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Here comes the sun-tapper

Aditya Bhattia runs an energy start-up with the objective of making every household with a roof, a producer of solar power

Aditya Bhattia is not even 30 years old and he has been running a green company for the last four years. It provides innovative solutions for the use of solar power and is supporting the introduction of electric vehicles (EV) as cabs in Delhi. A typical guy next door, he is a commerce graduate and son of a politician from Haryana, Shiv Bhattia— a strong influence— who encouraged Bhattia to make his own destiny, which is not a matter of chance but choice.

After completing his schooling from GD Goenka School, he pursued Economics from London School of Economics’ external programme based in Delhi. This was the time he was introduced to the concept of carbon credits. In 2010, he interned with the research and development division of RICO, where he realised, to his utter disappointment, that carbon credit did little to mitigate the global pollution and has become another medium of profiteering. There was, however, a silver lining in the disappointment. He realised that since little has been done, this sector offers immense potential to make a difference.

He never stopped working after college and the doors kept opening for him. As they say, fortune favours the brave. In the intervening period, for a year or so, he was part of the construction team that was building a dam in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. It was a great learning experience but he was convinced that such mega dam projects are not the answer to India’s growing energy requirement but micro, non-conventional, fossil free sources of energy are.

Many other countries have shown the way, like Germany, where tall windmills have become an integral part of the rural landscape. The share of wind power has doubled in the last seven years and now accounts for about one-fifth of the total power generation in Germany. In the case of Delhi, the most viable non-conventional source of energy is sunlight—this is the best time of the year to realise this simple fact when mercury soars above 45 degrees Celsius.

Bhattia realised this very early in his life. He worked for two years in a multinational green company to learn the tricks of the trade. He realised that with the solar energy bestowed by nature on the Capital could easily meet a substantial part of its need energy needs. “I was blessed to get a chance to explore that element of the universe that we neglected for years, the sun!” Bhattia says.  All that was required was to provide solar energy systems solutions literally at the roof top of customers.

The company didn’t do so well. The flaw was not in the technology, but in the management. His experience shaped his belief: we are a nation of “a lot of theoretical knowledge” but there’s a crisis when it comes to “application” as “we’re not able to execute the science that we know.” This was not a mere criticism, but a road map for Bhattia who took it up as a challenge.

He quit the cushy job to float his own company four years ago —Infinity Vital — that was to provide tailor-made solutions to facilitate the people of Delhi produce clean and green power. Bhattia formed the link between various stakeholders — the masons, manufacturer of inverters, battery manufacturer, cables, iron grid frame manufacturer–and brought them under one umbrella. Not just in Delhi, “I took care of engineering, procurement, commissioning and execution of solar projects pan-India. All I did was to connect the dots,” he says.

Now he provides quality solutions at competitive prices and has witnessed a meteoric rise in the last couple of years–started from scratch is now doing business worth millions.  “Small means flexible. Flexibility is our strength,” he says, animatedly describing his tryst with solar power at a coffee shop in Khan Market. “My motive has always been to be the connector between companies who need solar energy—demand—and the solar project sources­—the suppliers.” And he’s lending support to a government initiative for providing solar bags—a backpack equipped with thin film solar cells and batteries—in rural areas.

A fairly courteous fellow, Bhattia has a keen face and is a soft-spoken man with a resolute will. Task begun is half done, according to him, but never the less, it’s a beginning. Curiosity is what keeps him going. He diligently studies the latest developments in the non-conventional energy sector and their applications. “I have always been very patient to study, research, and analyse; markets, strategies, and feasibility of the solar energy growth. Also, about the government policies in various countries on tapping sunlight,” he explains.

Bhattia plans big and his company could be India’s biggest start up in the energy sector in a couple of years. He understands the need to diversify and will employ a multi-pronged strategy. Making Delhi clean and green is almost an obsession for him.

He recently became the lead consultant for business development and growth for renewable energy projects with Gensol—a microcosm of young thinkers, engineers and leaders dedicated to help the world build solar power projects that maximise investor profits—on project basis for a period of three years. As Gensol is the main initiator for “Blu Smart” with other partners like Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. to introduce electric vehicle (EV) cabs in Delhi. Bhattia is working on their “expansion plan to get more investors on board to increase number of EVs on road up to 1000 cars by the end of this year,” he informs.

He, though, is not happy with the tardy pace of infrastructure creation, on which the expansion of the project critically depends. There are only “70 EV cabs on the road,” informs Bhattia that “will be operated on the lines of Uber.” If the battery charge falls below the 25 per cent mark, the cab will not get connected to the customers till the battery is replenished. The EVs “are at least 2.5 times cheaper than fossil fuel and green. These cabs don’t have a dual fuel option and are hundred per cent electric. Therefore, is a win-win situation,” he adds.

The next day he has to fly to Dubai to survey the market. He’s not averse to expanding his area of operation to overseas, and also to bring better technology and practices back home to make solar energy a household phenomenon. He’s looking at the larger picture, “a sync between the environmental needs, educational and technological application, but most importantly, the government’s support and public awareness too.”

It’s not wishful thinking but fairly realisable. “Imagine, instead of shelling out money to pay monthly electricity bill, people will get paid for making power.” Bhattia has found his calling. Good for Delhi!