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Sterling and Wilson Solar set to execute orders worth Rs 13,000 crore despite coronavirus, debt

Nevin John     March 19, 2020

Sterling and Wilson Solar (SWSL), a Shapoorji Pallonji group company, is set to execute its order book, which is valued at Rs 13,000 crore, despite the delay in shipping of solar panels from China and forthcoming debt repayments.

Bikesh Ogra, global chief executive officer, SWSL, told Business Today that the company with its current projects would be able to retain the leadership position as the world's largest solar EPC solution provider. SWSL has projects of around 9,200 MW constructed and under various stages of construction currently across India, Europe, Australia, Africa, USA, Latin America and MENA region.

SWSL, which commenced operations in 2011, is a global pure-play, end-to-end solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) solutions provider which went public last year in August. The company provides EPC services primarily for utility scale solar power projects along with operations and maintenance (O&M) services, including for projects constructed by third parties.

In November, the promoters of SWSL - Shapoorji Pallonji Group and Khurshed Yazdi Daruvala - failed to honour their repayment commitments and sought more time from the company's board to repay loans worth Rs 2,341 crore. They repaid Rs 1,000 crore in December 2019 and proposed to facilitate entire repayments of balance loan amounts in phases by September. According to the commitments, the promoters will have to pay Rs 500 each by March and June. The rest will have to be repaid in September.

Ogra said that the company's procurements from China have been affected because of the virus outbreak "Almost 90 per cent of our solar panels procurement is from China," he said. "While it was estimated that there will be major delays in shipments, however, basis our discussion with suppliers in China, it is promising to know that deliveries will happen on time and will not severely affect our project schedules," he added.

The company has a portfolio of over 220 solar power projects with a collective power generation capacity of around 9200 MW globally - constructed and under various stages of construction. Bikesh says, "We are the only EPC company in India who has the largest global footprint with presence in 25 countries."

"We are expecting to add another 10,000 MW in next 3-4 years. We have recently won two solar power projects in Australia which is under commissioning level. Both these projects are with the oil giants Shell and Lightsource BP. Other than commissioning the projects, we do the operation and maintenance of the 90 per cent projects that we build," he said.

The world is moving towards renewable energy space considering the growing concerns about climate change and reducing carbon emissions. Ogra sees it as an opportunity. As per the GTM Research Q2 Report, countries like China, Japan and India will account for 20 per cent of the total global renewable market by 2030, whereas North America and Europe will account for 28 per cent by then.

SWSL had a 4.6 per cent global market share - double the size of the second largest company in the world. The company was also the largest solar EPC solutions provider in Africa and the Middle East with a market share of 36.6 per cent and 40.4 per cent, respectively. The global portfolio includes a 1,177 MW single location solar PV plant in Abu Dhabi - one of the world's largest single-location Solar PV plants.

The company posted a profit of Rs 176 crore in the first nine months of this financial year, on a revenue fo Rs 3,515 crore.

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