Inverters & UPS: The Future of Indian Power Backup Segment

Kunwer Sachdev, Managing Director, Su-KamIndia, the fourth largest producer of electricity in the world, has witnessed a transformational change in the energy sector with supportive policy interventions as well as sector reforms. Despite the phenomenal growth in generation capacity over the past years, India is struggling with a power deficit situation. Over 15.5 million below poverty line (BPL) households and 9,500 villages are still devoid of electricity. The eastern states of India, such as Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal, are rich in coal reserves but are reeling under a power deficiency. Uninterrupted supply of power is one of the prerequisites for any developing economy like India.

The UPS and Inverter market in India has experienced a growth in recent years on account of mounting demand fueled by the demand and supply gap in the electric power supply. As per a research report, Indian inverter market is projected to grow at a considerable CAGR of 9.4 percent by FY’2019. With escalating disposable incomes of households, the sales of electrical equipment like ACs, refrigerators, television sets and microwave is expected to increase and inadequate power supply will drive consumers to opt for inverters. According to ‘India UPS Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2018’, the Indian UPS market revenue is estimated to grow up to two folds by the end of 2018, growing at the CAGR of around 12 percent during 2013-18. The regional demand for UPS systems is being majorly driven by the level of scarcity in a particular area, for instance, J&K has the highest scarcity of power followed by Bihar & Karnataka and thus creating high demand for UPS systems.

The Indian UPS market is largely dependent on a low range (up to 25 KVA), accounting for more than half of the total UPS market. However, this inclination is set to change due to rising applications of UPS and inverter systems in the industrial sector.

The factors that are influencing this market growth include an understanding of the need for backup power and the cost of not protecting power sources when utility outages do occur, the state of the national power grid, the increasing likelihood of power cuts if the situation is not improved, and the convergence of voice and data networks and an increased reliance on digital networks, phone systems and business equipment. Amidst increasing level of pollution in the Delhi- NCR, the authorities have banned the use of diesel generator; the city is forced to explore the alternative sources of power. Few of us know that the inverters today are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and are capable of handling high capacity. They are thus capable of filling the void and are the answer to city's growing concerns about environmental pollution. The inverters and UPS are a much safer, cleaner and thus a more viable option. On the other hand, a generator is pricey, both in the terms of operation and maintenance. Even the fuel used in a generator is costly and one needs to take extra caution to store it. Handling the generator is not easy and if a person does not use it properly, it can be dangerous. A running generator releases harmful fumes (which are basically NOX gas) which are injurious to human health as well as for the environment.

Although most of the UPS and power backup systems are used in the information technology (IT) and telecommunication industries to protect data, many industrial processes are now microprocessor and PC-based and are very susceptible and sensitive to power disturbances
The demand in the Indian inverter/UPS market has increased due to constant power outages and a strong push from the government to accelerate the National Solar Mission. The usage of UPS systems will increase when solar inverters become more reliable for backup power. Solar energy is expected to be the main factor driving the increase in demand for UPS systems/inverters.
An important emerging technology is net metering and its integration with sine wave inverters/UPS systems coupled with communication and software technologies in the smart-grid re-integration domain. This will be done by developing and deploying solar rooftop energy generators for residential, commercial and various industrial applications, of off-grid, on-grid and hybrid types with storage systems that will depend on the available cheap mix of energy resources. Technological developments are happening on the energy efficiency side as energy conservation is the burning issue of the day.

Solar backup systems will drive solar energy usage at large, and installation of backup power systems in dams & plants would require exhaustive set-ups

In future, the key focus areas will be mission-critical industrial applications in refineries, petrochemicals, power generation, steel and metals, process industries as well as critical data processing applications. Solar backup systems will drive solar energy usage at large. And installation of backup power systems in dams and plants would require exhaustive set-ups.

In the coming days, the efficiency of UPS systems will increase, sizes will reduce, costs will come down, and the devices will become more user friendly so that people can connect to and control their power backup systems from their residence, mobiles, or in any other means. Solar UPS systems will work on both AC (i.e.,grid) as well as DC (solar) power. The developments in the solar power domain are currently a bit slow because of the massive involvement of the government. However,the‘Make in India’ initiative of the government is going to give a boost to industrialization as well to start-ups in the SME sector, offering vast opportunities in the power backup sector.

India is a developing economy and our industrial base is increasing constantly. The per capita income of Indians has gone up, improving lifestyles. In this scenario, with increasing power cuts, domestic consumers will drive the trend of increased UPS system and inverter adoption. India houses some of the top IT & Fortune 500 companies which should come forward to promote the use of inverters and UPS. They are the future and a cleaner, safer and more environment- friendly alternative to generators.