Venture Catalysts, an integrated incubator, recently invested an undisclosed amount in Noida-based Skilancer Solar, a solar module cleaning solutions provider.
Skilancer Solar specializes in providing a robotic cleaning system which is capable of cleaning solar modules without the use of water and manual intervention. The company manufactures centrally controlled, self-powered robotic arms for automatic cleaning of solar modules.
Earlier, Alfa Ventures, a venture capital fund, along with serial entrepreneur Dhianu Das, had announced an investment of an undisclosed amount in Skilancer Solar.
Solar panel cleaning has become an important aspect of O&M in India. In 2019, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued a letter recommending efficient utilization of water for cleaning utility-scale solar projects. The ministry also recommended the use of robotic cleaning technology, which uses less water for cleaning solar projects. Water is scarce in most regions where solar projects have been developed in India. Currently, developers need permission from local authorities to get access to groundwater and canals. Given the fact that the projects are in remote locations, it is also difficult for developers to arrange water from other sources to clean the panels.
The IIM-Lucknow incubated Skilancer Solar, will use the fund to expand its product services to potential customers like solar project owners, EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contractors, and solar O&M (operation and maintenance ) companies.
Commenting on this latest development, Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, founder, Venture Catalysts, said, “As the solar cleantech sector in India is still at a nascent developing stage as compared to its western counterparts, the funding will help Skilancer Solar realize its ambition of becoming a renowned brand and the go-to name in the cleantech sector through its next-generation technology and innovation-based solutions.”
Speaking on the successful seed funding round and their association with Venture Catalysts, Neeraj Kumar, the founder of Skilancer Solar, said, “We’ll use this funding for product development and enhancement, manufacturing facility enhancement, and team building. Right now we are producing nearly 40 robots and we are planning to use this fund to increase our capacity to 200-250 robots.”
According to Mercom Capital Group’s recent Q4 and Annual 2019 Solar Funding & M&A Report, global venture capital and private equity funding in the solar sector in 2019 was $1.4 billion in 53 deals, compared to $1.3 billion in 65 transactions during 2018.
In September last year, the IAN Fund, a seed fund, led an investment worth ₹124 million (~$1.7 million) in Pune-based Nocca Robotics, another solar panel cleaning solutions provider. The investment also saw participation from prominent angel investors from Indian Angel Network. Nocca Robotics had said it would leverage the capital infusion to set up a robust manufacturing facility to create robots with improved quality control. This establishment will cater to 1 GW of solar per year.
Image credit: Skilancer Solar
Rakesh Ranjan is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). More articles from Rakesh Ranjan.