mexico, Colombia, and Nigeria.
One Group Company is engaged in manufacturing various Diesel Engine Parts and Fuel Rail Assemblies. It has a full Fledge CNC Machine shop.
Turnkey Projects for complete Product Development of Special Purpose Testing Machines for Food and Engineering Industries like NDT type Testing Machines.
Engineering Services like Concept Design, 3D Modelling, Prototype Products, and Special Purpose Machines as per Client requirements.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how adopting modern technologies like AI and ML is impacting the industry and how Ino-Solar is adapting to the change.
AI and machine learning will change the way most businesses operate or must operate in the future. For large manufacturing or service units, the mechanical engineering industry is quickly adopting these techniques. Adoption in MSMEs is slow due to investment constraints, but as technologies evolve and scale increases, I am confident that MSMEs will use AI and ML in the best possible and optimum way. Full automation is already required in the Solar Module Manufacturing industry for world-class quality products. Because the product is too sensitive to contamination and human error, manual intervention is becoming almost non-existent in new manufacturing facilities.
Remote Solar Plant Monitoring is being used effectively for even small Solar Plants. But the way ahead is to be able to control parameters and also do corrections or maintenance remotely. This will be a great help in the case of Remote and Large Solar Plants.
Considering the current scenario, what kind of challenges do you face and overcome?
Starting and registering any company is the simplest part of the whole process of establishing the company.
Because I come from a business family and was actively involved in my family’s business, the initial obstacles such as an office, a work area, and manpower were not present. I could use all of the resources from my previous business. The main challenges were establishing our presence and developing successful projects, and pilots that could demonstrate our products, technology, and philosophy. We are entering a new area of energy conservation with the clear goal of being able to provide our clients with a total 360-degree solution to all of their energy-related issues. The challenge was to persuade clients of the same and gain permission to implement our projects.
During the implementation stage, we had issues like getting proper clients who understand the need and importance of Energy Conservation. We had to conduct a number of small pilot projects at no cost to inform people about our technologies and their outcomes. As a result, there are significant investments in Pilot and Demo Projects. Many clients (including some large organizations) asked us to install our products for free for 3-4 months and promised business if we could prove the savings, but even after successful implementation and proof of savings, they didn’t follow through, and we lost all of our resources, both financially and in terms of effort. All of this, however, aided us in establishing a solid foundation for the practical implementation of our technologies and projects.
I believe we have made good progress in the last 4-5 years. Many of our products, such as Small DC Solar Kits, Micro-Grid systems for small villages, and Rural Hospitals, are low-cost solutions to the major issue of power scarcity.
Our reflective Cool Paints won the Innovation Award in the World Bank’s TechEmerge Program for South America and Nigeria. We are implementing projects for the application of Cool Paints on low-cost housing, as well as a cool chain for logistics for farmers to provide comfort and passive cooling at a low cost. The paint that we developed in India is nearly half the price of other available options in the world, making it the best solution for Third World countries such as Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Africa.
We have provided low-cost pre-fabricated houses to flood-affected families in rural South India. The houses are outfitted with a toilet, kitchen, living room, and bedroom, as well as a 100% solar backup and a cool roof to provide relief from the heat.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into your sector?
Focus on Technology, Innovation, and continuous improvements in your products and services. Strive to provide technologies to the neediest sector of the community which is in low-income areas or Rural areas at affordable pricing. You should be Flexible to adapt as per Customer Needs and capacities – both Technically and Financially. Never compromise on Quality Products even though the market competition is forcing price cuts.
Honest guidance to Clients regardless of actual Business Case Conversion also helps. Even if you cannot convert business with one client, if your approach is sincere, he will definitely refer you to ten new clients which we have experienced in our business. Our aim should always be to educate our clients and overall society about Energy Conservation which is going to finally help in bringing more and more awareness which ultimately results in more and more Business Opportunities. Success is a relative term and for me, it’s the fulfillment of your long-term strategic plans and goals. Financial success is important but ultimately if you succeed in adhering to your strategic plans and Goals, financial success will follow in due course of time.
How do you envision scaling Ino-Solar’s operations and offerings in the future?
We are currently working on some solar projects and conducting research into providing Smart Power Optimization solutions for residential applications in the United States and other parts of the world. Future projects in the pipeline include providing Solar Grid Connected Systems with Smart Power Conditioning Units for large residential projects in the United States. In India, we are also planning a few MW-scale solar projects.
Another major R&D is focused on Energy Simulation for Buildings and Smart Fenestrations, which use AI to adjust solar radiation to buildings for proper lighting while keeping heat transmitted to a minimum.
We have developed Fire Resistant Paints in specialty paints and plan to export them to a global client base, along with our Reflective Paints.
Finally, we are working on a project called Carbon Neutral Resilient Farming, which aims to provide small farmers with Zero Carbon Farming solutions such as Bio-Digestors, Bio Gas and Solar Powered Pre-Fabricated Small Cold Storage Plants, Solar Pumping Solutions, and Passive Cooled Storage Areas.
We have collaborated with a university in Gujarat to establish an Energy Centre. We are implementing a pilot project for a smart village that will be self-sufficient and aim for zero carbon emissions.