Meet a young renewable energy-enthusiast from Delhi who is keen on equipping solar entrepreneurs with all the right tools required to run a business.
Lakshey Sehgal, a 25-year-old resident of Delhi, always wanted to work in the field of solar energy generation. After finishing his Master’s in renewable energy technology from Pondicherry University, he worked in different companies in the same field for about three years.
But his experiences during this time gave him a whole new idea.
“I saw a lack of trained manpower when I joined this sector for the first time. There was a lack of awareness around using advanced technology and installing newer products. At the same time, there was a lot of push from the government’s side to increase the use of solar energy in rural and urban households. This led to an increase in demand. Now, many private entities are entering the field. They are putting in money and setting up businesses to install solar power panels or work in the sector in some way or the other. But many of them are doing it wrong,” he says.
“I felt that if we want to work in this field, then the entrepreneurs should know what they are doing. They need better training,” says Lakshey. In July this year, he founded Spektron Solar Private Limited, a company that conducts development and training programmes for small-scale solar entrepreneurs
“Being a solar entrepreneur can mean a lot of things,” says Lakshey adding, “It is a vast field. One can be anything from a manufacturer to an installer. The person can be someone who wants to install a solar manufacturing unit, or someone who is just selling solar TVs or lanterns. But the problem comes when you want to be a solar installer. The installer has to buy products from different companies and fit them in a proper way as a solar plant in someone’s house. A lot of things can go wrong during the installation.”
With a team of four people, Spektron Solar organises training sessions for those aspiring to start a business in solar system installations. The workshops help them understand that this job requires special skills and knowledge.
Two-day training sessions are conducted on rooftops with original systems. The entrepreneurs take part in practical activities to understand what can go wrong during the installation, the required orientation of panels, quality of products, problems to look out for, etc. This is done with the help of demonstrations, experiments, practical sessions, etc. The team uses animations and 3-D visuals during training, and entrepreneurs pay a fee of Rs. 5,000 -7,000 for the programme.
This knowledge helps them save money and is beneficial in the long run.
People usually come to know about the training programme through ads in local newspapers, Facebook posts, etc. Lakshey has conducted sessions in Dehradun, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Ranchi, Gandhinagar, and Delhi, training over 200 people up until now. The team piloted their programme in big cities to see how the model works and then started moving to smaller towns.
Their long-term goal is to work in tier-two and tier-three cities and they will begin with Amritsar, Jalandhar, Guwahati, and Tripura.
Spektron Solar’s office is in Delhi and the company is collaborating with the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development.
Moving forward, Lakshey wants to start an online platform for Spektron Solar, for which he is currently trying to raise funds. “We provide entrepreneurs with many tools during the training, like giving them Excel sheet presentations, quick calculation tools, animations, etc. We plan to have an online platform where all this will be available. This way, even after the training is over, they can be in touch with us and ask for technical support,” he says.
Even now, the team receives many calls from past participants asking for advice on making presentations and approaching customers; for help with sample proposals, pricing, laws and policies, etc. Lakshey feels that the impact is already visible. “Two months back, I conducted a programme in Dehradun. And one of the entrepreneurs from there is almost on the verge of starting his own solar manufacturing unit,” he says. Another participant from Haryana has been able to install solar systems providing about 100 KWp of solar energy to over 30 buildings.
This shows that there is a lot of scope for development in this field and several people need help to understand the technology better.
While working with a startup after finishing college, Lakshey used to train people on renewable energy. “When I was there, I saw that the government is providing grants and funding to different organizations to train technicians for free. But no one is training entrepreneurs who have to do a major chunk of the job. There are small scale training centres in bigger cities, but nothing specifically in tier-two and tier-three cities. We are working towards filling this gap,” he concludes.
You can contact Lakshey by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.